London. The palace.
(Queen Mother Elizabeth; Lord Rivers; Marquess of Dorset; Lord Grey; Buckingham; Lord Stanley; Richard Duke of Gloucester; Lord Hastings; Queen Margaret; Catesby; Murderers)
The Queen is desperately worried about the King’s health, as in the event of his death Richard would be Regent, and he has no love for her or her family. Rivers and Grey try to reassure her. Buckingham announces that the King is better and is hoping to reconcile his brother and his wife. Richard and Hastings come in, and begin to quarrel over who started their quarrel. Richard openly defies the Queen and her family, scorning them for their lower-class roots. Old Queen Margaret, Henry VI’s widow, sneaks in, and listens to them quarreling; finally she comes forward and curses them one by one for killing her husband and son, and stealing the throne. The others all gang up on her and she leaves, calling for a bad end on them all, except Buckingham, who is innocent of either murder. Buckingham refuses to pay any attention to her warning against Richard. A message from the King requests everyone’s presence, and they leave to go to him, except Richard, who gives two men a warrant to kill Clarence at the Tower. (359 lines)
Enter the Queen Mother Elizabeth, Lord Rivers, Marquess of Dorset, and Lord Grey.
Have patience, madam, there’s no doubt his Majesty
Will soon recover his accustom’d health.
In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse;
Therefore for God’s sake entertain good comfort,
And cheer his Grace with quick and merry eyes.
If he were dead, what would betide on me?
No other harm but loss of such a lord.
The loss of such a lord includes all harms.
The heavens have blest you with a goodly son
To be your comforter when he is gone.
Ah! He is young; and his minority
Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester,
A man that loves not me, nor none of you.
Is it concluded he shall be Protector?
It is determin’d, not concluded yet;
But so it must be, if the King miscarry.
Enter Buckingham and Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby.
Here come the lords of Buckingham and Derby.
Good time of day unto your royal Grace!
God make your Majesty joyful, as you have been!
The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Derby,
To your good prayer will scarcely say amen.
Yet, Derby, notwithstanding she’s your wife
And loves not me, be you, good lord, assur’d
I hate not you for her proud arrogance.
I do beseech you, either not believe
The envious slanders of her false accusers;
Or if she be accus’d on true report,
Bear with her weakness, which I think proceeds
From wayward sickness and no grounded malice.
Saw you the King today, my Lord of Derby?
But now the Duke of Buckingham and I
Are come from visiting his Majesty.
What likelihood of his amendment, lords?
Madam, good hope, his Grace speaks cheerfully.
God grant him health! Did you confer with him?
Ay, madam, he desires to make atonement
Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,
And between them and my Lord Chamberlain,
And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
Would all were well! But that will never be:
I fear our happiness is at the height.
Enter Richard Duke of Gloucester and Lord Hastings.
They do me wrong, and I will not endure it!
Who is it that complains unto the King
That I, forsooth, am stern, and love them not?
By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly
That fill his ears with such dissentious rumors.
Because I cannot flatter and look fair,
Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive, and cog,
Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
I must be held a rancorous enemy.
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,
But thus his simple truth must be abus’d
With silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
To who in all this presence speaks your Grace?
To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace:
When have I injur’d thee? When done thee wrong?
Or thee? Or thee? Or any of your faction?
A plague upon you all! His royal Grace
(Whom God preserve better than you would wish!)
Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing while
But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.
Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter:
The King, on his own royal disposition
(And not provok’d by any suitor else),
Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred,
That in your outward action shows itself
Against my children, brothers, and myself,
Makes him to send, that he may learn the ground.
I cannot tell, the world is grown so bad
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.
Since every Jack became a gentleman,
There’s many a gentle person made a Jack.
Come, come, we know your meaning, brother Gloucester;
You envy my advancement and my friends’.
God grant we never may have need of you!
Mean time, God grants that I have need of you.
Our brother is imprison’d by your means,
Myself disgrac’d, and the nobility
Held in contempt, while great promotions
Are daily given to ennoble those
That scarce some two days since were worth a noble.
By Him that rais’d me to this careful height
From that contented hap which I enjoy’d,
I never did incense his Majesty
Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been
An earnest advocate to plead for him.
My lord, you do me shameful injury
Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
You may deny that you were not the mean
Of my Lord Hastings’ late imprisonment.
She may, my lord, for—
She may, Lord Rivers! Why, who knows not so?
She may do more, sir, than denying that:
She may help you to many fair preferments,
And then deny her aiding hand therein
And lay those honors on your high desert.
What may she not, she may, ay, marry, may she.
What, marry, may she?
What, marry, may she? Marry with a king,
A bachelor, and a handsome stripling too:
Iwis your grandam had a worser match.
My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs.
By heaven, I will acquaint his Majesty
Of those gross taunts that oft I have endur’d.
I had rather be a country servant maid
Than a great queen with this condition,
To be so baited, scorn’d, and stormed at.
Enter old Queen Margaret behind.
Small joy have I in being England’s queen.
And less’ned be that small, God I beseech him!
Thy honor, state, and seat is due to me.
What? Threat you me with telling of the King?
Tell him, and spare not. Look what I have said,
I will avouch’t in presence of the King.
I dare adventure to be sent to th’ Tow’r.
’Tis time to speak, my pains are quite forgot.
Out, devil! I do remember them too well:
Thou kill’dst my husband Henry in the Tower,
And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.
Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband king,
I was a pack-horse in his great affairs:
A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,
A liberal rewarder of his friends;
To royalize his blood I spent mine own.
Ay, and much better blood than his or thine.
In all which time you and your husband Grey
Were factious for the house of Lancaster;
And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband
In Margaret’s battle at Saint Albans slain?
Let me put in your minds, if you forget,
What you have been ere this, and what you are;
Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
A murd’rous villain, and so still thou art.
Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick,
Ay, and forswore himself—which Jesu pardon!—
Which God revenge!
To fight on Edward’s party for the crown,
And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up.
I would to God my heart were flint, like Edward’s,
Or Edward’s soft and pitiful, like mine:
I am too childish-foolish for this world.
Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world,
Thou cacodemon, there thy kingdom is.
My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days,
Which here you urge to prove us enemies,
We follow’d then our lord, our sovereign king.
So should we you, if you should be our king.
If I should be? I had rather be a pedlar:
Far be it from my heart, the thought thereof!
As little joy, my lord, as you suppose
You should enjoy, were you this country’s king—
As little joy you may suppose in me
That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
A little joy enjoys the queen thereof,
For I am she, and altogether joyless.
I can no longer hold me patient.
Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
In sharing that which you have pill’d from me!
Which of you trembles not that looks on me?
If not, that I am queen, you bow like subjects,
Yet that, by you depos’d, you quake like rebels?
Ah, gentle villain, do not turn away!
Foul wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my sight?
But repetition of what thou hast marr’d,
That will I make before I let thee go.
Wert thou not banished on pain of death?
I was; but I do find more pain in banishment
Than death can yield me here by my abode.
A husband and a son thou ow’st to me—
And thou a kingdom—all of you allegiance.
This sorrow that I have, by right is yours,
And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.
The curse my noble father laid on thee
When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper,
And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes,
And then, to dry them, gav’st the Duke a clout
Steep’d in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland—
His curses then, from bitterness of soul
Denounc’d against thee, are all fall’n upon thee;
And God, not we, hath plagu’d thy bloody deed.
So just is God, to right the innocent.
O, ’twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
And the most merciless, that e’er was heard of!
Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.
No man but prophesied revenge for it.
Northumberland, then present, wept to see it.
What? Were you snarling all before I came,
Ready to catch each other by the throat,
And turn you all your hatred now on me?
Did York’s dread curse prevail so much with heaven
That Henry’s death, my lovely Edward’s death,
Their kingdom’s loss, my woeful banishment,
Should all but answer for that peevish brat?
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
Why then give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!
Though not by war, by surfeit die your king,
As ours by murder, to make him a king!
Edward thy son, that now is Prince of Wales,
For Edward our son, that was Prince of Wales,
Die in his youth by like untimely violence!
Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,
Outlive thy glory like my wretched self!
Long mayst thou live to wail thy children’s death,
And see another, as I see thee now,
Deck’d in thy rights as thou art stall’d in mine!
Long die thy happy days before thy death,
And after many length’ned hours of grief,
Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s queen!
Rivers and Dorset, you were standers-by,
And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son
Was stabb’d with bloody daggers: God, I pray him
That none of you may live his natural age,
But by some unlook’d accident cut off!
Have done thy charm, thou hateful with’red hag.
And leave out thee? Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have any grievous plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe,
And then hurl down their indignation
On thee, the troubler of the poor world’s peace!
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb!
Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!
Thou rag of honor! Thou detested—
I call thee not.
I cry thee mercy then; for I did think
That thou hadst call’d me all these bitter names.
Why, so I did, but look’d for no reply.
O, let me make the period to my curse!
’Tis done by me, and ends in “Margaret.”
Thus have you breath’d your curse against yourself.
Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
Why strew’st thou sugar on that bottled spider
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
Fool, fool, thou whet’st a knife to kill thyself.
The day will come that thou shalt wish for me
To help thee curse this poisonous bunch-back’d toad.
False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.
Foul shame upon you, you have all mov’d mine.
Were you well serv’d, you would be taught your duty.
To serve me well, you all should do me duty,
Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects:
O, serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty!
Dispute not with her, she is lunatic.
Peace, Master Marquess, you are malapert,
Your fire-new stamp of honor is scarce current.
O that your young nobility could judge
What ’twere to lose it and be miserable!
They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,
And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
Good counsel, marry! Learn it, learn it, Marquess.
It touches you, my lord, as much as me.
Ay, and much more; but I was born so high,
Our aery buildeth in the cedar’s top
And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.
And turns the sun to shade—alas, alas!
Witness my son, now in the shade of death,
Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath
Hath in eternal darkness folded up.
Your aery buildeth in our aery’s nest:
O God that seest it, do not suffer it!
As it is won with blood, lost be it so!
Peace, peace, for shame! If not, for charity.
Urge neither charity nor shame to me.
Turning to the others.
Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
And shamefully my hopes, by you, are butcher’d.
My charity is outrage, life my shame,
And in that shame still live my sorrow’s rage!
Have done, have done.
O princely Buckingham, I’ll kiss thy hand
In sign of league and amity with thee.
Now fair befall thee and thy noble house!
Thy garments are not spotted with our blood;
Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
Nor no one here; for curses never pass
The lips of those that breathe them in the air.
I will not think but they ascend the sky,
And there awake God’s gentle-sleeping peace.
O Buckingham, take heed of yonder dog!
Look when he fawns he bites; and when he bites,
His venom tooth will rankle to the death.
Have not to do with him, beware of him;
Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him,
And all their ministers attend on him.
What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?
Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.
What, dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel?
And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?
O but remember this another day,
When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,
And say poor Margaret was a prophetess!
Live each of you the subjects to his hate,
And he to yours, and all of you to God’s!
My hair doth stand an end to hear her curses.
And so doth mine. I muse why she’s at liberty.
I cannot blame her; by God’s holy Mother,
She hath had too much wrong, and I repent
My part thereof that I have done to her.
I never did her any to my knowledge.
Yet you have all the vantage of her wrong.
I was too hot to do somebody good
That is too cold in thinking of it now.
Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid;
He is frank’d up to fatting for his pains—
God pardon them that are the cause thereof!
A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion—
To pray for them that have done scathe to us.
So do I ever—
Speaks to himself.
being well advis’d;
For had I curs’d now, I had curs’d myself.
Madam, his Majesty doth call for you,
And for your Grace, and yours, my gracious lord.
Catesby, I come. Lords, will you go with me?
We wait upon your Grace.
Exeunt all but Gloucester.
I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
Clarence, who I indeed have cast in darkness,
I do beweep to many simple gulls—
Namely, to Derby, Hastings, Buckingham—
And tell them ’tis the Queen and her allies
That stir the King against the Duke my brother.
Now they believe it, and withal whet me
To be reveng’d on Rivers, Dorset, Grey.
But then I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.
Enter two Murderers.
But soft, here come my executioners.
How now, my hardy, stout, resolved mates,
Are you now going to dispatch this thing?
We are, my lord, and come to have the warrant,
That we may be admitted where he is.
Well thought upon, I have it here about me.
Gives the warrant.
When you have done, repair to Crosby Place.
But, sirs, be sudden in the execution,
Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead;
For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps
May move your hearts to pity if you mark him.
Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate;
Talkers are no good doers. Be assur’d;
We go to use our hands, and not our tongues.
Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes fall tears.
I like you, lads, about your business straight.
Go, go, dispatch.
We will, my noble lord.