Richard III By William Shakespeare Act I

SCENE II. London. Another street.

[Enter the corpse of King Henry the Sixth, borne in an open
coffin, Gentlemen bearing halberds to guard it; and Lady
Anne as mourner.]

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 slaughter'd 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 Corpse and advance.]

[Enter GLOSTER.]

Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.

What black magician conjures up this fiend,
To stop devoted charitable deeds?

Villains, set down the corse; or, by Saint Paul,
I'll make a corse of him that disobeys!

My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.

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.]

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.

Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.

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, heaven, with lightning strike the murderer 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!

Lady, you know no rules of charity,
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.

Villain, thou knowest nor law of God nor man:
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.

But I know none, and therefore am no beast.

O wonderful, when devils tell the truth!

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.

Vouchsafe, diffus'd infection of a man,
Of these known evils but to give me leave,
By circumstance, to accuse thy cursed self.

Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.

Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
No excuse current but to hang thyself.

By such despair I should accuse myself.

And by despairing shalt thou stand excus'd;
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.

Say that I slew them not?

Then say they were not slain:
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.

I did not kill your husband.

Why, then he is alive.

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