Act the Fifth - Scene IV
Enter the younger MORTIMER.
Y. Mor. The king must die, or Mortimer goes down;
The commons now begin to pity him:
Yet he that is the cause of Edward's death,
Is sure to pay for it when his son's of age;
And therefore will I do it cunningly.
This letter, written by a friend of ours,
Contains his death, yet bids then save his life; [Reads.
Edwardum occidere nolite timere, bonum est,
Fear not to kill the king, 'tis good he die:
But read it thus, and that's another sense;
Edwardum occidere nolite, timere bonum est,
Kill not the king, 'tis good to fear the worst.
Unpointed as it is, thus shall it go.
That, being dead, if it chance to be found,
Matrevis and the rest may bear the blame,
And we be quit that caus'd it to be done.
Within this room is lock'd the messenger
That shall convey it, and perform the rest;
And, by a secret token that he bears,
Shall he be murder'd when the deed is done.—
Lightborn, come forth!
Art thou so resolute as thou wast?
Light. What else, my lord? and far more resolute.
Y. Mor. And hast thou cast how to accomplish it?
Light. Ay, ay; and none shall know which way he died.
Y. Mor. But at his looks, Lightborn, thou wilt relent.
Light. Relent! ha, ha! I use much to relent.
Y. Mor. Well, do it bravely, and be secret.
Light. You shall not need to give instructions;
'Tis not the first time I have kill'd a man:
I learn'd in Naples how to poison flowers;
To strangle with a lawn thrust down the throat;
To pierce the wind pipe with a needle's point;
Or, whilst one is asleep, to take a quill,
And blow a little powder in his ears;
Or open his mouth, and pour quick-silver down.
But yet I have a braver way than these.
Y. Mor. What's that?
Light. Nay, you shall pardon me; none shall know my tricks.
Y. Mor. I care not how it is, so it be not spied.
Deliver this to Gurney and Matrevis: [Gives letter.
At every ten-mile end thou hast a horse:
Take this [Gives money]: away, and never see me more!
Y. Mor. No; unless thou bring me news of Edward's death.
Light. That will I quickly do. Farewell, my lord. [Exit.
Y. Mor. The prince I rule, the queen do I command,
And with a lowly congé to the ground
The proudest lords salute me as I pass;
I seal, I cancel, I do what I will.
Fear'd am I more than lov'd;—let me be fear'd,
And, when I frown, make all the court look pale.
I view the prince with Aristarchus' eyes,
Whose looks were as a breeching to a boy.
They thrust upon me the protectorship,
And sue to me for that that I desire;
While at the council-table, grave enough,
And not unlike a bashful puritan,
First I complain of imbecility,
Saying it is onus quam gravissimum;
Till, being interrupted by my friends,
Suscepi that provinciam, as they term it;
And, to conclude, I am Protector now.
Now all is sure: the queen and Mortimer
Shall rule the realm, the king; and none rule us.
Mine enemies will I plague, my friends advance;
And what I list command who dare control?
Major sum quàm cui possit fortuna nocere:
And that this be the coronation-day,
It pleaseth me and Isabel the queen. [Trumpets within.
The trumpets sound; I must go take my place.
Enter KING EDWARD THE THIRD, QUEEN ISABELLA, the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, Champion, and Nobles.
Archb. of Cant. Long live King Edward, by the grace of God King of England and Lord of Ireland!
Cham. If any Christian, Heathen, Turk, or Jew, Dares but affirm that Edward's not true king, And will avouch his saying with the sword, I am the Champion that will combat him.
Y. Mor. None comes: sound, trumpets! [Trumpets. K. Edw. Third. Champion, here's to thee. [Gives purse. Q. Isab. Lord Mortimer, now take him to your charge.
Enter Soldiers with KENT prisoner.
Y. Mor. What traitor have we there with blades and bills?
First Sold. Edmund the Earl of Kent.
K. Edw. Third. What hath he done?
First Sold. 'A would have taken the king away perforce, As we were bringing him to Killingworth.
Y. Mor. Did you attempt his rescue, Edmund? speak.
Kent. Mortimer, I did: he is our king, And thou compell'st this prince to wear the crown.
Y. Mor. Strike off his head: he shall have martial law.
Kent. Strike off my head! base traitor, I defy thee!
K. Edw. Third. My lord, he is my uncle, and shall live.
Y. Mor. My lord, he is your enemy, and shall die.
Kent. Stay, villains!
K. Edw. Third. Sweet mother, if I cannot pardon him, Entreat my Lord Protector for his life.
Q. Isab. Son, be content: I dare not speak a word.
K. Edw. Third. Nor I; and yet methinks I should command: But, seeing I cannot, I'll entreat for him.— My lord, if you will let my uncle live, I will requite it when I come to age.
Y. Mor. 'Tis for your highness' good and for the realm's.— How often shall I bid you bear him hence?
Kent. Art thou king? must I die at thy command?
Y. Mor. At our command.—Once more, away with him!
Kent. Let me but stay and speak; I will not go: Either my brother or his son is king, And none of both them thirst for Edmund's blood: And therefore, soldiers, whither will you hale me? [Soldiers hale Kent away, and carry him to be beheaded.
K. Edw. Third. What safety may I look for at his hands, If that my uncle shall be murder'd thus?
Q. Isab. Fear not, sweet boy; I'll guard thee from thy foes: Had Edmund liv'd, he would have sought thy death. Come, son, we'll ride a-hunting in the park.
K. Edw. Third. And shall my uncle Edmund ride with us?
Q. Isab. He is a traitor; think not on him: come. [Exeunt.