Richard III By William Shakespeare Act I

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.

GLOSTER.
You may deny that you were not the mean
Of my Lord Hastings' late imprisonment.

RIVERS.
She may, my lord; for, —

GLOSTER.
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?

GLOSTER.
What, marry, may she! marry with a king,
A bachelor, and a handsome stripling too:
I wis your grandam had a worser match.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
My Lord of Gloster, 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 lessen'd be that small, God, I beseech Him!
Thy honour, state, and seat, is due to me.

GLOSTER.
What! Threat you me with telling of the king?
Tell him, and spare not: look what I have said
I will avouch in presence of the king:
I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower.
'Tis time to speak, — my pains are quite forgot.

QUEEN MARGARET.
Out, devil! I do remember them too well:
Thou kill'dst my husband Henry in the Tower,
And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.

GLOSTER.
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 spilt mine own.

QUEEN MARGARET.
Ay, and much better blood than his or thine.

GLOSTER.
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 murderous villain, and so still thou art.

GLOSTER.
Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick;
Ay, and forswore himself, — which Jesu pardon! —

QUEEN MARGARET.
Which God revenge!

GLOSTER.
To fight on Edward's party for the crown;
And for his meed, poor lord, he is mew'd 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 Gloster, 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.

GLOSTER.
If I should be! — I had rather be a pedler:
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!

GLOSTER.
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.

GLOSTER.
Wert thou not banished on pain of death?

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