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Richard III - Act 1, scene 2
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Navigate this workRichard III - Act 1, scene 2
Act 1, scene 2
Richard woos Lady Anne over the corpse of King Henry VI, Anne’s father-in-law, whom Richard murdered.Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth ⌜on a bier,⌝ with
Halberds to guard it, Lady Anne being the mourner,
⌜accompanied by Gentlemen.⌝
0167 Set down, set down your honorable load,
0168 If honor may be shrouded in a hearse,
0169 Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
0170 Th’ untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
⌜They set down the bier.⌝
0171 5 Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,
0172 Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster,
0173 Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood,
0174 Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
0175 To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
0176 10 Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son,
0177 Stabbed by the selfsame hand that made these
0179 Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
0180 I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
0181 15 O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes;
0182 Cursèd the heart that had the heart to do it;
0183 Cursèd the blood that let this blood from hence.
0184 More direful hap betide that hated wretch
0185 That makes us wretched by the death of thee
0186 20 Than I can wish to wolves, to spiders, toads,
0187 Or any creeping venomed thing that lives.
0188 If ever he have child, abortive be it,
0189 Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
0190 Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
0191 25 May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
0192 And that be heir to his unhappiness.
0193 If ever he have wife, let her be made
0194 More miserable by the death of him
0195 Than I am made by my young lord and thee.—
p. 230196 30 Come now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
0197 Taken from Paul’s to be interrèd there.
⌜They take up the bier.⌝
0198 And still, as you are weary of this weight,
0199 Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
0200 Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.
0201 35 What black magician conjures up this fiend
0202 To stop devoted charitable deeds?
0203 Villains, set down the corse or, by Saint Paul,
0204 I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys.
0205 My lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.
0206 40 Unmannered dog, ⟨stand⟩ thou when I command!—
0207 Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
0208 Or by Saint Paul I’ll strike thee to my foot
0209 And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
⌜They set down the bier.⌝
ANNE, ⌜to the Gentlemen and Halberds⌝
0210 What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid?
0211 45 Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal,
0212 And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.—
0213 Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell.
0214 Thou hadst but power over his mortal body;
0215 His soul thou canst not have. Therefore begone.
0216 50 Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
0217 Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us
0219 For thou hast made the happy Earth thy hell,
p. 250220 Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
0221 55 If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
0222 Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
⌜She points to the corpse.⌝
0223 O, gentlemen, see, see dead Henry’s wounds
0224 Open their congealed mouths and bleed afresh!—
0225 Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
0226 60 For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood
0227 From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells.
0228 Thy deeds, inhuman and unnatural,
0229 Provokes this deluge most unnatural.—
0230 O God, which this blood mad’st, revenge his death!
0231 65 O Earth, which this blood drink’st, revenge his
0233 Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer
0235 Or Earth gape open wide and eat him quick,
0236 70 As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood,
0237 Which his hell-governed arm hath butcherèd.
0238 Lady, you know no rules of charity,
0239 Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.
0240 Villain, thou know’st nor law of God nor man.
0241 75 No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
0242 But I know none, and therefore am no beast.
0243 O, wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
0244 More wonderful, when angels are so angry.
0245 Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
0246 80 Of these supposèd crimes to give me leave
0247 By circumstance but to acquit myself.
0248 Vouchsafe, defused infection of ⟨a⟩ man,
p. 270249 Of these known evils but to give me leave
0250 By circumstance to curse thy cursèd self.
0251 85 Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
0252 Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
0253 Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
0254 No excuse current but to hang thyself.
0255 By such despair I should accuse myself.
0256 90 And by despairing shalt thou stand excused
0257 For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
0258 That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
RICHARD 0259 Say that I slew them not.
ANNE 0260 Then say they were not slain.
0261 95 But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
RICHARD 0262 I did not kill your husband.
ANNE 0263 Why then, he is alive.
0264 Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hands.
0265 In thy foul throat thou liest. Queen Margaret saw
0266 100 Thy murd’rous falchion smoking in his blood,
0267 The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
0268 But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
0269 I was provokèd by her sland’rous tongue,
0270 That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
0271 105 Thou wast provokèd by thy bloody mind,
0272 That never dream’st on aught but butcheries.
0273 Didst thou not kill this king?
RICHARD 0274 I grant you.
0275 Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me too
p. 290276 110 Thou mayst be damnèd for that wicked deed.
0277 O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
0278 The better for the King of heaven that hath him.
0279 He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
0280 Let him thank me, that holp to send him thither,
0281 115 For he was fitter for that place than Earth.
0282 And thou unfit for any place but hell.
0283 Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
ANNE 0284 Some dungeon.
RICHARD 0285 Your bedchamber.
0286 120 Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
0287 So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
0288 I hope so.
RICHARD 0289 I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
0290 To leave this keen encounter of our wits
0291 125 And fall something into a slower method:
0292 Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
0293 Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
0294 As blameful as the executioner?
0295 Thou wast the cause and most accursed effect.
0296 130 Your beauty was the cause of that effect—
0297 Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep
0298 To undertake the death of all the world,
0299 So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.
0300 If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,
p. 310301 135 These nails should rend that beauty from my
0303 These eyes could not endure that beauty’s wrack.
0304 You should not blemish it, if I stood by.
0305 As all the world is cheerèd by the sun,
0306 140 So I by that. It is my day, my life.
0307 Black night o’ershade thy day, and death thy life.
0308 Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both.
0309 I would I were, to be revenged on thee.
0310 It is a quarrel most unnatural
0311 145 To be revenged on him that loveth thee.
0312 It is a quarrel just and reasonable
0313 To be revenged on him that killed my husband.
0314 He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband
0315 Did it to help thee to a better husband.
0316 150 His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
0317 He lives that loves thee better than he could.
0318 Name him.
RICHARD 0319 Plantagenet.
ANNE 0320 Why, that was he.
0321 155 The selfsame name, but one of better nature.
0322 Where is he?
RICHARD 0323 Here. (⟨She⟩ spits at him.) Why dost
0324 thou spit at me?
0325 Would it were mortal poison for thy sake.
0326 160 Never came poison from so sweet a place.
0327 Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
0328 Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.
0329 Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.
0330 Would they were basilisks’ to strike thee dead.
0331 165 I would they were, that I might die at once,
0332 For now they kill me with a living death.
0333 Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt
0335 Shamed their aspects with store of childish drops.
0336 170 These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear—
0337 No, when my father York and Edward wept
0338 To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
0339 When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;
0340 Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,
0341 175 Told the sad story of my father’s death
0342 And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
0343 That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
0344 Like trees bedashed with rain—in that sad time,
0345 My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
0346 180 And what these sorrows could not thence exhale
0347 Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with
0349 I never sued to friend nor enemy;
0350 My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word.
0351 185 But now thy beauty is proposed my fee,
0352 My proud heart sues and prompts my tongue to
0353 speak.She looks scornfully at him.
0354 Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made
p. 350355 For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
0356 190 If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
0357 Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword,
0358 Which if thou please to hide in this true breast
0359 And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
0360 I lay it naked to the deadly stroke
0361 195 And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
He ⌜kneels and⌝ lays his breast open;
she offers at ⌜it⌝ with his sword.
0362 Nay, do not pause, for I did kill King Henry—
0363 But ’twas thy beauty that provokèd me.
0364 Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabbed young
0366 200 But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
She falls the sword.
0367 Take up the sword again, or take up me.
0368 Arise, dissembler. Though I wish thy death,
0369 I will not be thy executioner.
0370 Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.
0371 205 I have already.
RICHARD 0372 That was in thy rage.
0373 Speak it again and, even with the word,
0374 This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,
0375 Shall for thy love kill a far truer love.
0376 210 To both their deaths shalt thou be accessory.
ANNE 0377 I would I knew thy heart.
RICHARD 0378 ’Tis figured in my tongue.
ANNE 0379 I fear me both are false.
RICHARD 0380 Then never ⟨was man⟩ true.
ANNE 0381 215Well, well, put up your sword.
RICHARD 0382 Say then my peace is made.
ANNE 0383 That shalt thou know hereafter.
RICHARD 0384 But shall I live in hope?
p. 37ANNE 0385 All men I hope live so.
⟨RICHARD⟩ 0386 220Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
⟨ANNE 0387 To take is not to give.⟩
⌜He places the ring on her hand.⌝
0388 Look how my ring encompasseth thy finger;
0389 Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart.
0390 Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.
0391 225 And if thy poor devoted servant may
0392 But beg one favor at thy gracious hand,
0393 Thou dost confirm his happiness forever.
ANNE 0394 What is it?
0395 That it may please you leave these sad designs
0396 230 To him that hath most cause to be a mourner,
0397 And presently repair to Crosby House,
0398 Where, after I have solemnly interred
0399 At Chertsey monast’ry this noble king
0400 And wet his grave with my repentant tears,
0401 235 I will with all expedient duty see you.
0402 For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you,
0403 Grant me this boon.
0404 With all my heart, and much it joys me too
0405 To see you are become so penitent.—
0406 240 Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.
0407 Bid me farewell.
ANNE 0408 ’Tis more than you deserve;
0409 But since you teach me how to flatter you,
0410 Imagine I have said “farewell” already.
Two exit with Anne. ⌜The bier is taken up.⌝
GENTLEMAN 0411 245Towards Chertsey, noble lord?
0412 No, to Whitefriars. There attend my coming.
⌜Halberds and gentlemen⌝ exit ⌜with⌝ corse.
p. 390413 Was ever woman in this humor wooed?
0414 Was ever woman in this humor won?
0415 I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long.
0416 250 What, I that killed her husband and his father,
0417 To take her in her heart’s extremest hate,
0418 With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
0419 The bleeding witness of my hatred by,
0420 Having God, her conscience, and these bars against
0421 255 me,
0422 And I no friends to back my suit ⟨at all⟩
0423 But the plain devil and dissembling looks?
0424 And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!
0426 260 Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
0427 Edward, her lord, whom I some three months since
0428 Stabbed in my angry mood at Tewkesbury?
0429 A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,
0430 Framed in the prodigality of nature,
0431 265 Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,
0432 The spacious world cannot again afford.
0433 And will she yet abase her eyes on me,
0434 That cropped the golden prime of this sweet prince
0435 And made her widow to a woeful bed?
0436 270 On me, whose all not equals Edward’s moiety?
0437 On me, that halts and am misshapen thus?
0438 My dukedom to a beggarly denier,
0439 I do mistake my person all this while!
0440 Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,
0441 275 Myself to be a marv’lous proper man.
0442 I’ll be at charges for a looking glass
0443 And entertain a score or two of tailors
0444 To study fashions to adorn my body.
0445 Since I am crept in favor with myself,
0446 280 I will maintain it with some little cost.
0447 But first I’ll turn yon fellow in his grave
p. 410448 And then return lamenting to my love.
0449 Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
0450 That I may see my shadow as I pass.