London. The palace.
(Tyrrel; King Richard; Ratcliffe)
The remorseful Tyrrel returns to tell Richard that the princes have been murdered. Richard is relieved, as all his plans for his safety are coming to fruition: Clarence’s son is locked up, his daughter married to a man of low rank, and Anne is dead. To prevent Richmond from marrying his brother’s daughter and thereby gaining a claim to the throne, Richard has resolved to marry her himself. Ratcliffe brings news that Buckingham has raised a rebellion. (60 lines)
The tyrannous and bloody act is done,
The most arch deed of piteous massacre
That ever yet this land was guilty of.
Dighton and Forrest, who I did suborn
To do this piece of ruthless butchery,
Albeit they were flesh’d villains, bloody dogs,
Melted with tenderness and kind compassion,
Wept like two children in their deaths’ sad story.
“O, thus,” quoth Dighton, “lay the gentle babes.”
“Thus, thus,” quoth Forrest, “girdling one another
Within their alabaster innocent arms.
Their lips were four red roses on a stalk,
Which in their summer beauty kiss’d each other.
A book of prayers on their pillow lay,
Which once,” quoth Forrest, “almost chang’d my mind;
But O! The devil”—there the villain stopp’d;
When Dighton thus told on, “We smothered
The most replenished sweet work of Nature
That from the prime creation e’er she framed.”
Hence both are gone with conscience and remorse
They could not speak; and so I left them both,
To bear this tidings to the bloody King.
Enter King Richard.
And here he comes. All health, my sovereign lord!
Kind Tyrrel, am I happy in thy news?
If to have done the thing you gave in charge
Beget your happiness, be happy then,
For it is done.
But didst thou see them dead?
I did, my lord.
And buried, gentle Tyrrel?
The chaplain of the Tower hath buried them,
But where (to say the truth) I do not know.
Come to me, Tyrrel, soon, at after-supper,
When thou shalt tell the process of their death.
Mean time, but think how I may do thee good,
And be inheritor of thy desire.
Farewell till then.
I humbly take my leave.
The son of Clarence have I pent up close,
His daughter meanly have I match’d in marriage,
The sons of Edward sleep in Abraham’s bosom,
And Anne my wife hath bid this world good night.
Now for I know the Britain Richmond aims
At young Elizabeth, my brother’s daughter,
And by that knot looks proudly on the crown,
To her go I, a jolly thriving wooer.
Good or bad news, that thou com’st in so bluntly?
Bad news, my lord. Morton is fled to Richmond,
And Buckingham, back’d with the hardy Welshmen,
Is in the field, and still his power increaseth.
Ely with Richmond troubles me more near
Than Buckingham and his rash-levied strength.
Come, I have learn’d that fearful commenting
Is leaden servitor to dull delay;
Delay leads impotent and snail-pac’d beggary.
Then fiery expedition be my wing,
Jove’s Mercury, and herald for a king!
Go muster men. My counsel is my shield;
We must be brief when traitors brave the field.