ACT III
Scene 4
 

London. The Tower

Enter BUCKINGHAM, DERBY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP of ELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL,
with others and seat themselves at a table

HASTINGS
Now, noble peers, the cause why we are met
Is to determine of the coronation.
In God's name speak-when is the royal day?

BUCKINGHAM
Is all things ready for the royal time?

DERBY
It is, and wants but nomination.

BISHOP OF ELY
To-morrow then I judge a happy day.

BUCKINGHAM
Who knows the Lord Protector's mind
herein?
Who is most inward with the noble Duke?

BISHOP OF ELY
Your Grace, we think, should soonest know
his mind.

BUCKINGHAM
We know each other's faces; for our hearts,
He knows no more of mine than I of yours;
Or I of his, my lord, than you of mine.
Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.

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.
But you, my honourable 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

BISHOP OF ELY
In happy time, here comes the Duke himself.

GLOUCESTER
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.

BUCKINGHAM
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.

GLOUCESTER
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.
BISHOP of ELY. Marry and will, my lord, with all my heart.

Exit

GLOUCESTER
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.

BUCKINGHAM
Withdraw yourself awhile; I'll go with you.

Exeunt GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM

DERBY
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 the BISHOP OF ELY

BISHOP OF ELY
Where is my lord the Duke of Gloucester?
I have sent for these strawberries.

HASTINGS
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 love or hate than he;
For by his face straight shall you know his heart.

DERBY
What of his heart perceive you in his face
By any livelihood he show'd to-day?

HASTINGS
Marry, that with no man here he is offended;
For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.

Re-enter GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM

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?

HASTINGS
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.

GLOUCESTER
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.

HASTINGS
If they have done this deed, my noble lord-

GLOUCESTER
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, LOVEL, and RATCLIFF

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 our helms,
And I did scorn it and disdain to fly.
Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,
And started when he look'd 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!

RATCLIFF
Come, come, dispatch; the Duke would be at
dinner.
Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head.

HASTINGS
O momentary grace of mortal men,
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.

LOVEL
Come, come, dispatch; 'tis bootless to exclaim.

HASTINGS
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