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Richard III

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ACT I SCENE III          The palace.

RIVERS Have patience, madam: there's no doubt his majesty 
 Will soon recover his accustom'd health. 
GREY In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse: 
 Therefore, for God's sake, entertain good comfort,
 And cheer his grace with quick and merry words.
QUEEN ELIZABETH If he were dead, what would betide of me? 
RIVERS No other harm but loss of such a lord. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH The loss of such a lord includes all harm. 
GREY The heavens have bless'd you with a goodly son,
 To be your comforter when he is gone.  10
QUEEN ELIZABETH Oh, he is young and his minority 
 Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester, 
 A man that loves not me, nor none of you. 
RIVERS Is it concluded that he shall be protector?
QUEEN ELIZABETH It is determined, not concluded yet:
 But so it must be, if the king miscarry.

GREY Here come the lords of Buckingham and Stanley. 
BUCKINGHAM Good time of day unto your royal grace! 
STANLEY God make your majesty joyful as you have been!
QUEEN ELIZABETH The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Stanley.  20
 To your good prayers will scarcely say amen. 
 Yet, Stanley, notwithstanding she's your wife, 
 And loves not me, be you, good lord, assured 
 I hate not you for her proud arrogance.
STANLEY I do beseech you, either not believe 
 The envious slanders of her false accusers; 
 Or, if she be accused in true report, 
 Bear with her weakness, which, I think proceeds 
 From wayward sickness, and no grounded malice.
RIVERS Saw you the king to-day, my Lord of Stanley?  30
STANLEY But now the Duke of Buckingham and I
 Are come from visiting his majesty. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH What likelihood of his amendment, lords? 
BUCKINGHAM Madam, good hope; his grace speaks cheerfully.
QUEEN ELIZABETH God grant him health! Did you confer with him? 
BUCKINGHAM Madam, we did: he desires to make atonement 
 Betwixt the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers, 
 And betwixt them and my lord chamberlain; 
 And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
QUEEN ELIZABETH Would all were well! but that will never be  40
 I fear our happiness is at the highest. 
GLOUCESTER They do me wrong, and I will not endure it: 
 Who are they that complain unto the king, 
 That I, forsooth, am stern, and love them not?
 By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly 
 That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.
 Because I cannot flatter and speak fair, 
 Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive and cog, 
 Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
 I must be held a rancorous enemy.  50
 Cannot a plain man live and think no harm, 
 But thus his simple truth must be abused 
 By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks? 
RIVERS To whom in all this presence speaks your grace?
GLOUCESTER To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace. 
 When have I injured thee? when done thee wrong? 
 Or thee? or thee? or any of your faction? 
 A plague upon you all! His royal person,-- 
 Whom God preserve better than you would wish!--
 Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing-while,  60
 But you must trouble him with lewd complaints. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter. 
 The king, of his own royal disposition, 
 And not provoked by any suitor else; 
 Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred, 
 Which in your outward actions shows itself 
 Against my kindred, brothers, and myself, 
 Makes him to send; that thereby he may gather 
 The ground of your ill-will, and so remove it.
GLOUCESTER I cannot tell: the world is grown so bad, 
 That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch: 
 Since every Jack became a gentleman 
 There's many a gentle person made a Jack. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH Come, come, we know your meaning, brother
 Gloucester;  75
 You envy my advancement and my friends': 
 God grant we never may have need of you! 
GLOUCESTER Meantime, God grants that we have need of you: 
 Your brother is imprison'd by your means,
 Myself disgraced, and the nobility 
 Held in contempt; whilst many fair promotions  80
 Are daily given to ennoble those 
 That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH By Him that raised me to this careful height
 From that contented hap which I enjoy'd, 
 I never did incense his majesty 
 Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been 
 An earnest advocate to plead for him. 
 My lord, you do me shameful injury,
 Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects. 
GLOUCESTER You may deny that you were not the cause  90
 Of my Lord Hastings' late imprisonment. 
RIVERS She may, my lord, for-- 
GLOUCESTER She may, Lord Rivers! why, who knows not so?
 She may do more, sir, than denying that: 
 She may help you to many fair preferments, 
 And then deny her aiding hand therein, 
 And lay those honours on your high deserts. 
 What may she not? She may, yea, marry, may she--
RIVERS What, marry, may she? 
GLOUCESTER What, marry, may she! marry with a king,  100
 A bachelor, a handsome stripling too: 
 I wis your grandam had a worser match.
QUEEN ELIZABETH My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
 Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs: 
 By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty 
 With those gross taunts I often have endured. 
 I had rather be a country servant-maid 
 Than a great queen, with this condition,
 To be thus taunted, scorn'd, and baited at: 
 Enter QUEEN MARGARET, behind. 
 Small joy have I in being England's queen. 
QUEEN MARGARET And lessen'd be that small, God, I beseech thee! 
 Thy honour, state and seat is due to me. 
GLOUCESTER What! threat you me with telling of the king?
 Tell him, and spare not: look, what I have said 
 I will avouch in presence of the king: 
 I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower. 
 'Tis time to speak; my pains are quite forgot.
QUEEN MARGARET Out, devil! I remember them too well:
 Thou kill'dst my husband Henry in the Tower, 
 And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.  120
GLOUCESTER Ere you were queen, yea, or your husband king, 
 I was a pack-horse in his great affairs; 
 A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,
 A liberal rewarder of his friends: 
 To royalize his blood I spilt mine own. 
QUEEN MARGARET Yea, and much better blood than his or thine. 
GLOUCESTER In all which time you and your husband Grey 
 Were factious for the house of Lancaster;
 And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband 
 In Margaret's battle at Saint Albans slain?  130
 Let me put in your minds, if you forget, 
 What you have been ere now, and what you are; 
 Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
QUEEN MARGARET A murderous villain, and so still thou art. 
GLOUCESTER Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick; 
 Yea, and forswore himself,--which Jesu pardon!-- 
QUEEN MARGARET Which God revenge! 
GLOUCESTER To fight on Edward's party for the crown;
 And for his meed, poor lord, he is mew'd up. 
 I would to God my heart were flint, like Edward's;  140
 Or Edward's soft and pitiful, like mine 
 I am too childish-foolish for this world.
QUEEN MARGARET Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave the world,
 Thou cacodemon! there thy kingdom is. 
RIVERS My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days 
 Which here you urge to prove us enemies, 
 We follow'd then our lord, our lawful king: 
 So should we you, if you should be our king.
GLOUCESTER If I should be! I had rather be a pedlar: 
 Far be it from my heart, the thought of it!  150
QUEEN ELIZABETH As little joy, my lord, as you suppose 
 You should enjoy, were you this country's king, 
 As little joy may you suppose in me.
 That I enjoy, being the queen thereof. 
QUEEN MARGARET A little joy enjoys the queen thereof;
 For I am she, and altogether joyless. 
 I can no longer hold me patient. 
 [ Advancing. 
 Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
 In sharing that which you have pill'd from me! 
 Which of you trembles not that looks on me?  160
 If not, that, I being queen, you bow like subjects, 
 Yet that, by you depos'd, you quake like rebels? 
 O gentle villain, do not turn away!
GLOUCESTER Foul, wrinkled witch, what mak'st thou in my sight? 
QUEEN MARGARET But repetition of what thou hast marr'd; 
 That will I make before I let thee go. 
GLOUCESTER Wert thou not banished on pain of death? 
QUEEN MARGARET I was; but I do find more pain in banishment
 Than death can yield me here by my abode. 
 A husband and a son thou ow'st to me;  170
 And thou a kingdom; all of you allegiance: 
 The sorrow that I have, by right is yours, 
 And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.
GLOUCESTER The curse my noble father laid on thee, 
 When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper 
 And with thy scorns drew'st rivers from his eyes, 
 And then, to dry them, gavest the duke a clout 
 Steep'd in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland--
 His curses, then from bitterness of soul 
 Denounced against thee, are all fall'n upon thee; 
 And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH So just is God, to right the innocent. 
HASTINGS O, 'twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
 And the most merciless that e'er was heard of! 
RIVERS Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported. 
DORSET No man but prophesied revenge for it. 
BUCKINGHAM Northumberland, then present, wept to see it. 
QUEEN MARGARET What! were you snarling all before I came,
 Ready to catch each other by the throat, 
 And turn you all your hatred now on me?  190
 Did York's dread curse prevail so much with heaven? 
 That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death, 
 Their kingdom's loss, my woful banishment,
 Could all but answer for that peevish brat?
 Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven? 
 Why, then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses! 
 If not by war, by surfeit die your king, 
 As ours by murder, to make him a king!
 Edward thy son, which now is Prince of Wales, 
 For Edward my son, which was Prince of Wales,  200
 Die in his youth by like untimely violence! 
 Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen, 
 Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!
 Long mayst thou live to wail thy children's loss; 
 And see another, as I see thee now, 
 Deck'd in thy rights, as thou art stall'd in mine! 
 Long die thy happy days before thy death; 
 And, after many lengthen'd hours of grief,
 Die neither mother, wife, nor England's queen! 
 Rivers and Dorset, you were standers by,  210
 And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son 
 Was stabb'd with bloody daggers: God, I pray him, 
 That none of you may live your natural age,
 But by some unlook'd accident cut off! 
GLOUCESTER Have done thy charm, thou hateful wither'd hag! 
QUEEN MARGARET And leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me. 
 If heaven have any grievous plague in store 
 Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
 O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe, 
 And then hurl down their indignation  220
 On thee, the troubler of the poor world's peace! 
 The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul! 
 Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou livest,
 And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends! 
 No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine, 
 Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream 
 Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils! 
 Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog!
 Thou that wast seal'd in thy nativity 
 The slave of nature and the son of hell!  230
 Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb! 
 Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins! 
 Thou rag of honour! thou detested--
QUEEN MARGARET I call thee not. 
GLOUCESTER I cry thee mercy then, for I had thought
 That thou hadst call'd me all these bitter names. 
QUEEN MARGARET Why, so I did; but look'd for no reply. 
 O, let me make the period to my curse! 
GLOUCESTER 'Tis done by me, and ends in 'Margaret.' 
QUEEN ELIZABETH Thus have you breathed your curse against yourself.
QUEEN MARGARET Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune! 
 Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider,  240
 Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about? 
 Fool, fool! thou whet'st a knife to kill thyself. 
 The time will come when thou shalt wish for me
 To help thee curse that poisonous bunchback'd toad. 
HASTINGS False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse, 
 Lest to thy harm thou move our patience. 
QUEEN MARGARET Foul shame upon you! you have all mov'd mine. 
RIVERS Were you well served, you would be taught your duty.
QUEEN MARGARET To serve me well, you all should do me duty, 
 Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects:  250
 O, serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty! 
DORSET Dispute not with her; she is lunatic. 
QUEEN MARGARET Peace, master marquess, you are malapert:
 Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current.
 O, that your young nobility could judge 
 What 'twere to lose it, and be miserable! 
 They that stand high have many blasts to shake them; 
 And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
GLOUCESTER Good counsel, marry: learn it, learn it, marquess. 
DORSET It toucheth you, my lord, as much as me.  260
GLOUCESTER Yea, and much more: but I was born so high, 
 Our aery buildeth in the cedar's top, 
 And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.
QUEEN MARGARET And turns the sun to shade; alas! alas! 
 Witness my son, now in the shade of death,
 Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath 
 Hath in eternal darkness folded up. 
 Your aery buildeth in our aery's nest.
 O God, that seest it, do not suffer it! 
 As it was won with blood, lost be it so!  270
BUCKINGHAM Have done! for shame, if not for charity. 
QUEEN MARGARET Urge neither charity nor shame to me: 
 Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
 And shamefully by you my hopes are butcher'd. 
 My charity is outrage, life my shame 
 And in that shame still live my sorrow's rage. 
BUCKINGHAM Have done, have done. 
QUEEN MARGARET O princely Buckingham I'll kiss thy hand,
 In sign of league and amity with thee: 
 Now fair befal thee and thy noble house!  280
 Thy garments are not spotted with our blood, 
 Nor thou within the compass of my curse. 
BUCKINGHAM Nor no one here; for curses never pass
 The lips of those that breathe them in the air. 
QUEEN MARGARET I'll not believe but they ascend the sky, 
 And there awake God's gentle-sleeping peace. 
 O Buckingham, take heed of yonder dog! 
 Look, when he fawns, he bites; and when he bites,
 His venom tooth will rankle to the death: 
 Have not to do with him, beware of him;  290
 Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him, 
 And all their ministers attend on him. 
GLOUCESTER What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?
BUCKINGHAM Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord. 
QUEEN MARGARET What, dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel? 
 And soothe the devil that I warn thee from? 
 O, but remember this another day, 
 When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,
 And say poor Margaret was a prophetess! 
 Live each of you the subjects to his hate,  300
 And he to yours, and all of you to God's! 
 [ Exit 
HASTINGS My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses. 
RIVERS And so doth mine: I muse why she's at liberty.
GLOUCESTER I cannot blame her: by God's holy mother, 
 She hath had too much wrong; and I repent 
 My part thereof that I have done to her. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH I never did her any, to my knowledge. 
GLOUCESTER But you have all the vantage of her wrong.
 I was too hot to do somebody good, 
 That is too cold in thinking of it now.  310
 Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid, 
 He is frank'd up to fatting for his pains 
 God pardon them that are the cause of it!
RIVERS A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion, 
 To pray for them that have done scathe to us. 
GLOUCESTER So do I ever: [ Aside. ] 
 being well-advis'd; 
 For had I curs'd now, I had curs'd myself.
 Enter CATESBY. 
CATESBY Madam, his majesty doth call for you, 
 And for your grace; and you, my noble lords. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH Catesby, we come. Lords, will you go with me?  320
RIVERS Madam, we will attend your grace. 
 Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER. 
GLOUCESTER I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
 The secret mischiefs that I set abroach 
 I lay unto the grievous charge of others. 
 Clarence, whom I, indeed, have laid in darkness, 
 I do beweep to many simple gulls 
 Namely, to Hastings, Derby, Buckingham;
 And say it is the queen and her allies 
 That stir the king against the duke my brother. 
 Now, they believe it; and withal whet me  330
 To be reveng'd on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey: 
 But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
 Tell them that God bids us do good for evil: 
 And thus I clothe my naked villany 
 With odd old ends stolen out of holy writ; 
 And seem a saint, when most I play the devil. 
 Enter two Murderers. 
 But, soft! here come my executioners.
 How now, my hardy, stout resolved mates! 
 Are you now going to dispatch this deed? 
First Murderer We are, my lord; and come to have the warrant 340
 That we may be admitted where he is. 
GLOUCESTER Well thought upon; I have it here about me.
 Gives the warrant. 
 When you have done, repair to Crosby Place. 
 But, sirs, be sudden in the execution, 
 Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead; 
 For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps 
 May move your hearts to pity if you mark him.
First Murderer Tush! 
 Fear not, my lord, we will not stand to prate; 
 Talkers are no good doers: be assured 
 We come to use our hands and not our tongues. 
GLOUCESTER Your eyes drop millstones, when fools' eyes drop tears:
 I like you, lads; about your business straight; 
 Go, go, dispatch. 
First Murderer We will, my noble lord. 

Richard III, Act 1, Scene 4


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 Bosworth Field.

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 obvious.

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 the subject.

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 marked.

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 accordingly. (Skeat.)

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 usage.

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 appropriateness.

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. < >.

How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 22 Dec. 2011. < >.


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Notes on Richard III...

"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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