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Richard III
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Act I, Scene iv:
London. A Room in the Tower.
 
[Enter CLARENCE and BRAKENBURY.]
BRAKENBURY:
Why looks your grace so heavily to-day?
CLARENCE:
O, I have pass'd a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night
Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days,—
So full of dismal terror was the time!
BRAKENBURY:
What was your dream, my lord? I pray you tell me.
CLARENCE:
Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
And, in my company, my brother Gloster;
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we look'd toward England,
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befall'n us. As we pac'd along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloster stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in my ears!
What sights of ugly death within my eyes!
Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
A thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scatt'red in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and in the holes
Where eyes did once inhabit there were crept,—
As 'twere in scorn of eyes,—reflecting gems,
That woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
BRAKENBURY:
Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
CLARENCE:
Methought I had; and often did I strive
To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood
Stopp'd in my soul, and would not let it forth
To find the empty, vast, and wandering air;
But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
Who almost burst to belch it in the sea.
BRAKENBURY:
Awak'd you not in this sore agony?
CLARENCE:
No, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;
O, then began the tempest to my soul!
I pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
Who spake aloud, 'What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?'
And so he vanish'd: then came wandering by
A shadow like an Angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he shriek'd out aloud
"Clarence is come,—false, fleeting, perjur'd Clarence,—
That stabb'd me in the field by Tewksbury;—
Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!"
With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
Environ'd me, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries that, with the very noise,
I trembling wak'd, and for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell,—
Such terrible impression made my dream.
BRAKENBURY:
No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you;
I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.
CLARENCE:
Ah, Brakenbury, I have done these things
That now give evidence against my soul,
For Edward's sake; and see how he requites me!—
O God! If my deep prayers cannot appease thee,
But thou wilt be aveng'd on my misdeeds,
Yet execute thy wrath in me alone,—
O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!—
Keeper, I prithee sit by me awhile;
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.
BRAKENBURY:
I will, my lord; God give your grace good rest!—
[CLARENCE reposes himself on a chair.]
Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
Makes the night morning and the noontide night.
Princes have but their titles for their glories,
An outward honour for an inward toil;
And, for unfelt imaginations,
They often feel a world of restless cares:
So that, between their tides and low name,
There's nothing differs but the outward fame.
[Enter the two MURDERERS.]
FIRST MURDERER:
Ho! who's here?
BRAKENBURY:
What wouldst thou, fellow, and how cam'st thou hither?
FIRST MURDERER:
I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
BRAKENBURY:
What, so brief?
SECOND MURDERER:
'Tis better, sir, than to be tedious.—Let
him see our commission and talk no more.
[A paper is delivered to BRAKENBURY, who reads it.]
BRAKENBURY:
I am, in this, commanded to deliver
The noble Duke of Clarence to your hands:—
I will not reason what is meant hereby,
Because I will be guiltless of the meaning.
There lies the Duke asleep,—and there the keys;
I'll to the king and signify to him
That thus I have resign'd to you my charge.
FIRST MURDERER:
You may, sir; 'tis a point of wisdom: fare you well.
[Exit BRAKENBURY.]
SECOND MURDERER:
What, shall we stab him as he sleeps?
FIRST MURDERER:
No; he'll say 'twas done cowardly, when he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER:
When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake until the great
judgment-day.
FIRST MURDERER:
Why, then he'll say we stabb'd him sleeping.
SECOND MURDERER:
The urging of that word judgment hath bred a kind of remorse in
me.
FIRST MURDERER:
What, art thou afraid?
SECOND MURDERER:
Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to be damned
for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.
FIRST MURDERER:
I thought thou hadst been resolute.
SECOND MURDERER:
So I am, to let him live.
FIRST MURDERER:
I'll back to the Duke of Gloster and tell him so.
SECOND MURDERER:
Nay, I pr'ythee, stay a little: I hope my holy humour will
change; it was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
FIRST MURDERER:
How dost thou feel thyself now?
SECOND MURDERER:
Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
FIRST MURDERER:
Remember our reward, when the deed's done.
SECOND MURDERER:
Zounds, he dies: I had forgot the reward.
FIRST MURDERER:
Where's thy conscience now?
SECOND MURDERER:
O, in the Duke of Gloster's purse.
FIRST MURDERER:
So, when he opens his purse to give us our reward,
thy conscience flies out.
SECOND MURDERER:
'Tis no matter; let it go; there's few or none will entertain it.
FIRST MURDERER:
What if it come to thee again?
SECOND MURDERER:
I'll not meddle with it,—it makes a man coward;
a man cannot steal, but it accuseth him; a man
cannot swear, but it checks him; a man cannot lie with his
neighbour's wife, but it detects him: 'tis a blushing shame-
faced spirit that mutinies in a man's bosom; it fills a man
full of obstacles: it made me once restore a purse of gold
that by chance I found; it beggars any man that keeps it:
it is turned out of towns and cities for a dangerous thing;
and every man that means to live well endeavours to trust
to himself and live without it.
FIRST MURDERER:
Zounds,'tis even now at my elbow, persuading me
not to kill the duke.
SECOND MURDERER:
Take the devil in thy mind, and believe him not; he would
insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.
FIRST MURDERER:
I am strong-framed; he cannot prevail with me.
SECOND MURDERER:
Spoke like a tall man that respects thy reputation.
Come, shall we fall to work?
FIRST MURDERER:
Take him on the costard with the hilts of thy sword,
and then throw him in the malmsey-butt in the next room.
SECOND MURDERER:
O excellent device! and make a sop of him.
FIRST MURDERER:
Soft! he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER:
Strike!
FIRST MURDERER:
No, we'll reason with him.
CLARENCE:
Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine.
SECOND MURDERER:
You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
CLARENCE:
In God's name, what art thou?
FIRST MURDERER:
A man, as you are.
CLARENCE:
But not as I am, royal.
SECOND MURDERER:
Nor you as we are, loyal.
CLARENCE:
Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.
FIRST MURDERER:
My voice is now the king's, my looks mine own.
CLARENCE:
How darkly and how deadly dost thou speak!
Your eyes do menace me; why look you pale?
Who sent you hither? Wherefore do you come?
SECOND MURDERER:
To, to, to—
CLARENCE:
To murder me?
BOTH MURDERERS:
Ay, ay.
CLARENCE:
You scarcely have the hearts to tell me so,
And therefore cannot have the hearts to do it.
Wherein, my friends, have I offended you?
FIRST MURDERER:
Offended us you have not, but the king.
CLARENCE:
I shall be reconcil'd to him again.
SECOND MURDERER:
Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die.
CLARENCE:
Are you drawn forth among a world of men
To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
Where is the evidence that doth accuse me?
What lawful quest have given their verdict up
Unto the frowning judge? or who pronounc'd
The bitter sentence of poor Clarence' death?
Before I be convict by course of law,
To threaten me with death is most unlawful.
I charge you, as you hope to have redemption
By Christ's dear blood shed for our grievous sins,
That you depart, and lay no hands on me:
The deed you undertake is damnable.
FIRST MURDERER:
What we will do, we do upon command.
SECOND MURDERER:
And he that hath commanded is our king.
CLARENCE:
Erroneous vassals! the great King of kings
Hath in the table of his law commanded
That thou shalt do no murder: will you then
Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man's?
Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hand
To hurl upon their heads that break his law.
SECOND MURDERER:
And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee
For false forswearing, and for murder too:
Thou didst receive the sacrament to fight
In quarrel of the house of Lancaster.
FIRST MURDERER:
And like a traitor to the name of God
Didst break that vow; and with thy treacherous blade
Unripp'dst the bowels of thy sovereign's son.
SECOND MURDERER:
Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.
FIRST MURDERER:
How canst thou urge God's dreadful law to us,
When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?
CLARENCE:
Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed?
For Edward, for my brother, for his sake:
He sends you not to murder me for this;
For in that sin he is as deep as I.
If God will be avenged for the deed,
O, know you yet he doth it publicly.
Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm;
He needs no indirect or lawless course
To cut off those that have offended Him.
FIRST MURDERER:
Who made thee, then, a bloody minister
When gallant-springing brave Plantagenet,
That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?
CLARENCE:
My brother's love, the devil, and my rage.
FIRST MURDERER:
Thy brother's love, our duty, and thy faults,
Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.
CLARENCE:
If you do love my brother, hate not me;
I am his brother, and I love him well.
If you are hir'd for meed, go back again,
And I will send you to my brother Gloster,
Who shall reward you better for my life
Than Edward will for tidings of my death.
SECOND MURDERER:
You are deceiv'd, your brother Gloster hates you.
CLARENCE:
O, no, he loves me, and he holds me dear:
Go you to him from me.
FIRST MURDERER:
Ay, so we will.
CLARENCE:
Tell him when that our princely father York
Bless'd his three sons with his victorious arm
And charg'd us from his soul to love each other,
He little thought of this divided friendship:
Bid Gloster think of this, and he will weep.
FIRST MURDERER:
Ay, millstones; as he lesson'd us to weep.
CLARENCE:
O, do not slander him, for he is kind.
FIRST MURDERER:
Right, as snow in harvest.—Come, you deceive yourself:
'Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.
CLARENCE:
It cannot be; for he bewept my fortune,
And hugg'd me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,
That he would labour my delivery.
FIRST MURDERER:
Why, so he doth, when he delivers you
From this earth's thraldom to the joys of heaven.
SECOND MURDERER:
Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
CLARENCE:
Have you that holy feeling in your souls,
To counsel me to make my peace with God,
And are you yet to your own souls so blind
That you will war with God by murdering me?—
O, sirs, consider, they that set you on
To do this deed will hate you for the deed.
SECOND MURDERER:
What shall we do?
CLARENCE:
Relent, and save your souls.
FIRST MURDERER:
Relent! 'tis cowardly and womanish.
CLARENCE:
Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.
Which of you, if you were a prince's son,
Being pent from liberty, as I am now,—
If two such murderers as yourselves came to you,—
Would not entreat for life?—
My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks;
O, if thine eye be not a flatterer,
Come thou on my side, and entreat for me,
As you would beg, were you in my distress:
A begging prince what beggar pities not?
SECOND MURDERER:
Look behind you, my lord.
FIRST MURDERER:
[Stabs him.]
Take that, and that: if all this will not do,
I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within.
[Exit with the body.]
SECOND MURDERER:
A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch'd!
How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
Of this most grievous murder!
[Re-enter FIRST MURDERER.]
FIRST MURDERER:
How now, what mean'st thou that thou help'st me not?
By heavens, the duke shall know how slack you have
been!
SECOND MURDERER:
I would he knew that I had sav'd his brother!
Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say;
For I repent me that the duke is slain.
[Exit.]
FIRST MURDERER:
So do not I: go, coward as thou art.—
Well, I'll go hide the body in some hole,
Till that the duke give order for his burial:
And when I have my meed, I will away;
For this will out, and then I must not stay.
[Exit.]
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