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

Act III. Scene IV.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

London.The Tower.

BUCKINGHAM, STANLEY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP OF ELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL, and Others, sitting at a table.Officers of the Council attending.

Hast.My lords, at once: the cause why we are met

Is to determine of the coronation:

In God’s name, speak, when is the royal day?

Buck.Are all things ready for that royal time?

Stan.It is; and wants but nomination.

Ely.To-morrow then I judge a happy day.

Buck.Who knows the Lord Protector’s mind herein?

Who is most inward with the noble duke?

Ely.Your Grace, we think, should soonest know his mind.

Buck.We know each other’s faces; for our hearts,

He knows no more of mine than I of yours;

Nor I of his, my lord, than you of mine.

Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.

Hast.I thank his Grace, I know he loves me well;

But, for his purpose in the coronation,

I have not sounded him, nor he deliver’d

His gracious pleasure any way therein:

But you, my noble lords, may name the time;

And in the duke’s behalf I’ll give my voice,

Which, I presume, he’ll take in gentle part.


Ely.In happy time, here comes the duke himself.

Glo.My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow.

I have been long a sleeper; but, I trust,

My absence doth neglect no great design,

Which by my presence might have been concluded.

Buck.Had you not come upon your cue, my lord,

William Lord Hastings had pronounc’d your part,

I mean, your voice, for crowning of the king.

Glo.Than my Lord Hastings no man might be bolder:

His lordship knows me well, and loves me well.

My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,

I saw good strawberries in your garden there;

I do beseech you send for some of them.

Ely.Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.[Exit.

Glo.Cousin of Buckingham, a word with you.[Takes him aside.

Catesby hath sounded Hastings in our business,

And finds the testy gentleman so hot,

That he will lose his head ere give consent

His master’s child, as worshipfully he terms it,

Shall lose the royalty of England’s throne.

Buck.Withdraw yourself a while; I’ll go with you.[Exeunt GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM.

Stan.We have not yet set down this day of triumph.

To-morrow, in my judgment, is too sudden;

For I myself am not so well provided

As else I would be, were the day prolong’d.


Ely.Where is my lord, the Duke of Gloucester?

I have sent for these strawberries.

Hast.His Grace looks cheerfully and smooth this morning:

There’s some conceit or other likes him well,

When that he bids good morrow with such spirit.

I think there’s never a man in Christendom

Can lesser hide his hate or love than he;

For by his face straight shall you know his heart.

Stan.What of his heart perceiv’d you in his face

By any livelihood he show’d to-day?

Hast.Marry, that with no man here he is offended;

For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.


Glo.I pray you all, tell me what they deserve

That do conspire my death with devilish plots

Of damned witchcraft, and that have prevail’d

Upon my body with their hellish charms?

Hast.The tender love I bear your Grace, my lord,

Makes me most forward in this princely presence

To doom th’ offenders, whosoe’er they be:

I say, my lord, they have deserved death.

Glo.Then be your eyes the witness of their evil.

Look how I am bewitch’d; behold mine arm

Is like a blasted sapling, wither’d up:

And this is Edward’s wife, that monstrous witch

Consorted with that harlot strumpet Shore,

That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.

Hast.If they have done this thing, my noble lord,—

Glo.If! thou protector of this damned strumpet,

Talk’st thou to me of ifs? Thou art a traitor:

Off with his head! now, by Saint Paul, I swear,

I will not dine until I see the same.

Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done:

The rest, that love me, rise, and follow me.[Exeunt all but HASTINGS, RATCLIFF, and LOVEL.

Hast.Woe, woe, for England! not a whit for me;

For I, too fond, might have prevented this.

Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm;

And I did scorn it, and disdain’d to fly.

Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,

And startled when he looked upon the Tower,

As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house.

O! now I need the priest that spake to me:

I now repent I told the pursuivant,

As too triumphing, how mine enemies

To-day at Pomfret bloodily were butcher’d

And I myself secure in grace and favour.

O Margaret, Margaret! now thy heavy curse

Is lighted on poor Hastings’ wretched head.

Rat.Come, come, dispatch; the duke would be at dinner:

Make a short shrift, he longs to see your head.

Hast.O momentary grace of mortal man,

Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!

Who builds his hope in air of your good looks,

Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast;

Ready with every nod to tumble down

Into the fatal bowels of the deep.

Lov.Come, come, dispatch; ’tis bootless to exclaim.

Hast.O bloody Richard! miserable England!

I prophesy the fearfull’st time to thee

That ever wretched age hath look’d upon.

Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head:

They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.[Exeunt.