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Grey. Now Margaret's curse is fallen upon our
Rat. Make haste, the hour of death is expiates.
here embrace : Farewell, until we meet again in heaven. (Exeunt.
SCENE IV. London. A Room in the Tower. BUCKINGHAM, ŠTANLEY, Hastings, the Bishop
of Ely?, CATESBY, LOVEL, and Others, sitting at a Table : Officers of the Council attending.
Hast. 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?
3 We have this word in the same sense again in Shakspeare's twenty-second Sonnet:
• Then look I death my days should expiate.' I cannot but think with Steevens that it is an error of the press for expirate. Thus in Romeo and Juliet:
and expire the term Of a despised life.' 1 Dr. John Morton, who was elected to the see of Ely in 1478. He was advanced to the see of Canterbury in 1486, and appointed lord chancellor in 1487. He died in the year 1500. This prelate first devised the scheme of putting an end to the long contests between the houses of York and Lancaster, by a marriage between Henry earl of Richmond, and Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Edward IV.; and was a principal agent in procuring Henry, when abroad, to enter into a covenant for the purpose.See More's Life of Richard III.
Buck. Are all things ready for that royal time? Stan. They are; and wants but nomination?. Ely. To-morrow then I judge a happy day.
Buck. Who knows the lord protector's mind herein? Who is most inward 3 with the noble duke? Ely. Your grace, we think, should soonest know
his mind. Buck. We know each other's faces; for our
hearts,— He knows no more of mine, than I of
yours; Nor I, of his, my
of mine: Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.
Hast. 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 noble lord, 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 GLOSTER. Ely. In happy time, here comes the duke himself.
Glo. 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.
Buck. 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. Glo. Than my Lord Hastings, no man might be
bolder; His lordship knows me well, and loves me well.
2 The only thing wanting is appointment of a particular day for the ceremony. 3 Intimate, confidential. So in Measure for Measure :
Sir, I was an inward of his.' 4 See note on Hamlet, Act ii. Sc. 2.
My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
[Exit ELY. Glo. 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. Buck. Withdraw yourself awhile, I'll go with you.
[Exeunt GLOSTER and BUCKINGHAM. Stan. 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 Bishop of Ely. Ely. Where is my lord protector? I have sent For these strawberries. Hast. His grace looks cheerfully and smooth this
morning; 5 This circumstance of asking the bishop for some of his strawberries seems to have been mentioned by the old historians merely to show the unusual affability and good humour which the dissembling Gloster affected at the very time he had determined on the death of Hastings. It originates with Sir Thomas More, who mentions the protector's entrance to the council * fyrste about ix of the clocke, saluting them curtesly, and excasing himself that he had ben from them so long, saieng merily that he had bene a slepe that day. And after a little talking with them he said unto the bishop of Elye, my lord, you have very good strawberries at your gardayne in Holberne, I require yoa let us have a messe of them. It is remarkable that this bishop (Morton) is supposed to have furnished Sir Thomas More with the materials of his history, if he was not the original author of it. See Preface to More's Life of Richard III. ed. 1821.
There's some conceit or other likes him well,
Stan. What of his heart perceive you in his face, By any likelihood 6 he show'd to-day?
Hast. Marry, that with no man here he is offended; For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.
Re-enter GLOSTER and BUCKINGHAM. Glo. 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 ?
Hast. The tender love I bear your grace, my lord, Makes me most forward in this noble presence To doom the offenders: Whosoe'er they be, I say, my lord, they have deserved death.
Glo. 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. Hast. If they have done this deed, my noble
lord, Glo. 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 Catesby, look, that it be done; The rest that love me, rise, and follow me.
[Exeunt Council, with Glo: and Buck. 6 i.e. semblance, appearance. Thus in Othello :
thin habits, and poor likelihoods of modern seeming.'
Hast. Woe, woe, for England! not a whit for me; For I, too fond, might have prevented this: Stanley did dream, the boar did rase his helm; But I disdain'd it, and did scorn to fly. Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble?, And startled, when he look'd upon the Tower, As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house. 0, now I want 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. 0, Margaret, Margaret, now thy heavy curse Is lighted on poor Hastings' wretched head. Cate. Despatch, my lord, the duke would be at
dinner; Make a short shrift, he longs to see your head.
Hast. O momentary grace of mortal men, Which we more hunt for than the grace of God! Who builds his hope in air of your fair looks 8, , Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast;
7 For foot-cloth see note on King Henry VI. Part 11. Act iv. Sc. 7. A foot-cloth horse was a palfrey covered with such housings, used for state ; and was the usual mode of conveyance for the rich, at a period when carriages were unknown.
This is from Holinshed, who copies Sir Thomas More :—' In riding toward the Tower the same morning in which he [Hastings] was beheaded, his horse twice or thrice stumbled with him, almost to the falling; which thing, albeit each man wot well daily happeneth to them to whome no such mischance is toward : yet hath it beene of an old rite and custome observed as a token oftentimes notablie foregoing some great misfortune.'
• Nescius auræ fallacis.'-Horace. William Lord Hastings was beheaded on the 13th of June, 1483. His eldest son by Catherine Neville, daughter of Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury, and widow of William Lord Bonville, was restored to his honours and estate by King Henry VII. in the first year of his reign. The daughter of Lady Hastings, by her first husband, was married to the marquis of Dorset, who appears in the present play.