home contact

Richard III

Please see the bottom of this page for full explanatory notes.

ACT II SCENE III London. A street. 
 Enter two Citizens meeting. 
First Citizen Neighbour, well met: whither away so fast? 
Second Citizen I promise you, I scarcely know myself: 
 Hear you the news abroad? 
First Citizen Ay, that the king is dead.
Second Citizen Bad news, by'r lady; seldom comes the better:  5
 I fear, I fear 'twill prove a troublous world. 
 Enter another Citizen. 
Third Citizen Neighbours, God speed! 
First Citizen Give you good morrow, sir. 
Third Citizen Doth this news hold of good King Edward's death?
Second Citizen Ay, sir, it is too true; God help the while!  10
Third Citizen Then, masters, look to see a troublous world. 
First Citizen No, no; by God's good grace his son shall reign. 
Third Citizen Woe to the land that's govern'd by a child! 
Second Citizen In him there is a hope of government,
 That in his nonage council under him,  15
 And in his full and ripen'd years himself, 
 No doubt, shall then and till then govern well. 
First Citizen So stood the state when Henry the Sixth 
 Was crown'd in Paris but at nine months old.
Third Citizen Stood the state so? No, no, good friends, God wot; 
 For then this land was famously enrich'd 
 With politic grave counsel; then the king 
 Had virtuous uncles to protect his grace.  23
First Citizen Why, so hath this, both by the father and mother.
Third Citizen Better it were they all came by the father, 
 Or by the father there were none at all; 
 For emulation now, who shall be nearest, 
 Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not. 
 O, full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester!
 And the queen's sons and brothers haught and proud: 
 And were they to be ruled, and not to rule, 
 This sickly land might solace as before.  32
First Citizen Come, come, we fear the worst; all shall be well. 
Third Citizen When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks;
 When great leaves fall, the winter is at hand; 
 When the sun sets, who doth not look for night? 
 Untimely storms make men expect a dearth. 
 All may be well; but, if God sort it so, 
 'Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.
Second Citizen Truly, the souls of men are full of dread: 
 Ye cannot reason almost with a man  41
 That looks not heavily and full of fear. 
Third Citizen Before the times of change, still is it so: 
 By a divine instinct men's minds mistrust
 Ensuing dangers; as by proof, we see 
 The waters swell before a boisterous storm. 
 But leave it all to God. whither away? 
Second Citizen Marry, we were sent for to the justices. 
Third Citizen And so was I: I'll bear you company.

Richard III, Act 2, Scene 4


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, 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.


2. Promise, assure.

5. By 'r lady, that is, by the Holy Virgin. Seldom comes the better, a proverb meaning good news is scarce. The here is the ablative of the demonstrative, and signifies with comparatives the measure of excess or defect. The sooner the better = by how much the sooner by so much the better, Lat. quo citius, eo melius.

11. See Ecclesiastes 10 : 16.

15. Nonage, minority.

18. God wot, God knows. Wot is the third person singular present indicative of the verb. M. E. infinitive witen; present tense (1) I wot, (2) thou wost (later wottest, (3) he wot (later wotteth), plural witen; past tense, I wiste; past participle, wist. The A.-S. infinitive is witan; present (1) Ic wat, (2) thu wast, (3) he wat, plural witen; past, wiste (also wisse), plural wiston; past participle, wist. Gerund, to witanne (modern English, to wit).

23. Virtuous uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester.

32. Solace, enjoy comfort.

41. Cannot . . . almost = can hardly. Almost frequently follows the word which it qualifies.

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) < >.


Related Articles

 Richard III: Plot Summary
 Richard III: Q & A
 Famous Quotes from Richard III
 Shakespeare's Sources for Richard III

 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels