William Shakespeare: Richard III, Act IV, Scene IV
Enter Queen Margaret
So, now prosperity begins to mellow And drop into the rotten mouth of death. Here in these confines slily have I lurk'd, To watch the waning of mine adversaries. 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 Queen Elizabeth and the Duchess of York
Ah, my young princes! ah, my tender babes! My unblown flowers, 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 airy 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 crazed my voice, That my woe-wearied tongue is mute and dumb, Edward Plantagenet, why art thou dead?
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?
Blind sight, dead life, 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 innocents' blood!
O, that thou wouldst as well afford a grave As thou canst yield a melancholy seat! Then would I hide my bones, not rest them here. O, who hath any cause to mourn but I?
Sitting down by her
If ancient sorrow be most reverend, Give mine the benefit of seniory, And let my woes frown on the upper hand. If sorrow can admit society,
Sitting down with them
Tell o'er 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 killed 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!
Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge, And now I cloy me with beholding it. Thy Edward he is dead, that stabb'd my Edward: Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward; Young York he is but boot, because both they Match not the high perfection of my loss: Thy Clarence he is dead that kill'd my Edward; And the beholders of this tragic play, The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey, Untimely smother'd in their dusky graves. Richard yet lives, hell's black intelligencer, Only reserved 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 away. Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I prey, That I may live to 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 heaved a-high, to be hurl'd down below; A mother only mock'd with two sweet babes; A dream of what thou wert, a breath, a bubble, A sign of dignity, a garish flag, To be the aim of every dangerous shot, A queen in jest, only to fill the scene. Where is thy husband now? where be thy brothers? Where are thy children? wherein dost thou, joy? Who sues to thee and cries 'God save the queen'? Where be the bending peers that flatter'd thee? Where be the thronging troops that follow'd 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 queen, a very caitiff crown'd with care; For one being sued to, one that humbly sues; For one that scorn'd at me, now scorn'd of me; For one being fear'd of all, now fearing one; For one commanding all, obey'd of none. Thus hath the course of justice wheel'd about, And left thee but a very prey to time; Having no more but thought of what thou wert, 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 burthen'd yoke; From which even here I slip my weary neck, And leave the burthen of it all on thee. Farewell, York's wife, and queen of sad mischance: These English woes will make me smile in France.
Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days; Compare dead happiness with living woe; Think that thy babes were fairer than they were, And he that slew them fouler than he is: Bettering thy loss makes the bad causer worse: Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.
Windy attorneys to their client woes, Airy succeeders of intestate joys, Poor breathing orators of miseries! Let them have scope: though what they do impart Help not all, 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, which thy two sweet sons smother'd. I hear his drum: be copious in exclaims.
Enter King Richard III, marching, with drums and trumpets
O, she that might have intercepted thee, By strangling thee in her accursed womb From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done!
Hidest thou that forehead with a golden crown, Where should be graven, if that right were right, The slaughter of the prince that owed that crown, And the dire death of my two 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?
A flourish, trumpets! strike alarum, drums! Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women Rail on the Lord's enointed: strike, I say!
Either be patient, and entreat me fair, Or with the clamorous report of war Thus will I drown your exclamations.
No, by the holy rood, thou know'st it well, Thou camest on earth to make the earth my hell. A grievous burthen was thy birth to me; Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy; Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious, Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous, Thy age confirm'd, proud, subdued, bloody, treacherous, More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred: What comfortable hour canst thou name, That ever graced me in 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 sight, Let me march on, and not offend your grace. Strike the drum.
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 look upon thy face again. Therefore take with thee my most heavy curse; Which, in the day of battle, tire thee more Than all the complete armour 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 all.
I have no more sons of the royal blood For thee to murder: for my daughters, Richard, They shall be praying nuns, not weeping queens; And therefore level not to hit their lives.
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.
True, when avoided grace makes destiny: My babes were destined to a fairer death, If grace had bless'd thee with a fairer life.
Cousins, indeed; and by their uncle cozen'd Of comfort, kingdom, kindred, freedom, life. Whose hand soever lanced their tender hearts, Thy head, all indirectly, gave direction: No doubt the murderous 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 desperate 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 were by me wrong'd!
No, to the dignity and height of honour The high imperial type of this earth's glory.
Flatter my sorrows with report of it; Tell me what state, what dignity, what honour, Canst thou demise to any child of mine?
Even all I have; yea, 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 be process of thy kindness Last longer telling than thy kindness' date.
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 mean to make her queen of England.
Send to her, by the man that slew her brothers, A pair of bleeding-hearts; thereon engrave Edward and York; then haply she will weep: Therefore present to her—as sometime Margaret Did to thy father, steep'd in Rutland's blood,— A handkerchief; which, say to her, did drain The purple sap from her sweet brother's body And bid her dry her weeping eyes therewith. If this inducement force her not to love, Send her a story of thy noble acts; Tell her thou madest away her uncle Clarence, Her uncle Rivers; yea, and, for her sake, Madest quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne.
There is no other way Unless thou couldst put on some other shape, And not be Richard that hath done all this.
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 give leisure to repent. If I did take the kingdom from your sons, To make amends, Ill 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 mettle, of your very blood; Of an one pain, save for a night of groans Endured 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 loan 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 the 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 victress, 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 honour and her love, Can make seem pleasing to her tender years?
O no, my reasons are too deep and dead; Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their grave.
By nothing; for this is no oath: The George, profaned, hath lost his holy honour; The garter, blemish'd, pawn'd his knightly virtue; The crown, usurp'd, disgraced his kingly glory. If something thou wilt swear to be believed, Swear then by something that thou hast not wrong'd.
God's wrong is most of all. If thou hadst fear'd to break an oath by Him, The unity the king thy brother made Had not been broken, nor my brother slain: If thou hadst fear'd to break an oath by Him, The imperial metal, circling now thy brow, Had graced the tender temples of my child, And both the princes had been breathing here, Which now, two tender playfellows to dust, Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms. What canst thou swear by now?
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 parents thou hast slaughter'd, Ungovern'd youth, to wail it in their age; The parents live, whose children thou hast butcher'd, Old wither'd plants, to wail it with their age. Swear not by time to come; for that thou hast Misused ere used, by time misused o'erpast.
As I intend to prosper and repent, So thrive I in my dangerous attempt 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 proceedings, if, with pure 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 this land and me, To thee, herself, 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, good mother,—I must can 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.
But in your daughter's womb I bury them: Where in that nest of spicery they shall breed Selves of themselves, to your recomforture.
Bear her my true love's kiss; and so, farewell.
Exit Queen Elizabeth
Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman!
Enter Ratcliff; Catesby following
How now! what news?
My gracious sovereign, on the western coast Rideth a puissant navy; to the shore Throng many doubtful hollow-hearted friends, Unarm'd, and unresolved 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: Ratcliff, thyself, or Catesby; where is he?
Fly to the duke:
Post thou to Salisbury When thou comest thither—
Dull, unmindful villain, Why stand'st thou still, and go'st not to the duke?
O, true, good Catesby: bid him levy straight The greatest strength and power he can make, And meet me presently at Salisbury.
My mind is changed, sir, my mind is changed.
How now, what news with you?
None good, my lord, to please you with the hearing; Nor none so bad, but it may well be told.
Hoyday, a riddle! neither good nor bad! Why dost thou run so many mile about, When thou mayst tell thy tale a nearer way? Once more, what news?
There let him sink, and be the seas on him! White-liver'd runagate, what doth he there?
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 doth he upon the sea?
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.
Where is thy power, then, to beat him back? Where are thy tenants and thy followers? Are they not now upon the western shore. Safe-conducting the rebels from their ships!
Cold friends to Richard: what do they in the north, When they should serve their sovereign in the west?
They have not been commanded, mighty sovereign: Please it your majesty to give me leave, I'll muster up my friends, and meet your grace Where and what time your majesty shall please.
Most mighty sovereign, You have no cause to hold my friendship doubtful: I never was nor never will be false.
Well, Go muster men; but, hear you, leave behind Your son, George Stanley: look your faith be firm. Or else his head's assurance is but frail.
Enter a 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 brother there, With many more confederates, are in arms.
Enter another Messenger
My liege, in Kent the Guildfords are in arms; And every hour more competitors Flock to their aid, and still their power increaseth.
Enter another Messenger
Out on you, owls! nothing but songs of death?
He striketh him
Take that, until thou bring me better news.
The news I have to tell your majesty Is, that by sudden floods and fall of waters, Buckingham's army is dispersed and scatter'd; And he himself wander'd 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?
Enter another Messenger
Sir Thomas Lovel and Lord Marquis Dorset, 'Tis said, my liege, in Yorkshire are in arms. Yet this good comfort bring I to your grace, The Breton navy is dispersed by tempest: Richmond, in Yorkshire, 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, Hoisted sail and made away for Brittany.
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.