Richard III By William Shakespeare Act I

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 su'd 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,
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry, —

[He lays his breast open; she offers at it with his sword.]

But 'twas thy beauty that provoked me.
Nay, now dispatch; 'twas I that stabb'd young Edward, —

[She again offers at his breast.]

But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.

[She lets fall the sword.]

Take up the sword again, or take up me.

Arise, dissembler: though I wish thy death,
I will not be thy executioner.

Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.

I have already.

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.

I would I knew thy heart.

'Tis figured in my tongue.

I fear me both are false.

Then never was man true.

Well, well, put up your sword.

Say, then, my peace is made.

That shalt thou know hereafter.

But shall I live in hope?

All men, I hope, live so.

Vouchsafe to wear this ring.

To take is not to give.

[She puts on the ring.]

Look, how this 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.

What is it?

That it may please you leave these sad designs
To him that hath most cause to be a mourner,
And presently repair to Crosby Place;
Where, — after I have solemnly interr'd
At Chertsey monastery, 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.

With all my heart; and much it joys me too
To see you are become so penitent. —
Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.

Bid me farewell.

'Tis more than you deserve;
But since you teach me how to flatter you,
Imagine I have said farewell already.

[Exeunt Lady Anne, Tress, and Berk.]

Sirs, take up the corse.

Towards Chertsey, noble lord?

No, to White Friars; there attend my coming.

[Exeunt the rest, with the Corpse.]

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 her hatred by;
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
And I no friends to back my suit withal,
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her, — all the world to nothing!
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 halt 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 marvellous 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.


Back to Top

Take the Quiz

At the beginning of the play, who appears to be dominating King Edward IV?