London. Before the palace.
(Queen Margaret; Duchess of York; Queen Elizabeth; King Richard; Ratcliffe; Catesby; Lord Stanley; First Messenger; Second Messenger; Third Messenger; Fourth Messenger)
Queen Margaret comes to witness the grief of her enemies. Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of York come in, grieving over the death of their children/grandchildren. Margaret comes forth to remind them that they are not the only ones who have suffered. Together the women consider their woes and the need they have to curse. Margaret leaves for the final time. As Richard passes by with his army, his mother and sister-in-law accuse him of all his foul crimes, until he orders his drummers and trumpeters to drown them out. The Duchess of York gives him a mother’s curse, swearing never to see him again. After she leaves, Richard begins to speak to the dowager Queen about her daughter. Thinking he means to have her killed, she pleads for the girl’s life, but discovers that Richard wishes to marry her. She is horrified, but he argues with her just as he did with Anne; in the end, she appears to be won over. Richard is distracted as his various followers come in for news and instructions. Stanley brings news that Richmond has raised an army and is crossing over to England to claim the throne. Stanley offers to muster men, but Richard distrusts him and orders him to leave his son behind as a hostage. News of rebellion arrives from all corners of the kingdom, but soon there is also news that Buckingham has been defeated and captured. Richmond, however, has landed with his army. (557 lines)
Enter old Queen Margaret.
So now prosperity begins to mellow
And drop into the rotten mouth of death.
Here in these confines slyly have I lurk’d,
To watch the waning of mine enemies.
A dire induction am I witness to,
And will to France, hoping the consequence
Will prove as bitter, black, and tragical.
Withdraw thee, wretched Margaret; who comes here?
Enter Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth.
Ah, my poor princes! Ah, my tender babes!
My unblown flow’rs, new-appearing sweets!
If yet your gentle souls fly in the air
And be not fix’d in doom perpetual,
Hover about me with your aery wings
And hear your mother’s lamentation!
Hover about her; say that right for right
Hath dimm’d your infant morn to aged night.
So many miseries have craz’d my voice
That my woe-wearied tongue is still and mute.
Edward Plantagenet, why art thou dead?
Plantagenet doth quit Plantagenet,
Edward for Edward pays a dying debt.
Wilt thou, O God, fly from such gentle lambs,
And throw them in the entrails of the wolf?
When didst thou sleep when such a deed was done?
When holy Harry died, and my sweet son.
Dead life, blind sight, poor mortal-living ghost,
Woe’s scene, world’s shame, grave’s due by life usurp’d,
Brief abstract and record of tedious days,
Rest thy unrest on England’s lawful earth,
Unlawfully made drunk with innocent blood!
Ah, that thou wouldst as soon afford a grave
As thou canst yield a melancholy seat!
Then would I hide my bones, not rest them here.
Ah, who hath any cause to mourn but we?
Sitting down by her.
If ancient sorrow be most reverent,
Give mine the benefit of seniory,
And let my griefs frown on the upper hand.
If sorrow can admit society,
Sitting down with them.
Tell over your woes again by viewing mine:
I had an Edward, till a Richard kill’d him;
I had a Harry, till a Richard kill’d him:
Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill’d him;
Thou hadst a Richard, till a Richard kill’d him.
I had a Richard too, and thou didst kill him;
I had a Rutland too, thou holp’st to kill him.
Thou hadst a Clarence too, and Richard kill’d him.
From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept
A hell-hound that doth hunt us all to death:
That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes
To worry lambs and lap their gentle blood,
That foul defacer of God’s handiwork,
That excellent grand tyrant of the earth
That reigns in galled eyes of weeping souls,
Thy womb let loose to chase us to our graves.
O upright, just, and true-disposing God,
How do I thank thee that this carnal cur
Preys on the issue of his mother’s body,
And makes her pew-fellow with others’ moan!
O Harry’s wife, triumph not in my woes!
God witness with me, I have wept for thine.
Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge,
And now I cloy me with beholding it.
Thy Edward he is dead, that kill’d my Edward;
Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;
Young York he is but boot, because both they
Match’d not the high perfection of my loss.
Thy Clarence he is dead that stabb’d my Edward,
And the beholders of this frantic play,
Th’ adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
Untimely smoth’red in their dusky graves.
Richard yet lives, hell’s black intelligencer,
Only reserv’d their factor to buy souls
And send them thither; but at hand, at hand,
Ensues his piteous and unpitied end.
Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray,
To have him suddenly convey’d from hence.
Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray,
That I may live and say, “The dog is dead.”
O, thou didst prophesy the time would come
That I should wish for thee to help me curse
That bottled spider, that foul bunch-back’d toad!
I call’d thee then vain flourish of my fortune;
I call’d thee then poor shadow, painted queen,
The presentation of but what I was;
The flattering index of a direful pageant;
One heav’d a-high, to be hurl’d down below;
A mother only mock’d with two fair babes;
A dream of what thou wast, a garish flag
To be the aim of every dangerous shot;
A sign of dignity, a breath, a bubble;
A queen in jest, only to fill the scene.
Where is thy husband now? Where be thy brothers?
Where be thy two sons? Wherein dost thou joy?
Who sues, and kneels, and says, “God save the Queen”?
Where be the bending peers that flattered thee?
Where be the thronging troops that followed thee?
Decline all this, and see what now thou art:
For happy wife, a most distressed widow;
For joyful mother, one that wails the name;
For one being sued to, one that humbly sues;
For queen, a very caitiff crown’d with care;
For she that scorn’d at me, now scorn’d of me;
For she being feared of all, now fearing one;
For she commanding all, obey’d of none.
Thus hath the course of justice whirl’d about,
And left thee but a very prey to time,
Having no more but thought of what thou wast
To torture thee the more, being what thou art.
Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not
Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?
Now thy proud neck bears half my burden’d yoke,
From which even here I slip my weary head,
And leave the burden of it all on thee.
Farewell, York’s wife, and queen of sad mischance,
These English woes shall make me smile in France.
O thou well skill’d in curses, stay awhile,
And teach me how to curse mine enemies!
Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days;
Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is.
Bett’ring thy loss makes the bad causer worse;
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.
My words are dull, O, quicken them with thine!
Thy woes will make them sharp and pierce like mine.
Exit Queen Margaret.
Why should calamity be full of words?
Windy attorneys to their client’s woes,
Aery succeeders of intestate joys,
Poor breathing orators of miseries,
Let them have scope! Though what they will impart
Help nothing else, yet do they ease the heart.
If so then, be not tongue-tied; go with me,
And in the breath of bitter words let’s smother
My damned son that thy two sweet sons smother’d.
The trumpet sounds, be copious in exclaims.
Enter King Richard and his Train marching, with Drums and Trumpets.
Who intercepts me in my expedition?
O, she that might have intercepted thee,
By strangling thee in her accursed womb,
From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done!
Hid’st thou that forehead with a golden crown
Where should be branded, if that right were right,
The slaughter of the prince that ow’d that crown,
And the dire death of my poor sons and brothers?
Tell me, thou villain-slave, where are my children?
Thou toad, thou toad, where is thy brother Clarence?
And little Ned Plantagenet, his son?
Where is the gentle Rivers, Vaughan, Grey?
Where is kind Hastings?
A flourish, trumpets! Strike alarum, drums!
Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women
Rail on the Lord’s anointed. Strike, I say!
Either be patient and entreat me fair,
Or with the clamorous report of war
Thus will I drown your exclamations.
Art thou my son?
Ay, I thank God, my father, and yourself.
Then patiently hear my impatience.
Madam, I have a touch of your condition,
That cannot brook the accent of reproof.
O, let me speak!
Do then, but I’ll not hear.
I will be mild and gentle in my words.
And brief, good mother, for I am in haste.
Art thou so hasty? I have stay’d for thee,
God knows, in torment and in agony.
And came I not at last to comfort you?
No, by the holy rood, thou know’st it well,
Thou cam’st on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burden was thy birth to me,
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desp’rate, wild, and furious,
Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;
Thy age confirm’d, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful—kind in hatred.
What comfortable hour canst thou name
That ever grac’d me with thy company?
Faith, none, but Humphrey Hour, that call’d your Grace
To breakfast once, forth of my company.
If I be so disgracious in your eye,
Let me march on and not offend you, madam.
Strike up the drum.
I prithee hear me speak.
You speak too bitterly.
Hear me a word;
For I shall never speak to thee again.
Either thou wilt die by God’s just ordinance
Ere from this war thou turn a conqueror,
Or I with grief and extreme age shall perish
And never more behold thy face again.
Therefore take with thee my most grievous curse,
Which in the day of battle tire thee more
Than all the complete armor that thou wear’st!
My prayers on the adverse party fight,
And there the little souls of Edward’s children
Whisper the spirits of thine enemies
And promise them success and victory.
Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end;
Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.
Though far more cause, yet much less spirit to curse
Abides in me; I say amen to her.
Stay, madam, I must talk a word with you.
I have no more sons of the royal blood
For thee to slaughter. For my daughters, Richard,
They shall be praying nuns, not weeping queens;
And therefore level not to hit their lives.
You have a daughter call’d Elizabeth,
Virtuous and fair, royal and gracious.
And must she die for this? O, let her live!
And I’ll corrupt her manners, stain her beauty,
Slander myself as false to Edward’s bed,
Throw over her the veil of infamy.
So she may live unscarr’d of bleeding slaughter,
I will confess she was not Edward’s daughter.
Wrong not her birth, she is a royal princess.
To save her life, I’ll say she is not so.
Her life is safest only in her birth.
And only in that safety died her brothers.
Lo at their birth good stars were opposite.
No, to their lives ill friends were contrary.
All unavoided is the doom of destiny.
True—when avoided grace makes destiny:
My babes were destin’d to a fairer death,
If grace had blest thee with a fairer life.
You speak as if that I had slain my cousins!
Cousins indeed, and by their uncle cozen’d
Of comfort, kingdom, kindred, freedom, life.
Whose hand soever lanch’d their tender hearts,
Thy head (all indirectly) gave direction.
No doubt the murd’rous knife was dull and blunt
Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart
To revel in the entrails of my lambs.
But that still use of grief makes wild grief tame,
My tongue should to thy ears not name my boys
Till that my nails were anchor’d in thine eyes;
And I, in such a desp’rate bay of death,
Like a poor bark of sails and tackling reft,
Rush all to pieces on thy rocky bosom.
Madam, so thrive I in my enterprise
And dangerous success of bloody wars,
As I intend more good to you and yours
Than ever you or yours by me were harm’d!
What good is cover’d with the face of heaven,
To be discover’d, that can do me good?
Th’ advancement of your children, gentle lady.
Up to some scaffold, there to lose their heads.
Unto the dignity and height of fortune,
The high imperial type of this earth’s glory.
Flatter my sorrow with report of it;
Tell me, what state, what dignity, what honor,
Canst thou demise to any child of mine?
Even all I have—ay, and myself and all—
Will I withal endow a child of thine;
So in the Lethe of thy angry soul
Thou drown the sad remembrance of those wrongs
Which thou supposest I have done to thee.
Be brief, lest that the process of thy kindness
Last longer telling than thy kindness’ date.
Then know that from my soul I love thy daughter.
My daughter’s mother thinks it with her soul.
What do you think?
That thou dost love my daughter from thy soul;
So from thy soul’s love didst thou love her brothers,
And from my heart’s love I do thank thee for it.
Be not so hasty to confound my meaning:
I mean that with my soul I love thy daughter,
And do intend to make her Queen of England.
Well then, who dost thou mean shall be her king?
Even he that makes her queen. Who should be else?
Even so. How think you of it?
How canst thou woo her?
That would I learn of you,
As one being best acquainted with her humor.
And wilt thou learn of me?
Madam, with all my heart.
Send to her by the man that slew her brothers
A pair of bleeding hearts; thereon engrave
“Edward” and “York”; then haply will she weep.
Therefore present to her—as sometimes Margaret
Did to thy father, steep’d in Rutland’s blood—
A handkercher, which, say to her, did drain
The purple sap from her sweet brother’s body,
And bid her wipe her weeping eyes withal.
If this inducement move her not to love,
Send her a letter of thy noble deeds:
Tell her thou mad’st away her uncle Clarence,
Her uncle Rivers, ay (and for her sake!),
Mad’st quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne.
You mock me, madam, this is not the way
To win your daughter.
There is no other way,
Unless thou couldst put on some other shape
And not be Richard that hath done all this.
Say that I did all this for love of her.
Nay then indeed she cannot choose but hate thee,
Having bought love with such a bloody spoil.
Look what is done cannot be now amended:
Men shall deal unadvisedly sometimes,
Which after-hours gives leisure to repent.
If I did take the kingdom from your sons,
To make amends I’ll give it to your daughter;
If I have kill’d the issue of your womb,
To quicken your increase, I will beget
Mine issue of your blood upon your daughter.
A grandam’s name is little less in love
Than is the doting title of a mother;
They are as children but one step below,
Even of your metal, of your very blood;
Of all one pain, save for a night of groans
Endur’d of her, for whom you bid like sorrow.
Your children were vexation to your youth,
But mine shall be a comfort to your age.
The loss you have is but a son being king,
And by that loss your daughter is made queen.
I cannot make you what amends I would,
Therefore accept such kindness as I can.
Dorset your son, that with a fearful soul
Leads discontented steps in foreign soil,
This fair alliance quickly shall call home
To high promotions and great dignity.
The King, that calls your beauteous daughter wife,
Familiarly shall call thy Dorset brother;
Again shall you be mother to a king;
And all the ruins of distressful times
Repair’d with double riches of content.
What? We have many goodly days to see:
The liquid drops of tears that you have shed
Shall come again, transform’d to orient pearl,
Advantaging their love with interest
Of ten times double gain of happiness.
Go then, my mother, to thy daughter go,
Make bold her bashful years with your experience;
Prepare her ears to hear a wooer’s tale;
Put in her tender heart th’ aspiring flame
Of golden sovereignty; acquaint the Princess
With the sweet silent hours of marriage joys;
And when this arm of mine hath chastised
The petty rebel, dull-brain’d Buckingham,
Bound with triumphant garlands will I come
And lead thy daughter to a conqueror’s bed;
To whom I will retail my conquest won,
And she shall be sole victoress, Caesar’s Caesar.
What were I best to say? Her father’s brother
Would be her lord? Or shall I say her uncle?
Or he that slew her brothers and her uncles?
Under what title shall I woo for thee,
That God, the law, my honor, and her love
Can make seem pleasing to her tender years?
Infer fair England’s peace by this alliance.
Which she shall purchase with still-lasting war.
Tell her the King, that may command, entreats.
That at her hands which the King’s King forbids.
Say she shall be a high and mighty queen.
To vail the title, as her mother doth.
Say I will love her everlastingly.
But how long shall that title “ever” last?
Sweetly in force unto her fair live’s end.
But how long fairly shall her sweet life last?
As long as heaven and nature lengthens it.
As long as hell and Richard likes of it.
Say I, her sovereign, am her subject low.
But she, your subject, loathes such sovereignty.
Be eloquent in my behalf to her.
An honest tale speeds best being plainly told.
Then plainly to her tell my loving tale.
Plain and not honest is too harsh a style.
Your reasons are too shallow and too quick.
O no, my reasons are too deep and dead—
Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their graves.
Harp not on that string, madam, that is past.
Harp on it still shall I till heart-strings break.
Now by my George, my Garter, and my crown—
Profan’d, dishonor’d, and the third usurp’d.
By nothing, for this is no oath:
Thy George, profan’d, hath lost his lordly honor;
Thy Garter, blemish’d, pawn’d his knightly virtue;
Thy crown, usurp’d, disgrac’d his kingly glory.
If something thou wouldst swear to be believ’d,
Swear then by something that thou hast not wrong’d.
Then by myself—
Thyself is self-misus’d.
Now by the world—
’Tis full of thy foul wrongs.
My father’s death—
Thy life hath it dishonor’d.
Why then, by God—
God’s wrong is most of all:
If thou didst fear to break an oath with him,
The unity the King my husband made
Thou hadst not broken, nor my brothers died.
If thou hadst fear’d to break an oath by him,
Th’ imperial metal, circling now thy head,
Had grac’d the tender temples of my child,
And both the Princes had been breathing here,
Which now, two tender bedfellows for dust,
Thy broken faith hath made the prey for worms.
What canst thou swear by now?
The time to come.
That thou hast wronged in the time o’erpast;
For I myself have many tears to wash
Hereafter time, for time past wrong’d by thee.
The children live whose fathers thou hast slaughter’d,
Ungovern’d youth, to wail it in their age;
The parents live whose children thou hast butcher’d,
Old barren plants, to wail it with their age.
Swear not by time to come, for that thou hast
Misus’d ere us’d, by times ill-us’d o’erpast.
As I intend to prosper and repent,
So thrive I in my dangerous affairs
Of hostile arms! Myself myself confound!
Heaven and fortune bar me happy hours!
Day, yield me not thy light, nor, night, thy rest!
Be opposite all planets of good luck
To my proceeding, if with dear heart’s love,
Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts,
I tender not thy beauteous princely daughter!
In her consists my happiness and thine;
Without her, follows to myself and thee,
Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,
Death, desolation, ruin, and decay.
It cannot be avoided but by this;
It will not be avoided but by this.
Therefore, dear mother—I must call you so—
Be the attorney of my love to her.
Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve.
Urge the necessity and state of times,
And be not peevish-fond in great designs.
Shall I be tempted of the devil thus?
Ay, if the devil tempt you to do good.
Shall I forget myself to be myself?
Ay, if yourself’s remembrance wrong yourself.
Yet thou didst kill my children.
But in your daughter’s womb I bury them;
Where in that nest of spicery they will breed
Selves of themselves, to your recomforture.
Shall I go win my daughter to thy will?
And be a happy mother by the deed.
I go. Write to me very shortly,
And you shall understand from me her mind.
Bear her my true love’s kiss; and so farewell.
Exit Queen Elizabeth.
Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman!
Enter Ratcliffe, Catesby following.
How now? What news?
Most mighty sovereign, on the western coast
Rideth a puissant navy; to our shores
Throng many doubtful hollow-hearted friends,
Unarm’d, and unresolv’d to beat them back.
’Tis thought that Richmond is their admiral;
And there they hull, expecting but the aid
Of Buckingham to welcome them ashore.
Some light-foot friend post to the Duke of Norfolk;
Ratcliffe, thyself—or Catesby—where is he?
Here, my good lord.
Catesby, fly to the Duke.
I will, my lord, with all convenient haste.
Ratcliffe, come hither. Post to Salisbury;
When thou com’st thither—
Dull unmindful villain,
Why stay’st thou here, and go’st not to the Duke?
First, mighty liege, tell me your Highness’ pleasure,
What from your Grace I shall deliver to him.
O, true, good Catesby. Bid him levy straight
The greatest strength and power that he can make,
And meet me suddenly at Salisbury.
What, may it please you, shall I do at Salisbury?
Why, what wouldst thou do there before I go?
Your Highness told me I should post before.
My mind is chang’d.
Enter Lord Stanley.
Stanley, what news with you?
None good, my liege, to please you with the hearing,
Nor none so bad but well may be reported.
Hoy-day, a riddle! Neither good nor bad!
What need’st thou run so many miles about,
When thou mayest tell thy tale the nearest way?
Once more, what news?
Richmond is on the seas.
There let him sink, and be the seas on him!
White-liver’d runagate, what doth he there?
I know not, mighty sovereign, but by guess.
Well, as you guess?
Stirr’d up by Dorset, Buckingham, and Morton,
He makes for England, here to claim the crown.
Is the chair empty? Is the sword unsway’d?
Is the King dead? The empire unpossess’d?
What heir of York is there alive but we?
And who is England’s king but great York’s heir?
Then tell me, what makes he upon the seas?
Unless for that, my liege, I cannot guess.
Unless for that he comes to be your liege,
You cannot guess wherefore the Welshman comes.
Thou wilt revolt and fly to him, I fear.
No, my good lord, therefore mistrust me not.
Where is thy power then, to beat him back?
Where be thy tenants and thy followers?
Are they not now upon the western shore,
Safe-conducting the rebels from their ships?
No, my good lord, my friends are in the north.
Cold friends to me! What do they in the north,
When they should serve their sovereign in the west?
They have not been commanded, mighty King.
Pleaseth your Majesty to give me leave,
I’ll muster up my friends and meet your Grace
Where and what time your Majesty shall please.
Ay, thou wouldst be gone to join with Richmond;
But I’ll not trust thee.
Most mighty sovereign,
You have no cause to hold my friendship doubtful.
I never was nor never will be false.
Go then, and muster men; but leave behind
Your son, George Stanley. Look your heart be firm,
Or else his head’s assurance is but frail.
So deal with him as I prove true to you.
Enter First Messenger.
My gracious sovereign, now in Devonshire,
As I by friends am well advertised,
Sir Edward Courtney and the haughty prelate,
Bishop of Exeter, his elder brother,
With many more confederates, are in arms.
Enter another Messenger.
In Kent, my liege, the Guilfords are in arms,
And every hour more competitors
Flock to the rebels, and their power grows strong.
Enter another Messenger.
My lord, the army of great Buckingham—
Out on you, owls! Nothing but songs of death?
He striketh him.
There, take thou that, till thou bring better news.
The news I have to tell your Majesty
Is that by sudden floods and fall of waters
Buckingham’s army is dispers’d and scatter’d,
And he himself wand’red away alone,
No man knows whither.
I cry thee mercy;
There is my purse to cure that blow of thine.
Hath any well-advised friend proclaim’d
Reward to him that brings the traitor in?
Such proclamation hath been made, my lord.
Enter another Messenger.
Sir Thomas Lovel and Lord Marquess Dorset,
’Tis said, my liege, in Yorkshire are in arms.
But this good comfort bring I to your Highness:
The Britain navy is dispers’d by tempest.
Richmond in Dorsetshire sent out a boat
Unto the shore, to ask those on the banks
If they were his assistants, yea or no;
Who answer’d him, they came from Buckingham
Upon his party. He, mistrusting them,
Hois’d sail, and made his course again for Britain.
March on, march on, since we are up in arms,
If not to fight with foreign enemies,
Yet to beat down these rebels here at home.
My liege, the Duke of Buckingham is taken—
That is the best news. That the Earl of Richmond
Is with a mighty power landed at Milford
Is colder tidings, yet they must be told.
Away towards Salisbury! While we reason here,
A royal battle might be won and lost.
Some one take order Buckingham be brought
To Salisbury, the rest march on with me.