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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene III.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

The Same.


Tyr.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, whom I did suborn

To do this piece of ruthless butchery,

Albeit they were flesh’d villains, bloody dogs,

Melting with tenderness and mild compassion,

Wept like to children in their death’s sad story.

‘Oh! 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 fram’d.’

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:

And here he comes.


All health, my sovereign lord!

K. Rich.Kind Tyrrell, am I happy in thy news?

Tyr.If to have done the thing you gave in charge

Beget your happiness, be happy then,

For it is done.

K. Rich.But didst thou see them dead?

TyrI did, my lord.

K. Rich.And buried, gentle Tyrrell?

Tyr.The chaplain of the Tower hath buried them;

But how or in what place I do not know.

K. Rich.Come to me, Tyrrell, soon at aftersupper,

When thou shalt tell the process of their death.

Meantime, but think how I may do thee good,

And be inheritor of thy desire.

Farewell till then.

Tyr.I humbly take my leave.[Exit.

K. Rich.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 the world good night.

Now, for I know the Breton 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.


Cate.My lord!

K. Rich.Good or bad news, that thou com’st in so bluntly?

Cate.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.

K. Rich.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.[Exeunt.