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London. The Tower.

Why looks your grace so heavily to-day?

O, I have pass'd a miserable night,

So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,

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!

What was your dream? I long to hear you tell it.

Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower, (10)

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 looked toward England,

And cited up a thousand fearful times,

During the wars of York and Lancaster

That had befall'n us. As we paced along

Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,

Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,

Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard, (20)

Into the tumbling billows of the main.

Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!

What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!

What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!

Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;

Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;

Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,

Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,

All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:

Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes

Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept, (31)

As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,

Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,

And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.

Had you such leisure in the time of death

To gaze upon the secrets of the deep?

Methought I had; and often did I strive

To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood

Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth

To seek the empty, vast and wandering air; (40)

But smother'd it within my panting bulk,

Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.

Awaked you not with this sore agony?

O, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;

O, then began the tempest to my soul,

Who 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 cried 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 squeak'd out aloud,

'Clarence is come; false, fleeting, perjured 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 about, and howled in mine ears (60)

Such hideous cries, that with the very noise

I trembling awaked, and for a season after

Could not believe but that I was in hell,

Such terrible impression made the dream.

No marvel, my lord, though it affrighted you;

I promise you, I am afraid to hear you tell it.

O Brakenbury, I have done those things,

Which now bear evidence against my soul,

For Edward's sake; and see how he requites me!

O God! if my deep prayers cannot appease thee, (70)

But thou wilt be avenged on my misdeeds,

Yet execute thy wrath in me alone,

O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!

I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;

My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.

I will, my lord: God give your grace good rest! [Clarence sleeps.

Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,

Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night.

Princes have but their titles for their glories,

An outward honor for an inward toil; (80)

And, for unfelt imagination,

They often feel a world of restless cares:

So that, betwixt their titles and low names,

There's nothing differs but the outward fame. Enter the two Murderers.

First Murd.
Ho! who's here?

In God's name what are you, and how came you hither?

First Murd.
I would speak with Clarence,
and I came hither on my legs.

Yea, are you so brief?

Sec. Murd.
O sir, it is better to be brief
than tedious. Show him our commission; talk
no more. [Brakenbury reads it.

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.

Here are the keys, there sits the duke asleep:

I'll to the king; and signify to him

That thus I have resign'd my charge to you.

First Murd.
Do so, it is a point of wisdom: (100)
fare you well. [Exit Brakenbury.

Sec. Murd.
What, shall we stab him as he

First Murd.
No; then he will say 'twas
done cowardly, when he wakes.

Sec. Murd.
When he wakes! why, fool, he
shall never wake till the judgement-day.

First Murd.
Why, then he will say we
stabbed him sleeping.

Sec. Murd.
The urging of that word 'judgement' (110)
hath bred a kind of remorse in me.

First Murd.
What, art thou afraid?

Sec. Murd.
Not to kill him, having a warrant
for it; but to be damned for killing him,
from which no warrant can defend us.

First Murd.
I thought thou hadst been

Sec. Murd.
So I am, to let him live.

First Murd.
Back to the Duke of Gloucester, (119)
tell him so.

Sec. Murd.
I pray thee, stay a while: I
hope my holy humor will change; 'twas wont
to hold me but while one would tell twenty.

First Murd.
How dost thou feel thyself

Sec. Murd.
'Faith, some certain dregs of
conscience are yet within me.

First Murd.
Remember our reward, when
the deed is done.

Sec. Murd.
'Zounds, he dies: I had forgot (129)
the reward.

First Murd.
Where is thy conscience now?

Sec. Murd.
In the Duke of Gloucester's purse.

First Murd.
So when he opens his purse to
give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.

Sec. Murd.
Let it go; there's few or none
will entertain it.

First Murd.
How if it come to thee again?

Sec. Murd.
I'll not meddle with it: it is a
dangerous thing: it makes a man a coward:
a man cannot steal, but it accuseth him; he
cannot swear, but it checks him; he cannot
lie with his neighbor's wife, but it detects
him: 'tis a blushing shamefast spirit that
mutinies in a man's bosom; it fills one full of
obstacles: it made me once restore a purse of
gold that I found; it beggars any man that
keeps it: it is turned out of all towns and
cities for a dangerous thing; and every man
that means to live well endeavors to trust to
himself and to live without it.

First Murd.
'Zounds, it is even now at my (150)
elbow, persuading me not to kill the duke.

Sec. Murd.
Take the devil in thy mind,
and believe him not: he would insinuate with
thee but to make thee sigh.

First Murd.
Tut, I am strong-framed, he
cannot prevail with me, I warrant thee.

Sec. Murd.
Spoke like a tall fellow that respects
his reputation. Come, shall we to this

First Murd.
Take him over the costard
with the hilts of thy sword, and then we will
chop him in the malmsey-butt in the next (161)

Sec. Murd.
O excellent devise! make a sop
of him.

First Murd.
Hark! he stirs: shall I strike?

Sec. Murd.
No, first let's reason with him.

Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine.

Sec. Murd.
You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.

In God's name, what art thou? (170)

Sec. Murd.
A man, as you are.

But not, as I am, royal.

Sec. Murd.
Nor you, as we are, loyal.

Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.

Sec. Murd.
My voice is now the king's, my looks mine own.

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?

To, to, to--

To murder me?

Ay, ay. (180)

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 Murd.
Offended us you have not, but the king.

I shall be reconciled to him again.

Sec. Murd.
Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die.

Are you call'd forth from out a world of men

To slay the innocent? What is my offence?

Where are the evidence that do accuse me?

What lawful quest have given their verdict up

Unto the frowning judge? or who pronounced

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 Murd.
What we will do, we do upon command.

Sec. Murd.
And he that hath commanded is the king. (200)

Erroneous vassal! the great King of kings

Hath in the tables of his law commanded

That thou shalt do no murder: and wilt thou, then,

Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man's?

Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hands,

To hurl upon their heads that break his law.

Sec. Murd.
And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee,

For false forswearing and for murder too:

Thou didst receive the holy sacrament,

To fight in quarrel of the house of Lancaster.

First Murd.
And, like a traitor to the name of God,

Didst break that vow; and with thy treacherous blade

Unrip'dst the bowels of thy sovereign's son.

Sec. Murd.
Whom thou wert sworn to cherish and defend.

First Murd.
How canst thou urge God's dreadful law to us,

When thou hast broke it in so dear degree?

Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed?

For Edward, for my brother, for his sake:

Why, sirs,

He sends ye not to murder me for this; (220)

For in this sin he is as deep as I.

If God will be revenged for this deed,

O, know you yet, he doth it publicly:

Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm;

He needs no indirect nor lawless course

To cut off those that have offended him.

First Murd.
Who made thee, then, a bloody minister,

When gallant-springing brave Plantagenet,

That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?

My brother's love, the devil, and my rage. (230)

First Murd.
Thy brother's love, our duty, and thy fault,

Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.

Oh, if you love my brother, hate not me;

I am his brother, and I love him well.

If you be hired 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.

Sec. Murd.
You are deceived, your brother Gloucester hates you.

O, no, he loves me, and he holds me dear:

Go you to him from me.

Ay, so we will

Tell him, when that our princely father York

Bless'd his three sons with his victorious arm,

And charged 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 Murd.
Ay, millstones; as he lesson'd us to weep.

O, do not slander him, for he is kind.

First Murd.

As snow in harvest. Thou deceivest thyself:

'Tis he that sent us hither now to slaughter thee.

It cannot be; for when I parted with him,

He hugg'd me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,

That he would labor my delivery.

Sec. Murd.
Why, so he doth, now he delivers thee

From this world's thraldom to the joys of heaven.

First Murd.
Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.

Hast thou that holy feeling in thy soul,

To counsel me to make my peace with God,

And art thou yet to thy own soul so blind,

That thou wilt war with God by murdering me? (261)

Ah, sirs, consider, he that set you on

To do this deed will hate you for the deed.

Sec. Murd.
What shall we do?

Relent, and save your souls.

First Murd.
Relent! 'tis cowardly and womanish.

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? (270)

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?

Sec. Murd.
Look behind you, my lord.

First Murd.
Take that and that: if all this will not do, [Stabs him.

I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within. [Exit, with the body.

Sec. Murd.
A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch'd!

How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands (280)

Of this most grievous guilty murder done! Re-enter First Murderer.

First Murd.
How now! what mean'st thou, that thou help'st me not?

By heavens, the duke shall know how slack thou art!

Sec. Murd.
I would he knew that I had saved his brother!

Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say;

For I repent me that the duke is slain. [Exit.

First Murd.
So do not I: go, coward as thou art.

Now must I hide his body in some hole,

Until the duke take order for his burial: (289)

And when I have my meed, I must away;

For this will out, and here I must not stay.

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