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

Act III. Scene II.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

The Same.Before LORD HASTINGS’ House.

Enter a Messenger.

Mess.[Knocking.]My lord! my lord!

Hast.[Within.]Who knocks?

Mess.One from the Lord Stanley.

Hast.[Within.]What is ’t o’clock?

Mess.Upon the stroke of four.


Hast.Cannot my Lord Stanley sleep these tedious nights?

Mess.So it appears by that I have to say.

First, he commends him to your noble self.

Hast.What then?

Mess.Then certifies your lordship, that this night

He dreamt the boar had razed off his helm:

Besides, he says there are two councils held;

And that may be determin’d at the one

Which may make you and him to rue at the other.

Therefore he sends to know your lordship’s pleasure,

If you will presently take horse with him,

And with all speed post with him towards the north,

To shun the danger that his soul divines.

Hast.Go, fellow, go, return unto thy lord;

Bid him not fear the separated councils:

His honour and myself are at the one,

And at the other is my good friend Catesby;

Where nothing can proceed that toucheth us

Whereof I shall not have intelligence.

Tell him his fears are shallow, wanting instance:

And for his dreams, I wonder he ’s so fond

To trust the mockery of unquiet slumbers.

To fly the boar before the boar pursues,

Were to incense the boar to follow us

And make pursuit where he did mean no chase.

Go, bid thy master rise and come to me;

And we will both together to the Tower,

Where, he shall see, the boar will use us kindly.

Mess.I’ll go, my lord, and tell him what you say.[Exit.


Cate.Many good morrows to my noble lord!

Hast.Good morrow, Catesby; you are early stirring.

What news, what news, in this our tottering state?

Cate.It is a reeling world, indeed, my lord;

And I believe will never stand upright

Till Richard wear the garland of the realm.

Hast.How! wear the garland! dost thou mean the crown?

Cate.Ay, my good lord.

Hast.I’ll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders

Before I’ll see the crown so foul misplac’d.

But canst thou guess that he doth aim at it?

Cate.Ay, on my life; and hopes to find you forward

Upon his party for the gain thereof:

And thereupon he sends you this good news,

That this same very day your enemies,

The kindred of the queen, must die at Pomfret.

Hast.Indeed, I am no mourner for that news,

Because they have been still my adversaries;

But that I’ll give my voice on Richard’s side,

To bar my master’s heirs in true descent,

God knows I will not do it, to the death.

Cate.God keep your lordship in that gracious mind!

Hast.But I shall laugh at this a twelvemonth hence,

That they which brought me in my master’s hate,

I live to look upon their tragedy.

Well, Catesby, ere a fortnight make me older,

I’ll send some packing that yet think not on ’t.

Cate.’Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,

When men are unprepar’d and look not for it.

Hast.O monstrous, monstrous! and so falls it out

With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey; and so ’twill do

With some men else, who think themselves as safe

As thou and I; who, as thou know’st, are dear

To princely Richard and to Buckingham.

Cate.The princes both make high account of you;

[Aside.]For they account his head upon the bridge.

Hast.I know they do, and I have well deserv’d it.


Come on, come on; where is your boar-spear, man?

Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?

Stan.My lord, good morrow; good morrow Catesby:

You may jest on, but by the holy rood,

I do not like these several councils, I.

Hast.My lord, I hold my life as dear as you do yours;

And never, in my days, I do protest,

Was it so precious to me as ’tis now.

Think you, but that I know our state secure,

I would be so triumphant as I am?

Stan.The lords at Pomfret, when they rode from London,

Were jocund and suppos’d their state was sure,

And they indeed had no cause to mistrust;

But yet you see how soon the day o’ercast.

This sudden stab of rancour I misdoubt;

Pray God, I say, I prove a needless coward!

What, shall we toward the Tower? the day is spent.

Hast.Come, come, have with you. Wot you what, my lord?

To-day the lords you talk of are beheaded.

Stan.They, for their truth, might better wear their heads,

Than some that have accus’d them wear their hats.

But come, my lord, let’s away.

Enter a Pursuivant.

Hast.Go on before; I’ll talk with this good fellow.[Exeunt STANLEY and CATESBY.

How now, sirrah! how goes the world with thee?

Purs.The better that your lordship please to ask.

Hast.I tell thee, man, ’tis better with me now

Than when I met thee last where now we meet:

Then was I going prisoner to the Tower,

By the suggestion of the queen’s allies;

But now, I tell thee,—keep it to thyself,—

This day those enemies are put to death,

And I in better state than e’er I was.

Purs.God hold it to your honour’s good content!

Hast.Gramercy, fellow: there, drink that for me.[Throws him his purse.

Purs.God save your lordship.[Exit.

Enter a Priest.

Pr.Well met, my lord; I am glad to see your honour.

Hast.I thank thee, good Sir John, with all my heart.

I am in your debt for your last exercise;

Come the next Sabbath, and I will content you.


Buck.What, talking with a priest, lord chamberlain?

Your friends at Pomfret, they do need the priest:

Your honour hath no shriving work in hand.

Hast.Good faith, and when I met this holy man,

The men you talk of came into my mind.

What, go you toward the Tower?

Buck.I do, my lord; but long I shall not stay:

I shall return before your lordship thence.

Hast.Nay, like enough, for I stay dinner there.

Buck.[Aside.]And supper too, although thou know’st it not.

Come, will you go?

Hast.I’ll wait upon your lordship.[Exeunt.