Richard III By William Shakespeare Act IV

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
O thou well skill'd in curses, stay awhile,
And teach me how to curse mine enemies!

QUEEN MARGARET.
Forbear to sleep the night, and fast the day;
Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is;
Bettering thy loss makes the bad-causer worse;
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
My words are dull; O, quicken them with thine!

QUEEN MARGARET.
Thy woes will make them sharp, and pierce like mine.

[Exit.]

DUCHESS.
Why should calamity be full of words?

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Windy attorneys to their client woes,
Airy succeeders of intestate joys,
Poor breathing orators of miseries!
Let them have scope: though what they do impart
Help nothing else, yet do they ease the heart.

DUCHESS.
If so, then be not tongue-tied: go with me,
And in the breath of bitter words let's smother
My damned son, that thy two sweet sons smother'd.

[Drum within.]

I hear his drum: — be copious in exclaims.

[Enter KING RICHARD and his Train, marching.]

KING RICHARD.
Who intercepts me in my expedition?

DUCHESS.
O, she that might have intercepted thee,
By strangling thee in her accursed womb,
From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done!

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Hidest thou that forehead with a golden crown,
Where should be branded, if that right were right,
The slaughter of the prince that ow'd that crown,
And the dire death of my poor sons and brothers?
Tell me, thou villain-slave, where are my children?

DUCHESS.
Thou toad, thou toad, where is thy brother Clarence?
And little Ned Plantagenet, his son?

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Where is the gentle Rivers, Vaughan, Grey?

DUCHESS.
Where is kind Hastings?

KING RICHARD.
A flourish, trumpets! strike alarum, drums!
Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women
Rail on the Lord's anointed: strike, I say!

[Flourish. Alarums.]

Either be patient and entreat me fair,
Or with the clamorous report of war
Thus will I drown your exclamations.

DUCHESS.
Art thou my son?

KING RICHARD.
Ay, I thank God, my father, and yourself.

DUCHESS.
Then patiently hear my impatience.

KING RICHARD.
Madam, I have a touch of your condition
That cannot brook the accent of reproof.

DUCHESS.
O, let me speak!

KING RICHARD.
Do, then; but I'll not hear.

DUCHESS.
I will be mild and gentle in my words.

KING RICHARD.
And brief, good mother; for I am in haste.

DUCHESS.
Art thou so hasty? I have stay'd for thee,
God knows, in torment and in agony.

KING RICHARD.
And came I not at last to comfort you?

DUCHESS.
No, by the holy rood, thou know'st it well
Thou cam'st on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burden was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious;
Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;
Thy age confirm'd, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred:
What comfortable hour canst thou name
That ever grac'd me with thy company?

KING RICHARD.
Faith, none but Humphrey Hour, that call'd your grace
To breakfast once forth of my company.
If I be so disgracious in your eye,
Let me march on and not offend you, madam. —
Strike up the drum.

DUCHESS.
I pr'ythee hear me speak.

KING RICHARD.
You speak too bitterly.

DUCHESS.
Hear me a word;
For I shall never speak to thee again.

KING RICHARD.
So.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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




Quiz