Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 3

page Act 1 Scene 3 Page 3

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QUEEN ELIZABETH

God grant him health. Did you confer with him?

QUEEN ELIZABETH

God give him health. Did you talk with him?

BUCKINGHAM

Ay, madam. He desires to make atonement
Betwixt the duke of Gloucester and your brothers,
And betwixt them and my Lord Chamberlain,
40And sent to warn them to his royal presence.

BUCKINGHAM

Yes, madam. He wants to patch things up between Richard and your brothers, and between your brothers and Hastings. He has summoned them all.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Would all were well—but that will never be.
I fear our happiness is at the height.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

I wish I could believe you that all was well! But I’m worried that things can only go downhill from here.
Enter RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, and HASTINGS
RICHARD, HASTINGS, and DORSET enter.

RICHARD

They do me wrong, and I will not endure it!
Who is it that complains unto the king
45That I, forsooth, am stern and love them not?
By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly
That fill his ears with such dissentious rumors.
Because I cannot flatter and look fair,
Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive and cog,
50Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
I must be held a rancorous enemy.
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,
But thus his simple truth must be abused
With silken, sly, insinuating jacks?

RICHARD

They’re out to get me, and I won’t stand for it! Which of you has been complaining to the king that I don’t like them? By God, whoever is worrying the king with these lies doesn’t love him very much. Just because I don’t know how to flatter and act nice, to smile in men’s faces and, as soon as their backs are turned, spread rumors about them, to bow and scrape like a nobleman trained in the French court, people have to think I’m their enemy. Can’t a plain man live and do no harm to anyone without being taken advantage of by a bunch of slick, sneaky lowlifes?

RIVERS

55To whom in all this presence speaks your Grace?

RIVERS

Which of us are you referring to?

RICHARD

To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.
When have I injured thee? When done thee wrong?—
Or thee?—Or thee? Or any of your faction?
A plague upon you all! His royal grace,
60Whom God preserve better than you would wish,
Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing while
But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.

RICHARD

You, who are neither honest nor good. When did I ever do you any harm? Or you? Or you? Or any of you? Damn you all! The king—whom I hope God will protect better than you would like—can’t get a minute’s rest without you bothering him with your outrageous complaints.