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Richard III

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

ACT II SCENE IV London. The palace. 
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK Last night, I hear, they lay at Northampton; 
 At Stony-Stratford will they be to-night: 
 To-morrow, or next day, they will be here. 
DUCHESS OF YORK I long with all my heart to see the prince:
 I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.  5
QUEEN ELIZABETH But I hear, no; they say my son of York 
 Hath almost overta'en him in his growth. 
YORK Ay, mother; but I would not have it so. 
DUCHESS OF YORK Why, my young cousin, it is good to grow.
YORK Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,  10
 My uncle Rivers talk'd how I did grow 
 More than my brother: 'Ay,' quoth my uncle 
 'Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:'
 And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,  15
 Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste. 
DUCHESS OF YORK Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold 
 In him that did object the same to thee; 
 He was the wretched'st thing when he was young,
 So long a-growing and so leisurely,  20
 That, if this rule were true, he should be gracious. 
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK Why, madam, so, no doubt, he is. 
DUCHESS OF YORK I hope he is; but yet let mothers doubt. 
YORK Now, by my troth, if I had been remember'd,
 I could have given my uncle's grace a flout,  25
 To touch his growth nearer than he touch'd mine. 
DUCHESS OF YORK How, my pretty York? I pray thee, let me hear it. 
YORK Marry, they say my uncle grew so fast 
 That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old
 'Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth.  30
 Grandam, this would have been a biting jest. 
DUCHESS OF YORK I pray thee, pretty York, who told thee this? 
YORK Grandam, his nurse. 
DUCHESS OF YORK His nurse! why, she was dead ere thou wert born.
YORK If 'twere not she, I cannot tell who told me.  35
QUEEN ELIZABETH A parlous boy: go to, you are too shrewd. 
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK Good madam, be not angry with the child. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH Pitchers have ears. 
 Enter a Messenger. 
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK Here comes a messenger. What news?
Messenger Such news, my lord, as grieves me to unfold.  40
QUEEN ELIZABETH How fares the prince? 
Messenger Well, madam, and in health. 
DUCHESS OF YORK What is thy news then? 
Messenger Lord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,
 With them Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.  45
DUCHESS OF YORK Who hath committed them? 
Messenger The mighty dukes 
 Gloucester and Buckingham. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH For what offence?
Messenger The sum of all I can, I have disclosed;  50
 Why or for what these nobles were committed 
 Is all unknown to me, my gracious lady. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH Ay me, I see the downfall of our house! 
 The tiger now hath seized the gentle hind;
 Insulting tyranny begins to jet  55
 Upon the innocent and aweless throne: 
 Welcome, destruction, death, and massacre! 
 I see, as in a map, the end of all. 
DUCHESS OF YORK Accursed and unquiet wrangling days,
 How many of you have mine eyes beheld!  60
 My husband lost his life to get the crown; 
 And often up and down my sons were toss'd, 
 For me to joy and weep their gain and loss: 
 And being seated, and domestic broils
 Clean over-blown, themselves, the conquerors.  65
 Make war upon themselves; blood against blood, 
 Self against self: O, preposterous 
 And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen; 
 Or let me die, to look on death no more!
QUEEN ELIZABETH Come, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary.  70
 Madam, farewell. 
DUCHESS OF YORK I'll go along with you. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH You have no cause. 
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK My gracious lady, go;
 And thither bear your treasure and your goods.  75
 For my part, I'll resign unto your grace 
 The seal I keep: and so betide to me 
 As well I tender you and all of yours! 
 Come, I'll conduct you to the sanctuary.

Richard III, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 4

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. This archbishop was Thomas Rotherham, Lord Chancellor of England, afterwards created a cardinal.

24. Had been remembered = had remembered.

25. Flout, a jibe or mocking jest.

36. Parlous, dangerous, a corruption of perilous. Shrewd, sharp-tongued.

49. Can seems here to have its original meaning of know.

50. Why perhaps refers to the past cause: for what to the future object.

55. Jet and jut are the same in origin, and signify to project, to encroach upon.

56. Aweless, inspiring no awe.

65. Over blown, quite blown aside.

70. The Sanctuary was in the precincts of Westminster Abbey.

78. Tender, to regard with kindness.

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) < >.


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