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Richard III - Act 1, scene 4
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Navigate this workRichard III - Act 1, scene 4
Act 1, scene 4
Richard’s agents murder the imprisoned Clarence.Enter Clarence and Keeper.
0828 Why looks your Grace so heavily today?
0829 O, I have passed a miserable night,
0830 So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
0831 That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
0832 5 I would not spend another such a night
0833 Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days,
0834 So full of dismal terror was the time.
0835 What was your dream, my lord? I pray you tell me.
0836 Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower
0837 10 And was embarked to cross to Burgundy,
0838 And in my company my brother Gloucester,
0839 Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
0840 Upon the hatches. ⟨Thence⟩ we looked toward
0842 15 And cited up a thousand heavy times,
0843 During the wars of York and Lancaster,
0844 That had befall’n us. As we paced along
0845 Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
0846 Methought that Gloucester stumbled, and in falling
0847 20 Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard
0848 Into the tumbling billows of the main.
0849 O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown,
0850 What dreadful noise of ⟨waters⟩ in ⟨my⟩ ears,
0851 What sights of ugly death within ⟨my⟩ eyes.
0852 25 Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wracks,
0853 A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon,
0854 Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
0855 Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
0856 All scattered in the bottom of the sea.
p. 710857 30 Some lay in dead men’s skulls, and in the holes
0858 Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept—
0859 As ’twere in scorn of eyes—reflecting gems,
0860 That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep
0861 And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.
0862 35 Had you such leisure in the time of death
0863 To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
0864 Methought I had, and often did I strive
0865 To yield the ghost, but still the envious flood
0866 Stopped in my soul and would not let it forth
0867 40 To find the empty, vast, and wand’ring air,
0868 But smothered it within my panting bulk,
0869 Who almost burst to belch it in the sea.
0870 Awaked you not in this sore agony?
0871 No, no, my dream was lengthened after life.
0872 45 O, then began the tempest to my soul.
0873 I passed, methought, the melancholy flood,
0874 With that sour ferryman which poets write of,
0875 Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
0876 The first that there did greet my stranger-soul
0877 50 Was my great father-in-law, renownèd Warwick,
0878 Who spake aloud “What scourge for perjury
0879 Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?”
0880 And so he vanished. Then came wand’ring by
0881 A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
0882 55 Dabbled in blood, and he shrieked out aloud
0883 “Clarence is come—false, fleeting, perjured
0885 That stabbed me in the field by Tewkesbury.
0886 Seize on him, furies. Take him unto torment.”
0887 60 With that, ⟨methoughts,⟩ a legion of foul fiends
p. 730888 Environed me and howlèd in mine ears
0889 Such hideous cries that with the very noise
0890 I trembling waked, and for a season after
0891 Could not believe but that I was in hell,
0892 65 Such terrible impression made my dream.
0893 No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you.
0894 I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.
0895 Ah keeper, keeper, I have done these things,
0896 That now give evidence against my soul,
0897 70 For Edward’s sake, and see how he requites me.—
0898 O God, if my deep prayers cannot appease thee,
0899 But thou wilt be avenged on my misdeeds,
0900 Yet execute thy wrath in me alone!
0901 O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!—
0902 75 Keeper, I prithee sit by me awhile.
0903 My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.
0904 I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest.
Enter Brakenbury the Lieutenant.
0905 Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
0906 Makes the night morning, and the noontide night.
0907 80 Princes have but their titles for their glories,
0908 An outward honor for an inward toil,
0909 And, for unfelt imaginations,
0910 They often feel a world of restless cares,
0911 So that between their titles and low name
0912 85 There’s nothing differs but the outward fame.
Enter two Murderers.
FIRST MURDERER 0913 Ho, who’s here?
0914 What wouldst thou, fellow? And how cam’st thou
SECOND MURDERER 0916 I would speak with Clarence, and I
0917 90 came hither on my legs.
BRAKENBURY 0918 What, so brief?
FIRST MURDERER 0919 ’Tis better, sir, than to be tedious.—
0920 Let him see our commission, and talk no more.
⌜Brakenbury⌝ reads ⌜the commission.⌝
0921 I am in this commanded to deliver
0922 95 The noble Duke of Clarence to your hands.
0923 I will not reason what is meant hereby
0924 Because I will be guiltless from the meaning.
0925 There lies the Duke asleep, and there the keys.
⌜He hands them keys.⌝
0926 I’ll to the King and signify to him
0927 100 That thus I have resigned to you my charge.
FIRST MURDERER 0928 You may, sir. ’Tis a point of wisdom.
0929 Fare you well.
⌜Brakenbury and the Keeper⌝ exit.
SECOND MURDERER 0930 What, shall ⟨I⟩ stab him as he
FIRST MURDERER 0932 105No. He’ll say ’twas done cowardly,
0933 when he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER 0934 Why, he shall never wake until the
0935 great Judgment Day.
FIRST MURDERER 0936 Why, then he’ll say we stabbed him
0937 110 sleeping.
SECOND MURDERER 0938 The urging of that word “judgment”
0939 hath bred a kind of remorse in me.
FIRST MURDERER 0940 What, art thou afraid?
SECOND MURDERER 0941 Not to kill him, having a warrant,
0942 115 but to be damned for killing him, from the which
0943 no warrant can defend me.
FIRST MURDERER 0944 I thought thou hadst been resolute.
p. 77SECOND MURDERER 0945 So I am—to let him live.
FIRST MURDERER 0946 I’ll back to the Duke of Gloucester
0947 120 and tell him so.
SECOND MURDERER 0948 Nay, I prithee stay a little. I hope
0949 this passionate humor of mine will change. It was
0950 wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
FIRST MURDERER 0951 How dost thou feel thyself now?
SECOND MURDERER 0952 125⟨Faith,⟩ some certain dregs of conscience
0953 are yet within me.
FIRST MURDERER 0954 Remember our reward when the
0955 deed’s done.
SECOND MURDERER 0956 ⟨Zounds,⟩ he dies! I had forgot the
0957 130 reward.
FIRST MURDERER 0958 Where’s thy conscience now?
SECOND MURDERER 0959 O, in the Duke of Gloucester’s
FIRST MURDERER 0961 When he opens his purse to give us
0962 135 our reward, thy conscience flies out.
SECOND MURDERER 0963 ’Tis no matter. Let it go. There’s
0964 few or none will entertain it.
FIRST MURDERER 0965 What if it come to thee again?
SECOND MURDERER 0966 I’ll not meddle with it. It makes a
0967 140 man a coward: a man cannot steal but it accuseth
0968 him; a man cannot swear but it checks him; a man
0969 cannot lie with his neighbor’s wife but it detects
0970 him. ’Tis a blushing, shamefaced spirit that mutinies
0971 in a man’s bosom. It fills a man full of
0972 145 obstacles. It made me once restore a purse of gold
0973 that by chance I found. It beggars any man that
0974 keeps it. It is turned out of towns and cities for a
0975 dangerous thing, and every man that means to live
0976 well endeavors to trust to himself and live without it.
FIRST MURDERER 0977 150⟨Zounds,⟩ ’tis even now at my elbow,
0978 persuading me not to kill the Duke.
SECOND MURDERER 0979 Take the devil in thy mind, and
p. 790980 believe him not. He would insinuate with thee but
0981 to make thee sigh.
FIRST MURDERER 0982 155I am strong-framed. He cannot prevail
0983 with me.
SECOND MURDERER 0984 Spoke like a tall man that respects
0985 thy reputation. Come, shall we fall to work?
FIRST MURDERER 0986 Take him on the costard with the
0987 160 hilts of thy sword, and then throw him into the
0988 malmsey butt in the next room.
SECOND MURDERER 0989 O, excellent device—and make a
0990 sop of him!
FIRST MURDERER 0991 Soft, he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER 0992 165Strike!
FIRST MURDERER 0993 No, we’ll reason with him.
0994 Where art thou, keeper? Give me a cup of wine.
0995 You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
0996 In God’s name, what art thou?
FIRST MURDERER 0997 170 A man, as you are.
CLARENCE 0998 But not, as I am, royal.
FIRST MURDERER 0999 Nor you, as we are, loyal.
1000 Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.
1001 My voice is now the King’s, my looks mine own.
1002 175 How darkly and how deadly dost thou speak!
1003 Your eyes do menace me. Why look you pale?
1004 Who sent you hither? Wherefore do you come?
SECOND MURDERER 1005 To, to, to—
CLARENCE 1006 To murder me?
BOTH 1007 180Ay, ay.
1008 You scarcely have the hearts to tell me so
1009 And therefore cannot have the hearts to do it.
1010 Wherein, my friends, have I offended you?
1011 Offended us you have not, but the King.
1012 185 I shall be reconciled to him again.
1013 Never, my lord. Therefore prepare to die.
1014 Are you drawn forth among a world of men
1015 To slay the innocent? What is my offense?
1016 Where is the evidence that doth accuse me?
1017 190 What lawful quest have given their verdict up
1018 Unto the frowning judge? Or who pronounced
1019 The bitter sentence of poor Clarence’ death
1020 Before I be convict by course of law?
1021 To threaten me with death is most unlawful.
1022 195 I charge you, as you hope ⟨to have redemption,
1023 By Christ’s dear blood shed for our grievous sins,⟩
1024 That you depart, and lay no hands on me.
1025 The deed you undertake is damnable.
1026 What we will do, we do upon command.
1027 200 And he that hath commanded is our king.
1028 Erroneous vassals, the great King of kings
1029 Hath in the table of His law commanded
1030 That thou shalt do no murder. Will you then
1031 Spurn at His edict and fulfill a man’s?
1032 205 Take heed, for He holds vengeance in His hand
1033 To hurl upon their heads that break His law.
1034 And that same vengeance doth He hurl on thee
p. 831035 For false forswearing and for murder too.
1036 Thou didst receive the sacrament to fight
1037 210 In quarrel of the House of Lancaster.
1038 And, like a traitor to the name of God,
1039 Didst break that vow, and with thy treacherous
1041 ⌜Unrippedst⌝ the bowels of thy sovereign’s son.
1042 215 Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.
1043 How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to us
1044 When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?
1045 Alas! For whose sake did I that ill deed?
1046 For Edward, for my brother, for his sake.
1047 220 He sends you not to murder me for this,
1048 For in that sin he is as deep as I.
1049 If God will be avengèd for the deed,
1050 O, know you yet He doth it publicly!
1051 Take not the quarrel from His powerful arm;
1052 225 He needs no indirect or lawless course
1053 To cut off those that have offended Him.
1054 Who made thee then a bloody minister
1055 When gallant-springing, brave Plantagenet,
1056 That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?
1057 230 My brother’s love, the devil, and my rage.
1058 Thy brother’s love, our duty, and thy faults
1059 Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.
1060 If you do love my brother, hate not me.
1061 I am his brother, and I love him well.
1062 235 If you are hired for meed, go back again,
p. 851063 And I will send you to my brother Gloucester,
1064 Who shall reward you better for my life
1065 Than Edward will for tidings of my death.
1066 You are deceived. Your brother Gloucester hates
1067 240 you.
1068 O no, he loves me, and he holds me dear.
1069 Go you to him from me.
FIRST MURDERER 1070 Ay, so we will.
1071 Tell him, when that our princely father York
1072 245 Blessed his three sons with his victorious arm,
1073 He little thought of this divided friendship.
1074 Bid Gloucester think ⟨of⟩ this, and he will weep.
1075 Ay, millstones, as he lessoned us to weep.
1076 O, do not slander him, for he is kind.
1077 250 Right, as snow in harvest. Come, you deceive
1079 ’Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.
1080 It cannot be, for he bewept my fortune,
1081 And hugged me in his arms, and swore with sobs
1082 255 That he would labor my delivery.
1083 Why, so he doth, when he delivers you
1084 From this Earth’s thralldom to the joys of heaven.
1085 Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
1086 Have you that holy feeling in your souls
1087 260 To counsel me to make my peace with God,
1088 And are you yet to your own souls so blind
p. 871089 That you will war with God by murd’ring me?
1090 O sirs, consider: they that set you on
1091 To do this deed will hate you for the deed.
SECOND MURDERER, ⌜to First Murderer⌝
1092 265 What shall we do?
CLARENCE 1093 Relent, and save your souls.
1094 Which of you—if you were a prince’s son
1095 Being pent from liberty, as I am now—
1096 If two such murderers as yourselves came to you,
1097 270 Would not entreat for life? ⌜Ay,⌝ you would beg,
1098 Were you in my distress.
1099 Relent? No. ’Tis cowardly and womanish.
1100 Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.
1101 ⌜To Second Murderer.⌝ My friend, I spy some pity
1102 275 in thy looks.
1103 O, if thine eye be not a flatterer,
1104 Come thou on my side and entreat for me.
1105 A begging prince what beggar pities not?
SECOND MURDERER 1106 Look behind you, my lord.
1107 280 Take that, and that. (Stabs him.) If all this will not
1109 I’ll drown you in the malmsey butt within.
He exits ⌜with the body.⌝
1110 A bloody deed, and desperately dispatched.
1111 How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
1112 285 Of this most grievous murder.
Enter First Murderer.
1113 How now? What mean’st thou that thou help’st me
p. 891115 By ⟨heavens,⟩ the Duke shall know how slack you
1116 have been.
1117 290 I would he knew that I had saved his brother.
1118 Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say,
1119 For I repent me that the Duke is slain.He exits.
1120 So do not I. Go, coward as thou art.
1121 Well, I’ll go hide the body in some hole
1122 295 Till that the Duke give order for his burial.
1123 And when I have my meed, I will away,
1124 For this will out, and then I must not stay.