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Richard III Scenes

Scene 3

London. A street.

(First Citizen; Second Citizen; Third Citizen)

Three citizens express their fears of the events that are to follow the King’s death. (49 lines)

Enter one Citizen at one door and another at the other.

1. CIT.

Good morrow, neighbor, whither away so fast?

2. CIT.

I promise you, I scarcely know myself.

Hear you the news abroad?

1. CIT.

Yes, that the King is dead.

2. CIT.

Ill news, by’r lady—seldom comes the better.

I fear, I fear ’twill prove a giddy world.

Enter another Citizen.

3. CIT.

Neighbors, God speed!

1. CIT.

Give you good morrow, sir.

3. CIT.

Doth the news hold of good King Edward’s death?

2. CIT.

Ay, sir, it is too true, God help the while!

3. CIT.

Then, masters, look to see a troublous world.

1. CIT.

No, no, by God’s good grace his son shall reign.

3. CIT.

Woe to that land that’s govern’d by a child!

2. CIT.

In him there is a hope of government,

Which in his nonage, council under him,

And in his full and ripened years, himself,

No doubt shall then, and till then, govern well.

1. CIT.

So stood the state when Henry the Sixth

Was crown’d in Paris but at nine months old.

3. CIT.

Stood the state so? No, no, good friends, God wot,

For then this land was famously enrich’d

With politic grave counsel; then the King

Had virtuous uncles to protect his Grace.

1. CIT.

Why, so hath this, both by his father and mother.

3. CIT.

Better it were they all came by his father,

Or by his father there were none at all;

For emulation who shall now be nearest

Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not.

O, full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester,

And the Queen’s sons and brothers haught and proud!

And were they to be rul’d, and not to rule,

This sickly land might solace as before.

1. CIT.

Come, come, we fear the worst; all will be well.

3. CIT.

When clouds are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;

When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand;

When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?

Untimely storms makes men expect a dearth.

All may be well; but if God sort it so,

’Tis more than we deserve or I expect.

2. CIT.

Truly, the hearts of men are full of fear.

You cannot reason (almost) with a man

That looks not heavily and full of dread.

3. CIT.

Before the days of change, still is it so.

By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust

Ensuing danger; as by proof we see

The water swell before a boist’rous storm.

But leave it all to God. Whither away?

2. CIT.

Marry, we were sent for to the justices.

3. CIT.

And so was I. I’ll bear you company.



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