Richard III By William Shakespeare Act IV

KING RICHARD.
I swear, —

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
By nothing; for this is no oath:
Thy George, profan'd, hath lost his lordly honour;
Thy garter, blemish'd, pawn'd his knightly virtue;
Thy crown, usurp'd, disgrac'd his kingly glory.
If something thou wouldst swear to be believ'd,
Swear then by something that thou hast not wrong'd.

KING RICHARD.
Now, by the world, —

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
'Tis full of thy foul wrongs.

KING RICHARD.
My father's death, —

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Thy life hath that dishonour'd.

KING RICHARD.
Then, by myself, —

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Thy self is self-misus'd.

KING RICHARD.
Why, then, by God, —

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
God's wrong is most of all.
If thou hadst fear'd to break an oath by Him,
The unity the king thy brother made
Had not been broken, nor my brother slain:
If thou hadst fear'd to break an oath by Him,
The imperial metal, circling now thy head,
Had grac'd the tender temples of my child;
And both the princes had been breathing here,
Which now, two tender bedfellows for dust,
Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms.
What canst thou swear by now?

KING RICHARD.
The time to come.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
That thou hast wronged in the time o'erpast;
For I myself have many tears to wash
Hereafter time, for time past wronged by thee.
The children live whose fathers thou hast slaughter'd,
Ungovern'd youth, to wail it in their age;
The parents live whose children thou hast butcher'd,
Old barren plants, to wail it with their age.
Swear not by time to come: for that thou hast
Misus'd ere used, by times ill-us'd o'erpast.

KING RICHARD.
As I intend to prosper and repent!
So thrive I in my dangerous attempt
Of hostile arms! myself myself confound!
Heaven and fortune bar me happy hours!
Day, yield me not thy light; nor, night, thy rest!
Be opposite all planets of good luck
To my proceeding! — if, with pure heart's love,
Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts,
I tender not thy beauteous princely daughter!
In her consists my happiness and thine;
Without her, follows to myself and thee,
Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,
Death, desolation, ruin, and decay:
It cannot be avoided but by this;
It will not be avoided but by this.
Therefore, dear mother, — I must call you so, —
Be the attorney of my love to her:
Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve:
Urge the necessity and state of times,
And be not peevish found in great designs.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Shall I be tempted of the devil thus?

KING RICHARD.
Ay, if the devil tempt you to do good.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Shall I forget myself to be myself?

KING RICHARD.
Ay, if your self's remembrance wrong yourself.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Yet thou didst kill my children.

KING RICHARD.
But in your daughter's womb I bury them:
Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed
Selves of themselves, to your recomforture.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
Shall I go win my daughter to thy will?

KING RICHARD.
And be a happy mother by the deed.

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
I go. — Write to me very shortly,
And you shall understand from me her mind.

KING RICHARD.
Bear her my true love's kiss; and so, farewell.

[Kissing her. Exit QUEEN ELIZABETH.]

Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman!

[Enter RATCLIFF; CATESBY following.]

How now! what news?

RATCLIFF.
Most mighty sovereign, on the western coast
Rideth a puissant navy; to the shore
Throng many doubtful hollow-hearted friends,
Unarm'd, and unresolv'd to beat them back:
'Tis thought that Richmond is their admiral;
And there they hull, expecting but the aid
Of Buckingham to welcome them ashore.

KING RICHARD.
Some light-foot friend post to the Duke of Norfolk: —
Ratcliff, thyself, — or Catesby; where is he?

CATESBY.
Here, my good lord.

KING RICHARD.
Catesby, fly to the duke.

CATESBY.
I will my lord, with all convenient haste.

KING RICHARD.
Ratcliff, come hither: post to Salisbury:
When thou com'st thither, —
[To CATESBY.] Dull, unmindful villain,
Why stay'st thou here, and go'st not to the duke?

CATESBY.
First, mighty liege, tell me your highness' pleasure,
What from your grace I shall deliver to him.

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