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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From ‘Edward the Second’

By Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)

(See full text.)

KING EDWARD—Who’s there? what light is that? wherefore com’st thou?

Lightborn—To comfort you, and bring you joyful news.

King Edward—Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks.

Villain, I know thou com’st to murder me.

Lightborn—To murder you, my most gracious lord!

Far is it from my heart to do you harm.

The Queen sent me to see how you were used,

For she relents at this your misery;

And what eyes can refrain from shedding tears,

To see a king in this most piteous state?

King Edward—Weep’st thou already? List awhile to me:

And then thy heart, were it as Gurney’s is,

Or as Matrevis’s, hewn from the Caucasus,

Yet will it melt, ere I have done my tale.

This dungeon where they keep me is the sink

Wherein the filth of all the castle falls.

Lightborn—O villains!

King Edward—And there in mire and puddle have I stood

This ten days’ space; and lest that I should sleep,

One plays continually upon a drum;

They give me bread and water, being a king:

So that, for want of sleep and sustenance,

My mind’s distempered, and my body’s numbed;

And whether I have limbs or no I know not.

Oh, would my blood dropped out from every vein,

As doth this water from my tattered robes.

Tell Isabel, the queen, I looked not thus

When for her sake I ran at tilt in France,

And there unhorsed the Duke of Cleremont.

Lightborn—Oh, speak no more, my lord! This breaks my heart.

Lie on this bed, and rest yourself awhile.

King Edward—These looks of thine can harbor naught but death:

I see my tragedy written in thy brows.

Yet stay: awhile forbear thy bloody hand,

And let me see the stroke before it comes;

That even then, when I shall lose my life,

My mind may be more steadfast on my God.

Lightborn—What means your Highness to mistrust me thus?

King Edward—What mean’st thou to dissemble with me thus?

Lightborn—These hands were never stained with innocent blood,

Nor shall they now be tainted with a king’s.

King Edward—Forgive my thought for having such a thought.

One jewel have I left; receive thou this.[Giving jewel.]

Still fear I, and I know not what’s the cause,

But every joint shakes as I give it thee.

Oh, if thou harborest murder in thy heart,

Let this gift change thy mind, and save thy soul.

Know that I am a king—oh, at that name

I feel a hell of grief! Where is my crown?

Gone, gone! and do I still remain alive?

Lightborn—You’re overwatched, my lord: lie down and rest.

King Edward—But that grief keeps me waking, I should sleep;

For not these ten days have these eyelids closed.

Now as I speak they fall; and yet with fear

Open again. Oh, wherefore sitt’st thou here?

Lightborn—If you mistrust me, I’ll begone, my lord.

King Edward—No, no: for if thou mean’st to murder me,

Thou wilt return again; and therefore stay.[Sleeps.]

Lightborn—He sleeps.

King Edward[waking]—Oh, let me not die yet! Oh, stay a while!

Lightborn—How now, my lord?

King Edward—Something still buzzeth in mine ears,

And tells me if I sleep I never wake;

This fear is that which makes me tremble thus.

And therefore tell me, Wherefore art thou come?

Lightborn—To rid thee of thy life.—Matrevis, come!

Enter Matrevis and Gurney
King Edward—I am too weak and feeble to resist:

Assist me, sweet God, and receive my soul!

Lightborn—Run for the table.

King Edward—Oh, spare me, or dispatch me in a trice.

[Matrevis brings in a table.]
Lightborn—So, lay the table down, and stamp on it,

But not too hard, lest that you bruise his body.

[King Edward is murdered.]
Matrevis—I fear me that this cry will raise the town,

And therefore, let us take horse and away.

Lightborn—Tell me, sirs, was it not bravely done?

Gurney—Excellent well: take this for thy reward.

[Gurney stabs Lightborn, who dies.]
Come, let us cast the body in the moat,

And bear the King’s to Mortimer our lord!

Away![Exeunt with the bodies.]