Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Adrian Kiernander
Peer Reviewed

Richard the Third (Folio 1, 1623)

The Life and Death of Richard the Third.
During the warres of Yorke and Lancaster
That had befalne vs. As we pac'd along
Vpon the giddy footing of the Hatches,
Me thought that Glouster stumbled, and in falling
855Strooke me (that thought to stay him) ouer-boord,
Into the tumbling billowes of the maine.
O Lord, me thought what paine it was to drowne,
What dreadfull noise of water in mine eares,
What sights of vgly death within mine eyes.
860Me thoughts, I saw a thousand fearfull wrackes:
A thousand men that Fishes gnaw'd vpon:
Wedges of Gold, great Anchors, heapes of Pearle,
Inestimable Stones, vnvalewed Iewels,
All scattred in the bottome of the Sea,
865Some lay in dead-mens Sculles, and in the holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept
(As 'twere in scorne of eyes) reflecting Gemmes,
That woo'd the slimy bottome of the deepe,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scattred by.
870Keep. Had you such leysure in the time of death
To gaze vpon these secrets of the deepe?
Cla. Me thought I had, and often did I striue
To yeeld the Ghost: but still the enuious Flood
Stop'd in my soule, and would not let it forth
875To find the empty, vast, and wand'ring ayre:
But smother'd it within my panting bulke,
Who almost burst, to belch it in the Sea.
Keep. Awak'd you not in this sore Agony?
Clar. No, no, my Dreame was lengthen'd after life.
880O then, began the Tempest to my Soule.
I past (me thought) the Melancholly Flood,
With that sowre Ferry-man which Poets write of,
Vnto the Kingdome of perpetuall Night.
The first that there did greet my Stranger-soule,
885Was my great Father-in-Law, renowned Warwicke,
Who spake alowd: What scourge for Periurie,
Can this darke Monarchy affoord false Clarence?
And so he vanish'd. Then came wand'ring by,
A Shadow like an Angell, with bright hayre
890Dabbel'd in blood, and he shriek'd out alowd
Clarence is come, false, fle eting, periur'd Clarence,
That stabb'd me in the field by Tewkesbury:
Seize on him Furies, take him vnto Torment.
With that (me thought) a Legion of foule Fiends
895Inuiron'd me, and howled in mine eares
Such hiddeous cries, that with the very Noise,
I (trembling) wak'd, and for a season after,
Could not beleeue, but that I was in Hell,
Such terrible Impression made my Dreame.
900Keep. No maruell Lord, though it affrighted you,
I am affraid (me thinkes) to heare you tell it.
Cla. Ah Keeper, Keeper, I haue done these things
(That now giue euidence against my Soule)
For Edwards sake, and see how he requits mee.
905O God! if my deepe prayres cannot appease thee,
But thou wilt be aueng'd on my misdeeds,
Yet execute thy wrath in me alone:
O spare my guiltlesse Wife, and my poore children.
Keeper, I prythee sit by me a-while,
910My Soule is heauy, and I faine would sleepe.
Keep. I will my Lord, God giue your Grace good rest.

Enter Brakenbury the Lieutenant.

Bra. Sorrow breakes Seasons, and reposing houres,
Makes the Night Morning, and the Noon-tide night:
915Princes haue but their Titles for their Glories,
An outward Honor, for an inward Toyle,
And for vnfelt Imaginations
They often feele a world of restlesse Cares:
So that betweene their Titles, and low Name,
920There's nothing differs, but the outward fame.

Enter two Murtherers.

1. Mur. Ho, who's heere?
Bra. What would'st thou Fellow? And how camm'st
thou hither.
9252. Mur. I would speak with Clarence, and I came hi-
ther on my Legges.
Bra. What so breefe?
1. 'Tis better (Sir) then to be tedious:
Let him see our Commission, and talke no more. Reads
930Bra. I am in this, commanded to deliuer
The Noble Duke of Clarence to your hands.
I will not reason what is meant heereby,
Because I will be guiltlesse from the meaning.
There lies the Duke asleepe, and there the Keyes.
935Ile to the King, and signifie to him,
That thus I haue resign'd to you my charge. Exit.
1 You may sir, 'tis a point of wisedome:
Far you well.
2 What, shall we stab him as he sleepes.
9401 No: hee'l say 'twas done cowardly, when he wakes
2 Why he shall neuer wake, vntill the great Iudge-
ment day.
1 Why then hee'l say, we stab'd him sleeping.
2 The vrging of that word Iudgement, hath bred a
945kinde of remorse in me.
1 What? art thou affraid?
2 Not to kill him, hauing a Warrant,
But to be damn'd for killing him, from the which
No Warrant can defend me.
9501 I thought thou had'st bin resolute.
2 So I am, to let him liue.
1 Ile backe to the Duke of Glouster, and tell him so.
2 Nay, I prythee stay a little:
I hope this passionate humor of mine, will change,
955It was wont to hold me but while one tels twenty.
1 How do'st thou feele thy selfe now?
2 Some certaine dregges of conscience are yet with-
in mee.
1 Remember our Reward, when the deed's done.
9602 Come, he dies: I had forgot the Reward.
1 Where's thy conscience now.
2 O, in the Duke of Glousters purse.
1 When hee opens his purse to giue vs our Reward,
thy Conscience flyes out.
9652 'Tis no matter, let it goe: There's few or none will
entertaine it.
1 What if it come to thee againe?
2 Ile not meddle with it, it makes a man a Coward:
A man cannot steale, but it accuseth him: A man cannot
970Sweare, but it Checkes him: A man cannot lye with his
Neighbours Wife, but it detects him. 'Tis a blushing
shamefac'd spirit, that mutinies in a mans bosome: It
filles a man full of Obstacles. It made me once restore a
Pursse of Gold that (by chance) I found: It beggars any
975man that keepes it: It is turn'd out of Townes and Cit-
ties for a dangerous thing, and euery man that means to
liue well, endeuours to trust to himselfe, and liue with-
out it.
1 'Tis