Act I - Act I, Scene 4
SCENE IV. London. A Room in the Tower.
[Enter CLARENCE and BRAKENBURY.]
Why looks your grace so heavily to-day?
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!
What was your dream, my lord? I pray you tell me.
Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
And, in my company, my brother Gloster;
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 Gloster 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 scatter'd by.
Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
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 wandering air;
But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
Who almost burst to belch it in the sea.
Awak'd you not in this sore agony?
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 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 spake 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 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 to your torments!"
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.
No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you;
I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.
Ah, Brakenbury, 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.
I will, my lord; God give your grace good rest!--
[CLARENCE reposes himself on a chair.]
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.]
Ho! who's here?
What wouldst thou, fellow, and how cam'st thou hither?
I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
What, so brief?
'Tis better, sir, than to be tedious.--Let
him see our commission and talk no more.
[A paper is delivered 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.
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.
You may, sir; 'tis a point of wisdom: fare you well.
What, shall we stab him as he sleeps?
No; he'll say 'twas done cowardly, when he wakes.
When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake until the great
Why, then he'll say we stabb'd him sleeping.
The urging of that word "judgment" hath bred a kind of remorse in
What, art thou afraid?
Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to be damned
for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.
I thought thou hadst been resolute.
So I am, to let him live.
I'll back to the Duke of Gloster and tell him so.
Nay, I pr'ythee, stay a little: I hope my holy humour will
change; it was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
How dost thou feel thyself now?
Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
Remember our reward, when the deed's done.
Zounds, he dies: I had forgot the reward.
Where's thy conscience now?
O, in the Duke of Gloster's purse.
So, when he opens his purse to give us our reward,
thy conscience flies out.
'Tis no matter; let it go; there's few or none will entertain it.
What if it come to thee again?
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-
faced 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 turned 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.
Zounds,'tis even now at my elbow, persuading me
not to kill the duke.
Take the devil in thy mind, and believe him not; he would
insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.
I am strong-framed; he cannot prevail with me.
Spoke like a tall man that respects thy reputation.
Come, shall we fall to work?
Take him on the costard with the hilts of thy sword,
and then throw him in the malmsey-butt in the next room.
O excellent device! and make a sop of him.
Soft! he wakes.
No, we'll reason with him.
Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine.
You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
In God's name, what art thou?
A man, as you are.
But not as I am, royal.
Nor you as we are, loyal.
Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.
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?
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?
Offended us you have not, but the king.
I shall be reconcil'd to him again.
Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die.
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.
What we will do, we do upon command.
And he that hath commanded is our king.
Erroneous vassals! the great King of kings
Hath in the table 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.
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.
And like a traitor to the name of God
Didst break that vow; and with thy treacherous blade
Unripp'dst the bowels of thy sovereign's son.
Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.
How canst thou urge God's dreadful law to us,
When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?
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 powerful arm;
He needs no indirect or lawless course
To cut off those that have offended Him.
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.
Thy brother's love, our duty, and thy faults,
Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.
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 Gloster,
Who shall reward you better for my life
Than Edward will for tidings of my death.
You are deceiv'd, your brother Gloster 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 charg'd us from his soul to love each other,
He little thought of this divided friendship:
Bid Gloster think of this, and he will weep.
Ay, millstones; as he lesson'd us to weep.
O, do not slander him, for he is kind.
Right, as snow in harvest.--Come, you deceive yourself:
'Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.
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.
Why, so he doth, when he delivers you
From this earth's thraldom to the joys of heaven.
Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
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 murdering me?--
O, sirs, consider, they that set you on
To do this deed will hate you for the deed.
What shall we do?
Relent, and save your souls.
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?--
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?
Look behind you, my lord.
Take that, and that: if all this will not do,
I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within.
[Exit with the body.]
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.]
How now, what mean'st thou that thou help'st me not?
By heavens, the duke shall know how slack you have
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.
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.
— Jamie Wheeler
Conscience would ingratiate himself with you with the purpose of causing grief.
— Jamie Wheeler
In some editions, "passionate." Either way, the meaning is "compassionate mood."
— Jamie Wheeler
A reference from Dr. Samuel Johnson, "For the sake of imaginary and unreal gratifications."
— Jamie Wheeler
Ghosts were often referred to as "shades" (i.e., a "shade" or "shadow") of one's former self.
The "shade" here is that of Edward, Prince of Wales. He was the son of Henry VI, and the brother-in-law of Clarence. Clarence assisted in the murder of Edward. (This murder is depicted in *Richard, Duke of York *5.5).
— Jamie Wheeler
The Furies appear in Greek mythology. They are female spirits who enact revenge for blood crimes against relatives.
— Jamie Wheeler
An allusion to the mythical river Styx in Hades, over which the ferryman, Charon, (the "sour ferryman" in the next line) crosses condemned souls into Hell.
— Jamie Wheeler
In some editions, "great ouches." Either way, ("anchors" or "ouches") what is being referred to here are gold or silver broaches, inlaid with jewels.
— Jamie Wheeler
"Hatches" are temporary walking paths made by boards lying across the hold of a ship to the shore or another surface.