Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 4

page Act 1 Scene 4 Page 9

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SECOND MURDERER

And he that hath commanded is our king.

SECOND MURDERER

And the one who commands us is our king.

CLARENCE

180Erroneous 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
185To hurl upon their heads that break His law.

CLARENCE

Wrong-headed slaves, the King of kings says in his Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not murder.” Will you defy God and obey a man? Be careful. God takes revenge on those who break His laws.

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

He does, and now he’s taking revenge on you—for breaking promises and for murder, too. You took a holy oath to fight for King Henry VI.

FIRST MURDERER

190And, 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

And like a traitor to God, you broke that oath and savagely murdered King Henry’s young son.

SECOND MURDERER

Whom thou wert sworn to cherish and defend.

SECOND MURDERER

Whom you swore you would protect and defend.

FIRST MURDERER

How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to us
195When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?

FIRST MURDERER

How dare you tell us about God’s laws when you have broken them so savagely yourself?

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.
200If 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

But for whose sake did I do that sick deed? For my brother Edward’s sake. He couldn’t be sending you to murder me for that sin, because he’s the one who asked me to commit it. He is as guilty as I am. If God will be revenged for this deed, he will do it publicly. God doesn’t need to use indirect or illegal means to kill those who have offended him.