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History of Richard III

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Act III, Scene 2

Before Lord Hastings’ house.


[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. A messenger from the Lord Stanley.


  • Lord Hastings. Cannot thy master sleep these tedious nights? 1785
  • Messenger. So it should seem by that I have to say.
    First, he commends him to your noble lordship.
  • Messenger. And then he sends you word
    He dreamt to-night the boar had razed his helm: 1790
    Besides, he says there are two councils held;
    And that may be determined at the one
    which may make you and him to rue at the other.
    Therefore he sends to know your lordship's pleasure,
    If presently you will take horse with him, 1795
    And with all speed post with him toward the north,
    To shun the danger that his soul divines.
  • Lord Hastings. Go, fellow, go, return unto thy lord;
    Bid him not fear the separated councils
    His honour and myself are at the one, 1800
    And at the other is my servant 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 is so fond 1805
    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 1810
    And we will both together to the Tower,
    Where, he shall see, the boar will use us kindly.
  • Messenger. My gracious lord, I'll tell him what you say.



  • Lord Hastings. Good morrow, Catesby; you are early stirring
    What news, what news, in this our tottering state?
  • Sir William Catesby. It is a reeling world, indeed, my lord;
    And I believe twill never stand upright 1820
    Tim Richard wear the garland of the realm.
  • Lord Hastings. I'll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders
    Ere I will see the crown so foul misplaced. 1825
    But canst thou guess that he doth aim at it?
  • Sir William Catesby. Ay, on my life; and hopes to find forward
    Upon his party for the gain thereof:
    And thereupon he sends you this good news,
    That this same very day your enemies, 1830
    The kindred of the queen, must die at Pomfret.
  • Lord Hastings. Indeed, I am no mourner for that news,
    Because they have been still mine enemies:
    But, that I'll give my voice on Richard's side,
    To bar my master's heirs in true descent, 1835
    God knows I will not do it, to the death.
  • Lord Hastings. But I shall laugh at this a twelve-month hence,
    That they who brought me in my master's hate
    I live to look upon their tragedy. 1840
    I tell thee, Catesby—
  • Lord Hastings. Ere a fortnight make me elder,
    I'll send some packing that yet think not on it.
  • Sir William Catesby. 'Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord, 1845
    When men are unprepared and look not for it.
  • Lord Hastings. 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 1850
    To princely Richard and to Buckingham.
  • Sir William Catesby. The princes both make high account of you;
    For they account his head upon the bridge.
  • Lord Hastings. I know they do; and I have well deserved it. 1855
    [Enter STANLEY]
    Come on, come on; where is your boar-spear, man?
    Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?
  • Sir William Stanley. My lord, good morrow; good morrow, Catesby:
    You may jest on, but, by the holy rood, 1860
    I do not like these several councils, I.
  • Lord Hastings. My lord,
    I hold my life as dear as you do yours;
    And never in my life, I do protest,
    Was it more precious to me than 'tis now: 1865
    Think you, but that I know our state secure,
    I would be so triumphant as I am?
  • Sir William Stanley. The lords at Pomfret, when they rode from London,
    Were jocund, and supposed their state was sure,
    And they indeed had no cause to mistrust; 1870
    But yet, you see how soon the day o'ercast.
    This sudden stag of rancour I misdoubt:
    Pray God, I say, I prove a needless coward!
    What, shall we toward the Tower? the day is spent.
  • Lord Hastings. Come, come, have with you. Wot you what, my lord? 1875
    To-day the lords you talk of are beheaded.
  • Sir William Stanley. They, for their truth, might better wear their heads
    Than some that have accused them wear their hats.
    But come, my lord, let us away.

[Enter a Pursuivant]

  • Lord Hastings. Go on before; I'll talk with this good fellow.
    [Exeunt STANLEY and CATESBY]
    How now, sirrah! how goes the world with thee?
  • Pursuivant. The better that your lordship please to ask.
  • Lord Hastings. I tell thee, man, 'tis better with me now 1885
    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, 1890
    And I in better state than e'er I was.
  • Pursuivant. God hold it, to your honour's good content!

[Throws him his purse]


[Enter a Priest]

  • Priest. Well met, my lord; I am glad to see your honour.
  • Lord Hastings. I thank thee, good Sir John, with all my heart.
    I am in your debt for your last exercise; 1900
    Come the next Sabbath, and I will content you.

[He whispers in his ear]


  • Duke of Buckingham. What, talking with a priest, lord chamberlain?
    Your friends at Pomfret, they do need the priest; 1905
    Your honour hath no shriving work in hand.
  • Lord Hastings. Good faith, and when I met this holy man,
    Those men you talk of came into my mind.
    What, go you toward the Tower?
  • Duke of Buckingham. I do, my lord; but long I shall not stay 1910
    I shall return before your lordship thence.
  • Duke of Buckingham. [Aside] And supper too, although thou know'st it not.
    Come, will you go?