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Richard III - Act 1, scene 1
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Navigate this workRichard III - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
Richard, alone onstage, reveals his intention to play the villain. He then pretends to console Clarence, the first victim of this villainy. After Clarence is led off toward prison, Richard greets Hastings, who tells him that King Edward is very ill. Richard, once again alone onstage, outlines his plan to have Clarence killed and to marry Lady Anne.Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, alone.
0001 Now is the winter of our discontent
0002 Made glorious summer by this son of York,
0003 And all the clouds that loured upon our house
0004 In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
0005 5 Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
0006 Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
0007 Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
0008 Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
0009 Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
0010 10 And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds
0011 To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
0012 He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
0013 To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
0014 But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
0015 15 Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
0016 I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty
0017 To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
0018 I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
0019 Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
0020 20 Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
0021 Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
0022 And that so lamely and unfashionable
0023 That dogs bark at me as I halt by them—
p. 110024 Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
0025 25 Have no delight to pass away the time,
0026 Unless to see my shadow in the sun
0027 And descant on mine own deformity.
0028 And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
0029 To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
0030 30 I am determinèd to prove a villain
0031 And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
0032 Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
0033 By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
0034 To set my brother Clarence and the King
0035 35 In deadly hate, the one against the other;
0036 And if King Edward be as true and just
0037 As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
0038 This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
0039 About a prophecy which says that “G”
0040 40 Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
0041 Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence
Enter Clarence, guarded, and Brakenbury.
0043 Brother, good day. What means this armèd guard
0044 That waits upon your Grace?
CLARENCE 0045 45 His Majesty,
0046 Tend’ring my person’s safety, hath appointed
0047 This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
0048 Upon what cause?
CLARENCE 0049 Because my name is
0050 50 George.
0051 Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours.
0052 He should, for that, commit your godfathers.
0053 O, belike his Majesty hath some intent
0054 That you should be new christened in the Tower.
0055 55 But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know?
0056 Yea, Richard, when I know, ⟨for⟩ I protest
0057 As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,
0058 He hearkens after prophecies and dreams,
0059 And from the crossrow plucks the letter G,
0060 60 And says a wizard told him that by “G”
0061 His issue disinherited should be.
0062 And for my name of George begins with G,
0063 It follows in his thought that I am he.
0064 These, as I learn, and such like toys as these
0065 65 Hath moved his Highness to commit me now.
0066 Why, this it is when men are ruled by women.
0067 ’Tis not the King that sends you to the Tower.
0068 My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, ’tis she
0069 That ⟨tempers⟩ him to this extremity.
0070 70 Was it not she and that good man of worship,
0071 Anthony Woodeville, her brother there,
0072 That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
0073 From whence this present day he is delivered?
0074 We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.
0075 75 By heaven, I think there is no man secure
0076 But the Queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds
0077 That trudge betwixt the King and Mistress Shore.
0078 Heard you not what an humble suppliant
0079 Lord Hastings was ⟨to her⟩ for ⟨his⟩ delivery?
0080 80 Humbly complaining to her Deity
0081 Got my Lord Chamberlain his liberty.
0082 I’ll tell you what: I think it is our way,
0083 If we will keep in favor with the King,
0084 To be her men and wear her livery.
0085 85 The jealous o’erworn widow and herself,
0086 Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
0087 Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.
0088 I beseech your Graces both to pardon me.
0089 His Majesty hath straitly given in charge
0090 90 That no man shall have private conference,
0091 Of what degree soever, with your brother.
0092 Even so. An please your Worship, Brakenbury,
0093 You may partake of anything we say.
0094 We speak no treason, man. We say the King
0095 95 Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen
0096 Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous.
0097 We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot,
0098 A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue,
0099 And that the Queen’s kindred are made gentlefolks.
0100 100 How say you, sir? Can you deny all this?
0101 With this, my lord, myself have naught to do.
0102 Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee,
0104 He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
0105 105 Were best to do it secretly, alone.
0106 I do beseech your Grace to pardon me, and withal
0107 Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
0108 We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
0109 We are the Queen’s abjects and must obey.—
0110 110 Brother, farewell. I will unto the King,
0111 And whatsoe’er you will employ me in,
0112 Were it to call King Edward’s widow “sister,”
0113 I will perform it to enfranchise you.
0114 Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood
0115 115 Touches me deeper than you can imagine.
0116 I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
0117 Well, your imprisonment shall not be long.
0118 I will deliver you or else lie for you.
0119 Meantime, have patience.
CLARENCE 0120 120 I must, perforce. Farewell.
Exit Clarence, ⌜Brakenbury, and guard.⌝
0121 Go tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return.
0122 Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so
0123 That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
0124 If heaven will take the present at our hands.
0125 125 But who comes here? The new-delivered Hastings?
Enter Lord Hastings.
0126 Good time of day unto my gracious lord.
0127 As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.
0128 Well are you welcome to ⟨the⟩ open air.
0129 How hath your Lordship brooked imprisonment?
0130 130 With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must.
0131 But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
0132 That were the cause of my imprisonment.
0133 No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too,
0134 For they that were your enemies are his
0135 135 And have prevailed as much on him as you.
0136 More pity that the eagles should be mewed,
0137 Whiles kites and buzzards ⟨prey⟩ at liberty.
RICHARD 0138 What news abroad?
0139 No news so bad abroad as this at home:
p. 190140 140 The King is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
0141 And his physicians fear him mightily.
0142 Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed.
0143 O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
0144 And overmuch consumed his royal person.
0145 145 ’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
0146 Where is he, in his bed?
HASTINGS 0147 He is.
0148 Go you before, and I will follow you.
0149 He cannot live, I hope, and must not die
0150 150 Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
0151 I’ll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence
0152 With lies well steeled with weighty arguments,
0153 And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
0154 Clarence hath not another day to live;
0155 155 Which done, God take King Edward to His mercy,
0156 And leave the world for me to bustle in.
0157 For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter.
0158 What though I killed her husband and her father?
0159 The readiest way to make the wench amends
0160 160 Is to become her husband and her father;
0161 The which will I, not all so much for love
0162 As for another secret close intent
0163 By marrying her which I must reach unto.
0164 But yet I run before my horse to market.
0165 165 Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns.
0166 When they are gone, then must I count my gains.