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Richard III Scenes

Scene 5

The Tower-walls.

(Richard of Gloucester; Buckingham; Mayor; Catesby; Lovel; Ratcliffe)

Richard and Buckingham have dressed themselves in poor quality armor, to suggest that they armed themselves in a hurry. Pretending to be in fear of a sudden attack by conspirators, they explain to the Mayor of London that Hastings was a traitor and had to be executed at once, without a trial. The Mayor agrees to go and explain this to the citizens of London. Richard sends Buckingham after the Mayor to start spreading rumors among the people to try and bring dead King Edward into disrepute, in the hopes of making them favor Richard’s bid for the crown. Richard gives orders that Clarence’s children be hidden away and Edward’s kept away from all visitors. (109 lines)

Enter Richard of Gloucester and Buckingham in rotten armor, marvelous ill-favored.


Come, cousin, canst thou quake and change thy color,

Murder thy breath in middle of a word,

And then again begin, and stop again,

As if thou were distraught and mad with terror?


Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian,

Speak and look back, and pry on every side,

Tremble and start at wagging of a straw;

Intending deep suspicion, ghastly looks

Are at my service, like enforced smiles;

And both are ready in their offices

At any time to grace my stratagems.

But what, is Catesby gone?


He is, and see, he brings the Mayor along.

Enter the Mayor and Catesby.


Lord Mayor—


Look to the drawbridge there!


Hark, a drum!


Catesby, o’erlook the walls.


Lord Mayor, the reason we have sent—


Look back, defend thee, here are enemies!


God and our innocence defend and guard us!

Enter Lovel and Ratcliffe with Hastings’ head.


Be patient, they are friends—Ratcliffe and Lovel.


Here is the head of that ignoble traitor,

The dangerous and unsuspected Hastings.


So dear I lov’d the man that I must weep.

I took him for the plainest harmless creature

That breath’d upon the earth a Christian;

Made him my book, wherein my soul recorded

The history of all her secret thoughts.

So smooth he daub’d his vice with show of virtue

That, his apparent open guilt omitted—

I mean, his conversation with Shore’s wife—

He liv’d from all attainder of suspects.


Well, well, he was the covert’st shelt’red traitor

That ever liv’d. Look ye, my Lord Mayor,

Would you imagine, or almost believe,

Were’t not that by great preservation

We live to tell it, that the subtile traitor

This day had plotted, in the Council-house,

To murder me and my good Lord of Gloucester?


Had he done so?


What? Think you we are Turks or infidels?

Or that we would, against the form of law,

Proceed thus rashly in the villain’s death,

But that the extreme peril of the case,

The peace of England, and our persons’ safety,

Enforc’d us to this execution?


Now fair befall you! He deserv’d his death,

And your good Graces both have well proceeded,

To warn false traitors from the like attempts.


I never look’d for better at his hands

After he once fell in with Mistress Shore.

Yet had we not determin’d he should die

Until your lordship came to see his end,

Which now the loving haste of these our friends,

Something against our meanings, have prevented;

Because, my lord, I would have had you heard

The traitor speak, and timorously confess

The manner and the purpose of his treasons,

That you might well have signified the same

Unto the citizens, who haply may

Misconster us in him and wail his death.


But, my good lord, your Grace’s words shall serve

As well as I had seen, and heard him speak;

And do not doubt, right noble princes both,

That I’ll acquaint our duteous citizens

With all your just proceedings in this cause.


And to that end we wish’d your lordship here,

T’ avoid the censures of the carping world.


Which since you come too late of our intent,

Yet witness what you hear we did intend.

And so, my good Lord Mayor, we bid farewell.

Exit Mayor.


Go after, after, cousin Buckingham.

The Mayor towards Guildhall hies him in all post.

There, at your meet’st advantage of the time,

Infer the bastardy of Edward’s children.

Tell them how Edward put to death a citizen

Only for saying he would make his son

Heir to the Crown—meaning indeed his house,

Which by the sign thereof was termed so.

Moreover, urge his hateful luxury

And bestial appetite in change of lust,

Which stretch’d unto their servants, daughters, wives,

Even where his raging eye or savage heart,

Without control, lusted to make a prey.

Nay, for a need, thus far come near my person:

Tell them, when that my mother went with child

Of that insatiate Edward, noble York,

My princely father, then had wars in France,

And by true computation of the time,

Found that the issue was not his begot;

Which well appeared in his lineaments,

Being nothing like the noble Duke my father.

Yet touch this sparingly, as ’twere far off,

Because, my lord, you know my mother lives.


Doubt not, my lord, I’ll play the orator

As if the golden fee for which I plead

Were for myself—and so, my lord, adieu.


If you thrive well, bring them to Baynard’s Castle,

Where you shall find me well accompanied

With reverend fathers and well-learned bishops.


I go, and towards three or four a’ clock

Look for the news that the Guildhall affords.

Exit Buckingham.


Go, Lovel, with all speed to Doctor Shaw;

To Catesby.

Go thou to Friar Penker; bid them both

Meet me within this hour at Baynard’s Castle.

Exeunt Lovel and Catesby.

To Ratcliffe.

Now will I go to take some privy order

To draw the brats of Clarence out of sight,

And to give order that no manner person

Have any time recourse unto the Princes.



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