John Dryden (1631–1700). All for Love.
Act the Fifth
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
55. Act the Fifth
Enter MATREVIS and GURNEY
Mat.Gurney, I wonder the king dies not,Being in a vault up to the knees in water,To which the channels of the castle run,From whence a damp continually ariseth,That were enough to poison any man,Much more a king brought up so tenderly.Gur.And so do I, Matrevis: yesternightI opened but the door to throw him meat,And I was almost stifled with the savour.Mat.He hath a body able to endureMore than we can inflict: and therefore nowLet us assail his mind another while.Gur.Send for him out thence, and I will anger him.Mat.But stay, who’s this?
Light.My Lord Protector greets you.[Gives letter.]Gur.What’s here? I know not how to construe it.Mat.Gurney, it was left unpointed for the nonce;“Edwardum occidere nolite timere,”That’s his meaning.Light.Know ye this token? I must have the king.[Gives token.]Mat.Ay, stay awhile, thou shalt have answer straight.This villain’s sent to make away the king.[Aside.]Gur.I thought as much.[Aside.]Mat.And when the murder’s done,See how he must be handled for his labour.Pereat iste! Let him have the king.[Aside.]What else? Here is the key, this is the lake,Do as you are commanded by my lord.Light.I Know what I must do. Get you away.Yet be not far off, I shall need your help;See that in the next room I have a fire,And get me a spit, and let it be red-hot.Mat.Very well.Gur.Need you anything besides?Light.What else? A table and a feather-bed.Gur.That’s all?Light.Ay, ay; so, when I call you, bring it in.Mat.Fear not thou that.Gur.Here’s a light, to go into the dungeon.[Gives a light, and then exit with MATREVIS.]Light.So nowMust I about this gear; ne’er was there anySo finely handled as this king shall be.For, here’s a place indeed, with all my heart!K. Edw.Who’s there? What light is that? wherefore com’st thou?Light.To comfort you, and bring you joyful news.K. Edw.Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks.Villain, I know thou com’st to murder me.Light.To murder you, my most gracious lord!Far is it from my heart to do you harm.The queen sent me to see how you were used,For she relents at this your misery:And what eyes can refrain from shedding tears,To see a king in this most piteous state?K. Edw.Weep’st thou already? List awhile to meAnd then thy heart, were it as Gurney’s is,Or as Matrevis’, hewn from the Caucasus,Yet will it melt, ere I have done my tale.This dungeon where they keep me is the sinkWherein the filth of all the castle falls.Light.O villains!K. Edw.And there in mire and puddle have I stoodThis ten days’ space; and, lest that I should sleep,One plays continually upon a drum.They give me bread and water, being a king;So that, for want of sleep and sustenance,My mind’s distempered, and my body’s numb’d,And whether I have limbs or no I know not.O, would my blood dropp’d out from every vein,As doth this water from my tattered robes.Tell Isabel, the queen, I look’d not thus,When for her sake I ran at tilt in France,And there unhors’d the Duke of Cleremont.Light.O speak no more, my lord! this breaks my heart.Lie on this bed, and rest yourself awhile.K. Edw.These looks of thine can harbour nought but death:I see my tragedy written in thy brows.Yet stay a while; forbear thy bloody hand,And let me see the stroke before it comes,That even then when I shall lose my life,My mind may be more steadfast on my God.Light.What means your highness to mistrust me thus?K. Edw.What mean’st thou to dissemble with me thus?Light.These hands were never stain’d with innocent blood,Nor shall they now be tainted with a king’s.K. Edw.Forgive my thought for having such a thought.One jewel have I left; receive thou this.[Giving jewel.]Still fear I, and I know not what’s the cause,But every joint shakes as I give it thee.O, if thou harbour’st murder in thy heart,Let this gift change thy mind, and save thy soul!Know that I am a king: O, at that nameI feel a hell of grief! Where is my crown?Gone, gone! and do I still remain alive?Light.You’re overwatch’d, my lord; lie down and rest.K. Edw.But that grief keeps me waking, I should sleep;For not these ten days have these eye-lids clos’d.Now as I speak they fall, and yet with fearOpen again. O wherefore sitt’st thou here?Light.If you mistrust me, I’ll begone, my lord.K. Edw.No, no, for if thou mean’st to murder me,Thou wilt return again, and therefore stay.[Sleeps.]Light.He sleeps.K. Edw.[waking]. O let me not die yet! O stay a while!Light.How now, my lord?K. Edw.Something still buzzeth in mine ears,And tells me if I sleep I never wake;This fear is that which makes me tremble thus.And therefore tell me, wherefore art thou come?Light.To rid thee of thy life.—Matrevis, come!
Enter MATREVIS and GURNEY
K. Edw.I am too weak and feeble to resist:—Assist me, sweet God, and receive my soul!Light.Run for the table.K. Edw.O spare me, or despatch me in a trice.[MATREVIS brings in a table.]Light.So, lay the table down, and stamp on it,But not too hard, lest that you bruise his body.[KING EDWARD is murdered.]Mat.I fear me that this cry will raise the town,And therefore, let us take horse and away.Light.Tell me, sirs, was it not bravely done?Gur.Excellent well: take this for thy reward.GURNEY stabs LIGHTBORN [who dies.]Come, let us cast the body in the moat,And bear the king’s to Mortimer our lord:Away!Exeunt [with the bodies.]