Before Lord Hastings’ house.
(Stanley Messenger; Lord Hastings; Catesby; Lord Stanley; Pursuivant; Sir John; Buckingham)
Lord Hastings receives a messenger from Lord Stanley, who has had a premonitory dream about Richard and urges Hastings to flee with him to the north. Hastings refuses to take a dream seriously. Catesby comes to sound Hastings out, informing him that the Queen’s family is to be executed that day, but though Hastings admits to being glad at that, he refuses to betray his deceased master and bypass his son’s right to the throne for Richard. Stanley arrives, and warns Hastings against his self-sufficiency, but Hastings brushes off his fears. (124 lines)
Enter a Messenger to the door of Hastings.
My lord! My lord!
One from the Lord Stanley.
What is’t a’ clock?
Upon the stroke of four.
Enter Lord Hastings.
Cannot my Lord Stanley sleep these tedious nights?
So it appears by that I have to say:
First, he commends him to your noble self.
Then certifies your lordship that this night
He dreamt the boar had rased off his helm.
Besides, he says there are two Councils kept;
And that may be determin’d at the one
Which may make you and him to rue at th’ other.
Therefore he sends to know your lordship’s pleasure,
If you will presently take horse with him,
And with all speed post with him toward the north,
To shun the danger that his soul divines.
Go, fellow, go, return unto thy lord,
Bid him not fear the separated Council:
His honor and myself are at the one,
And at the other is my good friend Catesby;
Where nothing can proceed that toucheth us
Whereof I shall not have intelligence.
Tell him his fears are shallow, without instance;
And for his dreams, I wonder he’s so simple
To trust the mock’ry 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,
And we will both together to the Tower,
Where he shall see the boar will use us kindly.
I’ll go, my lord, and tell him what you say.
Many good morrows to my noble lord!
Good morrow, Catesby, you are early stirring.
What news, what news, in this our tott’ring state?
It is a reeling world indeed, my lord,
And I believe will never stand upright
Till Richard wear the garland of the realm.
How? Wear the garland? Dost thou mean the crown?
Ay, my good lord.
I’ll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders
Before I’ll see the crown so foul misplac’d.
But canst thou guess that he doth aim at it?
Ay, on my life, and hopes to find you forward
Upon his party for the gain thereof;
And thereupon he sends you this good news,
That this same very day your enemies,
The kindred of the Queen, must die at Pomfret.
Indeed I am no mourner for that news,
Because they have been still my adversaries;
But that I’ll give my voice on Richard’s side
To bar my master’s heirs in true descent,
God knows I will not do it, to the death!
God keep your lordship in that gracious mind!
But I shall laugh at this a twelvemonth hence,
That they which brought me in my master’s hate,
I live to look upon their tragedy.
Well, Catesby, ere a fortnight make me older,
I’ll send some packing that yet think not on’t.
’Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,
When men are unprepar’d and look not for it.
O monstrous, monstrous! And so falls it out
With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey; and so ’twill do
With some men else, that think themselves as safe
As thou and I, who (as thou know’st) are dear
To princely Richard and to Buckingham.
The princes both make high account of you—
For they account his head upon the bridge.
I know they do, and I have well deserv’d it.
Enter Lord Stanley.
Come on, come on, where is your boar-spear, man?
Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?
My lord, good morrow, good morrow, Catesby.
You may jest on, but, by the holy rood,
I do not like these several Councils, I.
I hold my life as dear as you do yours,
And never in my days, I do protest,
Was it so precious to me as ’tis now.
Think you, but that I know our state secure,
I would be so triumphant as I am?
The lords at Pomfret, when they rode from London,
Were jocund, and suppos’d their states were sure,
And they indeed had no cause to mistrust;
But yet you see how soon the day o’ercast.
This sudden stab of rancor I misdoubt;
Pray God, I say, I prove a needless coward!
What, shall we toward the Tower? The day is spent.
Come, come, have with you. Wot you what, my lord?
Today the lords you talk’d of are beheaded.
They, for their truth, might better wear their heads
Than some that have accus’d them wear their hats.
But come, my lord, let’s away.
Enter a Pursuivant, also named Hastings.
Go on before, I’ll talk with this good fellow.
Exeunt Lord Stanley and Catesby.
How now, sirrah? How goes the world with thee?
The better that your lordship please to ask.
I tell thee, man, ’tis better with me now
Than when thou met’st me 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,
And I in better state than e’er I was.
God hold it, to your honor’s good content!
Gramercy, fellow. There, drink that for me.
Throws him his purse.
I thank your honor.
Enter Sir John, a Priest.
Well met, my lord, I am glad to see your honor.
I thank thee, good Sir John, with all my heart.
I am in your debt for your last exercise;
Come the next Sabbath, and I will content you.
He whispers in his ear.
I’ll wait upon your lordship.
What, talking with a priest, Lord Chamberlain?
Your friends at Pomfret, they do need the priest,
Your honor hath no shriving work in hand.
Good faith, and when I met this holy man
The men you talk of came into my mind.
What, go you toward the Tower?
I do, my lord, but long I cannot stay there.
I shall return before your lordship thence.
Nay, like enough, for I stay dinner there.
And supper too, although thou know’st it not.—
Come, will you go?
I’ll wait upon your lordship.