From King Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard.
Abbreviations. — A.-S. = Anglo-Saxon: M.E. = Middle
English (from the 13th to the 15th century) ; Fr. = French ;
Ger. = German ; Gr. = Greek ; Cf. = compare (Lat. confer) ;
Abbott refers to the excellent Shakespearean Grammar of Dr.
Abbott; Schmidt, to Dr. Schmidt's invaluable Shakespeare Lexicon.
2. Sun of York, an allusion to the cognizance of Edward IV — a blazing sun, adopted by him in memory of the three
suns which appeared the day before the battle of Mortimer's Cross, fought in 1461.
6. The helmet which Henry V wore at Agincourt still hangs over his tomb in Westminster Abbey.
7. Alarums, calls to arms, as by beat of drum, or trumpet call. Italian all'arme, to arms! from Lat. ad ilia arma, to those arms! to your arms!
8. Measures, grave and formal dances.
10. Barbed, armed and harnessed. The word is a corruption of barded, through Fr., from Lat. bardatus.
11. Fearful, full of fear. It is now used only in an active
sense, as causing fear.
12. He, war, personified as a soldier. Capers, dances or leaps like a goat. Lat. capra, a she-goat.
13. Lute, a stringed musical instrument, somewhat like a
18. Proportion, form or shape.
19. Feature, the whole outward form.
21. Made up, finished, completed.
22. Unfashionable, an adverb. Sometimes when two adverbs are joined together by and, the -ly of the one is
omitted, the one termination serving for both. Cf. Julius Caesar, II. i. 224: "Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily."
24. Piping time. The tabor and the pipe were emblems of
peace, as opposed to the drum and the fife, emblems of war.
27. Descant, to comment. The word was originally a musical term, and was applied to a variation upon the plain
song, or simple melody.
29. Entertain, to pass agreeably.
32. Inductions, the beginnings of mischief.
33. Libels, defamatory writings. M.E. libel, a brief piece of writing, from Lat. libellus, a little book, a notice.
36. As true and just, and therefore the less suspicious of
foul play on my part.
38. Mew'd up, shut up, imprisoned. The word mew (Old Fr. mue, from Lat. mutare, to change) meant originally a moulting-place, a cage for hawks while mewing or moulting.
Cf. Chaucer's Squieres Tale (line 643): "And by her beddes heed she made a mewe."
39. Prophecy. Some have reported, that the cause of this noble mans death rose of a foolish prophesie, which was,
that after K. Edward one should reigne, whose first letter of his name should be a G. Wherewith the king and queene
were sore troubled, and began to conceiue a greeuous grudge against this duke, and could not be in quiet till they had
brought him to his end. And as the diuell is woont to incumber the minds of men which delite in such diuelish
fantasies, they said afterward, that that prophesie lost not his effect, when after king Edward Glocester usurped his
49. Belike, probably.
55. Cross-row, the alphabet, so named because a cross was
formerly placed at the beginning, called also Christ-cross-row.
58. For = because.
60. Toys, idle fancies, foolish causes.
62. This it is, this is the consequence.
64. My Lady Grey. Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of Sir John Grey, who was killed at the second battle of St.
Albans, in 1461. Edward IV married her in 1464.
60. Worship, dignity.
72. Heralds, messengers. Old Fr. heralt, a word of Teutonic origin; Old Ger. herolt (modern Ger. herold), for hari-wald, army strength, a name for a warrior; hari (modern Ger.
heer), an army, and walt, (modern Ger. g-walt), strength.
73. Mistress Shore, the celebrated mistress of Edward IV. Her husband, whom she deserted for the king, was a
wealthy London merchant. After the death of her royal paramour, she fell into great poverty and distress, and, according to tradition, died miserably in a ditch, known ever after as Shoreditch.
77. Chamberlain. Lord Hastings was created Lord Chamberlain by Edward IV soon alter his coronation. He had
been imprisoned in the Tower for a short time during Edward's reign, by the instigation of the queen's family.
78. Our way, our best course.
80. Livery, the distinctive dress worn by retainers or servants, so called because delivered or given out at regular
periods. Fr. livree, past participle of livrer, to deliver, from Lat. liberare, to set free, give freely.
81. O'er-worn, worn-out, faded. The queen, however, was
now (1471) only thirty-four years of age, five years older than
83. Gossip, a term conveying a sense of contempt. The word meant originally a sponsor at baptism, and from signifying those who were associated in the festivities of a christening, it came to denote generally those who were accustomed to make merry together. M.E. gossib, also godsib, related in God, from God, God, and sib, related. The word
sib is still current in Scotland in the sense of related.
88. An 't, if it.
89. Partake, share in the hearing of.
94. Passing, exceedingly, an adverb.
99. Naught, from A.-S. nawiht, also naht, made up of na, not
and wiht, a whit. Its derivative naught-y means literally
naught-like, therefore worthless, bad.
100. The phrases I were best, thou were best, he were best, are due to an old impersonal idiom: me were liefer = it
would be most pleasant to me, me were loth, him were better, etc.
107. I will unto the king. This ellipsis of the verb of motion after will or is, is very common; see in the present play, I. i. 116; II. iv. 66; III. ii. 31: IV. iv. 6; V. iii. 46. See Abbott's
Shakespearean Grammar, sect. 405.
115. Lie, lie in prison, either in your stead, or as a consequence of my exertions in your behalf.
116. An allusion to the old proverb, "Patience, perforce is
medicine to a mad dog."
122. Good time of day, a common form of salutation.
131. Prevail'd = had influence.
137. Fear = fear for him.
139. Diet = the whole method of life.
145. George, the Duke of Clarence. Posthorse, used as an
emblem for swiftness.
147. Steel'd, strengthened or supported.
152. The youngest daughter of the Earl of Warwick was Anne, who was married, perhaps merely betrothed, to Edward, son of Henry VI. She is incorrectly spoken of as the eldest daughter in Henry VI, Part III., III. iii. 242.
153. Shakespeare follows the traditional account, which makes it Richard who stabbed to death the young prince
after the battle of Tewksbury, and in Henry VI, Part III, V. v. 39, he is represented as actually murdering him. In I.
iv. 56, it is ascribed to Clarence on the best authority — that of the ghost of the murdered man. Richard does not mean to
claim that he killed Warwick actually with his own hand at the battle of Barnet, but that, as he led the vanguard of
King Edward's army, and had the principal share of the battle, the great kingmaker's death was indirectly due to
156. The which. Which being an adjective, frequently accompanies the repeated antecedent, where definiteness is
desired, or where care must be taken to select the right antecedent. This repetition is more common with the definite the which. Cf. Henry IV, Part I., V. iv. 121: "The
better part of valor is discretion; in the which better part I
have saved my life."
157. Referring to his design upon the crown, but it is difficult to understand how his marriage with Anne could help
him in this ambition.
It might, however, procure him a share in the immense estates of the lady's father, Richard Neville, the great Earl
of Warwick, known in history as the "king-maker," the "setter-up and puller-down of kings," as Shakespeare puts it.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_1_1.html >.