Explanatory Notes for Act 5, 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.
8. All's one for that, no matter for that.
9. Descried, observed.
11. Battalia, host. army [battalion in the quartos. Battalia is not the plural of battalion, but an old noun singular -- W. Rolfe]. Account, reckoning.
12. Proverbs 18: 10: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower."
15. Vantage, the points of advantage.
16. Sound direction, skill in planning military movements.
20. Track, course. Helios, the god of the sun, rose in the morning, in the east, out of the ocean: traversed the heavens in a flaming car, drawn by four horses; and descended in the evening into the darkness of the ocean in the west.
21. A bright sky at sunset is supposed to portend a fine on the morrow.
26. Limit, appoint. Several, particular.
26. Part, divide.
29. Keeps, remains with.
50. Beaver — the helmet. It meant etymologically only the front part of the helmet, that part which lets down to enable the wearer to drink. Lat. bibere, to drink.
60. Pursuivant, an attendant upon a herald.
64. Watch, a watch-light, a candle marked out into sections, each of which was a certain portion of time in burning
65. White Surrey. Hall mentions Richard's great white courser.
66. My staves, the shafts of my lanoes.
69. Richard applies the term melancholy to Northumberland, because he knew he was only half-hearted in the cause.
71. Cock-shut time, twilight; from the time when the cock-shut that is, a large net used to catch woodcocks, used to be spread.
82. Father-in-law, stepfather.
87. Flaky, breaking up into flakes, through which the light
is beginning to appear.
89. Prepare your army in the order of battle.
91. Mortal-staring, staring fatally on its victims.
93. I will give as little help as I can to Richard during the
96. Tender George was at this time a married man. But
Shakespeare followed the chroniclers, Hall and Holinshed.
98. Leisure, the time at our command. Fearful, causing fear.
106. Peise. weigh.
111. Bruising irons of wrath, the heavy iron maces wielded
125. Anointed, consecrated by unction at his coronation.
133. Fulsome, nauseous.
136. Fall - let fall.
152. Cousins, nephews. See II. ii. 8; III. i. 2, and note on
the latter passage.
174. I died for wishing well to you, before I could give thee
181. The lights burn blue. This is invariable when spirits
198. Us'd, committed.
200. Shall - will.
218. Proof, in armor there is proof against weapons.
230. Cried on, uttered the cry of.
237. Enforcement, constraint.
242. Except, excepted. Except here is a passive participle.
247. Made means, contrived means.
248. To help, of helping.
249. A worthless stone, rendered valuable only by its setting — the throne of England. Foil, a bright colored leaf (Lat. folium, leaf) of metal on which a jewel is placed to set it off; hence, anything serving to give luster to another thing.
253. Ward, guard, defend.
257. Fat, wealth, means.
261. Quit, requite.
264-265. As for me, if I fail in my bold attempt, the atonement for my boldness shall be my death.
275. Tell, count.
279. Brav'd, made brave, that is, splendid, glorious.
287. Bustle, be active. Caparison, put on his trapplngfs.
291. Foreward, vanguard.
298. Winged, supported on the wings.
302. According to Hall, "The nyghte before he shoulde set forwarde towarde the kynge, one wrote on his gate:
"Iack of Norffolke, be not to bolde,
For Dykon thy maister is bought and solde."
312. Inferr'd, mentioned.
314. Sort, a pack.
315. Scum, refuse. Lackey, servile.
316. O'er-cloyed, filled beyond satiety with them.
320. Restrain, keep from us. Distain, stain, defile.
321. Paltry, contemptible.
322. At our mother's cost. This should be at our brother's cost. The speech closely follows Hall's Chronicle, where find the following passage: "And to begyn with the earle of Richmond, captaine of this rebellion, he is a
Welsh mylkesoppe, a man of small courage and lesse experience in marcyall actes and feates of war, brought up by my
brother's means and myne, like a captiue in a close cage, in the court of Fraunces duke of Britaine." Holinshed copied from Hall, and in his second edition, by a printer's error, "brother's" was changed into "mother's," and Shakespeare, having this edition in his hands, perpetuated the error. The brother in question was Richard's brother-in-law, Charles, Duke of Burgundy; who maintained Richmond at the court of Francis, Duke of Brittany, in a kind of
323. Milksop, an effeminate fellow.
326. Overweening rags, presumptuous beggars.
332. Bobb'd, drubbed.
339. Fright the skies with the splintering of your lances.
Welkin, A.-S. wolcnu, clouds, plural of wolcen, a cloud.
341. Deny, refuse.
348. Spleen, anger, as the spleen was supposed to be the
seat of that passion.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_5_3.html >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_5_3.html >.
Hammond, Eleanor P. The Tent Scene in Richard III. Modern Language Notes. Vol. 17. 1 May, 1902.
Thoughts on The Tent Scene
"As we look the figure of Richmond grows in importance. Richard no longer dominates the stage. He is no longer the moving spirit
of the action, but is passive in the grip of a fate as pitiless as himself. He is to die; but that is to him, and to us, and to the dramatist,
nothing. What is here presented is everything: — that each of his victims is to strike him with Richmond's arm, and that he is to
realize, in the few moments of horror as the vision passes away, his own bondage to the humanity he had scorned. We see the consecration and ennobling of Richmond as fit adversary to the hitherto redoubtable Richard, from whose grasp victory is withdrawn. We see the iron Richard forced to confess the
human needs he had denied and despised; and his cry of despair, as he first feels his lack of all earthly ties, as he first shrinks from the
solitude on which he had prided himself, makes us realize, like the knocking at the gate in Macbeth, the awful pause during which our
ideas of life had been deranged as we watched with fascination a creature who set the world at naught. Richard becomes human in that
cry; our vision returns to us. The spell is broken; the balance is restored." (Eleanor P. Hammond. The Tent Scene in Richard III, Modern Language Notes, Vol. 17)
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