Richard III - Act 3, scene 7
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Act 3, scene 7
Richard and Buckingham, having failed to persuade London’s officials and citizens that Richard should be king, stage a scene of Richard’s great piety. Richard “yields” to the Mayor’s plea that Richard accept the kingship.Enter Richard and Buckingham at several doors.
2148 How now, how now? What say the citizens?
2149 Now, by the holy mother of our Lord,
2150 The citizens are mum, say not a word.
2151 Touched you the bastardy of Edward’s children?
2152 5 I did; with his contract with Lady Lucy
2153 And his contract by deputy in France;
2154 Th’ unsatiate greediness of his desire
2155 And his enforcement of the city wives;
2156 His tyranny for trifles; his own bastardy,
2157 10 As being got, your father then in France,
2158 And his resemblance being not like the Duke.
2159 Withal, I did infer your lineaments,
2160 Being the right idea of your father,
2161 Both in your form and nobleness of mind;
2162 15 Laid open all your victories in Scotland,
2163 Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,
2164 Your bounty, virtue, fair humility;
2165 Indeed, left nothing fitting for your purpose
2166 Untouched or slightly handled in discourse.
2167 20 And when ⟨mine⟩ oratory drew toward end,
2168 I bid them that did love their country’s good
2169 Cry “God save Richard, England’s royal king!”
RICHARD 2170 And did they so?
2171 No. So God help me, they spake not a word
2172 25 But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,
2173 Stared each on other and looked deadly pale;
2174 Which when I saw, I reprehended them
2175 And asked the Mayor what meant this willful silence.
2176 His answer was, the people were not used
2177 30 To be spoke to but by the Recorder.
2178 Then he was urged to tell my tale again:
2179 “Thus saith the Duke. Thus hath the Duke
2181 But nothing spoke in warrant from himself.
2182 35 When he had done, some followers of mine own,
2183 At lower end of the hall, hurled up their caps,
2184 And some ten voices cried “God save King Richard!”
2185 And thus I took the vantage of those few.
2186 “Thanks, gentle citizens and friends,” quoth I.
2187 40 “This general applause and cheerful shout
2188 Argues your ⟨wisdoms⟩ and your love to Richard”—
2189 And even here brake off and came away.
2190 What tongueless blocks were they! Would they not
2192 45 Will not the Mayor then and his brethren come?
2193 The Mayor is here at hand. Intend some fear;
2194 Be not you spoke with but by mighty suit.
2195 And look you get a prayer book in your hand
2196 And stand between two churchmen, good my lord,
2197 50 For on that ground I’ll make a holy descant.
2198 And be not easily won to our requests.
2199 Play the maid’s part: still answer “nay,” and take it.
2200 I go. An if you plead as well for them
2201 As I can say “nay” to thee for myself,
2202 55 No doubt we bring it to a happy issue.
2203 Go, go, up to the leads. The Lord Mayor knocks.
Enter the Mayor and Citizens.
2204 Welcome, my lord. I dance attendance here.
2205 I think the Duke will not be spoke withal.
2206 Now, Catesby, what says your lord to my request?
2207 60 He doth entreat your Grace, my noble lord,
2208 To visit him tomorrow or next day.
2209 He is within, with two right reverend fathers,
2210 Divinely bent to meditation,
2211 And in no worldly suits would he be moved
2212 65 To draw him from his holy exercise.
2213 Return, good Catesby, to the gracious duke.
2214 Tell him myself, the Mayor, and aldermen,
2215 In deep designs, in matter of great moment
2216 No less importing than our general good,
2217 70 Are come to have some conference with his Grace.
2218 I’ll signify so much unto him straight.He exits.
2219 Ah ha, my lord, this prince is not an Edward!
2220 He is not lolling on a lewd love-bed,
2221 But on his knees at meditation;
2222 75 Not dallying with a brace of courtesans,
2223 But meditating with two deep divines;
2224 Not sleeping, to engross his idle body,
2225 But praying, to enrich his watchful soul.
2226 Happy were England would this virtuous prince
2228 But sure I fear we shall not win him to it.
2229 Marry, God defend his Grace should say us nay.
2230 I fear he will. Here Catesby comes again.
2231 Now, Catesby, what says his Grace?
2232 85 He wonders to what end you have assembled
2233 Such troops of citizens to come to him,
2234 His Grace not being warned thereof before.
2235 He fears, my lord, you mean no good to him.
2236 Sorry I am my noble cousin should
2237 90 Suspect me that I mean no good to him.
2238 By heaven, we come to him in perfect love,
2239 And so once more return and tell his Grace.
2240 When holy and devout religious men
2241 Are at their beads, ’tis much to draw them thence,
2242 95 So sweet is zealous contemplation.
Enter Richard aloft, between two Bishops.
2243 See where his Grace stands, ’tween two clergymen.
2244 Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,
2245 To stay him from the fall of vanity;
2246 And, see, a book of prayer in his hand,
2247 100 True ornaments to know a holy man.—
2248 Famous Plantagenet, most gracious prince,
2249 Lend favorable ear to our requests,
2251 Of thy devotion and right Christian zeal.
2252 105 My lord, there needs no such apology.
2253 I do beseech your Grace to pardon me,
2254 Who, earnest in the service of my God,
2255 Deferred the visitation of my friends.
2256 But, leaving this, what is your Grace’s pleasure?
2257 110 Even that, I hope, which pleaseth God above
2258 And all good men of this ungoverned isle.
2259 I do suspect I have done some offense
2260 That seems disgracious in the city’s eye,
2261 And that you come to reprehend my ignorance.
2262 115 You have, my lord. Would it might please your
2264 On our entreaties, to amend your fault.
2265 Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian land?
2266 Know, then, it is your fault that you resign
2267 120 The supreme seat, the throne majestical,
2268 The sceptered office of your ancestors,
2269 Your state of fortune, and your due of birth,
2270 The lineal glory of your royal house,
2271 To the corruption of a blemished stock,
2272 125 Whiles in the mildness of your sleepy thoughts,
2273 Which here we waken to our country’s good,
2274 The noble isle doth want ⟨her⟩ proper limbs—
2275 ⟨Her⟩ face defaced with scars of infamy,
2276 ⌜Her⌝ royal stock graft with ignoble plants,
2277 130 And almost shouldered in the swallowing gulf
2278 Of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion;
2279 Which to recure, we heartily solicit
2281 And kingly government of this your land,
2282 135 Not as Protector, steward, substitute,
2283 Or lowly factor for another’s gain,
2284 But as successively, from blood to blood,
2285 Your right of birth, your empery, your own.
2286 For this, consorted with the citizens,
2287 140 Your very worshipful and loving friends,
2288 And by their vehement instigation,
2289 In this just cause come I to move your Grace.
2290 I cannot tell if to depart in silence
2291 Or bitterly to speak in your reproof
2292 145 Best fitteth my degree or your condition.
2293 If not to answer, you might haply think
2294 Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded
2295 To bear the golden yoke of sovereignty,
2296 Which fondly you would here impose on me.
2297 150 If to reprove you for this suit of yours,
2298 So seasoned with your faithful love to me,
2299 Then on the other side I checked my friends.
2300 Therefore, to speak, and to avoid the first,
2301 And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,
2302 155 Definitively thus I answer you:
2303 Your love deserves my thanks, but my desert
2304 Unmeritable shuns your high request.
2305 First, if all obstacles were cut away
2306 And that my path were even to the crown
2307 160 As the ripe revenue and due of birth,
2308 Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,
2309 So mighty and so many my defects,
2310 That I would rather hide me from my greatness,
2311 Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
2312 165 Than in my greatness covet to be hid
2313 And in the vapor of my glory smothered.
2314 But, God be thanked, there is no need of me,
2316 The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,
2317 170 Which, mellowed by the stealing hours of time,
2318 Will well become the seat of majesty,
2319 And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.
2320 On him I lay that you would lay on me,
2321 The right and fortune of his happy stars,
2322 175 Which God defend that I should wring from him.
2323 My lord, this argues conscience in your Grace,
2324 But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,
2325 All circumstances well considerèd.
2326 You say that Edward is your brother’s son;
2327 180 So say we too, but not by Edward’s wife.
2328 For first was he contract to Lady Lucy—
2329 Your mother lives a witness to his vow—
2330 And afterward by substitute betrothed
2331 To Bona, sister to the King of France.
2332 185 These both put off, a poor petitioner,
2333 A care-crazed mother to a many sons,
2334 A beauty-waning and distressèd widow,
2335 Even in the afternoon of her best days,
2336 Made prize and purchase of his wanton eye,
2337 190 Seduced the pitch and height of his degree
2338 To base declension and loathed bigamy.
2339 By her in his unlawful bed he got
2340 This Edward, whom our manners call “the Prince.”
2341 More bitterly could I expostulate,
2342 195 Save that, for reverence to some alive,
2343 I give a sparing limit to my tongue.
2344 Then, good my lord, take to your royal self
2345 This proffered benefit of dignity,
2346 If not to bless us and the land withal,
2347 200 Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry
2348 From the corruption of abusing times
2349 Unto a lineal, true-derivèd course.
2350 Do, good my lord. Your citizens entreat you.
2351 Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffered love.
2352 205 O, make them joyful. Grant their lawful suit.
2353 Alas, why would you heap this care on me?
2354 I am unfit for state and majesty.
2355 I do beseech you, take it not amiss;
2356 I cannot, nor I will not, yield to you.
2357 210 If you refuse it, as in love and zeal
2358 Loath to depose the child, your brother’s son—
2359 As well we know your tenderness of heart
2360 And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,
2361 Which we have noted in you to your kindred
2362 215 And equally indeed to all estates—
2363 Yet know, whe’er you accept our suit or no,
2364 Your brother’s son shall never reign our king,
2365 But we will plant some other in the throne,
2366 To the disgrace and downfall of your house.
2367 220 And in this resolution here we leave you.—
2368 Come, citizens. ⟨Zounds, I’ll⟩ entreat no more.
2369 O, do not swear, my lord of Buckingham!⟩
⌜Buckingham and some others⌝ exit.
2370 Call him again, sweet prince. Accept their suit.
2371 If you deny them, all the land will rue it.
2372 225 Will you enforce me to a world of cares?
2373 Call them again. I am not made of stones,
2374 But penetrable to your kind entreaties,
2375 Albeit against my conscience and my soul.
Enter Buckingham and the rest.
2377 230 Since you will buckle Fortune on my back,
2378 To bear her burden, whe’er I will or no,
2379 I must have patience to endure the load;
2380 But if black scandal or foul-faced reproach
2381 Attend the sequel of your imposition,
2382 235 Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me
2383 From all the impure blots and stains thereof,
2384 For God doth know, and you may partly see,
2385 How far I am from the desire of this.
2386 God bless your Grace! We see it and will say it.
2387 240 In saying so, you shall but say the truth.
2388 Then I salute you with this royal title:
2389 Long live Richard, England’s worthy king!
ALL 2390 Amen.
2391 Tomorrow may it please you to be crowned?
2392 245 Even when you please, for you will have it so.
2393 Tomorrow, then, we will attend your Grace,
2394 And so most joyfully we take our leave.
RICHARD, ⌜to the Bishops⌝
2395 Come, let us to our holy work again.—
2396 Farewell, my ⟨cousin.⟩ Farewell, gentle friends.