London. The palace.
(King Richard; Buckingham; Catesby; Ratcliffe; Lovel; Page; Stanley; Sir James Tyrrel)
Richard, in the full panoply of kingship, ascends his throne, and speaks to Buckingham alone, at first insinuating and then flat-out telling him that he wishes the two princes in the Tower to be killed. Buckingham at first pretends not to understand, and then asks for time to think. Seeing that Buckingham is growing cautious, Richard resolves to no longer trust him, and sends a page to find a man who will obey unquestioningly. Stanley brings the news of Dorset’s flight. Richard sends Catesby to spread the rumor that Anne is fatally ill, as he has decided that for the safety of his crown he will have to marry his brother’s daughter. At the same time he intends to marry Clarence’s daughter to some poor gentleman of low rank, leaving her no threat to him. He finds his agent for murdering the princes in Sir James Tyrrel, who unhesitatingly agrees to do the deed. Buckingham returns to ask for the earldom he was promised. Richard refuses, and Buckingham, both insulted at Richard’s lack of gratitude and suddenly afraid of sharing Hastings’s fate, decides to flee. (128 lines)
Sound a sennet. Enter Richard in pomp, crowned; Buckingham, Catesby, Ratcliffe, Lovel, a Page, and others.
Stand all apart. Cousin of Buckingham—
My gracious sovereign?
Give me thy hand.
Here he ascendeth the throne. Sound.
Thus high, by thy advice
And thy assistance, is King Richard seated;
But shall we wear these glories for a day?
Or shall they last, and we rejoice in them?
Still live they, and forever let them last!
Ah, Buckingham, now do I play the touch,
To try if thou be current gold indeed.
Young Edward lives: think now what I would speak.
Say on, my loving lord.
Why, Buckingham, I say I would be king.
Why, so you are, my thrice-renowned lord.
Ha? Am I king? ’Tis so—but Edward lives.
True, noble prince.
O bitter consequence,
That Edward still should live true noble prince!
Cousin, thou wast not wont to be so dull.
Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead,
And I would have it suddenly perform’d.
What say’st thou now? Speak suddenly, be brief.
Your Grace may do your pleasure.
Tut, tut, thou art all ice, thy kindness freezes.
Say, have I thy consent that they shall die?
Give me some little breath, some pause, dear lord,
Before I positively speak in this.
I will resolve you herein presently.
Aside to a stander-by.
The King is angry, see, he gnaws his lip.
I will converse with iron-witted fools
And unrespective boys; none are for me
That look into me with considerate eyes.
High-reaching Buckingham grows circumspect.
Know’st thou not any whom corrupting gold
Will tempt unto a close exploit of death?
I know a discontented gentleman
Whose humble means match not his haughty spirit.
Gold were as good as twenty orators,
And will, no doubt, tempt him to any thing.
What is his name?
His name, my lord, is Tyrrel.
I partly know the man; go call him hither, boy.
The deep-revolving witty Buckingham
No more shall be the neighbor to my counsels.
Hath he so long held out with me untir’d,
And stops he now for breath? Well, be it so.
How now, Lord Stanley, what’s the news?
Know, my loving lord,
The Marquess Dorset, as I hear, is fled
To Richmond, in the parts where he abides.
Come hither, Catesby. Rumor it abroad
That Anne, my wife, is very grievous sick;
I will take order for her keeping close.
Inquire me out some mean poor gentleman,
Whom I will marry straight to Clarence’ daughter;
The boy is foolish, and I fear not him.
Look how thou dream’st! I say again, give out
That Anne, my queen, is sick and like to die.
About it, for it stands me much upon
To stop all hopes whose growth may damage me.
I must be married to my brother’s daughter,
Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass.
Murder her brothers and then marry her—
Uncertain way of gain! But I am in
So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin.
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye.
Enter Page with Sir James Tyrrel.
Is thy name Tyrrel?
James Tyrrel, and your most obedient subject.
Art thou indeed?
Prove me, my gracious lord.
Dar’st thou resolve to kill a friend of mine?
But I had rather kill two enemies.
Why, there thou hast it; two deep enemies,
Foes to my rest and my sweet sleep’s disturbers,
Are they that I would have thee deal upon:
Tyrrel, I mean those bastards in the Tower.
Let me have open means to come to them,
And soon I’ll rid you from the fear of them.
Thou sing’st sweet music. Hark, come hither, Tyrrel.
Go, by this token. Rise, and lend thine ear.
There is no more but so; say it is done,
And I will love thee and prefer thee for it.
I will dispatch it straight.
My lord, I have consider’d in my mind
The late request that you did sound me in.
Well, let that rest. Dorset is fled to Richmond.
I hear the news, my lord.
Stanley, he is your wive’s son: well, look unto it.
My lord, I claim the gift, my due by promise,
For which your honor and your faith is pawn’d,
Th’ earldom of Herford, and the moveables,
Which you have promised I shall possess.
Stanley, look to your wife. If she convey
Letters to Richmond, you shall answer it.
What says your Highness to my just request?
I do remember me, Henry the Sixth
Did prophesy that Richmond should be king,
When Richmond was a little peevish boy.
How chance the prophet could not at that time
Have told me, I being by, that I should kill him?
My lord, your promise for the earldom—
Richmond! When last I was at Exeter,
The mayor in courtesy show’d me the castle,
And call’d it Rouge-mount, at which name I started,
Because a bard of Ireland told me once
I should not live long after I saw Richmond.
Ay, what’s a’ clock?
I am thus bold to put your Grace in mind
Of what you promis’d me.
Well, but what’s a’ clock?
Upon the stroke of ten.
Well, let it strike.
Why let it strike?
Because that like a Jack thou keep’st the stroke
Betwixt thy begging and my meditation.
I am not in the giving vein today.
May it please you to resolve me in my suit.
Thou troubles! Me, I am not in the vein.
Exit with all but Buckingham.
And is it thus? Repays he my deep service
With such contempt? Made I him king for this?
O, let me think on Hastings, and be gone
To Brecknock while my fearful head is on!