Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 3
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.
1. Majesty. Pronounced as a dissyllable.
6. Betide, become.
16. Miscarry, if any harm happen to the king.
17. Stanley was created Earl of Derby after the battle of
20. Countess Richmond, the mother of Henry VII, was a
grand-daughter of John of Gaunt. She married Edmund
Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who was the son of Henry V's
widow by her marriage with Owen Tudor. The Countess
next married Lord Henry Stafford, uncle of the Duke of
Buckingham of our play, and for her third husband, the
Lord Stanley of the play, afterwards created Earl of Derby.
31. But now, just now.
36. Atonement, at-onement, reconciliation.
46. Dissentious, apt to breed discord, seditious.
48. Cog, to cheat.
49. Duck, bow. There are many allusions in the literature
of Shakespeare's time to the affectation of imitating French
manners. Apish, imitative.
53. Jacks, paltry fellows.
61. Lewd, base. The word originally meant merely ignorant, hence lay, belonging to the laity.
64. Else, a superfluous word.
65-68. The fact that the king guesses at your hatred makes
him send. The participle with a nominative, originally intended to be absolute, has been diverted into a subject. The
grammar is hopelessly wrong.
82. Noble, a gold coin, worth 6s. 8d. The pun here is very
85. Careful, full of care.
89. Suspects, suspicions.
102. I wis = certainly. M.E. ywis, iwis, (A.-S. gewis, certain,
used also as an adverb), often written Iwis, I-wis. In the
A.-S. gewis, the ge- is a mere prefix, the adjective wis, certain,
is allied to wise and wit. This prefix is seen in yclept, and
appears as e- in enough, and a- in aware. (Skeat.)
117. Pains, exertions, laborious services.
121. Shakespeare here, as elsewhere throughout the play,
has disregarded the facts of history, for Richard was only
eight years old in 1460, when Edward first became king.
130. The second battle of St. Albans, fought in 1461, called
Margaret's battle, because the queen was victorious in it,
and in order to distinguish it from the first battle of St. Albans, fought in 1455, in which Henry VI was defeated.
135. Clarence was Warwick's son-in-law, having married
the king-maker's elder daughter, Isabel.
142. Childish-foolish. Adjectives were freely compounded
by Shakespeare, the first being considered as a kind of adverb qualifying the second. Thus, sudden-bold, daring-hardy,
crafty-sick, senseless-obstinate, deep-contemplative, strange-suspicious, etc.
144. Cacodemon, evil spirit. This pedantic word occurs
nowhere else in Shakespeare.
157. Patient is a trisyllable, as patience in line 246.
159. Pill'd, plundered.
163. Gentle is of course applied ironically.
164. What mak'st thou? what dost thou?
167. After Tewksbury, Margaret was confined in the Tower and was ransomed thence in 1475, and died in '82. Her introduction into this scene is an anachronism.
191-194. Had the curse which York laid upon me then so
much effect with Heaven that everything I have lost since
that time put together can count even now as only a bare
recompense for the murder of a silly child?
212. The superfluous pronoun inserted after the object, as
here, is not so common as after a proper name when it is
217. Heaven, used as a plural. See them, in line 219.
222. Begnaw. The prefix be- is intensive here.
228. Elvish-mark'd, marked and disfigured by malignant
fairies. Abortive, monstrous, unnatural. Rooting, turning up the ground as swine do. The allusion here is to the
white boar, which was the cognizance of Richard.
230. Slave of Nature. Nature from his very birth had
stamped upon him the brand with, which slaves were
239. Painted, counterfeit, unreal. Flourish, a mere empty
shadow, representing what I was in reality.
240. Bottled, big-bellied, bloated.
244. Bunch-back'd, hunchbacked.
253. Malapert, saucy.
254. Fire-new, new as if from the fire, brand-new. The title of Marquis of Dorset was granted in 1475 to Thomas Grey,
the queen's eldest son by her first husband.
262. Aery, the brood of an eagle or hawk; also an eagle's
nest. Fr. aire, through Low Lat. area, from the Teutonic, as
in Icelandic, ari, an eagle. When the word was fairly imported into English, it was ingeniously connected with the
M.E. ey, an egg, as if the word meant an egg-ery; hence it
came to be spelt eyrie or eyry, and to be misinterpreted
265. My son. Margaret quibbles upon words even in such
a highly excited state of mind.
311. Pronounce marry as a monosyllable.
312. Frank'd, shut up as in a frank, or pig-sty. To fatting, with a view to fatting.
315. Scathe, harm.
323. Set abroach, set agoing Cf. Romeo and Juliet, I. i. 3:
"Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach." The prefix a- is used before nouns and adjectives, and participles used as
nouns; and as the prefix in composition with participles and adjectives. Cf. abed, athirst, olive; agoing; ahanging,
acold; and afraid, athirst, anhungered. Broach is now used
only as a verb, but this instance is due to older substantive
326. Beweep. The prefix be gives a kind of transitive significance to a verb that would of itself require a preposition.
Similarly, begnaw, behowl, bespeak, etc. Gulls, dupes.
332. A Piece of Scripture, a quotation from the Bible.
335. Odd old ends, detached quotations with no particular
338. Mates, fellows, implying familiarity and condescension. Resolved, resolute.
347. If you mark him, if you pay attention to him.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 22 Dec. 2011. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_1_3.html >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 22 Dec. 2011. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_1_3.html >.
"At the time of the death of Edward IV, Richard of Gloucester was in the North, attending to his duties as commander against the army in the Scottish marches. He immediately commenced his proceedings with that consummate and hypocritical art of which he was a first-rate master. He at once put his retinue into deep mourning and marched to York attended by 600 knights and squires. There he ordered the obsequies of the departed king to be performed with all solemnity in the cathedral. He then summoned the nobility and gentry of the country to take the oath of allegiance to his nephew, Edward V, and he led the way by first taking it himself." (Cassell's history of England, Vol. II. King's ed. p. 47.)
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