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The dainty gew-gaw forms dissolve at once,
And shiver at the shock. What says her paper?
[Seeming to read. Ha! what is this? Come nearer, Ratcliffe ! Catesby! Mark the contents, and then divine the meaning.
[He reads. Wonder not, princely Gloster, at the notice This paper brings you from a friend unknown; Lord Hastings is inclin’d to call you master, And kneel to Richard, as to England's king ; But Shore's bewitching wife misleads his heart, And draws his service, to King Edward's sons : Drive her away, you break the charm that holds him, And he, and all his powers, attend you.
Rat. 'Tis wonderfull
Cat. The means by which it came
Yet stranger too !
Glost. You saw it given, but now.
Rat. She could not know the purport.
Glost. No, 'tis plain-
She knows it not, it levels at her life ;
Should she presume to prate of such high matters,
The meddling harlot, dear she should abide it.
Cat. What hand sue'er it comes from, be assurd, It means your highness well
Glost Upon the instant,
Lord Hastings will be hear; this morn I mean
To prove him to the quick ; then if he Alinch,
No more but this-away with him at once,
He must be mine or nothing But he comes !
Draw nearer this way, and observe me well.
Enter Lord HASTINGS.
Hast. This foolish woman hangs about my heart,
Lingers and wanders in my fancy still;
This coyness is put on, 'tis art and cunning,
And worn to urge desire- I must possess her.
The groom, who lift his saucy hand against me,
E'er this, is humbled, and repents his daring.
Perhaps, ev’n she may profit by th' example,
And teach her beauty not to scorn my pow'r.
Glost. This do, and wait me e'er the council sits.
[Exeunt Rat, and Cat. My lord, y’are well encountred; here has been A fair petitioner this morning with us; Believe me, she has won me much to pity her: Alas! her gentle nature was not made To buffet with adversity. I told her How worthily her cause you had befriended; How much for your good sake we meant to do, That you had spoke, and all things should be well.
Hast. Your highness binds me ever to your service.
Glost. You know your friendship is most potent
And shares our power. But of this enough,
For we have other matters for your ear;
The state is out of tune : distracting fears,
And jealous doubts, jar in our public counsels ;
Amidst the wealthy city, murmurs rise,
Lewd railings, and reproach on those that rule,
With open scorn of government; hence credit,
And public trust 'twixt man and man, are broke.
The golden streams of commerce are with-held,
Which fed the wants of needy hinds and artizans,
Who therefore curse the great, and threat rebellion.
Hast. The resty knaves are over-run with ease,
As plenty ever is the nurse of faction;
If in good days, like these, the headstrong herd'
Grow madly wanton and repine ; it is
Because the reins of power are held too slack,
And reverend authority of late
Has worn a face of mercy more than justice.
Glost. Beshrew my heart! but you have well die
vin'd The source of these disorders. Who can wonder If riot and misrule o'erturn the realm, When the crown sits upon a baby brow ? Plainly to speak; hence comes the gen’ral cry, And sum of all complaint: 'twill ne'er be well With England (thus they talk) while children go.
Hast. 'Tis true, the king is young; but what of
We feel no want of Edward's riper years, ,
While Gloster's valour and most princely wisdom
So well supply our infant sov’reign's place,
His youth's support, and guardian to his throne.
Glost. The council (much I'm bound to thank 'em
Have plac'd a pageant sceptre in my hand,
Barren of power, and subject to control;
Scorn'd by my foes, and useless to my friends.
Oh, worthy lord! were mine the rule indeed,
I think I should not suffer rank offence
At large to lord it in the common-weal;
Nor would the realm be rent by discord thus,
Thus fear and doubt, betwixt disputed titles.
Hast. Of this I am to learn; as not supposing
A doubt like this
Glost. Ay, marry, but there is
And that of much concern. Have you not heard
How, on a late occasion, Doctor Shaw
Has mov'd the people much about the lawfulness
Of Edward's issue? By right gravé authority
Of learning and religion, plainly proving,
A bastard scion never should be grafted
Upon a royal stock; from thence, at full
Discoursing on my brother's former contract
To Lady Elizabeth Lucy, long before
His jolly match with that same buxom widow
The queen he left behind him
Hast. Ill befall
Such meddling priests, who kindle up confusion,
And vex the quiet world with their vain scruples! ·
By Heav'n 'tis done in perfect spite to peace.
Did not the king,
Our royal master, Edward, in concurrence
With his estates assembled, well determine
What course the sov'reign rule should take hence-
When shall the deadly hate of faction cease,
When shall our long-divided land have rest,
If every peevish, moody malecontent
Shall set the senseless rabble in an uproar,
Fright them with dangers, and perplex their brain,
Each day with some fantastic giddy change ?
Glost. What if some patriot, for the public good, Should vary from your scheme, new-mould the state?
Hast. Curse on the innovating hand attempts it!
Remember him, the villain, righteous Heaven,
In thy great day of vengeance! Blast the traitor
And his pernicious counsels; who for wealth,
For pow'r, the pride of greatness, or revenge,
Would plunge his native land in civil wars!
Glost. You go too far, my lord.
Hast. Your highness' pardoni
Have we so soon forgot those days of ruin,
When York and Lancaster drew forth the battles ;
When, like a matron butcher'd by her sons,
“ And cast beside some common way, a spectacle
" Of horror and affright to passers by,"
Our groaning country bled at ev'ry vein ;
When murders, rapes, and massacres prevail'd ;
When churches, palaces, and cities blaz’d;
When insolence and barbarism triumph’d,
And swept away distinction; peasants trod
Upon the necks of nobles : low were laid