William Shakespeare: Richard III, Act IV
Enter, on one side, Queen Elizabeth, Duchess OF York, and Dorset; on the other, Anne, Duchess of Gloucester, leading Lady Margaret Plantagenet, Clarence's young Daughter
Who meets us here? my niece Plantagenet Led in the hand of her kind aunt of Gloucester? Now, for my life, she's wandering to the Tower, On pure heart's love to greet the tender princes. Daughter, well met.
No farther than the Tower; and, as I guess, Upon the like devotion as yourselves, To gratulate the gentle princes there.
Kind sister, thanks: we'll enter all together.
And, in good time, here the lieutenant comes. Master lieutenant, pray you, by your leave, How doth the prince, and my young son of York?
Right well, dear madam. By your patience, I may not suffer you to visit them; The king hath straitly charged the contrary.
The Lord protect him from that kingly title! Hath he set bounds betwixt their love and me? I am their mother; who should keep me from them?
Their aunt I am in law, in love their mother: Then bring me to their sights; I'll bear thy blame And take thy office from thee, on my peril.
Enter Lord Stanley
Let me but meet you, ladies, one hour hence, And I'll salute your grace of York as mother, And reverend looker on, of two fair queens.
To Lady Anne
Come, madam, you must straight to Westminster, There to be crowned Richard's royal queen.
O, cut my lace in sunder, that my pent heart May have some scope to beat, or else I swoon With this dead-killing news!
O Dorset, speak not to me, get thee hence! Death and destruction dog thee at the heels; Thy mother's name is ominous to children. If thou wilt outstrip death, go cross the seas, And live with Richmond, from the reach of hell Go, hie thee, hie thee from this slaughter-house, Lest thou increase the number of the dead; And make me die the thrall of Margaret's curse, Nor mother, wife, nor England's counted queen.
Full of wise care is this your counsel, madam. Take all the swift advantage of the hours; You shall have letters from me to my son To meet you on the way, and welcome you. Be not ta'en tardy by unwise delay.
O ill-dispersing wind of misery! O my accursed womb, the bed of death! A cockatrice hast thou hatch'd to the world, Whose unavoided eye is murderous.
And I in all unwillingness will go. I would to God that the inclusive verge Of golden metal that must round my brow Were red-hot steel, to sear me to the brain! Anointed let me be with deadly venom, And die, ere men can say, God save the queen!
No! why? When he that is my husband now Came to me, as I follow'd Henry's corse, When scarce the blood was well wash'd from his hands Which issued from my other angel husband And that dead saint which then I weeping follow'd; O, when, I say, I look'd on Richard's face, This was my wish: 'Be thou,' quoth I, ' accursed, For making me, so young, so old a widow! And, when thou wed'st, let sorrow haunt thy bed; And be thy wife—if any be so mad— As miserable by the life of thee As thou hast made me by my dear lord's death! Lo, ere I can repeat this curse again, Even in so short a space, my woman's heart Grossly grew captive to his honey words And proved the subject of my own soul's curse, Which ever since hath kept my eyes from rest; For never yet one hour in his bed Have I enjoy'd the golden dew of sleep, But have been waked by his timorous dreams. Besides, he hates me for my father Warwick; And will, no doubt, shortly be rid of me.
Go thou to Richmond, and good fortune guide thee!
To Lady Anne
Go thou to Richard, and good angels guard thee!
To Queen Elizabeth
Go thou to sanctuary, and good thoughts possess thee! I to my grave, where peace and rest lie with me! Eighty odd years of sorrow have I seen, And each hour's joy wrecked with a week of teen.
Stay, yet look back with me unto the Tower. Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes Whom envy hath immured within your walls! Rough cradle for such little pretty ones! Rude ragged nurse, old sullen playfellow For tender princes, use my babies well! So foolish sorrow bids your stones farewell.