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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene I.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

London.A Street.


Glo.Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;

Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;

Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings;

Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;

And now,—instead of mounting barbed steeds,

To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,—

He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber

To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.

But I, that am not shap’d for sportive tricks,

Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;

I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty

To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;

I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time

Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,

And that so lamely and unfashionable

That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;

Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,

Have no delight to pass away the time,

Unless to see my shadow in the sun

And descant on mine own deformity:

And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,

To entertain these fair well-spoken days,

I am determined to prove a villain,

And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,

By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,

To set my brother Clarence and the king

In deadly hate the one against the other:

And if King Edward be as true and just

As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,

This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up,

About a prophecy, which says, that G

Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.

Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes.

Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY.

Brother, good day: what means this armed guard

That waits upon your Grace?

Clar.His majesty,

Tendering my person’s safety, hath appointed

This conduct to convey me to the Tower.

Glo.Upon what cause?

Clar.Because my name is George.

Glo.Alack! my lord, that fault is none of yours;

He should, for that, commit your godfathers.

O! belike his majesty hath some intent

That you should be new-christen’d in the Tower.

But what’s the matter, Clarence? may I know?

Clar.Yea, Richard, when I know; for I protest

As yet I do not: but, as I can learn,

He hearkens after prophecies and dreams;

And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,

And says a wizard told him that by G

His issue disinherited should be;

And, for my name of George begins with G,

It follows in his thought that I am he.

These, as I learn, and such like toys as these,

Have mov’d his highness to commit me now.

Glo.Why, this it is, when men are rul’d by women:

’Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower;

My Lady Grey, his wife, Clarence, ’tis she

That tempers him to this extremity.

Was it not she and that good man of worship,

Antony Woodville, her brother there,

That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,

From whence this present day he is deliver’d?

We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.

Clar.By heaven, I think there is no man secure

But the queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds

That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore.

Heard you not what a humble suppliant

Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?

Glo.Humbly complaining to her deity

Got my lord chamberlain his liberty.

I’ll tell you what; I think it is our way,

If we will keep in favour with the king,

To be her men and wear her livery:

The jealous o’er-worn widow and herself,

Since that our brother dubb’d them gentlewomen,

Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.

Brak.I beseech your Graces both to pardon me;

His majesty hath straitly given in charge

That no man shall have private conference,

Of what degree soever, with your brother.

Glo.Even so; an please your worship, Brakenbury,

You may partake of anything we say:

We speak no treason, man: we say the king

Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen

Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous;

We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot,

A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue;

And that the queen’s kindred are made gentlefolks.

How say you, sir? can you deny all this?

Brak.With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.

Glo.Naught to do with Mistress Shore! I tell thee, fellow,

He that doth naught with her, excepting one,

Were best to do it secretly, alone.

Brak.What one, my lord?

Glo.Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?

Brak.I beseech your Grace to pardon me; and withal

Forbear your conference with the noble duke.

Clar.We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.

Glo.We are the queen’s abjects, and must obey.

Brother, farewell: I will unto the king;

And whatsoe’er you will employ me in,

Were it to call King Edward’s widow sister,

I will perform it to enfranchise you.

Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood

Touches me deeper than you can imagine.

Clar.I know it pleaseth neither of us well.

Glo.Well, your imprisonment shall not be long;

I will deliver you, or else lie for you:

Meantime, have patience.

Clar.I must perforce: farewell.[Exeunt CLARENCE, BRAKENBURY, and Guard.

Glo.Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return,

Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so

That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,

If heaven will take the present at our hands.

But who comes here? the new-deliver’d Hastings!


Hast.Good time of day unto my gracious lord!

Glo.As much unto my good lord chamberlain!

Well are you welcome to this open air.

How hath your lordship brook’d imprisonment?

Hast.With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must:

But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks

That were the cause of my imprisonment.

Glo.No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too;

For they that were your enemies are his,

And have prevail’d as much on him as you.

Hast.More pity that the eagles should be mew’d,

While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.

Glo.What news abroad?

Hast.No news so bad abroad as this at home;

The king is sickly, weak, and melancholy,

And his physicians fear him mightily.

Glo.Now by Saint Paul, this news is bad indeed.

O! he hath kept an evil diet long,

And over-much consum’d his royal person:

’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.

What, is he in his bed?

Hast.He is.

Glo.Go you before, and I will follow you.[Exit HASTINGS.

He cannot live, I hope; and must not die

Till George be pack’d with post-horse up to heaven.

I’ll in, to urge his hatred more to Clarence,

With lies well steel’d with weighty arguments;

And, if I fail not in my deep intent,

Clarence hath not another day to live:

Which done, God take King Edward to his mercy,

And leave the world for me to bustle in!

For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter.

What though I kill’d her husband and her father,

The readiest way to make the wench amends

Is to become her husband and her father:

The which will I; not all so much for love

As for another secret close intent,

By marrying her, which I must reach unto.

But yet I run before my horse to market:

Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns:

When they are gone, then must I count my gains.[Exit.