Richard III By William Shakespeare Act I

SCENE IV. London. A Room in the Tower.


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

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