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Home > Richard III > ACT I - SCENE IV. London. The Tower.

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ACT I - SCENE IV. London. The Tower.

1    Why looks your grace so heavily today?
2    O, I have pass'd a miserable night,
3    So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
4    That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
5    I would not spend another such a night,
6    Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days,
7    So full of dismal terror was the time!
8    What was your dream? I long to hear you tell it.
9    Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
10   And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
11   And, in my company, my brother Gloucester;
12   Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
13   Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England,
14   And cited up a thousand fearful times,
15   During the wars of York and Lancaster
16   That had befall'n us. As we paced along
17   Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
18   Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,
19   Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
20   Into the tumbling billows of the main.
21   Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
22   What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
23   What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
24   Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
25   Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
26   Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
27   Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
28   All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:
29   Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
30   Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
31   As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
32   Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
33   And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
34   Had you such leisure in the time of death
35   To gaze upon the secrets of the deep?
36   Methought I had; and often did I strive
37   To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood
38   Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
39   To seek the empty, vast and wandering air;
40   But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
41   Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
42   Awaked you not with this sore agony?
43   O, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;
44   O, then began the tempest to my soul,
45   Who pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
46   With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
47   Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
48   The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
49   Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
50   Who cried aloud, 'What scourge for perjury
51   Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?'
52   And so he vanish'd: then came wandering by
53   A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
54   Dabbled in blood; and he squeak'd out aloud,
55   'Clarence is come; false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,
56   That stabb'd me in the field by Tewksbury;
57   Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!'
58   With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
59   Environ'd me about, and howled in mine ears
60   Such hideous cries, that with the very noise
61   I trembling waked, and for a season after
62   Could not believe but that I was in hell,
63   Such terrible impression made the dream.
64   No marvel, my lord, though it affrighted you;
65   I promise, I am afraid to hear you tell it.
66   O Brakenbury, I have done those things,
67   Which now bear evidence against my soul,
68   For Edward's sake; and see how he requites me!
69   O God! if my deep prayers cannot appease thee,
70   But thou wilt be avenged on my misdeeds,
71   Yet execute thy wrath in me alone,
72   O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!
73   I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;
74   My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.
75   I will, my lord: God give your grace good rest!
76   Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
77   Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night.
78   Princes have but their tides for their glories,
79   An outward honour for an inward toil;
80   And, for unfelt imagination,
81   They often feel a world of restless cares:
82   So that, betwixt their tides and low names,
83   There's nothing differs but the outward fame.
Enter the two Murderers

First Murderer
84   Ho! who's here?
85   In God's name what are you, and how came you hither?
First Murderer
86   I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
87   Yea, are you so brief?
Second Murderer
88   O sir, it is better to be brief than tedious. Show
89   him our commission; talk no more.

90   I am, in this, commanded to deliver
91   The noble Duke of Clarence to your hands:
92   I will not reason what is meant hereby,
93   Because I will be guiltless of the meaning.
94   Here are the keys, there sits the duke asleep:
95   I'll to the king; and signify to him
96   That thus I have resign'd my charge to you.
First Murderer
97   Do so, it is a point of wisdom: fare you well.

Second Murderer
98   What, shall we stab him as he sleeps?
First Murderer
99   No; then he will say 'twas done cowardly, when he wakes.
Second Murderer
100  When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake till
101  the judgment-day.
First Murderer
102  Why, then he will say we stabbed him sleeping.
Second Murderer
103  The urging of that word 'judgment' hath bred a kind
104  of remorse in me.
First Murderer
105  What, art thou afraid?
Second Murderer
106  Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to be
107  damned for killing him, from which no warrant can defend us.
First Murderer
108  I thought thou hadst been resolute.
Second Murderer
109  So I am, to let him live.
First Murderer
110  Back to the Duke of Gloucester, tell him so.
Second Murderer
111  I pray thee, stay a while: I hope my holy humour
112  will change; 'twas wont to hold me but while one
113  would tell twenty.
First Murderer
114  How dost thou feel thyself now?
Second Murderer
115  'Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet
116  within me.
First Murderer
117  Remember our reward, when the deed is done.
Second Murderer
118  'Zounds, he dies: I had forgot the reward.
First Murderer
119  Where is thy conscience now?
Second Murderer
120  In the Duke of Gloucester's purse.
First Murderer
121  So when he opens his purse to give us our reward,
122  thy conscience flies out.
Second Murderer
123  Let it go; there's few or none will entertain it.
First Murderer
124  How if it come to thee again?
Second Murderer
125  I'll not meddle with it: it is a dangerous thing: it
126  makes a man a coward: a man cannot steal, but it
127  accuseth him; he cannot swear, but it cheques him;
128  he cannot lie with his neighbour's wife, but it
129  detects him: 'tis a blushing shamefast spirit that
130  mutinies in a man's bosom; it fills one full of
131  obstacles: it made me once restore a purse of gold
132  that I found; it beggars any man that keeps it: it
133  is turned out of all towns and cities for a
134  dangerous thing; and every man that means to live
135  well endeavours to trust to himself and to live
136  without it.
First Murderer
137  'Zounds, it is even now at my elbow, persuading me
138  not to kill the duke.
Second Murderer
139  Take the devil in thy mind, and relieve him not: he
140  would insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.
First Murderer
141  Tut, I am strong-framed, he cannot prevail with me,
142  I warrant thee.
Second Murderer
143  Spoke like a tail fellow that respects his
144  reputation. Come, shall we to this gear?
First Murderer
145  Take him over the costard with the hilts of thy
146  sword, and then we will chop him in the malmsey-butt
147  in the next room.
Second Murderer
148  O excellent devise! make a sop of him.
First Murderer
149  Hark! he stirs: shall I strike?
Second Murderer
150  No, first let's reason with him.
151  Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine.
Second murderer
152  You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
153  In God's name, what art thou?
Second Murderer
154  A man, as you are.
155  But not, as I am, royal.
Second Murderer
156  Nor you, as we are, loyal.
157  Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.
Second Murderer
158  My voice is now the king's, my looks mine own.
159  How darkly and how deadly dost thou speak!
160  Your eyes do menace me: why look you pale?
161  Who sent you hither? Wherefore do you come?
162  To, to, to--
163  To murder me?
164  Ay, ay.
165  You scarcely have the hearts to tell me so,
166  And therefore cannot have the hearts to do it.
167  Wherein, my friends, have I offended you?
First Murderer
168  Offended us you have not, but the king.
169  I shall be reconciled to him again.
Second Murderer
170  Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die.
171  Are you call'd forth from out a world of men
172  To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
173  Where are the evidence that do accuse me?
174  What lawful quest have given their verdict up
175  Unto the frowning judge? or who pronounced
176  The bitter sentence of poor Clarence' death?
177  Before I be convict by course of law,
178  To threaten me with death is most unlawful.
179  I charge you, as you hope to have redemption
180  By Christ's dear blood shed for our grievous sins,
181  That you depart and lay no hands on me
182  The deed you undertake is damnable.
First Murderer
183  What we will do, we do upon command.
Second Murderer
184  And he that hath commanded is the king.
185  Erroneous vassal! the great King of kings
186  Hath in the tables of his law commanded
187  That thou shalt do no murder: and wilt thou, then,
188  Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man's?
189  Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hands,
190  To hurl upon their heads that break his law.
Second Murderer
191  And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee,
192  For false forswearing and for murder too:
193  Thou didst receive the holy sacrament,
194  To fight in quarrel of the house of Lancaster.
First Murderer
195  And, like a traitor to the name of God,
196  Didst break that vow; and with thy treacherous blade
197  Unrip'dst the bowels of thy sovereign's son.
Second Murderer
198  Whom thou wert sworn to cherish and defend.
First Murderer
199  How canst thou urge God's dreadful law to us,
200  When thou hast broke it in so dear degree?
201  Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed?
202  For Edward, for my brother, for his sake: Why, sirs,
203  He sends ye not to murder me for this
204  For in this sin he is as deep as I.
205  If God will be revenged for this deed.
206  O, know you yet, he doth it publicly,
207  Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm;
208  He needs no indirect nor lawless course
209  To cut off those that have offended him.
First Murderer
210  Who made thee, then, a bloody minister,
211  When gallant-springing brave Plantagenet,
212  That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?
213  My brother's love, the devil, and my rage.
First Murderer
214  Thy brother's love, our duty, and thy fault,
215  Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.
216  Oh, if you love my brother, hate not me;
217  I am his brother, and I love him well.
218  If you be hired for meed, go back again,
219  And I will send you to my brother Gloucester,
220  Who shall reward you better for my life
221  Than Edward will for tidings of my death.
Second Murderer
222  You are deceived, your brother Gloucester hates you.
223  O, no, he loves me, and he holds me dear:
224  Go you to him from me.
225  Ay, so we will.
226  Tell him, when that our princely father York
227  Bless'd his three sons with his victorious arm,
228  And charged us from his soul to love each other,
229  He little thought of this divided friendship:
230  Bid Gloucester think of this, and he will weep.
First Murderer
231  Ay, millstones; as be lesson'd us to weep.
232  O, do not slander him, for he is kind.
First Murderer
233  Right,
234  As snow in harvest. Thou deceivest thyself:
235  'Tis he that sent us hither now to slaughter thee.
236  It cannot be; for when I parted with him,
237  He hugg'd me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,
238  That he would labour my delivery.
Second Murderer
239  Why, so he doth, now he delivers thee
240  From this world's thraldom to the joys of heaven.
First Murderer
241  Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
242  Hast thou that holy feeling in thy soul,
243  To counsel me to make my peace with God,
244  And art thou yet to thy own soul so blind,
245  That thou wilt war with God by murdering me?
246  Ah, sirs, consider, he that set you on
247  To do this deed will hate you for the deed.
Second Murderer
248  What shall we do?
249  Relent, and save your souls.
First Murderer
250  Relent! 'tis cowardly and womanish.
251  Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.
252  Which of you, if you were a prince's son,
253  Being pent from liberty, as I am now,
254  if two such murderers as yourselves came to you,
255  Would not entreat for life?
256  My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks:
257  O, if thine eye be not a flatterer,
258  Come thou on my side, and entreat for me,
259  As you would beg, were you in my distress
260  A begging prince what beggar pities not?
Second Murderer
261  Look behind you, my lord.
First Murderer
262  Take that, and that: if all this will not do,
Stabs him
263  I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within.
Exit, with the body

Second Murderer
264  A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch'd!
265  How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
266  Of this most grievous guilty murder done!
Re-enter First Murderer

First Murderer
267  How now! what mean'st thou, that thou help'st me not?
268  By heavens, the duke shall know how slack thou art!
Second Murderer
269  I would he knew that I had saved his brother!
270  Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say;
271  For I repent me that the duke is slain.

First Murderer
272  So do not I: go, coward as thou art.
273  Now must I hide his body in some hole,
274  Until the duke take order for his burial:
275  And when I have my meed, I must away;
276  For this will out, and here I must not stay.

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