William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard the <i><b>Third </b></i>in the complete original text.
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HOME > Plays > The Tragedy of King Richard the Third > Act III. Scene IV.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

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Act III. Scene IV.

Scene IV.—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.

Enter GLOUCESTER.
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 con-
cluded.
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.

Re-enter BISHOP OF ELY.
Ely. Where is my lord, the Duke of Glou-
cester?
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 be 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 perceived you in his
face
By any livelihood he show'd to-day?
Hast. Marry, that with no man here lie is
offended;
For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.

Re-enter GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM.
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 trai-
tor:
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 disdained 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 Eng-
land!
I prophesy the fearfull'st time to thee
That ever wretched age hath looked upon.
Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head:
They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.
[Exeunt.
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