Richard III By William Shakespeare Act I

FIRST MURDERER.
What we will do, we do upon command.

SECOND MURDERER.
And he that hath commanded is our king.

CLARENCE.
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.

SECOND MURDERER.
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.

FIRST MURDERER.
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.

SECOND MURDERER.
Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.

FIRST MURDERER.
How canst thou urge God's dreadful law to us,
When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?

CLARENCE.
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.

FIRST MURDERER.
Who made thee, then, a bloody minister
When gallant-springing brave Plantagenet,
That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?

CLARENCE.
My brother's love, the devil, and my rage.

FIRST MURDERER.
Thy brother's love, our duty, and thy faults,
Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.

CLARENCE.
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.

SECOND MURDERER.
You are deceiv'd, your brother Gloster hates you.

CLARENCE.
O, no, he loves me, and he holds me dear:
Go you to him from me.

FIRST MURDERER.
Ay, so we will.

CLARENCE.
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.

FIRST MURDERER.
Ay, millstones; as he lesson'd us to weep.

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

FIRST MURDERER.
Right, as snow in harvest. — Come, you deceive yourself:
'Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.

CLARENCE.
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.

FIRST MURDERER.
Why, so he doth, when he delivers you
From this earth's thraldom to the joys of heaven.

SECOND MURDERER.
Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.

CLARENCE.
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.

SECOND MURDERER.
What shall we do?

CLARENCE.
Relent, and save your souls.

FIRST MURDERER.
Relent! 'tis cowardly and womanish.

CLARENCE.
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?

SECOND MURDERER.
Look behind you, my lord.

FIRST MURDERER.
[Stabs him.]
Take that, and that: if all this will not do,
I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within.

[Exit with the body.]

SECOND MURDERER.
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.]

FIRST MURDERER.
How now, what mean'st thou that thou help'st me not?
By heavens, the duke shall know how slack you have
been!

SECOND MURDERER.
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.

[Exit.]

FIRST MURDERER.
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.

[Exit.]

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