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Richard III

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

ACT III SCENE IV The Tower of London. 
 Enter BUCKINGHAM, DERBY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP OFELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL, with others, and take their seats at a table. 
HASTINGS My lords, at once: the cause why we are met 
 Is, to determine of the coronation. 
 In God's name, speak: when is the royal day? 
BUCKINGHAM Are all things fitting for that royal time?
DERBY It is, and wants but nomination.  5
BISHOP OF ELY To-morrow, then, I judge a happy day. 
BUCKINGHAM Who knows the lord protector's mind herein? 
 Who is most inward with the royal duke? 
BISHOP OF ELY Your grace, we think, should soonest know his mind.
BUCKINGHAM Who, I, my lord I we know each other's faces,  10
 But for our hearts, he knows no more of mine, 
 Than I of yours; 
 Nor I no more of his, than you of mine. 
 Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.
HASTINGS I thank his grace, I know he loves me well;  15
 But, for his purpose in the coronation. 
 I have not sounded him, nor he deliver'd 
 His gracious pleasure any way therein: 
 But you, my noble lords, may name the time;
 And in the duke's behalf I'll give my voice,  20
 Which, I presume, he'll take in gentle part. 
BISHOP OF ELY Now in good time, here comes the duke himself. 
GLOUCESTER My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow. 
 I have been long a sleeper; but, I hope,
 My absence doth neglect no great designs,  25
 Which by my presence might have been concluded. 
BUCKINGHAM Had not you come upon your cue, my lord 
 William Lord Hastings had pronounced your part,-- 
 I mean, your voice,--for crowning of the king.
GLOUCESTER Than my Lord Hastings no man might be bolder;  30
 His lordship knows me well, and loves me well. 
HASTINGS I thank your grace. 
GLOUCESTER My lord of Ely! 
GLOUCESTER When I was last in Holborn,  35
 I saw good strawberries in your garden there 
 I do beseech you send for some of them. 
BISHOP OF ELY Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart. 
GLOUCESTER Cousin of Buckingham, a word with you.
 Drawing him aside.  40

Catesby hath sounded Hastings in our business,
 And finds the testy gentleman so hot, 
 As he will lose his head ere give consent 
 His master's son, as worshipful as he terms it, 
 Shall lose the royalty of England's throne.
BUCKINGHAM Withdraw you hence, my lord, I'll follow you.  45
DERBY We have not yet set down this day of triumph. 
 To-morrow, in mine opinion, is too sudden; 
 For I myself am not so well provided 
 As else I would be, were the day prolong'd.
 Re-enter BISHOP OF ELY 
BISHOP OF ELY Where is my lord protector? I have sent for these  50
HASTINGS His grace looks cheerfully and smooth to-day; 
 There's some conceit or other likes him well, 
 When he doth bid good morrow with such a spirit.
 I think there's never a man in Christendom  55
 That can less hide his love or hate than he; 
 For by his face straight shall you know his heart. 
DERBY What of his heart perceive you in his face 
 By any likelihood he show'd to-day?
HASTINGS Marry, that with no man here he is offended;  60
 For, were he, he had shown it in his looks. 
DERBY I pray God he be not, I say. 
GLOUCESTER I pray you all, tell me what they deserve 
 That do conspire my death with devilish plots
 Of damned witchcraft, and that have prevail'd  65
 Upon my body with their hellish charms? 
HASTINGS The tender love I bear your grace, my lord, 
 Makes me most forward in this noble presence 
 To doom the offenders, whatsoever they be
 I say, my lord, they have deserved death.  70
GLOUCESTER Then be your eyes the witness of this ill: 
 See how I am bewitch'd; behold mine arm 
 Is, like a blasted sapling, wither'd up: 
 And this is Edward's wife, that monstrous witch,
 Consorted with that harlot strumpet Shore,  75
 That by their witchcraft thus have marked me. 
HASTINGS If they have done this thing, my gracious lord-- 
GLOUCESTER If I thou protector of this damned strumpet-- 
 Tellest thou me of 'ifs'? Thou art a traitor:
 Off with his head! Now, by Saint Paul I swear,  80
 I will not dine until I see the same. 
 Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done: 
 The rest, that love me, rise and follow me. 
 Exeunt all but HASTINGS, RATCLIFF, and LOVEL. 
HASTINGS Woe, woe for England! not a whit for me;
 For I, too fond, might have prevented this.  85
 Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm; 
 But I disdain'd it, and did scorn to fly: 
 Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble, 
 And startled, when he look'd upon the Tower,
 As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house.  90
 O, now I want the priest that spake to me: 
 I now repent I told the pursuivant 
 As 'twere triumphing at mine enemies, 
 How they at Pomfret bloodily were butcher'd,
 And I myself secure in grace and favour.  95
 O Margaret, Margaret, now thy heavy curse 
 Is lighted on poor Hastings' wretched head! 
RATCLIFF Dispatch, my lord; the duke would be at dinner: 
 Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head.
HASTINGS O momentary grace of mortal men,  100
 Which we more hunt for than the grace of God! 
 Who builds his hopes in air of your good looks, 
 Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast, 
 Ready, with every nod, to tumble down
 Into the fatal bowels of the deep.  105
LOVEL Come, come, dispatch; 'tis bootless to exclaim. 
HASTINGS O bloody Richard! miserable England! 
 I prophesy the fearful'st time to thee 
 That ever wretched age hath look'd upon.
 Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head.  110
 They smile at me that shortly shall be dead. 

Richard III, Act 3, Scene 5


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, 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.


2. Determine of = decide about.

5. Wants. This is more probably intransitive than impersonal; = is wanting.

8. Inward, intimate.

25. Neglect, cause to be neglected.

27. Upon your cue. The last few words of a speech, by which an actor knows when his part is coming, are called his cue. Fr. queue, a tail.

33. The Bishop of Ely was John Morton, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. Sir Thomas More, in early life, was a member of his household, and no doubt learned from his lips many of the incidents told in his Life of Richard III.

37. Marry and will = and so I will.

45. Prolong'd, put off.

59. Likelihood, sign from which any inference could be drawn.

60. Marry = indeed, to be sure. This exclamation is derived from the name of the Virgin Mary.

75. Consorted, allied, associated.

85. Fond, foolish.

87. My foot-cloth horse = my horse with its housings or trappings. The foot-cloth was the name given to such trappings, or caparison, of a horse as hung down near the ground and were used only by the nobility.

93. Triumphing = triumphant.

99. Shrift, last confession.

100. Momentary grace, favor lasting but for a moment.

102. Cf. our phrase to build castles in the air.

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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