Recordings of Henry Irving

Recording of Henry Irving reciting the opening speech of Richard III – Act I Scene 1

There are one or two minor divergences from the accepted text.


Richard IIIGloster:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds, that lower’d 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 chang’d to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed 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 formed* for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph:
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform’d, unfinish’d, 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


* Should be ‘shaped’

Recording of Henry Irving reciting a Wolsey speech from Henry VIII – Act III Scene 2

It is possible that this recording is spurious – certainly Laurence Irving, HI’s grandson and biographer, thought so. There are minor divergences from the authorised text.

WolseyAnonymous voice:

Sir Henry Irving recites an excerpt from King Henry the Eighth.  Ready, Sir Henry.


Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forc’d me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Let’s dry our eyes: and thus far hear me, Cromwell;
And when I am forgotten, as I shall be;
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me must more be heard, then say I taught thee;
Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,
Found thee a way, out of his wrack, to rise in;
A sure and safe one, though thy master miss’d it.
Mark but my fall, and that which ruin’d me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels how can man then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by’t?
Love thyself last : cherish e’en hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues: be just and fear not:
Let all the ends thou aim’st at be thy country’s,
Thy God’s, and truth’s; then if thou fall’st, 0 Cromwell,
Thou fall’st a blessed martyr. . 0 Cromwell, Cromwell,
Had I but serv’d my God with half the zeal
I serv’d my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
Come Cromwell, Let us go in. My spirit is broken Ahhhh.

I consider that one of the finest passages in Shakespeare.