The Complete Works of William Shakespeare King Richard III

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  • 1623
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SCENE: England

King Richard the Third


London. A street


GLOUCESTER. 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 chang’d 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 spy 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?
CLARENCE. His Majesty,
Tend’ring my person’s safety, hath appointed This conduct to convey me to th’ Tower. GLOUCESTER. Upon what cause?
CLARENCE. Because my name is George. GLOUCESTER. 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-christ’ned in the Tower. But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know? CLARENCE. 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 Hath mov’d his Highness to commit me now. GLOUCESTER. 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 delivered? We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe. CLARENCE. By heaven, I think there is no man is secure But the Queen’s kindred, and night-walking heralds That trudge betwixt the King and Mistress Shore. Heard you not what an humble suppliant Lord Hastings was, for her delivery?
GLOUCESTER. 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.
BRAKENBURY. 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. GLOUCESTER. Even so; an’t please your worship, Brakenbury, You may partake of any thing 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? BRAKENBURY. With this, my lord, myself have naught to do. GLOUCESTER. 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.
BRAKENBURY. What one, my lord?
GLOUCESTER. Her husband, knave! Wouldst thou betray me? BRAKENBURY. I do beseech your Grace to pardon me, and withal
Forbear your conference with the noble Duke. CLARENCE. We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
GLOUCESTER. 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. CLARENCE. I know it pleaseth neither of us well. GLOUCESTER. Well, your imprisonment shall not be long; I will deliver or else lie for you.
Meantime, have patience.
CLARENCE. I must perforce. Farewell. Exeunt CLARENCE, BRAKENBURY, and guard GLOUCESTER. 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-delivered Hastings?


HASTINGS. Good time of day unto my gracious lord! GLOUCESTER. As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain! Well are you welcome to the open air. How hath your lordship brook’d imprisonment? HASTINGS. With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must; But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks That were the cause of my imprisonment. GLOUCESTER. 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. HASTINGS. More pity that the eagles should be mew’d Whiles kites and buzzards prey at liberty. GLOUCESTER. What news abroad?
HASTINGS. No news so bad abroad as this at home: The King is sickly, weak, and melancholy, And his physicians fear him mightily.
GLOUCESTER. Now, by Saint John, that news is bad indeed. O, he hath kept an evil diet long
And overmuch consum’d his royal person! ‘Tis very grievous to be thought upon. Where is he? In his bed?
GLOUCESTER. 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 posthorse 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


London. Another street

Enter corpse of KING HENRY THE SIXTH, with halberds to guard it; LADY ANNE being the mourner, attended by TRESSEL and BERKELEY

ANNE. Set down, set down your honourable load- If honour may be shrouded in a hearse; Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
Th’ untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster. Poor key-cold figure of a holy king!
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster! Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood! Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost To hear the lamentations of poor Anne, Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son, Stabb’d by the self-same hand that made these wounds. Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes. O, cursed be the hand that made these holes! Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it! Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence! More direful hap betide that hated wretch That makes us wretched by the death of thee Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads, Or any creeping venom’d thing that lives! If ever he have child, abortive be it, Prodigious, and untimely brought to light, Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view, And that be heir to his unhappiness!
If ever he have wife, let her be made More miserable by the death of him
Than I am made by my young lord and thee! Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load, Taken from Paul’s to be interred there; And still as you are weary of this weight Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse. [The bearers take up the coffin]


GLOUCESTER. Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down. ANNE. What black magician conjures up this fiend To stop devoted charitable deeds?
GLOUCESTER. Villains, set down the corse; or, by Saint Paul, I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys! FIRST GENTLEMAN. My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.
GLOUCESTER. Unmanner’d dog! Stand thou, when I command. Advance thy halberd higher than my breast, Or, by Saint Paul, I’ll strike thee to my foot And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness. [The bearers set down the coffin] ANNE. What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid? Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal, And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil. Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell! Thou hadst but power over his mortal body, His soul thou canst not have; therefore, be gone. GLOUCESTER. Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst. ANNE. Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence and trouble us not; For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims. If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds, Behold this pattern of thy butcheries. O, gentlemen, see, see! Dead Henry’s wounds Open their congeal’d mouths and bleed afresh. Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity, For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells; Thy deeds inhuman and unnatural
Provokes this deluge most unnatural. O God, which this blood mad’st, revenge his death! O earth, which this blood drink’st, revenge his death! Either, heav’n, with lightning strike the murd’rer dead; Or, earth, gape open wide and eat him quick, As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood, Which his hell-govern’d arm hath butchered. GLOUCESTER. Lady, you know no rules of charity, Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses. ANNE. Villain, thou knowest nor law of God nor man: No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. GLOUCESTER. But I know none, and therefore am no beast. ANNE. O wonderful, when devils tell the truth! GLOUCESTER. More wonderful when angels are so angry. Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman, Of these supposed crimes to give me leave By circumstance but to acquit myself.
ANNE. Vouchsafe, diffus’d infection of a man, Of these known evils but to give me leave By circumstance to accuse thy cursed self. GLOUCESTER. Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have Some patient leisure to excuse myself. ANNE. Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make No excuse current but to hang thyself. GLOUCESTER. By such despair I should accuse myself. ANNE. And by despairing shalt thou stand excused For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others. GLOUCESTER. Say that I slew them not?
ANNE. Then say they were not slain. But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee. GLOUCESTER. I did not kill your husband. ANNE. Why, then he is alive.
GLOUCESTER. Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hands. ANNE. In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw Thy murd’rous falchion smoking in his blood; The which thou once didst bend against her breast, But that thy brothers beat aside the point. GLOUCESTER. I was provoked by her sland’rous tongue That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders. ANNE. Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind, That never dream’st on aught but butcheries. Didst thou not kill this king?
GLOUCESTER. I grant ye.
ANNE. Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me too Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed! O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous!
GLOUCESTER. The better for the King of Heaven, that hath him.
ANNE. He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come. GLOUCESTER. Let him thank me that holp to send him thither,
For he was fitter for that place than earth. ANNE. And thou unfit for any place but hell. GLOUCESTER. Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it. ANNE. Some dungeon.
GLOUCESTER. Your bed-chamber.
ANNE. Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest! GLOUCESTER. So will it, madam, till I lie with you. ANNE. I hope so.
GLOUCESTER. I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne, To leave this keen encounter of our wits, And fall something into a slower method- Is not the causer of the timeless deaths Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward, As blameful as the executioner?
ANNE. Thou wast the cause and most accurs’d effect. GLOUCESTER. Your beauty was the cause of that effect- Your beauty that did haunt me in my sleep To undertake the death of all the world So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom. ANNE. If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide, These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks. GLOUCESTER. These eyes could not endure that beauty’s wreck;
You should not blemish it if I stood by. As all the world is cheered by the sun, So I by that; it is my day, my life.
ANNE. Black night o’ershade thy day, and death thy life! GLOUCESTER. Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both. ANNE. I would I were, to be reveng’d on thee. GLOUCESTER. It is a quarrel most unnatural, To be reveng’d on him that loveth thee. ANNE. It is a quarrel just and reasonable, To be reveng’d on him that kill’d my husband. GLOUCESTER. He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband Did it to help thee to a better husband. ANNE. His better doth not breathe upon the earth. GLOUCESTER. He lives that loves thee better than he could. ANNE. Name him.
GLOUCESTER. Plantagenet.
ANNE. Why, that was he.
GLOUCESTER. The self-same name, but one of better nature. ANNE. Where is he?
GLOUCESTER. Here. [She spits at him] Why dost thou spit at me?
ANNE. Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake! GLOUCESTER. Never came poison from so sweet a place. ANNE. Never hung poison on a fouler toad. Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes. GLOUCESTER. Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine. ANNE. Would they were basilisks to strike thee dead! GLOUCESTER. I would they were, that I might die at once; For now they kill me with a living death. Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears, Sham’d their aspects with store of childish drops- These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear, No, when my father York and Edward wept To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made When black-fac’d Clifford shook his sword at him; Nor when thy warlike father, like a child, Told the sad story of my father’s death, And twenty times made pause to sob and weep That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks Like trees bedash’d with rain-in that sad time My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear; And what these sorrows could not thence exhale Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping. I never sued to friend nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word; But, now thy beauty is propos’d my fee, My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak. [She looks scornfully at him] Teach not thy lip such scorn; for it was made For kissing, lady, not for such contempt. If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive, Lo here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword; Which if thou please to hide in this true breast And let the soul forth that adoreth thee, I lay it naked to the deadly stroke,
And humbly beg the death upon my knee. [He lays his breast open; she offers at it with his sword] Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry- But ’twas thy beauty that provoked me. Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabb’d young Edward- But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on. [She falls the sword] Take up the sword again, or take up me. ANNE. Arise, dissembler; though I wish thy death, I will not be thy executioner.
GLOUCESTER. Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it. ANNE. I have already.
GLOUCESTER. That was in thy rage.
Speak it again, and even with the word This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love, Shall for thy love kill a far truer love; To both their deaths shalt thou be accessary. ANNE. I would I knew thy heart.
GLOUCESTER. ‘Tis figur’d in my tongue. ANNE. I fear me both are false.
GLOUCESTER. Then never was man true. ANNE. well put up your sword.
GLOUCESTER. Say, then, my peace is made. ANNE. That shalt thou know hereafter.
GLOUCESTER. But shall I live in hope? ANNE. All men, I hope, live so.
GLOUCESTER. Vouchsafe to wear this ring. ANNE. To take is not to give. [Puts on the ring] GLOUCESTER. Look how my ring encompasseth thy finger, Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart; Wear both of them, for both of them are thine. And if thy poor devoted servant may
But beg one favour at thy gracious hand, Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever. ANNE. What is it?
GLOUCESTER. That it may please you leave these sad designs To him that hath most cause to be a mourner, And presently repair to Crosby House;
Where-after I have solemnly interr’d At Chertsey monast’ry this noble king, And wet his grave with my repentant tears- I will with all expedient duty see you. For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you, Grant me this boon.
ANNE. With all my heart; and much it joys me too To see you are become so penitent.
Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me. GLOUCESTER. Bid me farewell.
ANNE. ‘Tis more than you deserve;
But since you teach me how to flatter you, Imagine I have said farewell already.
Exeunt two GENTLEMEN With LADY ANNE GLOUCESTER. Sirs, take up the corse.
GENTLEMEN. Towards Chertsey, noble lord? GLOUCESTER. No, to White Friars; there attend my coming. Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?
Was ever woman in this humour won? I’ll have her; but I will not keep her long. What! I that kill’d her husband and his father- To take her in her heart’s extremest hate, With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes, The bleeding witness of my hatred by;
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me, And I no friends to back my suit at all But the plain devil and dissembling looks, And yet to win her, all the world to nothing! Ha!
Hath she forgot already that brave prince, Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since, Stabb’d in my angry mood at Tewksbury? A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman-
Fram’d in the prodigality of nature, Young, valiant, wise, and no doubt right royal- The spacious world cannot again afford; And will she yet abase her eyes on me, That cropp’d the golden prime of this sweet prince And made her widow to a woeful bed?
On me, whose all not equals Edward’s moiety? On me, that halts and am misshapen thus? My dukedom to a beggarly denier,
I do mistake my person all this while. Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot, Myself to be a marv’llous proper man.
I’ll be at charges for a looking-glass, And entertain a score or two of tailors To study fashions to adorn my body.
Since I am crept in favour with myself, I will maintain it with some little cost. But first I’ll turn yon fellow in his grave, And then return lamenting to my love.
Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass, That I may see my shadow as I pass. Exit


London. The palace


RIVERS. Have patience, madam; there’s no doubt his Majesty Will soon recover his accustom’d health. GREY. In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse; Therefore, for God’s sake, entertain good comfort, And cheer his Grace with quick and merry eyes. QUEEN ELIZABETH. If he were dead, what would betide on me?
GREY. No other harm but loss of such a lord. QUEEN ELIZABETH. The loss of such a lord includes all harms.
GREY. The heavens have bless’d you with a goodly son To be your comforter when he is gone.
QUEEN ELIZABETH. Ah, he is young; and his minority Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester, A man that loves not me, nor none of you. RIVER. Is it concluded he shall be Protector? QUEEN ELIZABETH. It is determin’d, not concluded yet; But so it must be, if the King miscarry.


GREY. Here come the Lords of Buckingham and Derby. BUCKINGHAM. Good time of day unto your royal Grace! DERBY. God make your Majesty joyful as you have been. QUEEN ELIZABETH. The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Derby,
To your good prayer will scarcely say amen. Yet, Derby, notwithstanding she’s your wife And loves not me, be you, good lord, assur’d I hate not you for her proud arrogance. DERBY. I do beseech you, either not believe The envious slanders of her false accusers; Or, if she be accus’d on true report,
Bear with her weakness, which I think proceeds From wayward sickness and no grounded malice. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Saw you the King to-day, my Lord of Derby?
DERBY. But now the Duke of Buckingham and I Are come from visiting his Majesty.
QUEEN ELIZABETH. What likelihood of his amendment, Lords?
BUCKINGHAM. Madam, good hope; his Grace speaks cheerfully.
QUEEN ELIZABETH. God grant him health! Did you confer with him?
BUCKINGHAM. Ay, madam; he desires to make atonement Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers, And between them and my Lord Chamberlain; And sent to warn them to his royal presence. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Would all were well! But that will never be.
I fear our happiness is at the height.


GLOUCESTER. They do me wrong, and I will not endure it. Who is it that complains unto the King That I, forsooth, am stern and love them not? By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours. Because I cannot flatter and look fair, Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive, and cog, Duck with French nods and apish courtesy, I must be held a rancorous enemy.
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm But thus his simple truth must be abus’d With silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
GREY. To who in all this presence speaks your Grace? GLOUCESTER. To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace. When have I injur’d thee? when done thee wrong, Or thee, or thee, or any of your faction? A plague upon you all! His royal Grace- Whom God preserve better than you would wish!- Cannot be quiet searce a breathing while But you must trouble him with lewd complaints. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.
The King, on his own royal disposition And not provok’d by any suitor else-
Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred That in your outward action shows itself Against my children, brothers, and myself- Makes him to send that he may learn the ground. GLOUCESTER. I cannot tell; the world is grown so bad That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch. Since every Jack became a gentleman,
There’s many a gentle person made a Jack. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Come, come, we know your meaning, brother Gloucester:
You envy my advancement and my friends’; God grant we never may have need of you! GLOUCESTER. Meantime, God grants that I have need of you. Our brother is imprison’d by your means, Myself disgrac’d, and the nobility
Held in contempt; while great promotions Are daily given to ennoble those
That scarce some two days since were worth a noble. QUEEN ELIZABETH. By Him that rais’d me to this careful height
From that contented hap which I enjoy’d, I never did incense his Majesty
Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been An earnest advocate to plead for him.
My lord, you do me shameful injury Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects. GLOUCESTER. You may deny that you were not the mean Of my Lord Hastings’ late imprisonment. RIVERS. She may, my lord; for-
GLOUCESTER. She may, Lord Rivers? Why, who knows not so?
She may do more, sir, than denying that: She may help you to many fair preferments And then deny her aiding hand therein, And lay those honours on your high desert. What may she not? She may-ay, marry, may she- RIVERS. What, marry, may she?
GLOUCESTER. What, marry, may she? Marry with a king, A bachelor, and a handsome stripling too. Iwis your grandam had a worser match.
QUEEN ELIZABETH. My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs. By heaven, I will acquaint his Majesty Of those gross taunts that oft I have endur’d. I had rather be a country servant-maid Than a great queen with this condition- To be so baited, scorn’d, and stormed at.

Enter old QUEEN MARGARET, behind

Small joy have I in being England’s Queen. QUEEN MARGARET. And less’ned be that small, God, I beseech Him!
Thy honour, state, and seat, is due to me. GLOUCESTER. What! Threat you me with telling of the King?
Tell him and spare not. Look what I have said I will avouch’t in presence of the King. I dare adventure to be sent to th’ Tow’r. ‘Tis time to speak-my pains are quite forgot. QUEEN MARGARET. Out, devil! I do remember them to well:
Thou kill’dst my husband Henry in the Tower, And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury. GLOUCESTER. Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband King,
I was a pack-horse in his great affairs, A weeder-out of his proud adversaries, A liberal rewarder of his friends;
To royalize his blood I spent mine own. QUEEN MARGARET. Ay, and much better blood than his or thine.
GLOUCESTER. In all which time you and your husband Grey Were factious for the house of Lancaster; And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband In Margaret’s battle at Saint Albans slain? Let me put in your minds, if you forget, What you have been ere this, and what you are; Withal, what I have been, and what I am. QUEEN MARGARET. A murd’rous villain, and so still thou art. GLOUCESTER. Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick, Ay, and forswore himself-which Jesu pardon!- QUEEN MARGARET. Which God revenge!
GLOUCESTER. To fight on Edward’s party for the crown; And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up. I would to God my heart were flint like Edward’s, Or Edward’s soft and pitiful like mine. I am too childish-foolish for this world. QUEEN MARGARET. Hie thee to hell for shame and leave this world,
Thou cacodemon; there thy kingdom is. RIVERS. My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days Which here you urge to prove us enemies, We follow’d then our lord, our sovereign king. So should we you, if you should be our king. GLOUCESTER. If I should be! I had rather be a pedlar. Far be it from my heart, the thought thereof! QUEEN ELIZABETH. As little joy, my lord, as you suppose You should enjoy were you this country’s king, As little joy you may suppose in me
That I enjoy, being the Queen thereof. QUEEN MARGARET. As little joy enjoys the Queen thereof; For I am she, and altogether joyless.
I can no longer hold me patient. [Advancing] Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out In sharing that which you have pill’d from me. Which of you trembles not that looks on me? If not that, I am Queen, you bow like subjects, Yet that, by you depos’d, you quake like rebels? Ah, gentle villain, do not turn away!
GLOUCESTER. Foul wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my sight?
QUEEN MARGARET. But repetition of what thou hast marr’d, That will I make before I let thee go. GLOUCESTER. Wert thou not banished on pain of death? QUEEN MARGARET. I was; but I do find more pain in banishment
Than death can yield me here by my abode. A husband and a son thou ow’st to me;
And thou a kingdom; all of you allegiance. This sorrow that I have by right is yours; And all the pleasures you usurp are mine. GLOUCESTER. The curse my noble father laid on thee, When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes, And then to dry them gav’st the Duke a clout Steep’d in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland- His curses then from bitterness of soul Denounc’d against thee are all fall’n upon thee; And God, not we, hath plagu’d thy bloody deed. QUEEN ELIZABETH. So just is God to right the innocent. HASTINGS. O, ’twas the foulest deed to slay that babe, And the most merciless that e’er was heard of! RIVERS. Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported. DORSET. No man but prophesied revenge for it. BUCKINGHAM. Northumberland, then present, wept to see it. QUEEN MARGARET. What, were you snarling all before I came, Ready to catch each other by the throat, And turn you all your hatred now on me? Did York’s dread curse prevail so much with heaven That Henry’s death, my lovely Edward’s death, Their kingdom’s loss, my woeful banishment, Should all but answer for that peevish brat? Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven? Why then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses! Though not by war, by surfeit die your king, As ours by murder, to make him a king! Edward thy son, that now is Prince of Wales, For Edward our son, that was Prince of Wales, Die in his youth by like untimely violence! Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen, Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self! Long mayest thou live to wail thy children’s death, And see another, as I see thee now,
Deck’d in thy rights, as thou art stall’d in mine! Long die thy happy days before thy death; And, after many length’ned hours of grief, Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s Queen! Rivers and Dorset, you were standers by, And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son Was stabb’d with bloody daggers. God, I pray him, That none of you may live his natural age, But by some unlook’d accident cut off! GLOUCESTER. Have done thy charm, thou hateful wither’d hag.
QUEEN MARGARET. And leave out thee? Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have any grievous plague in store Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee, O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe, And then hurl down their indignation
On thee, the troubler of the poor world’s peace! The worm of conscience still be-gnaw thy soul! Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st, And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends! No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine, Unless it be while some tormenting dream Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils! Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog, Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell, Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb, Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins, Thou rag of honour, thou detested-
QUEEN MARGARET. I call thee not.
GLOUCESTER. I cry thee mercy then, for I did think That thou hadst call’d me all these bitter names. QUEEN MARGARET. Why, so I did, but look’d for no reply. O, let me make the period to my curse! GLOUCESTER. ‘Tis done by me, and ends in-Margaret. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Thus have you breath’d your curse against yourself.
QUEEN MARGARET. Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
Why strew’st thou sugar on that bottled spider Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about? Fool, fool! thou whet’st a knife to kill thyself. The day will come that thou shalt wish for me To help thee curse this poisonous bunch-back’d toad. HASTINGS. False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse, Lest to thy harm thou move our patience. QUEEN MARGARET. Foul shame upon you! you have all mov’d mine.
RIVERS. Were you well serv’d, you would be taught your duty.
QUEEN MARGARET. To serve me well you all should do me duty,
Teach me to be your queen and you my subjects. O, serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty! DORSET. Dispute not with her; she is lunatic. QUEEN MARGARET. Peace, Master Marquis, you are malapert; Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current. O, that your young nobility could judge What ’twere to lose it and be miserable! They that stand high have many blasts to shake them, And if they fall they dash themselves to pieces. GLOUCESTER. Good counsel, marry; learn it, learn it, Marquis. DORSET. It touches you, my lord, as much as me. GLOUCESTER. Ay, and much more; but I was born so high, Our aery buildeth in the cedar’s top,
And dallies with the wind, and scorns the sun. QUEEN MARGARET. And turns the sun to shade-alas! alas! Witness my son, now in the shade of death, Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath Hath in eternal darkness folded up.
Your aery buildeth in our aery’s nest. O God that seest it, do not suffer it; As it is won with blood, lost be it so! BUCKINGHAM. Peace, peace, for shame, if not for charity! QUEEN MARGARET. Urge neither charity nor shame to me. Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
And shamefully my hopes by you are butcher’d. My charity is outrage, life my shame; And in that shame still live my sorrow’s rage! BUCKINGHAM. Have done, have done.
QUEEN MARGARET. O princely Buckingham, I’ll kiss thy hand
In sign of league and amity with thee. Now fair befall thee and thy noble house! Thy garments are not spotted with our blood, Nor thou within the compass of my curse. BUCKINGHAM. Nor no one here; for curses never pass The lips of those that breathe them in the air. QUEEN MARGARET. I will not think but they ascend the sky And there awake God’s gentle-sleeping peace. O Buckingham, take heed of yonder dog! Look when he fawns, he bites; and when he bites, His venom tooth will rankle to the death: Have not to do with him, beware of him; Sin, death, and hell, have set their marks on him, And all their ministers attend on him. GLOUCESTER. What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham? BUCKINGHAM. Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord. QUEEN MARGARET. What, dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel,
And soothe the devil that I warn thee from? O, but remember this another day,
When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow, And say poor Margaret was a prophetess! Live each of you the subjects to his hate, And he to yours, and all of you to God’s! Exit BUCKINGHAM. My hair doth stand an end to hear her curses. RIVERS. And so doth mine. I muse why she’s at liberty. GLOUCESTER. I cannot blame her; by God’s holy Mother, She hath had too much wrong; and I repent My part thereof that I have done to her. QUEEN ELIZABETH. I never did her any to my knowledge. GLOUCESTER. Yet you have all the vantage of her wrong. I was too hot to do somebody good
That is too cold in thinking of it now. Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid; He is frank’d up to fatting for his pains; God pardon them that are the cause thereof! RIVERS. A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion, To pray for them that have done scathe to us! GLOUCESTER. So do I ever- [Aside] being well advis’d; For had I curs’d now, I had curs’d myself.


CATESBY. Madam, his Majesty doth can for you, And for your Grace, and you, my gracious lords. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Catesby, I come. Lords, will you go with me?
RIVERS. We wait upon your Grace.
Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER GLOUCESTER. I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl. The secret mischiefs that I set abroach I lay unto the grievous charge of others. Clarence, who I indeed have cast in darkness, I do beweep to many simple gulls;
Namely, to Derby, Hastings, Buckingham; And tell them ’tis the Queen and her allies That stir the King against the Duke my brother. Now they believe it, and withal whet me To be reveng’d on Rivers, Dorset, Grey; But then I sigh and, with a piece of Scripture, Tell them that God bids us do good for evil. And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ, And seem a saint when most I play the devil.


But, soft, here come my executioners. How now, my hardy stout resolved mates! Are you now going to dispatch this thing? FIRST MURDERER. We are, my lord, and come to have the warrant,
That we may be admitted where he is. GLOUCESTER. Well thought upon; I have it here about me. [Gives the warrant] When you have done, repair to Crosby Place. But, sirs, be sudden in the execution, Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead; For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps May move your hearts to pity, if you mark him. FIRST MURDERER. Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate;
Talkers are no good doers. Be assur’d We go to use our hands and not our tongues. GLOUCESTER. Your eyes drop millstones when fools’ eyes fall tears.
I like you, lads; about your business straight; Go, go, dispatch.
FIRST MURDERER. We will, my noble lord. Exeunt


London. The Tower


KEEPER. Why looks your Grace so heavily to-day? CLARENCE. O, I have pass’d a miserable night, So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights, That, as I am a Christian faithful man, I would not spend another such a night Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days- So full of dismal terror was the time! KEEPER. What was your dream, my lord? I pray you tell me.
CLARENCE. Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower And was embark’d to cross to Burgundy; And in my company my brother Gloucester, Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches. Thence we look’d toward England, And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster, That had befall’n us. As we pac’d along Upon the giddy footing of the hatches, Methought that Gloucester stumbled, and in falling Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard Into the tumbling billows of the main. O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown, What dreadful noise of waters in my ears, What sights of ugly death within my eyes! Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wrecks, A thousand men that fishes gnaw’d upon, Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl, Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scatt’red in the bottom of the sea; Some lay in dead men’s skulls, and in the holes Where eyes did once inhabit there were crept, As ’twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems, That woo’d the slimy bottom of the deep And mock’d the dead bones that lay scatt’red by. KEEPER. Had you such leisure in the time of death To gaze upon these secrets of the deep? CLARENCE. Methought I had; and often did I strive To yield the ghost, but still the envious flood Stopp’d in my soul and would not let it forth To find the empty, vast, and wand’ring air; But smother’d it within my panting bulk, Who almost burst to belch it in the sea. KEEPER. Awak’d you not in this sore agony? CLARENCE. No, no, my dream was lengthen’d after life. O, then began the tempest to my soul!
I pass’d, methought, the melancholy flood With that sour ferryman which poets write of, Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick, Who spake aloud ‘What scourge for perjury Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?’ And so he vanish’d. Then came wand’ring by A shadow like an angel, with bright hair Dabbled in blood, and he shriek’d out aloud ‘Clarence is come-false, fleeting, perjur’d Clarence, That stabb’d me in the field by Tewksbury. Seize on him, Furies, take him unto torment!’ With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends Environ’d me, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries that, with the very noise, I trembling wak’d, and for a season after Could not believe but that I was in hell, Such terrible impression made my dream. KEEPER. No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you; I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it. CLARENCE. Ah, Keeper, Keeper, I have done these things That now give evidence against my soul For Edward’s sake, and see how he requites me! O God! If my deep prayers cannot appease Thee, But Thou wilt be aveng’d on my misdeeds, Yet execute Thy wrath in me alone;
O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children! KEEPER, I prithee sit by me awhile;
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep. KEEPER. I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest. [CLARENCE sleeps]

Enter BRAKENBURY the Lieutenant

BRAKENBURY. Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours, Makes the night morning and the noontide night. Princes have but their titles for their glories, An outward honour for an inward toil;
And for unfelt imaginations
They often feel a world of restless cares, So that between their tides and low name There’s nothing differs but the outward fame.

Enter the two MURDERERS

FIRST MURDERER. Ho! who’s here?
BRAKENBURY. What wouldst thou, fellow, and how cam’st thou hither?
FIRST MURDERER. I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
BRAKENBURY. What, so brief?
SECOND MURDERER. ‘Tis better, sir, than to be tedious. Let him see our commission and talk no more. [BRAKENBURY reads it] BRAKENBURY. I am, in this, commanded to deliver The noble Duke of Clarence to your hands. I will not reason what is meant hereby, Because I will be guiltless from the meaning. There lies the Duke asleep; and there the keys. I’ll to the King and signify to him
That thus I have resign’d to you my charge. FIRST MURDERER. You may, sir; ’tis a point of wisdom. Fare you well. Exeunt BRAKENBURY and KEEPER SECOND MURDERER. What, shall I stab him as he sleeps? FIRST MURDERER. No; he’ll say ’twas done cowardly, when he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER. Why, he shall never wake until the great judgment-day.
FIRST MURDERER. Why, then he’ll say we stabb’d him sleeping.
SECOND MURDERER. The urging of that word judgment hath bred a kind of remorse in me.
FIRST MURDERER. What, art thou afraid? SECOND MURDERER. Not to kill him, having a warrant; but to be damn’d for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.
FIRST MURDERER. I thought thou hadst been resolute. SECOND MURDERER. So I am, to let him live. FIRST MURDERER. I’ll back to the Duke of Gloucester and tell him so.
SECOND MURDERER. Nay, I prithee, stay a little. I hope this passionate humour of mine will change; it was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
FIRST MURDERER. How dost thou feel thyself now? SECOND MURDERER. Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
FIRST MURDERER. Remember our reward, when the deed’s done.
SECOND MURDERER. Zounds, he dies; I had forgot the reward. FIRST MURDERER. Where’s thy conscience now? SECOND MURDERER. O, in the Duke of Gloucester’s purse! FIRST MURDERER. When he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.
SECOND MURDERER. ‘Tis no matter; let it go; there’s few or none will entertain it.
FIRST MURDERER. What if it come to thee again? SECOND MURDERER. I’ll not meddle with it-it makes a man coward: a man cannot steal, but it accuseth him; a man cannot swear, but it checks him; a man cannot lie with his neighbour’s wife, but it detects him. ‘Tis a blushing shame- fac’d spirit that mutinies in a man’s bosom; it fills a man full of obstacles: it made me once restore a purse of gold that-by chance I found. It beggars any man that keeps it. It is turn’d out of towns and cities for a dangerous thing; and every man that means to live well endeavours to trust to himself and live without it.
FIRST MURDERER. Zounds, ’tis even now at my elbow, persuading me not to kill the Duke.
SECOND MURDERER. Take the devil in thy mind and believe him not; he would insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.
FIRST MURDERER. I am strong-fram’d; he cannot prevail with me.
SECOND MURDERER. Spoke like a tall man that respects thy reputation. Come, shall we fall to work? FIRST MURDERER. Take him on the costard with the hilts of thy sword, and then chop him in the malmsey-butt in the next room.
SECOND MURDERER. O excellent device! and make a sop of him.
FIRST MURDERER. Soft! he wakes.
FIRST MURDERER. No, we’ll reason with him. CLARENCE. Where art thou, Keeper? Give me a cup of wine. SECOND MURDERER. You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
CLARENCE. In God’s name, what art thou? FIRST MURDERER. A man, as you are.
CLARENCE. But not as I am, royal.
SECOND MURDERER. Nor you as we are, loyal. CLARENCE. Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble. FIRST MURDERER. My voice is now the King’s, my looks mine own.
CLARENCE. How darkly and how deadly dost thou speak! Your eyes do menace me. Why look you pale? Who sent you hither? Wherefore do you come? SECOND MURDERER. To, to, to-
CLARENCE. To murder me?
CLARENCE. You scarcely have the hearts to tell me so, And therefore cannot have the hearts to do it. Wherein, my friends, have I offended you? FIRST MURDERER. Offended us you have not, but the King. CLARENCE. I shall be reconcil’d to him again. SECOND MURDERER. Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die. CLARENCE. Are you drawn forth among a world of men To slay the innocent? What is my offence? Where is the evidence that doth accuse me? What lawful quest have given their verdict up Unto the frowning judge, or who pronounc’d The bitter sentence of poor Clarence’ death? Before I be convict by course of law,
To threaten me with death is most unlawful. I charge you, as you hope to have redemption By Christ’s dear blood shed for our grievous sins, That you depart and lay no hands on me. The deed you undertake is damnable.
FIRST MURDERER. What we will do, we do upon command. SECOND MURDERER. And he that hath commanded is our King.
CLARENCE. Erroneous vassals! the great King of kings Hath in the tables of his law commanded That thou shalt do no murder. Will you then Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man’s? Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hand To hurl upon their heads that break his law. SECOND MURDERER. And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee
For false forswearing, and for murder too; Thou didst receive the sacrament to fight In quarrel of the house of Lancaster. FIRST MURDERER. And like a traitor to the name of God Didst break that vow; and with thy treacherous blade Unripp’dst the bowels of thy sov’reign’s son. SECOND MURDERER. Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.
FIRST MURDERER. How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to us,
When thou hast broke it in such dear degree? CLARENCE. Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed? For Edward, for my brother, for his sake. He sends you not to murder me for this, For in that sin he is as deep as I.
If God will be avenged for the deed, O, know you yet He doth it publicly.
Take not the quarrel from His pow’rful arm; He needs no indirect or lawless course To cut off those that have offended Him. FIRST MURDERER. Who made thee then a bloody minister When gallant-springing brave Plantagenet, That princely novice, was struck dead by thee? CLARENCE. My brother’s love, the devil, and my rage. FIRST MURDERER. Thy brother’s love, our duty, and thy faults,
Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee. CLARENCE. If you do love my brother, hate not me; I am his brother, and I love him well. If you are hir’d for meed, go back again, And I will send you to my brother Gloucester, Who shall reward you better for my life Than Edward will for tidings of my death. SECOND MURDERER. You are deceiv’d: your brother Gloucester hates you.
CLARENCE. O, no, he loves me, and he holds me dear. Go you to him from me.
FIRST MURDERER. Ay, so we will.
CLARENCE. Tell him when that our princely father York Bless’d his three sons with his victorious arm And charg’d us from his soul to love each other, He little thought of this divided friendship. Bid Gloucester think of this, and he will weep. FIRST MURDERER. Ay, millstones; as he lesson’d us to weep. CLARENCE. O, do not slander him, for he is kind. FIRST MURDERER. Right, as snow in harvest. Come, you deceive yourself:
‘Tis he that sends us to destroy you here. CLARENCE. It cannot be; for he bewept my fortune And hugg’d me in his arms, and swore with sobs That he would labour my delivery.
FIRST MURDERER. Why, so he doth, when he delivers you From this earth’s thraldom to the joys of heaven. SECOND MURDERER. Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
CLARENCE. Have you that holy feeling in your souls To counsel me to make my peace with God, And are you yet to your own souls so blind That you will war with God by murd’ring me? O, sirs, consider: they that set you on To do this deed will hate you for the deed. SECOND MURDERER. What shall we do?
CLARENCE. Relent, and save your souls. FIRST MURDERER. Relent! No, ’tis cowardly and womanish. CLARENCE. Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish. Which of you, if you were a prince’s son, Being pent from liberty as I am now,
If two such murderers as yourselves came to you, Would not entreat for life?
My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks; O, if thine eye be not a flatterer,
Come thou on my side and entreat for me- As you would beg were you in my distress. A begging prince what beggar pities not? SECOND MURDERER. Look behind you, my lord. FIRST MURDERER. [Stabbing him] Take that, and that. If all this will not do,
I’ll drown you in the malmsey-butt within. Exit with the body SECOND MURDERER. A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch’d!
How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands Of this most grievous murder!


FIRST MURDERER-How now, what mean’st thou that thou help’st me not?
By heavens, the Duke shall know how slack you have been!
SECOND MURDERER. I would he knew that I had sav’d his brother!
Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say; For I repent me that the Duke is slain. Exit FIRST MURDERER. So do not I. Go, coward as thou art. Well, I’ll go hide the body in some hole, Till that the Duke give order for his burial; And when I have my meed, I will away;
For this will out, and then I must not stay. Exit



London. The palace


KING EDWARD. Why, so. Now have I done a good day’s work.
You peers, continue this united league. I every day expect an embassage
From my Redeemer to redeem me hence; And more at peace my soul shall part to heaven, Since I have made my friends at peace on earth. Hastings and Rivers, take each other’s hand; Dissemble not your hatred, swear your love. RIVERS. By heaven, my soul is purg’d from grudging hate; And with my hand I seal my true heart’s love. HASTINGS. So thrive I, as I truly swear the like! KING EDWARD. Take heed you dally not before your king; Lest He that is the supreme King of kings Confound your hidden falsehood and award Either of you to be the other’s end.
HASTINGS. So prosper I, as I swear perfect love! RIVERS. And I, as I love Hastings with my heart! KING EDWARD. Madam, yourself is not exempt from this; Nor you, son Dorset; Buckingham, nor you: You have been factious one against the other. Wife, love Lord Hastings, let him kiss your hand; And what you do, do it unfeignedly.
QUEEN ELIZABETH. There, Hastings; I will never more remember
Our former hatred, so thrive I and mine! KING EDWARD. Dorset, embrace him; Hastings, love Lord Marquis.
DORSET. This interchange of love, I here protest, Upon my part shall be inviolable.
HASTINGS. And so swear I. [They embrace] KING EDWARD. Now, princely Buckingham, seal thou this league
With thy embracements to my wife’s allies, And make me happy in your unity.
BUCKINGHAM. [To the QUEEN] Whenever Buckingham doth turn his hate
Upon your Grace, but with all duteous love Doth cherish you and yours, God punish me With hate in those where I expect most love! When I have most need to employ a friend And most assured that he is a friend,
Deep, hollow, treacherous, and full of guile, Be he unto me! This do I beg of God
When I am cold in love to you or yours. [They embrace]
KING EDWARD. A pleasing cordial, princely Buckingham, Is this thy vow unto my sickly heart.
There wanteth now our brother Gloucester here To make the blessed period of this peace. BUCKINGHAM. And, in good time,
Here comes Sir Richard Ratcliff and the Duke.

GLOUCESTER. Good morrow to my sovereign king and Queen;
And, princely peers, a happy time of day! KING EDWARD. Happy, indeed, as we have spent the day. Gloucester, we have done deeds of charity, Made peace of enmity, fair love of hate, Between these swelling wrong-incensed peers. GLOUCESTER. A blessed labour, my most sovereign lord. Among this princely heap, if any here, By false intelligence or wrong surmise, Hold me a foe-
If I unwittingly, or in my rage,
Have aught committed that is hardly borne To any in this presence, I desire
To reconcile me to his friendly peace: ‘Tis death to me to be at enmity;
I hate it, and desire all good men’s love. First, madam, I entreat true peace of you, Which I will purchase with my duteous service; Of you, my noble cousin Buckingham,
If ever any grudge were lodg’d between us; Of you, and you, Lord Rivers, and of Dorset, That all without desert have frown’d on me; Of you, Lord Woodville, and, Lord Scales, of you; Dukes, earls, lords, gentlemen-indeed, of all. I do not know that Englishman alive
With whom my soul is any jot at odds More than the infant that is born to-night. I thank my God for my humility.
QUEEN ELIZABETH. A holy day shall this be kept hereafter. I would to God all strifes were well compounded. My sovereign lord, I do beseech your Highness To take our brother Clarence to your grace. GLOUCESTER. Why, madam, have I off’red love for this, To be so flouted in this royal presence? Who knows not that the gentle Duke is dead? [They all start] You do him injury to scorn his corse.
KING EDWARD. Who knows not he is dead! Who knows he is?
QUEEN ELIZABETH. All-seeing heaven, what a world is this! BUCKINGHAM. Look I so pale, Lord Dorset, as the rest? DORSET. Ay, my good lord; and no man in the presence But his red colour hath forsook his cheeks. KING EDWARD. Is Clarence dead? The order was revers’d. GLOUCESTER. But he, poor man, by your first order died, And that a winged Mercury did bear;
Some tardy cripple bare the countermand That came too lag to see him buried.
God grant that some, less noble and less loyal, Nearer in bloody thoughts, an not in blood, Deserve not worse than wretched Clarence did, And yet go current from suspicion!


DERBY. A boon, my sovereign, for my service done! KING EDWARD. I prithee, peace; my soul is full of sorrow. DERBY. I Will not rise unless your Highness hear me. KING EDWARD. Then say at once what is it thou requests. DERBY. The forfeit, sovereign, of my servant’s life; Who slew to-day a riotous gentleman
Lately attendant on the Duke of Norfolk. KING EDWARD. Have I a tongue to doom my brother’s death, And shall that tongue give pardon to a slave? My brother killed no man-his fault was thought, And yet his punishment was bitter death. Who sued to me for him? Who, in my wrath, Kneel’d at my feet, and bid me be advis’d? Who spoke of brotherhood? Who spoke of love? Who told me how the poor soul did forsake The mighty Warwick and did fight for me? Who told me, in the field at Tewksbury When Oxford had me down, he rescued me And said ‘Dear Brother, live, and be a king’? Who told me, when we both lay in the field Frozen almost to death, how he did lap me Even in his garments, and did give himself, All thin and naked, to the numb cold night? All this from my remembrance brutish wrath Sinfully pluck’d, and not a man of you Had so much grace to put it in my mind. But when your carters or your waiting-vassals Have done a drunken slaughter and defac’d The precious image of our dear Redeemer, You straight are on your knees for pardon, pardon; And I, unjustly too, must grant it you. [DERBY rises] But for my brother not a man would speak; Nor I, ungracious, speak unto myself
For him, poor soul. The proudest of you all Have been beholding to him in his life; Yet none of you would once beg for his life. O God, I fear thy justice will take hold On me, and you, and mine, and yours, for this! Come, Hastings, help me to my closet. Ah, poor Clarence! Exeunt some with KING and QUEEN GLOUCESTER. This is the fruits of rashness. Mark’d you not How that the guilty kindred of the Queen Look’d pale when they did hear of Clarence’ death? O, they did urge it still unto the King! God will revenge it. Come, lords, will you go To comfort Edward with our company?
BUCKINGHAM. We wait upon your Grace. Exeunt


London. The palace

Enter the old DUCHESS OF YORK, with the SON and DAUGHTER of CLARENCE

SON. Good grandam, tell us, is our father dead? DUCHESS. No, boy.
DAUGHTER. Why do you weep so oft, and beat your breast, And cry ‘O Clarence, my unhappy son!’? SON. Why do you look on us, and shake your head, And call us orphans, wretches, castaways, If that our noble father were alive?
DUCHESS. My pretty cousins, you mistake me both; I do lament the sickness of the King,
As loath to lose him, not your father’s death; It were lost sorrow to wail one that’s lost. SON. Then you conclude, my grandam, he is dead. The King mine uncle is to blame for it. God will revenge it; whom I will importune With earnest prayers all to that effect. DAUGHTER. And so will I.
DUCHESS. Peace, children, peace! The King doth love you well.
Incapable and shallow innocents,
You cannot guess who caus’d your father’s death. SON. Grandam, we can; for my good uncle Gloucester Told me the King, provok’d to it by the Queen, Devis’d impeachments to imprison him.
And when my uncle told me so, he wept, And pitied me, and kindly kiss’d my cheek; Bade me rely on him as on my father,
And he would love me dearly as a child. DUCHESS. Ah, that deceit should steal such gentle shape, And with a virtuous vizor hide deep vice! He is my son; ay, and therein my shame; Yet from my dugs he drew not this deceit. SON. Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam? DUCHESS. Ay, boy.
SON. I cannot think it. Hark! what noise is this?

Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH, with her hair about her ears; RIVERS and DORSET after her

QUEEN ELIZABETH. Ah, who shall hinder me to wail and weep,
To chide my fortune, and torment myself? I’ll join with black despair against my soul And to myself become an enemy.
DUCHESS. What means this scene of rude impatience? QUEEN ELIZABETH. To make an act of tragic violence. EDWARD, my lord, thy son, our king, is dead. Why grow the branches when the root is gone? Why wither not the leaves that want their sap? If you will live, lament; if die, be brief, That our swift-winged souls may catch the King’s, Or like obedient subjects follow him
To his new kingdom of ne’er-changing night. DUCHESS. Ah, so much interest have I in thy sorrow As I had title in thy noble husband!
I have bewept a worthy husband’s death, And liv’d with looking on his images; But now two mirrors of his princely semblance Are crack’d in pieces by malignant death, And I for comfort have but one false glass, That grieves me when I see my shame in him. Thou art a widow, yet thou art a mother And hast the comfort of thy children left; But death hath snatch’d my husband from mine arms And pluck’d two crutches from my feeble hands- Clarence and Edward. O, what cause have I- Thine being but a moiety of my moan-
To overgo thy woes and drown thy cries? SON. Ah, aunt, you wept not for our father’s death! How can we aid you with our kindred tears? DAUGHTER. Our fatherless distress was left unmoan’d; Your widow-dolour likewise be unwept!
QUEEN ELIZABETH. Give me no help in lamentation; I am not barren to bring forth complaints. All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes That I, being govern’d by the watery moon, May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world! Ah for my husband, for my dear Lord Edward! CHILDREN. Ah for our father, for our dear Lord Clarence! DUCHESS. Alas for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence! QUEEN ELIZABETH. What stay had I but Edward? and he’s gone.
CHILDREN. What stay had we but Clarence? and he’s gone. DUCHESS. What stays had I but they? and they are gone. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Was never widow had so dear a loss. CHILDREN. Were never orphans had so dear a loss. DUCHESS. Was never mother had so dear a loss. Alas, I am the mother of these griefs! Their woes are parcell’d, mine is general. She for an Edward weeps, and so do I:
I for a Clarence weep, so doth not she. These babes for Clarence weep, and so do I: I for an Edward weep, so do not they.
Alas, you three on me, threefold distress’d, Pour all your tears! I am your sorrow’s nurse, And I will pamper it with lamentation. DORSET. Comfort, dear mother. God is much displeas’d That you take with unthankfulness his doing. In common worldly things ’tis called ungrateful With dull unwillingness to repay a debt Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent; Much more to be thus opposite with heaven, For it requires the royal debt it lent you. RIVERS. Madam, bethink you, like a careful mother, Of the young prince your son. Send straight for him; Let him be crown’d; in him your comfort lives. Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward’s grave, And plant your joys in living Edward’s throne.


GLOUCESTER. Sister, have comfort. All of us have cause To wail the dimming of our shining star; But none can help our harms by wailing them. Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy;
I did not see your Grace. Humbly on my knee I crave your blessing.
DUCHESS. God bless thee; and put meekness in thy breast, Love, charity, obedience, and true duty! GLOUCESTER. Amen! [Aside] And make me die a good old man!
That is the butt end of a mother’s blessing; I marvel that her Grace did leave it out. BUCKINGHAM. You cloudy princes and heart-sorrowing peers,
That bear this heavy mutual load of moan, Now cheer each other in each other’s love. Though we have spent our harvest of this king, We are to reap the harvest of his son. The broken rancour of your high-swol’n hearts, But lately splinter’d, knit, and join’d together, Must gently be preserv’d, cherish’d, and kept. Me seemeth good that, with some little train, Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fet Hither to London, to be crown’d our King.

RIVERS. Why with some little train, my Lord of Buckingham?
BUCKINGHAM. Marry, my lord, lest by a multitude The new-heal’d wound of malice should break out, Which would be so much the more dangerous By how much the estate is green and yet ungovern’d; Where every horse bears his commanding rein And may direct his course as please himself, As well the fear of harm as harm apparent, In my opinion, ought to be prevented.
GLOUCESTER. I hope the King made peace with all of us; And the compact is firm and true in me. RIVERS. And so in me; and so, I think, in all. Yet, since it is but green, it should be put To no apparent likelihood of breach,
Which haply by much company might be urg’d; Therefore I say with noble Buckingham
That it is meet so few should fetch the Prince. HASTINGS. And so say I.
GLOUCESTER. Then be it so; and go we to determine Who they shall be that straight shall post to Ludlow. Madam, and you, my sister, will you go To give your censures in this business? Exeunt all but BUCKINGHAM and GLOUCESTER BUCKINGHAM. My lord, whoever journeys to the Prince, For God’s sake, let not us two stay at home; For by the way I’ll sort occasion,
As index to the story we late talk’d of, To part the Queen’s proud kindred from the Prince. GLOUCESTER. My other self, my counsel’s consistory, My oracle, my prophet, my dear cousin, I, as a child, will go by thy direction. Toward Ludlow then, for we’ll not stay behind. Exeunt


London. A street

Enter one CITIZEN at one door, and another at the other

FIRST CITIZEN. Good morrow, neighbour. Whither away so fast?
SECOND CITIZEN. I promise you, I scarcely know myself. Hear you the news abroad?
FIRST CITIZEN. Yes, that the King is dead. SECOND CITIZEN. Ill news, by’r lady; seldom comes the better.
I fear, I fear ’twill prove a giddy world.

Enter another CITIZEN

THIRD CITIZEN. Neighbours, God speed! FIRST CITIZEN. Give you good morrow, sir. THIRD CITIZEN. Doth the news hold of good King Edward’s death?
SECOND CITIZEN. Ay, sir, it is too true; God help the while! THIRD CITIZEN. Then, masters, look to see a troublous world.
FIRST CITIZEN. No, no; by God’s good grace, his son shall reign.
THIRD CITIZEN. Woe to that land that’s govern’d by a child. SECOND CITIZEN. In him there is a hope of government, Which, in his nonage, council under him, And, in his full and ripened years, himself, No doubt, shall then, and till then, govern well. FIRST CITIZEN. So stood the state when Henry the Sixth Was crown’d in Paris but at nine months old. THIRD CITIZEN. Stood the state so? No, no, good friends, God wot;
For then this land was famously enrich’d With politic grave counsel; then the King Had virtuous uncles to protect his Grace. FIRST CITIZEN. Why, so hath this, both by his father and mother.
THIRD CITIZEN. Better it were they all came by his father, Or by his father there were none at all; For emulation who shall now be nearest Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not. O, full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester! And the Queen’s sons and brothers haught and proud; And were they to be rul’d, and not to rule, This sickly land might solace as before. FIRST CITIZEN. Come, come, we fear the worst; all will be well.
THIRD CITIZEN. When clouds are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand; When the sun sets, who doth not look for night? Untimely storms make men expect a dearth. All may be well; but, if God sort it so, ‘Tis more than we deserve or I expect. SECOND CITIZEN. Truly, the hearts of men are fun of fear. You cannot reason almost with a man
That looks not heavily and fun of dread. THIRD CITIZEN. Before the days of change, still is it so; By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust Ensuing danger; as by proof we see
The water swell before a boist’rous storm. But leave it all to God. Whither away? SECOND CITIZEN. Marry, we were sent for to the justices. THIRD CITIZEN. And so was I; I’ll bear you company. Exeunt


London. The palace


ARCHBISHOP. Last night, I hear, they lay at Stony Stratford, And at Northampton they do rest to-night; To-morrow or next day they will be here. DUCHESS. I long with all my heart to see the Prince. I hope he is much grown since last I saw him. QUEEN ELIZABETH. But I hear no; they say my son of York Has almost overta’en him in his growth. YORK. Ay, mother; but I would not have it so. DUCHESS. Why, my good cousin, it is good to grow. YORK. Grandam, one night as we did sit at supper, My uncle Rivers talk’d how I did grow
More than my brother. ‘Ay,’ quoth my uncle Gloucester ‘Small herbs have grace: great weeds do grow apace.’ And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast, Because sweet flow’rs are slow and weeds make haste. DUCHESS. Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold In him that did object the same to thee. He was the wretched’st thing when he was young, So long a-growing and so leisurely
That, if his rule were true, he should be gracious. ARCHBISHOP. And so no doubt he is, my gracious madam. DUCHESS. I hope he is; but yet let mothers doubt. YORK. Now, by my troth, if I had been rememb’red, I could have given my uncle’s Grace a flout To touch his growth nearer than he touch’d mine. DUCHESS. How, my young York? I prithee let me hear it. YORK. Marry, they say my uncle grew so fast That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old. ‘Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth. Grandam, this would have been a biting jest. DUCHESS. I prithee, pretty York, who told thee this? YORK. Grandam, his nurse.
DUCHESS. His nurse! Why she was dead ere thou wast born.
YORK. If ’twere not she, I cannot tell who told me. QUEEN ELIZABETH. A parlous boy! Go to, you are too shrewd.
ARCHBISHOP. Good madam, be not angry with the child. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Pitchers have ears.


ARCHBISHOP. Here comes a messenger. What news? MESSENGER. Such news, my lord, as grieves me to report. QUEEN ELIZABETH. How doth the Prince?
MESSENGER. Well, madam, and in health. DUCHESS. What is thy news?
MESSENGER. Lord Rivers and Lord Grey Are sent to Pomfret, and with them
Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.
DUCHESS. Who hath committed them?
MESSENGER. The mighty Dukes, Gloucester and Buckingham. ARCHBISHOP. For what offence?
MESSENGER. The sum of all I can, I have disclos’d. Why or for what the nobles were committed Is all unknown to me, my gracious lord. QUEEN ELIZABETH. Ay me, I see the ruin of my house! The tiger now hath seiz’d the gentle hind; Insulting tyranny begins to jet
Upon the innocent and aweless throne. Welcome, destruction, blood, and massacre! I see, as in a map, the end of all.
DUCHESS. Accursed and unquiet wrangling days, How many of you have mine eyes beheld! My husband lost his life to get the crown; And often up and down my sons were toss’d For me to joy and weep their gain and loss; And being seated, and domestic broils
Clean over-blown, themselves the conquerors Make war upon themselves-brother to brother, Blood to blood, self against self. O, preposterous And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen, Or let me die, to look on death no more! QUEEN ELIZABETH. Come, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary.
Madam, farewell.
DUCHESS. Stay, I will go with you. QUEEN ELIZABETH. You have no cause.
ARCHBISHOP. [To the QUEEN] My gracious lady, go. And thither bear your treasure and your goods. For my part, I’ll resign unto your Grace The seal I keep; and so betide to me
As well I tender you and all of yours! Go, I’ll conduct you to the sanctuary. Exeunt



London. A street

The trumpets sound. Enter the PRINCE OF WALES, GLOUCESTER, BUCKINGHAM,

BUCKINGHAM. Welcome, sweet Prince, to London, to your chamber.
GLOUCESTER. Welcome, dear cousin, my thoughts’ sovereign. The weary way hath made you melancholy. PRINCE. No, uncle; but our crosses on the way Have made it tedious, wearisome, and heavy. I want more uncles here to welcome me. GLOUCESTER. Sweet Prince, the untainted virtue of your years
Hath not yet div’d into the world’s deceit; Nor more can you distinguish of a man
Than of his outward show; which, God He knows, Seldom or never jumpeth with the heart. Those uncles which you want were dangerous; Your Grace attended to their sug’red words But look’d not on the poison of their hearts. God keep you from them and from such false friends! PRINCE. God keep me from false friends! but they were none.
GLOUCESTER. My lord, the Mayor of London comes to greet you.

Enter the LORD MAYOR and his train

MAYOR. God bless your Grace with health and happy days! PRINCE. I thank you, good my lord, and thank you all. I thought my mother and my brother York Would long ere this have met us on the way. Fie, what a slug is Hastings, that he comes not To tell us whether they will come or no!


BUCKINGHAM. And, in good time, here comes the sweating Lord.
PRINCE. Welcome, my lord. What, will our mother come? HASTINGS. On what occasion, God He knows, not I, The Queen your mother and your brother York Have taken sanctuary. The tender Prince Would fain have come with me to meet your Grace, But by his mother was perforce withheld. BUCKINGHAM. Fie, what an indirect and peevish course Is this of hers? Lord Cardinal, will your Grace Persuade the Queen to send the Duke of York Unto his princely brother presently?
If she deny, Lord Hastings, go with him And from her jealous arms pluck him perforce. CARDINAL. My Lord of Buckingham, if my weak oratory Can from his mother win the Duke of York, Anon expect him here; but if she be obdurate To mild entreaties, God in heaven forbid We should infringe the holy privilege
Of blessed sanctuary! Not for all this land Would I be guilty of so deep a sin.
BUCKINGHAM. You are too senseless-obstinate, my lord, Too ceremonious and traditional.
Weigh it but with the grossness of this age, You break not sanctuary in seizing him. The benefit thereof is always granted
To those whose dealings have deserv’d the place And those who have the wit to claim the place. This Prince hath neither claim’d it nor deserv’d it, And therefore, in mine opinion, cannot have it. Then, taking him from thence that is not there, You break no privilege nor charter there. Oft have I heard of sanctuary men;
But sanctuary children never till now. CARDINAL. My lord, you shall o’errule my mind for once. Come on, Lord Hastings, will you go with me? HASTINGS. I go, my lord.
PRINCE. Good lords, make all the speedy haste you may. Exeunt CARDINAL and HASTINGS Say, uncle Gloucester, if our brother come, Where shall we sojourn till our coronation? GLOUCESTER. Where it seems best unto your royal self. If I may counsel you, some day or two
Your Highness shall repose you at the Tower, Then where you please and shall be thought most fit For your best health and recreation.
PRINCE. I do not like the Tower, of any place. Did Julius Caesar build that place, my lord? BUCKINGHAM. He did, my gracious lord, begin that place, Which, since, succeeding ages have re-edified. PRINCE. Is it upon record, or else reported Successively from age to age, he built it? BUCKINGHAM. Upon record, my gracious lord. PRINCE. But say, my lord, it were not regist’red, Methinks the truth should live from age to age, As ’twere retail’d to all posterity,
Even to the general all-ending day. GLOUCESTER. [Aside] So wise so young, they say, do never live long.
PRINCE. What say you, uncle?
GLOUCESTER. I say, without characters, fame lives long. [Aside] Thus, like the formal vice, Iniquity, I moralize two meanings in one word.
PRINCE. That Julius Caesar was a famous man; With what his valour did enrich his wit, His wit set down to make his valour live. Death makes no conquest of this conqueror; For now he lives in fame, though not in life. I’ll tell you what, my cousin Buckingham- BUCKINGHAM. What, my gracious lord?
PRINCE. An if I live until I be a man, I’ll win our ancient right in France again, Or die a soldier as I liv’d a king.
GLOUCESTER. [Aside] Short summers lightly have a forward spring.

Enter HASTINGS, young YORK, and the CARDINAL

BUCKINGHAM. Now, in good time, here comes the Duke of York.
PRINCE. Richard of York, how fares our loving brother? YORK. Well, my dread lord; so must I can you now. PRINCE. Ay brother, to our grief, as it is yours. Too late he died that might have kept that title, Which by his death hath lost much majesty. GLOUCESTER. How fares our cousin, noble Lord of York? YORK. I thank you, gentle uncle. O, my lord, You said that idle weeds are fast in growth. The Prince my brother hath outgrown me far. GLOUCESTER. He hath, my lord.
YORK. And therefore is he idle?
GLOUCESTER. O, my fair cousin, I must not say so. YORK. Then he is more beholding to you than I. GLOUCESTER. He may command me as my sovereign; But you have power in me as in a kinsman. YORK. I pray you, uncle, give me this dagger. GLOUCESTER. My dagger, little cousin? With all my heart! PRINCE. A beggar, brother?
YORK. Of my kind uncle, that I know will give, And being but a toy, which is no grief to give. GLOUCESTER. A greater gift than that I’ll give my cousin. YORK. A greater gift! O, that’s the sword to it! GLOUCESTER. Ay, gentle cousin, were it light enough. YORK. O, then, I see you will part but with light gifts: In weightier things you’ll say a beggar nay. GLOUCESTER. It is too heavy for your Grace to wear. YORK. I weigh it lightly, were it heavier. GLOUCESTER. What, would you have my weapon, little Lord?
YORK. I would, that I might thank you as you call me. GLOUCESTER. How?
YORK. Little.
PRINCE. My Lord of York will still be cross in talk. Uncle, your Grace knows how to bear with him. YORK. You mean, to bear me, not to bear with me. Uncle, my brother mocks both you and me; Because that I am little, like an ape, He thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders. BUCKINGHAM. With what a sharp-provided wit he reasons! To mitigate the scorn he gives his uncle He prettily and aptly taunts himself.
So cunning and so young is wonderful. GLOUCESTER. My lord, will’t please you pass along? Myself and my good cousin Buckingham
Will to your mother, to entreat of her To meet you at the Tower and welcome you. YORK. What, will you go unto the Tower, my lord? PRINCE. My Lord Protector needs will have it so. YORK. I shall not sleep in quiet at the Tower. GLOUCESTER. Why, what should you fear?
YORK. Marry, my uncle Clarence’ angry ghost. My grandam told me he was murder’d there. PRINCE. I fear no uncles dead.
GLOUCESTER. Nor none that live, I hope. PRINCE. An if they live, I hope I need not fear. But come, my lord; and with a heavy heart, Thinking on them, go I unto the Tower. A sennet.
Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER, BUCKINGHAM, and CATESBY BUCKINGHAM. Think you, my lord, this little prating York Was not incensed by his subtle mother
To taunt and scorn you thus opprobriously? GLOUCESTER. No doubt, no doubt. O, ’tis a perilous boy; Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable. He is all the mother’s, from the top to toe. BUCKINGHAM. Well, let them rest. Come hither, Catesby. Thou art sworn as deeply to effect what we intend As closely to conceal what we impart.
Thou know’st our reasons urg’d upon the way. What think’st thou? Is it not an easy matter To make William Lord Hastings of our mind, For the instalment of this noble Duke
In the seat royal of this famous isle? CATESBY. He for his father’s sake so loves the Prince That he will not be won to aught against him. BUCKINGHAM. What think’st thou then of Stanley? Will not he?
CATESBY. He will do all in all as Hastings doth. BUCKINGHAM. Well then, no more but this: go, gentle Catesby,
And, as it were far off, sound thou Lord Hastings How he doth stand affected to our purpose; And summon him to-morrow to the Tower, To sit about the coronation.
If thou dost find him tractable to us, Encourage him, and tell him all our reasons; If he be leaden, icy, cold, unwilling, Be thou so too, and so break off the talk, And give us notice of his inclination; For we to-morrow hold divided councils, Wherein thyself shalt highly be employ’d. GLOUCESTER. Commend me to Lord William. Tell him, Catesby,
His ancient knot of dangerous adversaries To-morrow are let blood at Pomfret Castle; And bid my lord, for joy of this good news, Give Mistress Shore one gentle kiss the more.