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  • Title: Richard the Third (Modern)
  • Editor: Adrian Kiernander

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Adrian Kiernander
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Richard the Third (Modern)

    Enter Clarence, Brakenbury.
    Why looks your grace so heavily today?
    Oh, I have passed a miserable night,
    So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
    840That 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 I was embarked for Burgundy,
    And in my company my brother Gloucester
    Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
    Upon the hatches; thence we looked toward England
    850And cited up a thousand fearful times
    During the wars of York and Lancaster
    That had befallen us. As we paced along
    Upon the giddy footing of the hatches
    Methought that Gloucester stumbled, and in stumbling
    855Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard
    Into the tumbling billows of the main.
    Lord, Lord, methought what pain it was to drown,
    What dreadful noise of waters in my ears,
    What ugly sights of death within my eyes:
    860Methought I saw a thousand fearful wracks,
    Ten thousand men that fishes gnawed upon,
    Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
    Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels;
    865Some lay in dead men's skulls, and in those holes
    Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
    As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems
    Which wooed the slimy bottom of the deep
    And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.
    Had you such leisure in the time of death
    To gaze upon the secrets of the deep?
    Methought I had, for still the envious flood
    Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
    875To seek the empty, vast and wandering air,
    But smothered it within my panting bulk
    Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
    Awaked you not with this sore agony?
    Oh no, my dream was lengthened after life.
    880Oh, then began the tempest to my soul,
    Who passed, 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
    885Was my great father-in-law, renownèd Warwick,
    Who cried aloud, "What scourge for perjury
    Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?"
    And so he vanished; then came wandring by
    A shadow like an angel in bright hair,
    890Dabbled in blood, and he squeaked out aloud,
    "Clarence is come, false, fleeting, perjured Clarence
    That stabbed me in the field by Tewkesbury.
    Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments."
    With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
    895Environed me about and howled in mine ears
    Such hideous cries that with the very noise
    I trembling waked, 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.
    I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;
    910My 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 noontide night.
    915Princes have but their titles for their glories,
    An outward honor for an inward toil,
    And for unfelt imagination
    They often feel a world of restless cares;
    So that betwixt their titles and low names
    920There's nothing differs but the outward fame.
    The executioners enter.
    In God's name, what are you, and how came you hither?
    9251 Executioner
    I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
    Yea, are you so brief?
    2 Executioner
    Oh sir, it is better to be brief than tedious.
    [To the first executioner] Show him our commission, talk no more.
    [The first executioner gives the commission to Brakenbury, who] 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;
    935I'll to his majesty, and certify his grace
    That thus I have resigned my charge to you.
    1 Executioner
    Do so, it is a point of wisdom.
    2 Executioner
    What, shall I stab him as he sleeps?
    9401 Executioner
    No, then he will say it was done cowardly when he wakes.
    2 Executioner
    When he wakes? Why, fool, he shall never wake till the judgment day.
    1 Executioner
    Why, then he will say we stabbed him sleeping.
    2 Executioner
    The urging of that word "judgment" hath bred a 945kind of remorse in me.
    1 Executioner
    What? Art thou afraid?
    2 Executioner
    Not to kill him, having a warrant for it, but to be damned for killing him, from which no warrant can defend us.
    1 Executioner
    Back to the Duke of Gloucester, tell him so.
    2 Executioner
    I pray thee stay a while, I hope my holy humor will change; 955'twas wont to hold me but while one would tell twenty.
    [He counts to twenty.]
    1 Executioner
    How dost thou feel thyself now?
    2 Executioner
    Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
    1 Executioner
    Remember our reward when the deed is done.
    9602 Executioner
    Zounds, he dies! I had forgot the reward.
    1 Executioner
    Where is thy conscience now?
    2 Executioner
    In the Duke of Gloucester's purse.
    1 Executioner
    So when he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.
    9652 Executioner
    Let it go, there's few or none will entertain it.
    1 Executioner
    How if it come to thee again?
    2 Executioner
    I'll not meddle with it, it is a dangerous thing. It makes a man a coward: a man cannot steal but it accuses him; he cannot 970swear but it checks him; he cannot lie with his neighbor's wife but it detects him. It is a blushing shamefaced 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 975man 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.
    1 Executioner
    Zounds, it is even now at my elbow persuading me not to 980kill the Duke.
    2 Executioner
    Take the devil in thy mind and believe him not. He would insinuate with thee to make thee sigh.
    1 Executioner
    Tut, I am strong in fraud, he cannot prevail with me, I warrant thee.
    2 Executioner
    Spoke like a tall fellow that respects his reputation. 985Come, shall we to this gear?
    1 Executioner
    Take him over the costard with the hilts of thy sword, and then we will chop him in the malmsey butt in the next room.
    2 Executioner
    Oh, excellent device, make a sop of him.
    9901 Executioner
    Hark, he stirs, shall I strike?
    2 Executioner
    No, first let's reason with him.
    Where art thou, keeper, give me a cup of wine.
    1 Executioner
    You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
    In God's name, what art thou?
    2 Executioner
    A man, as you are.
    But not as I am, royal.
    2 Executioner
    Nor you as we are, loyal.
    Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.
    10002 Executioner
    My voice is now the King's, my looks mine own.
    How darkly and how deadly dost thou speak.
    Tell me who are you, wherefore come you hither?
    To, to, to. . .
    To murder me?
    Both Aye.
    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?
    10101 Executioner
    Offended us you have not, but the King.
    I shall be reconciled to him again.
    2 Executioner
    Never, my lord, therefore prepare to die.
    Are you called forth from out a world of men
    To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
    1015Where 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?
    1020To threaten me with death is most unlawful.
    I charge you as you hope to have redemption,
    1021.1By Christ's dear blood shed for our grievous sins,
    That you depart and lay no hands on me.
    The deed you undertake is damnable.
    1 Executioner
    What we will do, we do upon command.
    10252 Executioner
    And he that hath commanded is the King.
    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 fulfill a man's?
    1030Take heed, for he holds vengeance in his hands
    To hurl upon their heads that break his law.
    2 Executioner
    And that same vengeance doth he throw on thee
    For false forswearing, and for murder too.
    Thou didst receive the holy sacrament
    1035To fight in quarrel of the House of Lancaster . . .
    1 Executioner
    And like a traitor to the name of God
    Didst break that vow, and with thy treacherous blade
    Unripped the bowels of thy sovereign's son. . .
    2 Executioner
    Whom thou wert sworn to cherish and defend.
    10401 Executioner
    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,
    1045For in this sin he is as deep as I.
    If God will be revengèd for this deed,
    Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm.
    He needs no indirect nor lawless course
    1050To cut off those that have offended him.
    1 Executioner
    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.
    10551 Executioner
    Thy brother's love, the devil and thy fault
    Have brought us hither now to murder 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
    1060And I will send you to my brother Gloucester
    Who will reward you better for my life
    Than Edward will for tidings of my death.
    2 Executioner
    You are deceived, your brother Gloucester hates you.
    Oh no, he loves me, and he holds me dear.
    Go you to him from me.
    Aye, so we will.
    Tell him, when that our princely father York
    Blessed his three sons with his victorious arm
    1069.1And charged us from his soul to love each other,
    1070He little thought of this divided friendship.
    Bid Gloucester think of this and he will weep.
    Aye, millstones, as he lessoned us to weep.
    Oh do not slander him for he is kind.
    1 Executioner
    Right, as snow in harvest; 1075thou deceiv'st thyself.
    'Tis he hath sent us hither now to slaughter thee.
    It cannot be, for when I parted with him
    He hugged me in his arms, and swore with sobs
    That he would labor my delivery.
    10802 Executioner
    Why so he doth, now he delivers thee
    From this world's thralldom to the joys of heaven.
    1 Executioner
    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,
    1085And art thou yet to thy own soul so blind
    That thou wilt war with God by murdering me?
    Ah sirs, consider, he that set you on
    To do this deed will hate you for this deed.
    2 Executioner
    What shall we do?
    Relent, and save your souls.
    1 Executioner
    Relent, 'tis cowardly and womanish.
    Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.
    [to the second executioner]
    My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks.
    Oh, if thy eye be not a flatterer,
    1100Come thou on my side and entreat for me;
    A begging prince, what beggar pities not?
    1 Executioner
    He stabs him [or hits him on the head with the hilt of his sword.]
    Aye, thus, and thus: if this will not serve,
    I'll chop thee in the malmsey butt in the next room.
    [Exit with the wounded or unconscious Clarence.]
    11052 Executioner
    A bloody deed and desperately performed.
    How fain like Pilate would I wash my hand
    Of this most grievous, guilty murder done.
    [The first executioner re-enters.]
    1 Executioner
    Why dost thou not help me?
    By heavens, the Duke shall know how slack thou 1110art.
    2 Executioner
    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.
    1 Executioner
    So do not I; go, coward as thou art.
    1115Now must I hide his body in some hole
    Until the Duke take order for his burial,
    And when I have my meed I must away
    For this will out and here I must not stay.