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Rat. The Council waits
Upon Your Highness' Leisure.----
Glost. Bid 'em enter.
Enter the Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Derby, Bishop of Ely,
Lord Hastings and others, as to the Council.
The Duke af Gloster takes his place at the upper End, then the rest fit,
Derb. In happy Time are we assembled here,
To point the Day, and fix the folemn Pomp,
For placing England's Crown with all due Rites,
Upon our Sovereign Edward's Youthful Brow.
L. Haf. Some busy meddling Knaves, 'tis said there are;
As such will still be prating, who presume
To carp and cavil at his Royal Right;
Therefore I hold it fitting, with the sooneft
T'appoint the Order of the Coronation ;
So to approve our Duty to the King,
And lay the Babling of such vain Gainsayers.
Derb. We all attend to know your Highness' Pleasure.
Glost. My Lords! A Set of worthy Men you are,
Prudent and juft, and careful for the State :
Therefore to your
most grave Determination,
1 yield my self in all things, and demand,
What Punishment your Wisdom shall think meet
T'inflict upon those damnable Contrivers,
Who shall with Potions, Charms, and witching Drugs,
Practise against our Perfon and our Life.
L. Haft. So much I hold the King your Highness Debtot
So precious are you to the Commonweal,
That I presume, not only for my felf,
But in Behalf these my Noble Brothers,
Gloft. To say, whoe'er they be, they merit Death.
Glost. Then judge your felves, convince your Eyes of Truth Behold my Arm thus blasted, dry and wither'd,
[Pulling up his Sleeve Shrunk like a foul Abortion, and decay'd, Like fome untimely Product of the Seasons, Robb’d of its Properties of Strength and Office. This is the Sorcery of Edward's Wife, Who in Conjunction with that Harlot Shore, And other like confederate Midnight Haggs. By force of potent Spells, of bloody Characters, And Conjurations horrible to hear, Call Fiends and Spectres from the Yawning Deep, And set the Ministers of Hell at Work, To torture and dispoil me of
L. Haft. If they have done this Deed.---..
Glost. If they have done it!
Talk'st thou to me of If's! audacious Traitor!
Thou art that Strumpet Witch's chief Abettor,
The Patron and Complotter of her Mischiefs,
And join'd in this Contrivance for my Death.
Nay start not, Lords, ----What hoa a Guard there, Sirs!
Lord Hastings, I arrest thee of High Treafon.
Seize him, and bear him instantly away,
He tha' not live an Hour. By Holy Paxl!
I will not dine before his Head be brought me:
Ratcliff, stay you, and see that it be done.
The reft that love me, rise and follow me.
(Exeunt Glofter and Lords following: [Manent Lord Hastings, Ratcliff and Guard. L. Helt. What! and no more but this--how, to the Scaffold!
Oh gentle Ratcliff! tell me do I hold thee?
Or if I dream, what shall I do to wake,
To break, to struggle thro' this dread Confusion?
For surely Death itself is not so painful
As is this sudden Horror and Surprize.
Rat. You heard, the Duke's Commands to me were abfolute;
Therefore my Lord, address you to your Shrift,
With all good Speed you may. Summon your Courage,
And be your self; for you must die this Instant.
L. Haft. Yes, Ratcliff, I will take thy Friendly Counsel,
And die as a Man should ; 'tis somewhat hard,
To call my scatter'd Spirits home at once:
But since what must be, muft be--let Neceflity
Supply the Place of Time and Preparation,
for the Blow. 'Tis but to die,
'Tis but to venture on that common Hazard
Which many a Time in Battle I have run ;
'Tis but to do, what, at that very Moment,
In many Nations of the peopled Earth,
A thousand, and a thousand shall do with me :
'Tis but to close iny Eyes, and shut out Day-Light,
To view no more the wicked Ways of Men,
No longer to behold the Tyrant Glofter,
And be a weeping Witness of the Woes,
The Defolation, Slaughter and Calamities,
Which he shall bring on this unhappy Land.
Enter Alicia. Alic. Stand off! and let me passa- I will, I must, Catch him once more in these despairing Arms, And hold him to my Heart.--Oh Hastings, Hastings ! L. Hast. Alas! Why com'ft thou at this dreadful Moment.
To fill me with new Terrors, new Distractions,
To turn me wild with thy distemper'd Rage,
And shock the Peace of my departing Soul?
Away! I prethee leave me!
Alic. Stop a Minute.-----
Till my full Griefs find Passage.--.-Oh the Tyrant!
Perdition fall on Gloster's Head and mine.
L. Haft. What means thy frantick Grief?
Alic. I cannot speak----
But I have murder'd thee.---Oh I could tell thee!
L. Haft. Speak, and give Ease to thy conflicting Passions:
Be quick, nor keep me longer in Suspence.
Time presses, and a thousand crowding Thoughts
Break in at once; this Way and that they snatch,
They tear my hurry'd Soul. All claim Attention,
And yet not one is heard. Oh speak and leave me,
For I have Business would employ an Age,
And but a Minute's Time to get it done in.
Alic. That, That's my Grief-Tis I that urge thee on,
Thus haunt thee to the Toil, sweep thee from Earth,
And drive thee down this Precipice of Fate.
L. Haft. Thy Reason is grown wild. Could thy weak Hand
Bring on this mighty Ruin? If it could,
What have I done so grievous to thy Soul,
So deadly, so beyond the Reach of Pardon,
"That nothing but my Life can make Attonement ?
Alic. Thy cruel Scorn had ftung me to the Heart,
And set my burning Bofom all in Flames:
Raving and mad I flew to my Revenge,
And writ I know not what-m-told the Prote&or,
That Shore's detested Wife by Wiles had won thee,
To plot against his Greatness He believ'd it,
(Oh dire Event of my pernicious Council!)
And while I meant Destruction on her Head,
H' has turn'd it all on thine.
L. Haf. Accursed Jealousy !
O merciless, wild and unforgiving Fiend !
Blindfold it runs to undistinguish'd Mischief,
And murders all it meets. Curst be its Rage,
For there is none so deadly ; doubly curs'd
Be all those easy Fools who give it Harbour :
Who turn a Monster loose among Mankind,
Fiercer than Famine, War, or spotted Pestilence;
Baneful as Death, and horrible as Hell.
Alic. If thou wilt Curse, curfe rather thine own Fallhood;
Curse the lewd Maxims of thy prejur'd Sex,
Which taught thee first to laugh at Faith and Justice,
To fcorn the Solemn Sanctity of Oaths,
And make a Jest of a poor Woman's Ruin:
Curse thy proud Heart, and thy insulting Tongue,
That rais'd this fatal Fury in my Soul,
And urg'd my Vengeance to undo us both.
L. Haft. Oh thou Inhuman! turn thy Eyes away,
And blaft me not with their destructive Beams :
Why should I Curse thee with my dying Breath?
Be gone! and let me sigh it out in Peace.
Alic. Can'ft thou-----Oh cruel Hastings, leave mc thus !
I beg thee----I conjure thee, hear me!
While with an agonizing Heart, I swear
By all the Pangs I feel, by all the Sorrows,
The Torrors and Despair thy Loss shall give me,
My Hate was on my Rival bent alone.