ACT I
Scene 4.
 

London. The Tower

Enter CLARENCE and KEEPER

KEEPER
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!

KEEPER
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 Gloucester,
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 Gloucester 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 scatt'red by.

KEEPER
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 wand'ring air;
But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
Who almost burst to belch it in the sea.

KEEPER
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 sour 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 wand'ring 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 unto torment!'
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.

KEEPER
No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you;
I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.

CLARENCE
Ah, Keeper, Keeper, 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.

KEEPER
I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest.

[CLARENCE sleeps]

Enter BRAKENBURY the Lieutenant

BRAKENBURY
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.

[BRAKENBURY 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 from 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.

Exeunt BRAKENBURY and KEEPER

SECOND MURDERER
What, shall I stab him as he sleeps?

FIRST MURDERER
No; he'll say 'twas done cowardly, when
he wakes.

SECOND MURDERER
Why, 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; but to
be damn'd 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 Gloucester and
tell him so.

SECOND MURDERER
Nay, I prithee, stay a little. I hope this
passionate humour of mine 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 Gloucester's purse!

FIRST MURDERER
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-
fac'd 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 turn'd 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-fram'd; 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 chop 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 tables 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 sov'reign'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 pow'rful 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 Gloucester,
Who shall reward you better for my life
Than Edward will for tidings of my death.

SECOND MURDERER
You are deceiv'd: your brother Gloucester
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 Gloucester 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 murd'ring 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! No, '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
[Stabbing 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