A line-by-line translation

Richard III

Richard III Translation Act 1, Scene 4

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Enter CLARENCE and BRAKENBURY

BRAKENBURY

Why looks your grace so heavily today?

BRAKENBURY

Why do you look so sad today, your Grace?

CLARENCE

O, I have passed a miserable night, So full of ugly 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.

CLARENCE

Oh, I had a miserable night last night. It was so full of ugly dreams and terrifying visions that I swear I wouldn't choose to spend another night like it—even if it bought me a lifetime of happy days.

BRAKENBURY

What was your dream, my lord? I pray you tell me.

BRAKENBURY

What was your dream, my lord? Please tell me.

CLARENCE

Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower And was embarked to cross to Burgundy, And in my company my brother Gloucester, Who from my cabin tempted me to walk Upon the hatches. Thence we looked toward England And cited up a thousand fearful times, During the wars of York and Lancaster That had befall'n us. As we paced along Upon the giddy footing of the hatches, Methought that Gloucester 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 wracks, Ten thousand men that fishes gnawed upon, Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl, Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels, All scattered 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 wooed the slimy bottom of the deep And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.

CLARENCE

I dreamed that I had broken out of the Tower and was on a ship to France, and my brother Richard was with me. He persuaded me to leave my cabin and walk on the boat's deck with him. From there we looked toward England and reminisced about our many frightening experiences during the wars between the Yorks and the Lancasters. As we paced along the boards of the deck, Richard seemed to stumble, and as I tried to grab him he knocked me overboard into the rolling waves. Oh Lord, how painful it was to drown—with the dreadful noise of water in my ears and the ugly visions of death in my eyes. I seemed to see a thousand shipwrecks; ten thousand men whose bodies had been gnawed by fish; bars of gold; huge anchors; heaps of pearls; and vast amounts of priceless jewels, all scattered on the bottom of the sea. Some of the jewels lay inside of dead men's skulls. And they had crept into their empty eye sockets—so that they looked like false eyes. The gems reflected the slimy bottom of the ocean floor, and mocked the dead bones that lay scattered around.

BRAKENBURY

Had you such leisure in the time of death To gaze upon the secrets of the deep?

BRAKENBURY

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CLARENCE

Methought I had, and often did I strive To yield the ghost, but still the envious flood Stopped in my soul and would not let it forth To find the empty, vast, and wand'ring air, But smothered it within my panting bulk, Who almost burst to belch it in the sea.

CLARENCE

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BRAKENBURY

Awaked you not in this sore agony?

BRAKENBURY

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CLARENCE

No, no, my dream was lengthened after life. O, then began the tempest to my soul. I passed, methought, the melancholy flood, With that sour 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, renownèd Warwick, Who cried aloud, “What scourge for perjury Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?” And so he vanished. Then came wand'ring by A shadow like an angel, with bright hair Dabbled in blood, and he shrieked out aloud "Clarence is come—false, fleeting, perjured Clarence, That stabbed me in the field by Tewkesbury. Seize on him, furies. Take him unto torment." With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends Environed me 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 my dream.

CLARENCE

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BRAKENBURY

No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you. I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.

BRAKENBURY

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CLARENCE

Ah keeper, keeper, I have done those 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 avenged 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.

CLARENCE

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BRAKENBURY

I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest.

BRAKENBURY

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CLARENCE sleeps

BRAKENBURY

Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours, Makes the night morning, and the noontide night. Princes have but their titles for their glories, An outward honor for an inward toil, And, for unfelt imaginations, They often feel a world of restless cares, So that betwixt their titles and low name There's nothing differs but the outward fame.

BRAKENBURY

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Enter the two MURDERERS

FIRST MURDERER

Ho, who’s here?

FIRST MURDERER

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BRAKENBURY

What wouldst thou, fellow? And how cam’st thou hither?

BRAKENBURY

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SECOND MURDERER

I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.

SECOND MURDERER

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BRAKENBURY

What, so brief?

BRAKENBURY

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FIRST MURDERER

'Tis better, sir, to be brief than tedious.—Let him seeour commission, and talk no more.

FIRST MURDERER

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BRAKENBURY reads the paper

BRAKENBURY

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 from the meaning. There lies the duke asleep, and there the keys. [He hands them the keys] I’ll to the king and signify to him That thus I have resigned my charge to you.

BRAKENBURY

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FIRST MURDERER

You may, sir. 'Tis a point of wisdom. Fare you well.

FIRST MURDERER

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Exit BRAKENBURY

SECOND MURDERER

What, shall I stab him as he sleeps?

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

No. He’ll say ’twas done cowardly, when he wakes.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Why, he shall never wake until the great Judgment Day.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Why, then he’ll say we stabbed him sleeping.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

The urging of that word “judgment” hath bred a kind of remorse in me.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

What, art thou afraid?

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Not to kill him, having a warrant, but to be damned for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

I thought thou hadst been resolute.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

So I am—to let him live.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

I’ll back to the duke of Gloucester and tell him so.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Nay, I prithee stay a little. I hope this passionate humor of mine will change. It was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

How dost thou feel thyself now?

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Remember our reward when the deed’s done.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Zounds, he dies! I had forgot the reward.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Where’s thy conscience now?

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

O, in the duke of Gloucester’s purse.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

So when he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

'Tis no matter. Let it go. There’s few or none will entertain it.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

What if it come to thee again?

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

I’ll not meddle with it. It makes a man a coward: a mancannot steal but it accuseth him; a man cannot swear but it checks him; a man cannot lie with his neighbor’s wife but it detects him. 'Tis a blushing, shamefaced 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 endeavors to trust to himself and live without it.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Zounds, ’tis even now at my elbow, persuading me not tokill the duke.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Take the devil in thy mind, and believe him not. He would insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

I am strong-framed. He cannot prevail with me.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Spoke like a tall man that respects thy reputation. Come, shall we fall to work?

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Take him on the costard with the hilts of thy sword, and then throw him into the malmsey butt in the next room.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

O excellent device— and make a sop of him.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Soft, he wakes.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Strike!

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

No, we’ll reason with him.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE wakes

CLARENCE

Where art thou, keeper? Give me a cup of wine.

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.

SECOND MURDERER

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CLARENCE

In God’s name, what art thou?

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

A man, as you are.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

But not, as I am, royal.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Nor you, as we are, loyal.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

My voice is now the king’s, my looks mine own.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

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?

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

To, to, to—

SECOND MURDERER

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CLARENCE

To murder me?

CLARENCE

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BOTH MURDERERS

Ay, ay.

BOTH MURDERERS

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CLARENCE

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?

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Offended us you have not, but the king.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

I shall be reconciled to him again.

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

Never, my lord. Therefore prepare to die.

SECOND MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Are you drawn forth among a world of men To slay the innocent? What is my offense? Where is the evidence that doth 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? 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.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

What we will do, we do upon command.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

And he that hath commanded is our king.

SECOND MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Erroneous vassals, the great King of kings Hath in the tables of His law commanded That thou shalt do no murder. Will thou then Spurn at His edict and fulfill a man’s? Take heed, for He holds vengeance in His hand To hurl upon their heads that break His law.

CLARENCE

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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.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

And, like a traitor to the name of God,Didst break that vow, and with thy treacherous blade Unrippedst the bowels of thy sovereign’s son.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

Whom thou wert sworn to cherish and defend.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to usWhen thou hast broke it in such dear degree?

FIRST MURDERER

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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 avengèd for this 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.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Who made thee then a bloody ministerWhen gallant-springing, brave Plantagenet, That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

My brother’s love, the devil, and my rage.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Thy brother’s love, our duty, and thy faultsProvoke us hither now to slaughter thee.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

If you do love my brother, hate not me. I am his brother, and I love him well. If you are hired for meed, go back again, And I will send you to my brother Gloucester, Who shall reward you better for my life Than Edward will for tidings of my death.

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

You are deceived. Your brother Gloucester hates you.

SECOND MURDERER

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CLARENCE

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

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Ay, so we will.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Tell him, when that our princely father York Blessed his three sons with his victorious arm, And charged us from his soul to love each other, He little thought of this divided friendship. Bid Gloucester think of this, and he will weep.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Ay, millstones, as he lessoned us to weep.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

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

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

As snow in harvest. Come, you deceive yourself.'Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

It cannot be, for he bewept my fortune,And hugged me in his arms, and swore with sobsThat he would labor my delivery.

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

Why, so he doth, when he delivers youFrom this earth’s thralldom to the joys of heaven.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

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

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Have you that holy feeling in your souls To counsel me to make my peace with God, And art you yet to your own souls so blind That thou will war with God by murd'ring me? O sirs, consider: they that set you on To do this deed will hate you for the deed.

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

[to FIRST MURDERER] What shall we do?

SECOND MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Relent, and save your souls. 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 you not entreat for life? Ay, you would beg, Were you in my distress.

CLARENCE

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FIRST MURDERER

Relent? No. 'Tis cowardly and womanish.

FIRST MURDERER

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CLARENCE

Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish. [to SECOND MURDERER] 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. A begging prince what beggar pities not?

CLARENCE

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SECOND MURDERER

Look behind you, my lord.

SECOND MURDERER

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FIRST MURDERER

Take that, and that. [stabs CLARENCE] If all this will not do,I’ll drown you in the malmsey butt within.

FIRST MURDERER

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Exit with the body

SECOND MURDERER

A bloody deed, and desperately dispatched. How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my handsOf this most grievous murder.

SECOND MURDERER

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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.

FIRST MURDERER

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SECOND MURDERER

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.

SECOND MURDERER

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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.

FIRST MURDERER

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Exit

Richard iii
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.