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Richard III Scenes

Scene 1

London. A street.

(Prince Edward; Duke of Gloucester; Duke of Buckingham; Cardinal Bourchier; Catesby; Lord Mayor; Lord Hastings; York)

Richard, Buckingham and others escort the new King to London. The boy wishes his other uncles were with them, but Richard assures him that they were traitors. They expect to find the Queen and York waiting for them, but Lord Hastings informs them that they have taken sanctuary. They send Cardinal Bourchier to bring York, overcoming his scruples about infringing sanctuary. Richard suggests to the King that he should spend the time until his coronation at the Tower. York arrives, and trades jokes with Richard, though he goes too far when he refers to Richard’s crooked back. Both children are suspicious of Richard, but they go to the Tower all the same, despite York’s fear of ghosts. Buckingham and Richard send Catesby to find out whether Hastings would support Richard in taking the throne. Richard suggests chopping off Lord Hastings’s head if he will not join them, and promises Buckingham the earldom of Herford once he is King. (201 lines)

The trumpets sound. Enter young Prince Edward, the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham, Lord Cardinal Bourchier, Catesby, with others.


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 sug’red 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 Lord Mayor and his Train.


God bless your Grace with health and happy days!


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

Mayor and Train stand aside.

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!

Enter Lord Hastings.


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 never till now.


My lord, you shall overrule 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.

Exeunt Cardinal and Lord Hastings.

Say, uncle Gloucester, 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 regist’red,

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 valor did enrich his wit,

His wit set down to make his valor 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?


And 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.

Enter young York, Hastings, Cardinal Bourchier.


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.


Aside to Hastings

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, will’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 murd’red there.


I fear no uncles dead.


Nor none that live, I hope.


And if they live, I hope I need not feat.

But come, my lord; with a heavy heart,

Thinking on them, go I unto the Tower.

A sennet. Exeunt Prince Edward, York, Hastings, Cardinal Bourchier, and others. Manent Richard, Buckingham, and Catesby.


Think you, my lord, this little prating York

Was not incensed by his subtile mother

To taunt and scorn you thus opprobriously?


No doubt, no doubt. O, ’tis a perilous 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 installment 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 tomorrow 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 tomorrow hold divided Councils,

Wherein thyself shalt highly be employ’d.


Commend me to Lord William. Tell him, Catesby,

His ancient knot of dangerous adversaries

Tomorrow 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 House, there shall you find us both.

Exit Catesby.


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

Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots?


Chop off his head! Something we will determine.

And look when I am king, claim thou of me

The earldom of Herford, and all the moveables

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.



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