Richard III


SCENE I. London. A street.

[The trumpets sound. Enter the PRINCE OF WALES, GLOSTER,



Welcome, sweet prince, to London, to your chamber.


Welcome, dear cousin, my thoughts' sovereign:

The weary way hath made you melancholy.


No, uncle; but our crosses on the way

Have made it tedious, wearisome, and heavy:

I want more uncles here to welcome me.


Sweet prince, the untainted virtue of your years

Hath not yet div'd into the world's deceit:

Nor more can you distinguish of a man

Than of his outward show; which, God He knows,

Seldom or never jumpeth with the heart.

Those uncles which you want were dangerous;

Your grace attended to their sugar'd words

But look'd not on the poison of their hearts:

God keep you from them and from such false friends!


God keep me from false friends! but they were none.


My lord, the mayor of London comes to greet you.

[Enter the LORD MAYOR and his train.]


God bless your grace with health and happy days!


I thank you, good my lord;--and thank you all.

[Exeunt MAYOR, &c.]

I thought my mother and my brother York

Would long ere this have met us on the way:

Fie, what a slug is Hastings, that he comes not

To tell us whether they will come or no!


And, in good time, here comes the sweating lord.



Welcome, my lord: what, will our mother come?


On what occasion, God He knows, not I,

The queen your mother and your brother York

Have taken sanctuary: the tender prince

Would fain have come with me to meet your grace,

But by his mother was perforce withheld.


Fie, what an indirect and peevish course

Is this of hers?--Lord cardinal, will your grace

Persuade the queen to send the Duke of York

Unto his princely brother presently?

If she deny, Lord Hastings, go with him,

And from her jealous arms pluck him perforce.


My Lord of Buckingham, if my weak oratory

Can from his mother win the Duke of York,

Anon expect him here; but if she be obdurate

To mild entreaties, God in heaven forbid

We should infringe the holy privilege

Of blessed sanctuary! not for all this land

Would I be guilty of so deep a sin.


You are too senseless-obstinate, my lord,

Too ceremonious and traditional:

Weigh it but with the grossness of this age,

You break not sanctuary in seizing him.

The benefit thereof is always granted

To those whose dealings have deserv'd the place

And those who have the wit to claim the place:

This prince hath neither claim'd it nor deserv'd it;

And therefore, in mine opinion, cannot have it:

Then, taking him from thence that is not there,

You break no privilege nor charter there.

Oft have I heard of sanctuary-men;

But sanctuary-children ne'er till now.


My lord, you shall o'errule my mind for once.--

Come on, Lord Hastings, will you go with me?


I go, my lord.


Good lords, make all the speedy haste you may.


Say, uncle Gloster, if our brother come,

Where shall we sojourn till our coronation?


Where it seems best unto your royal self.

If I may counsel you, some day or two

Your highness shall repose you at the Tower:

Then where you please and shall be thought most fit

For your best health and recreation.


I do not like the Tower, of any place.--

Did Julius Caesar build that place, my lord?


He did, my gracious lord, begin that place;

Which, since, succeeding ages have re-edified.


Is it upon record, or else reported

Successively from age to age, he built it?


Upon record, my gracious lord.


But say, my lord, it were not register'd,

Methinks the truth should live from age to age,

As 'twere retail'd to all posterity,

Even to the general all-ending day.



So wise so young, they say, do never live long.


What say you, uncle?


I say, without characters, fame lives long.--


Thus, like the formal vice, Iniquity,

I moralize two meanings in one word.


That Julius Caesar was a famous man;

With what his valour did enrich his wit,

His wit set down to make his valour live;

Death makes no conquest of this conqueror;

For now he lives in fame, though not in life.--

I'll tell you what, my cousin Buckingham,--


What, my gracious lord?


An if I live until I be a man,

I'll win our ancient right in France again,

Or die a soldier as I liv'd a king.



Short summers lightly have a forward spring.


Now, in good time, here comes the Duke of York.



Richard of York! how fares our loving brother?


Well, my dread lord; so must I call you now.


Ay brother,--to our grief, as it is yours:

Too late he died that might have kept that title,

Which by his death hath lost much majesty.


How fares our cousin, noble Lord of York?


I thank you, gentle uncle. O, my lord,

You said that idle weeds are fast in growth:

The prince my brother hath outgrown me far.


He hath, my lord.


And therefore is he idle?


O, my fair cousin, I must not say so.


Then he is more beholding to you than I.


He may command me as my sovereign;

But you have power in me as in a kinsman.


I pray you, uncle, give me this dagger.


My dagger, little cousin? with all my heart!


A beggar, brother?


Of my kind uncle, that I know will give,

And being but a toy, which is no grief to give.


A greater gift than that I'll give my cousin.


A greater gift! O, that's the sword to it!


Ay, gentle cousin, were it light enough.


O, then, I see you will part but with light gifts;

In weightier things you'll say a beggar nay.


It is too heavy for your grace to wear.


I weigh it lightly, were it heavier.


What, would you have my weapon, little lord?


I would, that I might thank you as you call me.






My Lord of York will still be cross in talk:--

Uncle, your grace knows how to bear with him.


You mean, to bear me, not to bear with me:--

Uncle, my brother mocks both you and me;

Because that I am little, like an ape,

He thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders.


With what a sharp-provided wit he reasons!

To mitigate the scorn he gives his uncle,

He prettily and aptly taunts himself:

So cunning and so young is wonderful.


My lord, wil't please you pass along?

Myself and my good cousin Buckingham

Will to your mother, to entreat of her

To meet you at the Tower and welcome you.


What, will you go unto the Tower, my lord?


My lord protector needs will have it so.


I shall not sleep in quiet at the Tower.


Why, what should you fear?


Marry, my uncle Clarence' angry ghost:

My grandam told me he was murder'd there.


I fear no uncles dead.


Nor none that live, I hope.


An if they live, I hope I need not fear.

But come, my lord; and with a heavy heart,

Thinking on them, go I unto the Tower.




Think you, my lord, this little prating York

Was not incensed by his subtle mother

To taunt and scorn you thus opprobriously?


No doubt, no doubt: O, 'tis a parlous boy;

Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable:

He is all the mother's, from the top to toe.


Well, let them rest.--Come hither, Catesby.

Thou art sworn as deeply to effect what we intend

As closely to conceal what we impart:

Thou know'st our reasons urg'd upon the way;--

What think'st thou? is it not an easy matter

To make William Lord Hastings of our mind,

For the instalment of this noble duke

In the seat royal of this famous isle?


He for his father's sake so loves the prince

That he will not be won to aught against him.


What think'st thou then of Stanley? will not he?


He will do all in all as Hastings doth.


Well then, no more but this: go, gentle Catesby,

And, as it were far off, sound thou Lord Hastings

How he doth stand affected to our purpose;

And summon him to-morrow to the Tower,

To sit about the coronation.

If thou dost find him tractable to us,

Encourage him, and tell him all our reasons:

If he be leaden, icy, cold, unwilling,

Be thou so too; and so break off the talk,

And give us notice of his inclination:

For we to-morrow hold divided councils,

Wherein thyself shalt highly be employ'd.


Commend me to Lord William: tell him, Catesby,

His ancient knot of dangerous adversaries

To-morrow are let blood at Pomfret Castle;

And bid my lord, for joy of this good news,

Give Mistress Shore one gentle kiss the more.


Good Catesby, go, effect this business soundly.


My good lords both, with all the heed I can.


Shall we hear from you, Catesby, ere we sleep?


You shall, my lord.


At Crosby Place, there shall you find us both.



Now, my lord, what shall we do if we perceive

Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots?


Chop off his head. man;--somewhat we will do:--

And, look when I am king, claim thou of me

The earldom of Hereford, and all the movables

Whereof the king my brother was possess'd.


I'll claim that promise at your grace's hand.


And look to have it yielded with all kindness.

Come, let us sup betimes, that afterwards

We may digest our complots in some form.



[Enter a MESSENGER.]


My lord, my lord!--



[Within.] Who knocks?


One from the Lord Stanley.


[Within.] What is't o'clock?


Upon the stroke of four.



Cannot my Lord Stanley sleep these tedious nights?


So it appears by that I have to say.

First, he commends him to your noble self.


What then?


Then certifies your lordship that this night

He dreamt the boar had razed off his helm:

Besides, he says there are two councils held;

And that may be determin'd at the one

Which may make you and him to rue at the other.

Therefore he sends to know your lordship's pleasure,--

If you will presently take horse with him,

And with all speed post with him toward the north,

To shun the danger that his soul divines.


Go, fellow, go, return unto thy lord;

Bid him not fear the separated councils:

His honour and myself are at the one,

And at the other is my good friend Catesby;

Where nothing can proceed that toucheth us

Whereof I shall not have intelligence.

Tell him his fears are shallow, without instance:

And for his dreams, I wonder he's so simple

To trust the mockery of unquiet slumbers:

To fly the boar before the boar pursues

Were to incense the boar to follow us,

And make pursuit where he did mean no chase.

Go, bid thy master rise and come to me;

And we will both together to the Tower,

Where, he shall see, the boar will use us kindly.


I'll go, my lord, and tell him what you say.


[Enter CATESBY.]


Many good morrows to my noble lord!


Good morrow, Catesby; you are early stirring:

What news, what news, in this our tottering state?


It is a reeling world indeed, my lord;

And I believe will never stand upright

Till Richard wear the garland of the realm.


How! wear the garland! dost thou mean the crown?


Ay, my good lord.


I'll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders

Before I'll see the crown so foul misplac'd.

But canst thou guess that he doth aim at it?


Ay, on my life; and hopes to find you forward

Upon his party for the gain thereof:

And thereupon he sends you this good news,--

That this same very day your enemies,

The kindred of the queen, must die at Pomfret.


Indeed, I am no mourner for that news,

Because they have been still my adversaries:

But that I'll give my voice on Richard's side

To bar my master's heirs in true descent,

God knows I will not do it to the death.


God keep your lordship in that gracious mind!


But I shall laugh at this a twelve month hence,--

That they which brought me in my master's hate,

I live to look upon their tragedy.

Well, Catesby, ere a fortnight make me older,

I'll send some packing that yet think not on't.


'Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,

When men are unprepar'd and look not for it.


O monstrous, monstrous! and so falls it out

With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey: and so 'twill do

With some men else that think themselves as safe

As thou and I; who, as thou knowest, are dear

To princely Richard and to Buckingham.


The princes both make high account of you,--


For they account his head upon the bridge.


I know they do, and I have well deserv'd it.

[Enter STANLEY.]

Come on, come on; where is your boar-spear, man?

Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?


My lord, good morrow; and good morrow, Catesby:--

You may jest on, but, by the holy rood,

I do not like these several councils, I.


My lord, I hold my life as dear as you do yours;

And never in my days, I do protest,

Was it so precious to me as 'tis now;

Think you, but that I know our state secure,

I would be so triumphant as I am?


The lords at Pomfret, when they rode from London,

Were jocund and suppos'd their states were sure,--

And they, indeed, had no cause to mistrust;

But yet, you see, how soon the day o'ercast!

This sudden stab of rancour I misdoubt;

Pray God, I say, I prove a needless coward.

What, shall we toward the Tower? the day is spent.


Come, come, have with you.--Wot you what, my lord?

To-day the lords you talk'd of are beheaded.


They, for their truth, might better wear their heads

Than some that have accus'd them wear their hats.--

But come, my lord, let's away.

[Enter a Pursuivant.]


Go on before; I'll talk with this good fellow.


How now, sirrah! how goes the world with thee?


The better that your lordship please to ask.


I tell thee, man, 'tis better with me now

Than when thou mett'st me last where now we meet:

Then was I going prisoner to the Tower,

By the suggestion of the queen's allies;

But now, I tell thee,--keep it to thyself,--

This day those enemies are put to death,

And I in better state than e'er I was.


God hold it, to your honour's good content!


Gramercy, fellow: there, drink that for me.

[Throwing him his purse.]


I thank your honour.


[Enter a PRIEST.]


Well met, my lord; I am glad to see your honour.


I thank thee, good Sir John, with all my heart.

I am in your debt for your last exercise;

Come the next Sabbath, and I will content you.



What, talking with a priest, lord chamberlain!

Your friends at Pomfret, they do need the priest;

Your honour hath no shriving work in hand.


Good faith, and when I met this holy man,

The men you talk of came into my mind.--

What, go you toward the Tower?


I do, my lord, but long I cannot stay there;

I shall return before your lordship thence.


Nay, like enough, for I stay dinner there.


[Aside.] And supper too, although thou knowest it not.--

Come, will you go?


I'll wait upon your lordship.


SCENE III. Pomfret. Before the Castle.

[Enter RATCLIFF, with Guard, conducting RIVERS, GREY, and


to execution.]


Sir Richard Ratcliff, let me tell thee this,--

To-day shalt thou behold a subject die

For truth, for duty, and for loyalty.


God bless the prince from all the pack of you!

A knot you are of damned blood-suckers.


You live that shall cry woe for this hereafter.


Despatch; the limit of your lives is out.


O Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison,

Fatal and ominous to noble peers!

Within the guilty closure of thy walls

Richard the Second here was hack'd to death:

And, for more slander to thy dismal seat,

We give to thee our guiltless blood to drink.


Now Margaret's curse is fallen upon our heads,

When she exclaim'd on Hastings, you, and I,

For standing by when Richard stabb'd her son.


Then curs'd she Richard, then curs'd she Buckingham,

Then curs'd she Hastings:--O, remember, God,

To hear her prayer for them, as now for us!

And for my sister, and her princely sons,

Be satisfied, dear God, with our true blood,

Which, as Thou know'st, unjustly must be spilt.


Make haste; the hour of death is expiate.


Come, Grey;--come, Vaughan;--let us here embrace.

Farewell, until we meet again in heaven.


SCENE IV. London. A Room in the Tower.



and others sitting at a table: Officers of the Council



Now, noble peers, the cause why we are met

Is to determine of the coronation.

In God's name speak,--when is the royal day?


Are all things ready for that royal time?


Thery are, and wants but nomination.


To-morrow, then, I judge a happy day.


Who knows the lord protector's mind herein?

Who is most inward with the noble duke?


Your grace, we think, should soonest know his mind.


We know each other's faces: for our hearts,

He knows no more of mine than I of yours;

Or I of his, my lord, than you of mine.--

Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.


I thank his grace, I know he loves me well;

But for his purpose in the coronation

I have not sounded him, nor he deliver'd

His gracious pleasure any way therein:

But you, my honourable lords, may name the time;

And in the duke's behalf I'll give my voice,

Which, I presume, he'll take in gentle part.


In happy time, here comes the duke himself.

[Enter GLOSTER.]


My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow.

I have been long a sleeper; but I trust

My absence doth neglect no great design

Which by my presence might have been concluded.


Had you not come upon your cue, my lord,

William Lord Hastings had pronounc'd your part,--

I mean, your voice,--for crowning of the king.


Than my Lord Hastings no man might be bolder;

His lordship knows me well and loves me well.--

My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn

I saw good strawberries in your garden there:

I do beseech you send for some of them.


Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.



Cousin of Buckingham, a word with you.

[Takes him aside.]

Catesby hath sounded Hastings in our business,

And finds the testy gentleman so hot

That he will lose his head ere give consent

His master's child, as worshipfully he terms it,

Shall lose the royalty of England's throne.


Withdraw yourself awhile; I'll go with you.



We have not yet set down this day of triumph.

To-morrow, in my judgment, is too sudden;

For I myself am not so well provided

As else I would be, were the day prolong'd.

[Re-enter BISHOP OF ELY.]


Where is my lord the Duke of Gloster?

I have sent for these strawberries.


His grace looks cheerfully and smooth this morning;

There's some conceit or other likes him well

When that he bids good morrow with such spirit.

I think there's ne'er a man in Christendom

Can lesser hide his love or hate than he;

For by his face straight shall you know his heart.


What of his heart perceive you in his face

By any livelihood he showed to-day?


Marry, that with no man here he is offended;

For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.



I pray you all, tell me what they deserve

That do conspire my death with devilish plots

Of damned witchcraft, and that have prevail'd

Upon my body with their hellish charms?


The tender love I bear your grace, my lord,

Makes me most forward in this princely presence

To doom the offenders: whosoe'er they be.

I say, my lord, they have deserved death.


Then be your eyes the witness of their evil:

Look how I am bewitch'd; behold, mine arm

Is, like a blasted sapling, wither'd up:

And this is Edward's wife, that monstrous witch,

Consorted with that harlot-strumpet Shore,

That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.


If they have done this deed, my noble lord,--


If!--thou protector of this damned strumpet,

Talk'st thou to me of "ifs"?--Thou art a traitor:--

Off with his head!--now, by Saint Paul I swear,

I will not dine until I see the same.--

Lovel and Ratcliff:--look that it be done:--

The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.

[Exeunt all except HASTINGS, LOVEL, and RATCLIFF.]


Woe, woe, for England! not a whit for me;

For I, too fond, might have prevented this.

Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm;

And I did scorn it, and disdain to fly.

Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,

And started, when he look'd upon the Tower,

As loth to bear me to the slaughter-house.

O, now I need the priest that spake to me:

I now repent I told the pursuivant,

As too triumphing, how mine enemies

To-day at Pomfret bloodily were butcher'd,

And I myself secure in grace and favour.

O Margaret, Margaret, now thy heavy curse

Is lighted on poor Hastings' wretched head!


Come, come, despatch; the duke would be at dinner:

Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head.


O momentary grace of mortal men,

Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!

Who builds his hope in air of your good looks

Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast,

Ready, with every nod, to tumble down

Into the fatal bowels of the deep.


Come, come, despatch; 'tis bootless to exclaim.


O bloody Richard!--miserable England!

I prophesy the fearfull'st time to thee

That ever wretched age hath look'd upon.--

Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head:

They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.


SCENE V. London. The Tower Walls.

[Enter GLOSTER and BUCKINGHAM in rusty armour, marvellous



Come, cousin, canst thou quake and change thy colour,

Murder thy breath in middle of a word,

And then again begin, and stop again,

As if thou were distraught and mad with terror?


Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian;

Speak and look back, and pry on every side,

Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,

Intending deep suspicion: ghastly looks

Are at my service, like enforced smiles;

And both are ready in their offices,

At any time to grace my stratagems.

But what, is Catesby gone?


He is; and, see, he brings the mayor along.

[Enter the LORD MAYOR and CATESBY.]


Lord mayor,--


Look to the drawbridge there!


Hark! a drum.


Catesby, o'erlook the walls.


Lord Mayor, the reason we have sent,--


Look back, defend thee,--here are enemies.


God and our innocency defend and guard us!


Be patient; they are friends,--Ratcliff and Lovel.

[Enter LOVEL and RATCLIFF, with HASTINGS' head.]


Here is the head of that ignoble traitor,

The dangerous and unsuspected Hastings.


So dear I lov'd the man that I must weep.

I took him for the plainest harmless creature

That breath'd upon the earth a Christian;

Made him my book, wherein my soul recorded

The history of all her secret thoughts:

So smooth he daub'd his vice with show of virtue

That, his apparent open guilt omitted,--

I mean, his conversation with Shore's wife,--

He liv'd from all attainder of suspects.


Well, well, he was the covert'st shelter'd traitor

That ever liv'd.--

Would you imagine, or almost believe,--

Were't not that by great preservation

We live to tell it you,--that the subtle traitor

This day had plotted, in the council-house,

To murder me and my good Lord of Gloster!


Had he done so?


What! think you we are Turks or Infidels?

Or that we would, against the form of law,

Proceed thus rashly in the villain's death,

But that the extreme peril of the case,

The peace of England and our persons' safety,

Enforc'd us to this execution?


Now, fair befall you! he deserv'd his death;

And your good graces both have well proceeded,

To warn false traitors from the like attempts.

I never look'd for better at his hands

After he once fell in with Mistress Shore.


Yet had we not determin'd he should die

Until your lordship came to see his end;

Which now the loving haste of these our friends,

Something against our meanings, have prevented:

Because, my lord, we would have had you heard

The traitor speak, and timorously confess

The manner and the purpose of his treasons;

That you might well have signified the same

Unto the citizens, who haply may

Misconster us in him, and wail his death.


But, my good lord, your grace's word shall serve

As well as I had seen and heard him speak:

And do not doubt, right noble princes both,

But I'll acquaint our duteous citizens

With all your just proceedings in this case.


And to that end we wish'd your lordship here,

To avoid the the the censures of the carping world.


But since you come too late of our intent,

Yet witness what you hear we did intend:

And so, my good lord mayor, we bid farewell.



Go, after, after, cousin Buckingham.

The Mayor towards Guildhall hies him in all post:--

There, at your meet'st advantage of the time,

Infer the bastardy of Edward's children:

Tell them how Edward put to death a citizen,

Only for saying he would make his son

Heir to the crown;--meaning, indeed, his house,

Which, by the sign thereof, was termed so.

Moreover, urge his hateful luxury,

And bestial appetite in change of lust;

Which stretch'd unto their servants, daughters, wives,

Even where his raging eye or savage heart,

Without control, listed to make a prey.

Nay, for a need, thus far come near my person:--

Tell them, when that my mother went with child

Of that insatiate Edward, noble York,

My princely father, then had wars in France

And, by true computation of the time,

Found that the issue was not his begot;

Which well appeared in his lineaments,

Being nothing like the noble duke my father.

Yet touch this sparingly, as 'twere far off;

Because, my lord, you know my mother lives.


Doubt not, my lord, I'll play the orator

As if the golden fee for which I plead

Were for myself: and so, my lord, adieu.


If you thrive well, bring them to Baynard's Castle;

Where you shall find me well accompanied

With reverend fathers and well learned bishops.


I go; and towards three or four o'clock

Look for the news that the Guildhall affords.



Go, Lovel, with all speed to Doctor Shaw.--

Go thou [to CATESBY] to Friar Penker;--bid them both

Meet me within this hour at Baynard's Castle.

[Exeunt LOVEL and CATESBY.]

Now will I in, to take some privy order

To draw the brats of Clarence out of sight;

And to give order that no manner person

Have any time recourse unto the princes.


SCENE VI. London. A street.

[Enter a SCRIVENER.]


Here is the indictment of the good Lord Hastings;

Which in a set hand fairly is engross'd,

That it may be to-day read o'er in Paul's.

And mark how well the sequel hangs together:--

Eleven hours I have spent to write it over,

For yesternight by Catesby was it sent me;

The precedent was full as long a-doing:

And yet within these five hours Hastings liv'd,

Untainted, unexamin'd, free, at liberty.

Here's a good world the while! Who is so gross

That cannot see this palpable device!

Yet who so bold but says he sees it not!

Bad is the world; and all will come to naught,

When such ill dealing must be seen in thought.


SCENE VII. London. Court of Baynard's Castle.

[Enter GLOSTER and BUCKINGHAM, meeting.]


How now, how now! what say the citizens?


Now, by the holy mother of our Lord,

The citizens are mum, say not a word.


Touch'd you the bastardy of Edward's children?


I did; with his contract with Lady Lucy,

And his contract by deputy in France;

The insatiate greediness of his desires,

And his enforcement of the city wives;

His tyranny for trifles; his own bastardy,--

As being got, your father then in France,

And his resemblance, being not like the duke:

Withal I did infer your lineaments,--

Being the right idea of your father,

Both in your form and nobleness of mind;

Laid open all your victories in Scotland,

Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,

Your bounty, virtue, fair humility;

Indeed, left nothing fitting for your purpose

Untouch'd or slightly handled in discourse:

And when mine oratory drew toward end

I bid them that did love their country's good

Cry "God save Richard, England's royal king!"


And did they so?


No, so God help me, they spake not a word;

But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,

Star'd each on other, and look'd deadly pale.

Which when I saw, I reprehended them;

And ask'd the mayor what meant this wilful silence:

His answer was--the people were not us'd

To be spoke to but by the recorder.

Then he was urg'd to tell my tale again,--

"Thus saith the duke, thus hath the duke inferr'd;"

But nothing spoke in warrant from himself.

When he had done, some followers of mine own,

At lower end of the hall hurl'd up their caps,

And some ten voices cried, "God save King Richard!"

And thus I took the vantage of those few,--

"Thanks, gentle citizens and friends," quoth I;

"This general applause and cheerful shout

Argues your wisdoms and your love to Richard:"

And even here brake off and came away.


What, tongueless blocks were they! would they not speak?

Will not the mayor, then, and his brethren, come?


The mayor is here at hand. Intend some fear;

Be not you spoke with but by mighty suit:

And look you get a prayer-book in your hand,

And stand between two churchmen, good my lord;

For on that ground I'll make a holy descant:

And be not easily won to our requests;

Play the maid's part,--still answer nay, and take it.


I go; and if you plead as well for them

As I can say nay to thee for myself,

No doubt we bring it to a happy issue.


Go, go, up to the leads; the lord mayor knocks.


[Enter the LORD MAYOR, ALDERMEN, and Citizens.]

Welcome, my lord. I dance attendance here;

I think the duke will not be spoke withal.

[Enter, from the Castle, CATESBY.]

Now, Catesby,--what says your lord to my request?


He doth entreat your grace, my noble lord,

To visit him to-morrow or next day:

He is within, with two right reverend fathers,

Divinely bent to meditation:

And in no worldly suit would he be mov'd,

To draw him from his holy exercise.


Return, good Catesby, to the gracious duke;

Tell him, myself, the mayor and aldermen,

In deep designs, in matter of great moment,

No less importing than our general good,

Are come to have some conference with his grace.


I'll signify so much unto him straight.



Ah, ha, my lord, this prince is not an Edward!

He is not lolling on a lewd day-bed,

But on his knees at meditation;

Not dallying with a brace of courtezans,

But meditating with two deep divines;

Not sleeping, to engross his idle body,

But praying, to enrich his watchful soul:

Happy were England would this virtuous prince

Take on his grace the sovereignty thereof:

But, sure, I fear, we shall not win him to it.


Marry, God defend his grace should say us nay!


I fear he will. Here Catesby comes again.

[Re-enter CATESBY.]

Now, Catesby, what says his grace?


He wonders to what end you have assembled

Such troops of citizens to come to him:

His grace not being warn'd thereof before,

He fears, my lord, you mean no good to him.


Sorry I am my noble cousin should

Suspect me, that I mean no good to him:

By heaven, we come to him in perfect love;

And so once more return and tell his grace.


When holy and devout religious men

Are at their beads, 'tis much to draw them thence,--

So sweet is zealous contemplation.

[Enter GLOSTER in a Galery above, between two BISHOPS. CATESBY



See where his grace stands 'tween two clergymen!


Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,

To stay him from the fall of vanity:

And, see, a book of prayer in his hand,--

True ornaments to know a holy man.--

Famous Plantagenet, most gracious prince,

Lend favourable ear to our requests;

And pardon us the interruption

Of thy devotion and right Christian zeal.


My lord, there needs no such apology:

I rather do beseech you pardon me,

Who, earnest in the service of my God,

Deferr'd the visitation of my friends.

But, leaving this, what is your grace's pleasure?


Even that, I hope, which pleaseth God above,

And all good men of this ungovern'd isle.


I do suspect I have done some offence

That seems disgracious in the city's eye;

And that you come to reprehend my ignorance.


You have, my lord: would it might please your grace,

On our entreaties, to amend your fault!


Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian land?


Know then, it is your fault that you resign

The supreme seat, the throne majestical,

The scepter'd office of your ancestors,

Your state of fortune and your due of birth,

The lineal glory of your royal house,

To the corruption of a blemish'd stock:

Whilst, in the mildness of your sleepy thoughts,--

Which here we waken to our country's good,--

The noble isle doth want her proper limbs;

Her face defac'd with scars of infamy,

Her royal stock graft with ignoble plants,

And almost shoulder'd in the swallowing gulf

Of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion.

Which to recure, we heartily solicit

Your gracious self to take on you the charge

And kingly government of this your land;--

Not as protector, steward, substitute,

Or lowly factor for another's gain;

But as successively, from blood to blood,

Your right of birth, your empery, your own.

For this, consorted with the citizens,

Your very worshipful and loving friends,

And, by their vehement instigation,

In this just cause come I to move your grace.


I cannot tell if to depart in silence

Or bitterly to speak in your reproof

Best fitteth my degree or your condition:

If not to answer, you might haply think

Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded

To bear the golden yoke of sovereignty,

Which fondly you would here impose on me;

If to reprove you for this suit of yours,

So season'd with your faithful love to me,

Then, on the other side, I check'd my friends.

Therefore,--to speak, and to avoid the first,

And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,--

Definitively thus I answer you.

Your love deserves my thanks; but my desert

Unmeritable shuns your high request.

First, if all obstacles were cut away,

And that my path were even to the crown,

As the ripe revenue and due of birth,

Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,

So mighty and so many my defects,

That I would rather hide me from my greatness,--

Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,--

Than in my greatness covet to be hid,

And in the vapour of my glory smother'd.

But, God be thank'd, there is no need of me,--

And much I need to help you, were there need;--

The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,

Which, mellow'd by the stealing hours of time,

Will well become the seat of majesty,

And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.

On him I lay that you would lay on me,--

The right and fortune of his happy stars;

Which God defend that I should wring from him!


My lord, this argues conscience in your grace;

But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,

All circumstances well considered.

You say that Edward is your brother's son:

So say we too, but not by Edward's wife;

For first was he contract to Lady Lucy,--

Your mother lives a witness to his vow,--

And afterward by substitute betroth'd

To Bona, sister to the King of France.

These both put off, a poor petitioner,

A care-craz'd mother to a many sons,

A beauty-waning and distressed widow,

Even in the afternoon of her best days,

Made prize and purchase of his wanton eye,

Seduc'd the pitch and height of his degree

To base declension and loath'd bigamy:

By her, in his unlawful bed, he got

This Edward, whom our manners call the prince.

More bitterly could I expostulate,

Save that, for reverence to some alive,

I give a sparing limit to my tongue.

Then, good my lord, take to your royal self

This proffer'd benefit of dignity;

If not to bless us and the land withal,

Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry

From the corruption of abusing time

Unto a lineal true-derived course.


Do, good my lord; your citizens entreat you.


Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffer'd love.


O, make them joyful, grant their lawful suit!


Alas, why would you heap those cares on me?

I am unfit for state and majesty:--

I do beseech you, take it not amiss:

I cannot nor I will not yield to you.


If you refuse it,--as, in love and zeal,

Loath to depose the child, your brother's son--

As well we know your tenderness of heart

And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,

Which we have noted in you to your kindred,

And equally, indeed, to all estates,--

Yet know, whe'er you accept our suit or no,

Your brother's son shall never reign our king;

But we will plant some other in the throne,

To the disgrace and downfall of your house:

And in this resolution here we leave you.--

Come, citizens, we will entreat no more.

[Exeunt BUCKINGHAM, the MAYOR and citizens retiring.]


Call them again, sweet prince, accept their suit:

If you deny them, all the land will rue it.


Will you enforce me to a world of cares?

Call them again.

[CATESBY goes to the MAYOR, &c., and then exit.]

I am not made of stone,

But penetrable to your kind entreaties,

Albeit against my conscience and my soul.

[Re-enter BUCKINGHAM and CATESBY, MAYOR, &c., coming forward.]

Cousin of Buckingham,--and sage grave men,

Since you will buckle fortune on my back,

To bear her burden, whe'er I will or no,

I must have patience to endure the load:

But if black scandal or foul-fac'd reproach

Attend the sequel of your imposition,

Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me

From all the impure blots and stains thereof;

For God doth know, and you may partly see,

How far I am from the desire of this.


God bless your grace! we see it, and will say it.


In saying so, you shall but say the truth.


Then I salute you with this royal title,--

Long live King Richard, England's worthy king!




To-morrow may it please you to be crown'd?


Even when you please, for you will have it so.


To-morrow, then, we will attend your grace:

And so, most joyfully, we take our leave.


[To the BISHOPS.]

Come, let us to our holy work again.--

Farewell, my cousin;--farewell, gentle friends.