Richard III By William Shakespeare Act II

SCENE II. Another Room in the palace.

[Enter the DUCHESS OF YORK, with A 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 this:
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 Gloster
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 his child.

DUCHESS.
Ah, that deceit should steal such gentle shape,
And with a virtuous visard 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, distractedly; RIVERS and DORSET following
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 perpetual rest.

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 by 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.

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