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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene IV.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

The Same.A Room in the Palace.


Arch.Last night, I hear, they lay at Northampton;

At Stony-Stratford they do rest to-night:

To-morrow, or next day, they will be here.

Duch.I long with all my heart to see the prince.

I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.

Q. Eliz.But I hear, no; they say my son of York

Hath almost overta’en him in his growth.

York.Ay, mother, but I would not have it so.

Duch.Why, my young cousin, it is good to grow.

York.Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,

My uncle Rivers talk’d how I did grow

More than my brother: ‘Ay,’ quoth my uncle Gloucester,

‘Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:’

And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,

Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.

Duch.Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold

In him that did object the same to thee:

He was the wretched’st thing when he was young,

So long a-growing, and so leisurely,

That, if his rule were true, he should be gracious.

Arch.And so, no doubt, he is, my gracious madam.

Duch.I hope he is; but yet let mothers doubt.

York.Now, by my troth, if I had been remember’d,

I could have given my uncle’s grace a flout,

To touch his growth nearer than he touch’d mine.

Duch.How, my young York? I prithee, let me hear it.

York.Marry, they say my uncle grew so fast,

That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old:

’Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth.

Grandam, this would have been a biting jest.

Duch.I prithee, pretty York, who told thee this?

York.Grandam, his nurse.

Duch.His nurse! why, she was dead ere thou wast born.

York.If ’twere not she, I cannot tell who told me.

Q. Eliz.A parlous boy: go to, you are too shrewd.

Arch.Good madam, be not angry with the child.

Q. Eliz.Pitchers have ears.

Enter a Messenger.

Arch.Here comes a messenger. What news?

Mess.Such news, my lord, as grieves me to report.

Q. Eliz.How doth the prince?

Mess.Well, madam, and in health.

Duch.What is thy news?

Mess.Lord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,

With them Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.

Duch.Who hath committed them?

Mess.The mighty dukes,

Gloucester and Buckingham.

Arch.For what offence?

Mess.The sum of all I can I have disclos’d:

Why or for what the nobles were committed

Is all unknown to me, my gracious lord.

Q. Eliz.Ah me! I see the ruin of my house!

The tiger now hath seiz’d the gentle hind;

Insulting tyranny begins to jet

Upon the innocent and aweless throne:

Welcome, destruction, death, and massacre!

I see, as in a map, the end of all.

Duch.Accursed and unquiet wrangling days,

How many of you have mine eyes beheld!

My husband lost his life to get the crown,

And often up and down my sons were toss’d,

For me to joy and weep their gain and loss:

And being seated, and domestic broils

Clean over-blown, themselves, the conquerors,

Make war upon themselves; brother to brother,

Blood to blood, self against self: O! preposterous

And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen;

Or let me die, to look on death no more.

Q. Eliz.Come, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary.

Madam, farewell.

Duch.Stay, I will go with you.

Q. Eliz.You have no cause.

Arch.[To the QUEEN.]My gracious lady, go;

And thither bear your treasure and your goods.

For my part, I’ll resign unto your Grace

The seal I keep: and so betide to me

As well I tender you and all of yours!

Come; I’ll conduct you to the sanctuary.[Exeunt.