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History of Richard III

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Act III, Scene 4

The Tower of London.


[Enter BUCKINGHAM, DERBY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP OF ELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL, with others, and take their seats at a table]

  • Lord Hastings. 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? 1950
  • Duke of Buckingham. Who knows the lord protector's mind herein?
    Who is most inward with the royal duke? 1955
  • John Morton. Your grace, we think, should soonest know his mind.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Who, I, my lord I we know each other's faces,
    But for our hearts, he knows no more of mine,
    Than I of yours;
    Nor I no more of his, than you of mine. 1960
    Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.
  • Lord Hastings. 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: 1965
    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.


  • John Morton. Now in good time, here comes the duke himself. 1970
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow.
    I have been long a sleeper; but, I hope,
    My absence doth neglect no great designs,
    Which by my presence might have been concluded.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Had not you come upon your cue, my lord 1975
    William Lord Hastings had pronounced your part,—
    I mean, your voice,—for crowning of the king.
  • John Morton. Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Cousin of Buckingham, a word with you.
    [Drawing him aside]
    Catesby hath sounded Hastings in our business, 1990
    And finds the testy gentleman so hot,
    As he will lose his head ere give consent
    His master's son, as worshipful as he terms it,
    Shall lose the royalty of England's throne.


  • Sir William Stanley. We have not yet set down this day of triumph.
    To-morrow, in mine opinion, is too sudden;
    For I myself am not so well provided
    As else I would be, were the day prolong'd. 2000

[Re-enter BISHOP OF ELY]

  • John Morton. Where is my lord protector? I have sent for these
  • Lord Hastings. His grace looks cheerfully and smooth to-day;
    There's some conceit or other likes him well, 2005
    When he doth bid good morrow with such a spirit.
    I think there's never a man in Christendom
    That can less hide his love or hate than he;
    For by his face straight shall you know his heart.
  • Sir William Stanley. What of his heart perceive you in his face 2010
    By any likelihood he show'd to-day?
  • Lord Hastings. Marry, that with no man here he is offended;
    For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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?
  • Lord Hastings. The tender love I bear your grace, my lord, 2020
    Makes me most forward in this noble presence
    To doom the offenders, whatsoever they be
    I say, my lord, they have deserved death.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Then be your eyes the witness of this ill:
    See how I am bewitch'd; behold mine arm 2025
    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.
  • Lord Hastings. If they have done this thing, my gracious lord— 2030
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). If I thou protector of this damned strumpet—
    Tellest thou 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: 2035
    The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.

[Exeunt all but HASTINGS, RATCLIFF, and LOVEL]

  • Lord Hastings. 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; 2040
    But I disdain'd it, and did scorn to fly:
    Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,
    And startled, when he look'd upon the Tower,
    As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house.
    O, now I want the priest that spake to me: 2045
    I now repent I told the pursuivant
    As 'twere triumphing at mine enemies,
    How they at Pomfret bloodily were butcher'd,
    And I myself secure in grace and favour.
    O Margaret, Margaret, now thy heavy curse 2050
    Is lighted on poor Hastings' wretched head!
  • Sir Richard Ratcliff. Dispatch, my lord; the duke would be at dinner:
    Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head.
  • Lord Hastings. O momentary grace of mortal men,
    Which we more hunt for than the grace of God! 2055
    Who builds his hopes 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.
  • Lord Lovel. Come, come, dispatch; 'tis bootless to exclaim. 2060
  • Lord Hastings. O bloody Richard! miserable England!
    I prophesy the fearful'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 that shortly shall be dead. 2065