Richard III By William Shakespeare Act II

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.

Who knows not he is dead! Who knows he is?

All-seeing heaven, what a world is this!

Look I so pale, Lord Dorset, as the rest?

Ay, my good lord; and no man in the presence
But his red colour hath forsook his cheeks.

Is Clarence dead? the order was revers'd.

But he, poor man, by your first order died,
And that a winged Mercury did bear;
Some tardy cripple bore 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!

[Enter Stanley.]

A boon, my sovereign, for my service done!

I pr'ythee, peace: my soul is full of sorrow.

I Will not rise unless your highness hear me.

Then say at once what is it thou request'st.

The forfeit, sovereign, of my servant's life;
Who slew to-day a riotous gentleman
Lately attendant on the Duke of Norfolk.

Have I a tongue to doom my brother's death,
And shall that tongue give pardon to a slave?
My brother kill'd no man, — his fault was thought,
And yet his punishment was bitter death.
Who su'd 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 rescu'd 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: —
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!


This is the fruit 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?

We wait upon your grace.


Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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