London. The palace.
(Duchess of York; Edward Plantagenet; Margaret Plantagenet; Queen Elizabeth; Rivers; Dorset; Richard of Gloucester; Buckingham; Earl of Derby; Hastings; Ratcliffe)
Clarence’s young children asks their grandmother the Duchess of York whether their father is dead; she insists that he is not. When Clarence’s son mentions Richard’s weeping when talking about Clarence, the Duchess comments that her son was almost certainly being hypocritical. She admits to loathing him. The Queen enters wailing, bearing the news of King Edward’s death. Richard arrives, speaking consolingly; he asks for his mother’s blessing, but she does not give a complete one. Buckingham suggests that the new King be fetched by a small number of people, to avoid worrying people that the civil wars might be starting up again. Richard and Buckingham agree to make sure they are among those going to fetch the King. (155 lines)
Enter the old Duchess of York with the two children of Clarence (Edward and Margaret Plantagenet).
Good grandam, tell us, is our father dead?
Why do you weep so oft, and beat your breast,
And cry, “O Clarence, my unhappy son!”?
Why do you look on us, and shake your head,
And call us orphans, wretches, castaways,
If that our noble father were alive?
My pretty cousins, you mistake me both:
I do lament the sickness of the King,
As loath to lose him, not your father’s death;
It were lost sorrow to wail one that’s lost.
Then you conclude, my grandam, he is dead.
The King mine uncle is to blame for it.
God will revenge it, whom I will importune
With earnest prayers all to that effect.
And so will I.
Peace, children, peace, the King doth love you well.
Incapable and shallow innocents,
You cannot guess who caus’d your father’s death.
Grandam, we can; for my good uncle Gloucester
Told me the King, provok’d to it by the Queen,
Devis’d impeachments to imprison him;
And when my uncle told me so, he wept,
And pitied me, and kindly kiss’d my cheek;
Bade me rely on him as on my father,
And he would love me dearly as a child.
Ah! That deceit should steal such gentle shape,
And with a virtuous visor hide deep vice!
He is my son—ay, and therein my shame,
Yet from my dugs he drew not this deceit.
Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam?
I cannot think it. Hark, what noise is this?
Enter the Queen Elizabeth with her hair about her ears; Rivers and Dorset after her.
Ah! Who shall hinder me to wail and weep,
To chide my fortune, and torment myself?
I’ll join with black despair against my soul,
And to myself become an enemy.
What means this scene of rude impatience?
To make an act of tragic violence.
Edward, my lord, thy son, our king, is dead!
Why grow the branches when the root is gone?
Why wither not the leaves that want their sap?
If you will live, lament; if die, be brief,
That our swift-winged souls may catch the King’s,
Or like obedient subjects follow him
To his new kingdom of ne’er-changing night.
Ah, so much interest have I in thy sorrow
As I had title in thy noble husband!
I have bewept a worthy husband’s death,
And liv’d with looking on his images;
But now two mirrors of his princely semblance
Are crack’d in pieces by malignant death,
And I for comfort have but one false glass,
That grieves me when I see my shame in him.
Thou art a widow; yet thou art a mother,
And hast the comfort of thy children left;
But death hath snatch’d my husband from mine arms,
And pluck’d two crutches from my feeble hands,
Clarence and Edward. O, what cause have I
(Thine being but a moi’ty of my moan)
To overgo thy woes and drown thy cries!
Ah, aunt! You wept not for our father’s death;
How can we aid you with our kindred tears?
Our fatherless distress was left unmoan’d,
Your widow-dolor likewise be unwept!
Give me no help in lamentation,
I am not barren to bring forth complaints.
All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes,
That I being govern’d by the watery moon,
May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world!
Ah for my husband, for my dear Lord Edward!
Ah for our father, for our dear Lord Clarence!
Alas for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!
What stay had I but Edward? And he’s gone.
What stay had we but Clarence? And he’s gone.
What stays had I but they? And they are gone.
Was never widow had so dear a loss.
Were never orphans had so dear a loss.
Was never mother had so dear a loss.
Alas! I am the mother of these griefs:
Their woes are parcell’d, mine is general.
She for an Edward weeps, and so do I;
I for a Clarence weep, so doth not she;
These babes for Clarence weep, and so do I;
I for an Edward weep, so do not they.
Alas! You three on me, threefold distress’d,
Pour all your tears. I am your sorrow’s nurse,
And I will pamper it with lamentation.
Comfort, dear mother, God is much displeas’d
That you take with unthankfulness his doing.
In common worldly things ’tis call’d ungrateful
With dull unwillingness to repay a debt,
Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent;
Much more to be thus opposite with heaven,
For it requires the royal debt it lent you.
Madam, bethink you like a careful mother
Of the young Prince your son. Send straight for him,
Let him be crown’d, in him your comfort lives.
Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward’s grave,
And plant your joys in living Edward’s throne.
Enter Richard of Gloucester, Buckingham, Stanley Earl of Derby, Hastings, and Ratcliffe.
Sister, have comfort. All of us have cause
To wail the dimming of our shining star;
But none can help our harms by wailing them.
Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy,
I did not see your Grace. Humbly on my knee
I crave your blessing.
God bless thee, and put meekness in thy breast,
Love, charity, obedience, and true duty!
And make me die a good old man!
That is the butt-end of a mother’s blessing.
I marvel that her Grace did leave it out.
You cloudy princes and heart-sorrowing peers
That bear this heavy mutual load of moan,
Now cheer each other in each other’s love.
Though we have spent our harvest of this king,
We are to reap the harvest of his son.
The broken rancor of your high-swoll’n hates,
But lately splinter’d, knit, and join’d together,
Must gently be preserv’d, cherish’d, and kept.
Me seemeth good that, with some little train,
Forthwith from Ludlow the young Prince be fet
Hither to London, to be crown’d our king.
Why with some little train, my Lord of Buckingham?
Marry, my lord, lest by a multitude
The new-heal’d wound of malice should break out,
Which would be so much the more dangerous,
By how much the estate is green and yet ungovern’d.
Where every horse bears his commanding rein
And may direct his course as please himself,
As well the fear of harm, as harm apparent,
In my opinion, ought to be prevented.
I hope the King made peace with all of us,
And the compact is firm and true in me.
And so in me, and so (I think) in all.
Yet since it is but green, it should be put
To no apparent likelihood of breach,
Which haply by much company might be urg’d;
Therefore I say with noble Buckingham,
That it is meet so few should fetch the Prince.
And so say I.
Then be it so, and go we to determine
Who they shall be that straight shall post to Ludlow.
Madam, and you, my sister, will you go
To give your censures in this business?
With all our hearts.
Exeunt. Manent Buckingham and Richard.
My lord, whoever journeys to the Prince,
For God sake let not us two stay at home;
For by the way, I’ll sort occasion,
As index to the story we late talk’d of,
To part the Queen’s proud kindred from the Prince.
My other self, my counsel’s consistory,
My oracle, my prophet, my dear cousin,
I, as a child, will go by thy direction.
Toward Ludlow then, for we’ll not stay behind.