William Shakespeare.

The dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 5) online

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 39)
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VOL. V. 1






THIS tragedy, though called, in the original edition, " The Life and
Death of King Richard the Third," comprises only fourteen years. The
second scene commences with the funeral of king Henry VI., who is said
to have been murdered on the 21st of May, 1471. The imprisonment of
Clarence, which is represented previously in the first scene, did not, in
fact, take place till 1477-8.

Several dramas on the present story had been written before Shakspeare
attempted it There was a Latin play on the subject, by Dr. Legge,
which had been acted at St. John s College, Oxford, some time before the
year 1588. And a childish imitation of it, by one Henry Lacey, exists in
MS. in the British Museum ; (MSS. Harl. No. 6926 ;) it is dated 1586.
In the books of the Stationers Company are the following entries : "Aug.
15, 1586, A Tragical Report of King Richard the Third : a ballad." June
19, 1594, Thomas Creede made the following entry : " An enterlude, in-
titled the Tragedie of Richard the Third, wherein is shown the Deathe of
Edward the Fourthe, with the Smotheringe of the Two Princes in the
Tower, with the lamentable Ende of Shore s Wife, and the Contention of
the Two Houses of Lancaster and Yorke." A single copy of this ancient
Interlude, which Mr. Boswell thinks was written by the author of Locrine,
unfortunately wanting the title-page, and a few lines at the beginning,
was in the collection of Mr. Rhodes, of Lyon s Inn, who liberally allowed
Mr. Boswell to print it in the last Variorum edition of Shakspeare.* It
appears evidently to have been read and used by Shakspeare. In this,
as in other instances, the bookseller was probably induced to publish the
old play, in consequence of the success of the new one in performance, and
before it had yet got into print

Shakspeare s play was first entered at Stationers Hall, Oct 20, 1597,
by Andrew Wise ; and was then published with the following title :
" The Tragedy of King Richard the Third : Containing his treacherous
Plots against his Brother Clarence ; the pitiful Murther of his innocent
Nephewes ; his tyrannical Usurpation : with the whole course of his

* A complete copy of Creede s edition of this curious Interlude (which upon comparison
proved to be a different impression from that in Mr. Rhodes s collection) was sold by auc
tion by Mr. Evans very lately. The title was as follows : " The true Tragedie of Richard
the Third, wherein is showne the death of Edward the Fourth, with the smothering of the
two yoong Princes in the Tower : With a lamentable end of Shore s wife, an example for
all wicked women ; and lastly, the conjunction of the two noble Houses Lancaster and
Yorke, as it was playd by the Q,ueenes Maiesties players. London, printed by Thomas
Creede ; and are to be sold by William Barley at his shop in Newgate Market, neare Christ
Church door, 1594 ; 4to." It is a circumstance sufficiently remarkable, that but a single
copy of each of the two editions of this piece should be known to exist.


detested Life, and most deserved Death. As it hath been lately acted by
the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his servants. Printed by
Valentine Sims, for William Wise, 1597." It was again reprinted, in
4to, in 1598, 1602, 1612 or 1613, 1622, and twice in 1629.

This play was probably written in the year 1593 or 1594. One of
Shakspeare s Richards, and most probably this, is alluded to in the Epi
grams of John Weever,* published in 1599, but which must have been
written in 1595.


Honie-tong d Shakespeare, when I saw thine issue,
I swore Apollo got them, and none other ;
Their rosie-tainted features clothed in tissue,
Some heaven-born goddesse said to be their mother.
Rose-cheeckt Adonis with his amber tresses,
Faire fire-hot Venus charming him to love her,
Chaste Lucretia, virgine-like her dresses,
Proud lust-stung Tarquine, seeking still to prove her,
Romeo, Richard, more whose names I know not,
Their sugred tongues and power attractive beauty,
Say they are saints, althogh that saints they shew not,
For thousand vowes to them subjective dutie,
They burn in love thy children Shakspeare let them,
Go wo thy muse more nymphish brood beget them.

27th Epig. m Weekc.

The character of Richard had been in part developed in the last parts
of King Henry VI., where, Schlegel observes, " his first speeches lead us
already to form the most unfavorable prognostications respecting him : he
lowers obliquely like a thunder-cloud on the horizon, which gradually ap
proaches nearer and nearer, and first pours out the elements of devastation
with which it is charged when it hangs over the heads of mortals." " The
other characters of the drama are of too secondary a nature to excite a
powerful sympathy ; but in the back ground, the widowed queen Margaret
appears as the fury of the past, who calls forth the curse on the future ;
every calamity which her enemies draw down on each other, is a cordial
to her revengeful heart. Other female voices join, from time to time, in
the lamentations and imprecations. But Richard is the soul, or rather the
demon, of the whole tragedy, and fulfils the promise, which he formerly
made, to

set the murderous Machiavel to school.

Besides the uniform aversion with which he inspires us, he occupies
us in the greatest variety of ways, by his profound skill in dissimulation,
his wit, his prudence, his presence of mind, his quick activity, and his
valor. He fights at last against Richmond like a desperado, and dies the

* This very curious little volume, which is supposed to be unique, is in the possession of
Mr. Comb, of Henley. The title is as follows : " Epigrammes in the oldest Cut and newest
Fashion. Atwiseseven Houres (in so many Weekes) Studie. No longer (like the Fashion;
not unlike to continue. The first seven, John Weever. Sit voluisse sit valuisse. At Lon
don : printed by V. S. for Thomas Bushele ; and are to be sold at his shop, at the great
north doore of Panics. 1599. 12." There is a portrait of the author, engraved by Cecil!,

Erefixed. According to the date upon this print, Weever was then twenty-three years old ;
ut he tells us, in some introductory stanzas, that, when he wrote the Epigrams which
compose the volume, he was not twenty years old ; that he was one

{ That twenty twelvemonths yet did never knew."
Consequently, these Epigrams must have been written in 1595.


honorable death of the hero on the field of battle." But Shakspeare has
satisfied our moral feelings : " He shows us Richard in his last moments
already branded with the stamp of reprobation. We see Richard and
Richmond, on the night before battle, sleeping in their tents ; the spirits
of those murdered by the tyrant ascend in succession, and pour out their
curses against him, and their blessings on his adversary. These appa
ritions are, properly, merely the dreams of the two generals made visible.
It is no doubt contrary to sensible probability, that their tents should only
be separated by so small a space; but Shakspeare could reckon on poetical
spectators, who were ready to take the breadth of the stage for the dis
tance between the two camps, if, by such a favor, they were to be recom
pensed by beauties of so sublime a nature as this series of spectres, and
the soliloquy of Richard on his awaking." *

Steevens observed that the favor with which the tragedy has been received
on the stage in modern times "must in some measure be imputed to
Gibber s reformation of it" The original play was certainly too long for
representation, and there were parts which might, with advantage, have
been omitted in representation, as " dramatic encumbrances ; " but such a
piece of clumsy patchwork as the performance of Gibber, was surely any
thing but "judicious ;" and it is only surprising, that the taste which has
led to other reformations in the performance of our great dramatic Poet s
works, has not given to the stage a judicious abridgment of this tragedy
in his own words, unencumbered with the superfluous transpositions and
gratuitous additions which have been so long inflicted upon us.

* Schlegel s Lectures on Dramatic Literature, vol. ii. p. 246.


EDWARD, Prince of Wales, afterwards \

King Edward V. > Sons to the King.

RICHARD, Duke q/"York, J

GEORGE, Duke of Clarence, \

RICHARD, Duke of Gloster, afterwards > Brothers to the King

King Richard III. j

A young Son of Clarence.

HENRY, Earl of Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII.
CARDINAL BOUCHIER, Archbishop of Canterbury.
THOMAS ROTHERAM, Archbishop q/"York.
JOHN MORTON, Bishop of Ely.
Duke of Buckingham.
Duke of Norfolk : Earl of Surrey, Jiis Son.
EARL RIVERS, Brother to King Edward s Queen.
Marquis of Dorset, and LORD GREY, her Sons.
SIR ROBERT BRAKENBURY, Lieutenant of the Tower.
CHRISTOPHER URSWICK, a Priest. Another Priest.
Lord Mayor of London. Sheriff of Wiltshire.

ELIZABETH, Queen of King Edward IV.

MARGARET, Widow of King Henry VI.

Duchess of York, Mother to King Edward IV., Clarence, and

LADY ANNE, Widow of Edward, Prince of Wales, Son to King

Henry VI. ; afterwards married to the Duke of Gloster.
A young Daughter of Clarence.

Lords, and other Attendants, two Gentlemen, a Pursuivant, Scriv
ener, Citizens, Murderers, Messengers, Ghosts, Soldiers, tyc.

SCENE. England.



SCENE I. London. A Street.


Gloster. Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun 1 of York ;
And all the clouds, that lowered upon our house,
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths ;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments ;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. 2 |,

Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front ;
And now, instead of mounting barbed 3 steeds,
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady s chamber,
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass ;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love s majesty,
To strut before a wanton, ambling nymph ;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, 4

1 The cognizance of Edward IV. was a sun, in memory of the three suns
which are said to have appeared at the battle which he gained over the
Lancastrians at Mortimer s Cross.

2 Dances.

3 i. e. steeds caparisoned or clothed in the trappings of war. The word
is properly barded, from equus bardatus, Latin of the middle ages.

4 Feature is proportion, or beauty, in general. By dissembling is not
meant hypocritical nature, but nature that puts together things of a dis
similar kind, as a brave soul and a deformed body.


Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time

Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,

And that so lamely and unfashionable,

That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them ;

Why, I, in this weak, piping time of peace,

Have no delight to pass away the time ;

Unless to spy my shadow in the sun,

And descant on mine own deformity ;

And, therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,

To entertain these fair, well-spoken days,

I am determined to prove a villain,

And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,

By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,

To set my brother Clarence, and the king,

In deadly hate the one against the other ;

And, if king Edward be as true and just,

As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,

This day should Clarence closely be mewed up ,

About a prophecy, which says that G

Of Edward s heirs the murderer shall be. 1

Dive, thoughts, down to my soul ! here Clarence comes

Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY.

Brother, good day. What means this armed guard.
That waits upon your grace ?

Clar. His majesty,

Tendering my person s safety, hath appointed
This conduct to convey me to the Tower.

Glo. Upon what cause ?

Clar. Because my name is George.

Glo. Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours ;

He should, for that, commit your godfathers.

O, belike, his majesty hath some intent,

That you shall be new christened in the Tower.

But what s the matter, Clarence ? may I know ?

Clar. Yea, Richard, when I know ; for, I protest,

i This is from Holinshed.


As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,

He hearkens after prophecies, and dreams ;

And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,

And says a wizard told him, that by G

His issue disinherited should be ;

And, for my name of George begins with G,

It follows in his thought that I am he.

These, as I learn, and such like toys as these,

Have moved his highness to commit me now.

Glo. Why, this it is, when men are ruled by


Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower ;
My lady Grey, his wife, Clarence, tis she,
That tempers him to this extremity.
Was it not she, and that good man of worship,
Antony Woodeville, her brother there,
That made him send lord Hastings to the Tower ;
From whence this present day he is delivered ?
We are not safe, Clarence, we are not safe.

Clar. By Heaven, I think there is no man secure,
But the queen s kindred, and night-walking heralds
That trudge betwixt the king and mistress Shore.
Heard you not what an humble suppliant
Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery ?

Glo. Humbly complaining to her deity
Got my lord chamberlain his liberty.
I ll tell you what, I think it is our way,
If we will keep in favor with the king,
To be her men, and wear her livery.
The jealous, o er- worn widow, and herself, 1
Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.

Brak. I beseech your graces both to pardon me ;
His majesty hath straitly given in charge,
That no man shall have private conference,
Of what degree soever with his brother.

Glo. Even so ? An please your worship, Brakenbury
You may partake of any thing we say.

1 The queen and Shore.
VOL. V. 2


We speak no treason, man. We say, the king

Is wise and virtuous ; and his noble queen

Well struck in years; fair, and not jealous.

We say, that Shore s wife hath a pretty foot,

A cherry lip,

A bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue ;

And that the queen s kindred are made gentlefolks.

How say you, sir ? can you deny all this ?

Brak. With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.

Glo. Naught to do with mistress Shore ? I tell thee,


He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
Were best to do it secretly, alone.

Brak. What one, my lord ?

Glo. Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?

Brak. I beseech your grace to pardon me ; and withal,
Forbear your conference with the noble duke.

Clar. We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will

Glo. We are the queen s abjects, 1 and must obey.
Brother, farewell. I will unto the king ;
And whatsoever you will employ me in,
Were it to call king Edward s widow sister,
I will perform it to enfranchise you.
Mean time, this deep disgrace in brotherhood,
Touches me deeper than you can imagine.

Clar. I know it pleaseth neither of us well.

Glo. Well, your imprisonment shall not be long ,
I will deliver you, or else lie for you. 2
Mean time, have patience.

Clar. I must perforce ; farewell.


Glo. Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne er return,
Simple, plain Clarence ! I do love thee so,
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,

1 i. e. the lowest of her subjects. This substantive is found in Psalm
xxxv. 15.

2 He means, " or else be imprisoned in your stead." To lie signified
anciently to reside, or remain in a place.


If heaven will take the present at our hands.

But who comes here ? the new-delivered Hastings ?


Hast. Good time of day unto my gracious lord !

Glo. As much unto my good lord chamberlain !
Well are you welcome to this open air.
How hath your lordship brooked imprisonment ?

Hast. With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must ;
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks,
That were the cause of my imprisonment.

Glo. No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too ;
For they, that were your enemies, are his,
And have prevailed as much on him, as you.

Hast. More pity that the eagle should be mewed,
While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.

Glo. What news abroad ?

Hast. No news so bad abroad as this at home ;
The king is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
And his physicians fear him mightily.

Glo. Now, by saint Paul, this news is bad indeed.
O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
And over-much consumed his royal person ;
Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
What, is he in his bed ?

Hast. He is.

Glo. Go you before, and I will follow you.


He cannot live, I hope ; and must not die
Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
I ll in, to urge his hatred more to Clarence,
With lies well steeled with weighty arguments ;
And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
Clarence hath not another day to live ;
Which done, God take king Edward to his mercy,
And leave the world for me to bustle in !
For then I ll marry Warwick s youngest daughter. 1

i Lady Anne, the betrothed widow of Edward prince of Wales. See
King Henry VI. Part III.


What though I killed her husband and her father ?

The readiest way to make the wench amends,

Is to become her husband, and her father ;

The which will I ; not all so much for love,

As for another secret, close intent,

By marrying her, which I must reach unto.

But yet I run before my horse to market ;

Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns;

When they are gone, then must I count my gains.


SCENE II. The same. Another Street.

Enter the corpse O/*KING HENRY THE SIXTH, borne in
an open coffin, Gentlemen bearing halberds, to
guard it ; and LADY ANNE as mourner.

Anne. Set down, set down your honorable load,
If honor may be shrouded in a hearse,
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster
Poor key-cold 1 figure of a holy king!
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster !
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood !
Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost,
To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son,
Stabbed by the self-same hand that made these

wounds !

Lo, in these windows, that let forth thy life,
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
O, cursed be the hand that made these holes !
Cursed the heart, that had the heart to do it !
Cursed the blood, that let this blood from hence !
More direful hap betide that hated wretch,
That makes us wretched by the death of thee,
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,

1 A key, on account of the coldness of the metal of which it is composed,
was often employed to stop any slight bleeding. The epithet is common
to many old writers.


Or any creeping venomed thing that lives !

If ever he have child, abortive be it,

Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,

Whose ugly and unnatural aspect

May fright the hopeful mother at the view ;

And that be heir to his unhappiness !

If ever he have wife, let her be made

More miserable by the death of him,

Than .1 am made by my young lord and thee !

Come, now, toward Chertsey with your holy load,

Taken from Paul s to be interred there ;

And, still as you are weary of the weight,

Rest you, whilst I lament king Henry s corse.

[The bearers take up the corpse, and advance.


Glo. Stay you, that bear the corse, and set it down.

Anne. What black magician conjures up this fiend,
To stop devoted, charitable deeds ?

Glo. Villains, set down the corse ; or, by saint Paul,
I ll make a corse of him that disobeys.

1 Gent. My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.

Glo. Unmannere.d dog ! stand thou when I com
mand :

Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
Or, by saint Paul, I ll strike thee to my foot,
And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.

[The bearers set doivn the coffin.

Anne. What, do you tremble ? are you all afraid ?
Alas, I blame you not ; for you are mortal,
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell !
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body ;
His soul thou canst not have ; therefore, be gone.

Glo. Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.

Anne. Foul devil, for God s sake, hence, and trouble

us not ;

For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Filled it with cursing cries, and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,


Behold this pattern 1 of thy butcheries ;

O, gentlemen, see, see ! dead Henry s wounds

Open their congealed mouths, and bleed afresh ! 2

Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity ;

For tis thy presence that exhales this blood

From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells ;

Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,

Provokes this deluge most unnatural.

O, God, which this blood mad st, revenge his death !
O, earth, which this blood drink st, revenge his death !
Either, heaven, with lightning strike the murderer dead,
Or, earth, gape open wide, and eat him quick ;
As thou dost swallow up this good king s blood,
Which his hell-governed arm hath butchered !

Glo. Lady, you know no rules of charity,
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.

Anne. Villain, thou know st no law of God nor man ;
No beast so fierce, but knows some touch of pity.

Glo. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.

Anne. O, wonderful, when devils tell the truth !

Glo. More wonderful, when angels are so angry.
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
Of these supposed evils, to give me leave,
By circumstance, but to acquit myself.

Anne. Vouchsafe, diffused 3 infection of a man,
For these known evils, but to give me leave,
By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self.

Glo. Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.

Anne. Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst

No excuse current, but to hang thyself.

Glo. By such despair, I should accuse myself.

Anne. And, by despairing, shalt thou stand excused ;
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.

1 Example.

2 This is from Holinshed. It was a tradition, very generally received,
that the murdered body bleeds on the touch of the murderer.

3 Diffused anciently signified dark, obscure, strange, uncouth, or confused.


Glo. Say, that I slew them not ?

Anne. Why, then they are not dead ;

But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.

Glo. I did not kill your husband.

Anne. . Why, then he is alive.

Glo. Nay, he is dead ; and slain by Edward s hand.

Anne. In thy foul throat thou liest. Queen Margaret


Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood ;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.

Glo. I was provoked by her slanderous tongue,
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.

Anne. Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,
That never dreamt on aught but butcheries.
Didst thou not kill this king ?

Glo. I grant ye.

Anne. Dost grant me, hedge-hog ? then, God grant

me too,

Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed !
O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.

Glo. The fitter for the King of heaven, that hath him.

Anne. He is in heaven, where thou shalt never

Glo. Let him thank me, that holp to send him

thither ;
For he was fitter for that place than earth.

Anne. And thou unfit for any place but hell.

Glo. Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.

Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 39)