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Richard III

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ACT III SCENE VII Baynard's Castle. 
 Enter GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM, meeting. 
GLOUCESTER How now, my lord, what say the citizens? 
BUCKINGHAM Now, by the holy mother of our Lord, 
 The citizens are mum and speak not a word. 
GLOUCESTER Touch'd you the bastardy of Edward's children?
BUCKINGHAM I did; with his contract with Lady Lucy, 
 And his contract by deputy in France; 
 The insatiate greediness of his desires, 
 And his enforcement of the city wives; 
 His tyranny for trifles; his own bastardy,
 As being got, your father then in France, 
 His resemblance, being not like the duke;  10
 Withal I did infer your lineaments, 
 Being the right idea of your father, 
 Both in your form and nobleness of mind;
 Laid open all your victories in Scotland, 
 Your dicipline in war, wisdom in peace, 
 Your bounty, virtue, fair humility: 
 Indeed, left nothing fitting for the purpose 
 Untouch'd, or slightly handled, in discourse
 And when mine oratory grew to an end 
 I bid them that did love their country's good  20
 Cry 'God save Richard, England's royal king!' 
GLOUCESTER Ah! and did they so? 
BUCKINGHAM No, so God help me, they spake not a word;
 But, like dumb statues or breathing stones, 
 Gazed each on other, and look'd deadly pale. 
 Which when I saw, I reprehended them; 
 And ask'd the mayor what meant this wilful silence: 
 His answer was, the people were not wont
 To be spoke to but by the recorder. 
 Then he was urged to tell my tale again,  30
 'Thus saith the duke, thus hath the duke inferr'd;' 
 But nothing spake in warrant from himself. 
 When he had done, some followers of mine own,
 At the lower end of the hall, hurl'd up their caps, 
 And some ten voices cried 'God save King Richard!' 
 And thus I took the vantage of those few, 
 'Thanks, gentle citizens and friends,' quoth I; 
 'This general applause and loving shout
 Argues your wisdoms and your love to Richard:' 
 And even here brake off, and came away.  40
GLOUCESTER What tongueless blocks were they! would not they speak? 
BUCKINGHAM No, by my troth, my lord. 
GLOUCESTER Will not the mayor then and his brethren come?
BUCKINGHAM The mayor is here at hand: intend some fear; 
 Be not you spoke with, but by mighty suit: 
 And look you get a prayer-book in your hand, 
 And stand betwixt two churchmen, good my lord; 
 For on that ground I'll build a holy descant:
 And be not easily won to our request: 
 Play the maid's part, still answer nay, and take it.  50
GLOUCESTER I go; and if you plead as well for them 
 As I can say nay to thee for myself, 
 No doubt well bring it to a happy issue.
BUCKINGHAM Go, go, up to the leads; the lord mayor knocks. 
 Enter the Lord Mayor and Citizens 
 Welcome my lord; I dance attendance here; 
 I think the duke will not be spoke withal. 
 Enter CATESBY. 
 Here comes his servant: how now, Catesby, 
 What says he?
CATESBY My lord: he doth entreat your grace; 
 To visit him to-morrow or next day: 
 He is within, with two right reverend fathers,  60
 Divinely bent to meditation; 
 And no worldly suit would he be moved,
 To draw him from his holy exercise. 
BUCKINGHAM Return, good Catesby, to thy lord again; 
 Tell him, myself, the mayor and citizens, 
 In deep designs and matters of great moment, 
 No less importing than our general good,
 Are come to have some conference with his grace. 
CATESBY I'll tell him what you say, my lord. 
BUCKINGHAM Ah, ha, my lord, this prince is not an Edward!  70
 He is not lolling on a lewd day-bed, 
 But on his knees at meditation;
 Not dallying with a brace of courtezans, 
 But meditating with two deep divines; 
 Not sleeping, to engross his idle body, 
 But praying, to enrich his watchful soul: 
 Happy were England, would this gracious prince
 Take on himself the sovereignty thereof: 
 But, sure, I fear, we shall ne'er win him to it. 
Lord Mayor Marry, God forbid his grace should say us nay!  80
BUCKINGHAM I fear he will. 
 Re-enter CATESBY. 
 How now, Catesby, what says your lord?
CATESBY My lord, 
 He wonders to what end you have assembled 
 Such troops of citizens to speak with him, 
 His grace not being warn'd thereof before: 
 My lord, he fears you mean no good to him.
BUCKINGHAM Sorry I am my noble cousin should 
 Suspect me, that I mean no good to him: 
 By heaven, I come in perfect love to him; 
 And so once more return and tell his grace.  90
 When holy and devout religious men
 Are at their beads, 'tis hard to draw them thence, 
 So sweet is zealous contemplation. 
 Enter GLOUCESTER aloft, between two Bishops.
CATESBY returns.
Lord Mayor See, where he stands between two clergymen! 
BUCKINGHAM Two props of virtue for a Christian prince, 
 To stay him from the fall of vanity:
 And, see, a book of prayer in his hand, 
 True ornaments to know a holy man. 
 Famous Plantagenet, most gracious prince, 
 Lend favourable ears to our request;  100
 And pardon us the interruption
 Of thy devotion and right Christian zeal. 
GLOUCESTER My lord, there needs no such apology: 
 I rather do beseech you pardon me, 
 Who, earnest in the service of my God, 
 Neglect the visitation of my friends.
 But, leaving this, what is your grace's pleasure? 
BUCKINGHAM Even that, I hope, which pleaseth God above, 
 And all good men of this ungovern'd isle. 
GLOUCESTER I do suspect I have done some offence  110

That seems disgracious in the city's eyes,
 And that you come to reprehend my ignorance. 
BUCKINGHAM You have, my lord: would it might please your grace, 
 At our entreaties, to amend that fault! 
GLOUCESTER Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian land? 
BUCKINGHAM Then know, it is your fault that you resign
 The supreme seat, the throne majestical, 
 The scepter'd office of your ancestors, 
 Your state of fortune and your due of birth, 
 The lineal glory of your royal house,  120
 To the corruption of a blemished stock:
 Whilst, in the mildness of your sleepy thoughts, 
 Which here we waken to our country's good, 
 This noble isle doth want her proper limbs; 
 Her face defaced with scars of infamy, 
 Her royal stock graft with ignoble plants,
 And almost shoulder'd in the swallowing gulf 
 Of blind forgetfulness and dark oblivion. 
 Which to recure, we heartily solicit 
 Your gracious self to take on you the charge  130
 And kingly government of this your land,
 Not as protector, steward, substitute, 
 Or lowly factor for another's gain; 
 But as successively from blood to blood, 
 Your right of birth, your empery, your own. 
 For this, consorted with the citizens,
 Your very worshipful and loving friends, 
 And by their vehement instigation, 
 In this just suit come I to move your grace. 
GLOUCESTER I know not whether to depart in silence,  140
 Or bitterly to speak in your reproof.
 Best fitteth my degree or your condition 
 If not to answer, you might haply think 
 Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded 
 To bear the golden yoke of sovereignty, 
 Which fondly you would here impose on me;
 If to reprove you for this suit of yours, 
 So season'd with your faithful love to me. 
 Then, on the other side, I cheque'd my friends. 
 Therefore, to speak, and to avoid the first,  150
 And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,
 Definitively thus I answer you. 
 Your love deserves my thanks; but my desert 
 Unmeritable shuns your high request. 
 First if all obstacles were cut away, 
 And that my path were even to the crown,
 As my ripe revenue and due by birth 
 Yet so much is my poverty of spirit, 
 So mighty and so many my defects, 
 As I had rather hide me from my greatness,  160
 Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
 Than in my greatness covet to be hid, 
 And in the vapour of my glory smother'd. 
 But, God be thank'd, there's no need of me, 
 And much I need to help you, if need were; 
 The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,
 Which, mellow'd by the stealing hours of time, 
 Will well become the seat of majesty, 
 And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign. 
 On him I lay what you would lay on me,  170
 The right and fortune of his happy stars;
 Which God defend that I should wring from him! 
BUCKINGHAM My lord, this argues conscience in your grace; 
 But the respects thereof are nice and trivial, 
 All circumstances well considered. 
 You say that Edward is your brother's son:
 So say we too, but not by Edward's wife; 
 For first he was contract to Lady Lucy-- 
 Your mother lives a witness to that vow-- 
 And afterward by substitute betroth'd  180
 To Bona, sister to the King of France.
 These both put by a poor petitioner, 
 A care-crazed mother of a many children, 
 A beauty-waning and distressed widow, 
 Even in the afternoon of her best days, 
 Made prize and purchase of his lustful eye,
 Seduced the pitch and height of all his thoughts 
 To base declension and loathed bigamy 
 By her, in his unlawful bed, he got 
 This Edward, whom our manners term the prince.  190
 More bitterly could I expostulate,
 Save that, for reverence to some alive, 
 I give a sparing limit to my tongue. 
 Then, good my lord, take to your royal self 
 This proffer'd benefit of dignity; 
 If non to bless us and the land withal,
 Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry 
 From the corruption of abusing times, 
 Unto a lineal true-derived course. 
Lord Mayor Do, good my lord, your citizens entreat you.  200
BUCKINGHAM Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffer'd love.
CATESBY O, make them joyful, grant their lawful suit! 
GLOUCESTER Alas, why would you heap these cares on me? 
 I am unfit for state and majesty; 
 I do beseech you, take it not amiss; 
 I cannot nor I will not yield to you.
BUCKINGHAM If you refuse it,--as, in love and zeal, 
 Loath to depose the child, Your brother's son; 
 As well we know your tenderness of heart 
 And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,  210
 Which we have noted in you to your kin,
 And egally indeed to all estates,-- 
 Yet whether you accept our suit or no, 
 Your brother's son shall never reign our king; 
 But we will plant some other in the throne, 
 To the disgrace and downfall of your house:
 And in this resolution here we leave you.-- 
 Come, citizens: 'zounds! I'll entreat no more. 
GLOUCESTER O, do not swear, my lord of Buckingham. 
 Exit BUCKINGHAM with the Citizens. 
CATESBY Call them again, my lord, and accept their suit. 
ANOTHER Do, good my lord, lest all the land do rue it.  220
GLOUCESTER Would you enforce me to a world of care? 
 Well, call them again. I am not made of stone, 
 But penetrable to your. kind entreats, 
 Albeit against my conscience and my soul. 
 Re-enter BUCKINGHAM and the rest. 
 Cousin of Buckingham, and you sage, grave men,
 Since you will buckle fortune on my back, 
 To bear her burthen, whether I will or no, 
 I must have patience to endure the load: 
 But if black scandal or foul-faced reproach 
 Attend the sequel of your imposition,  230
 Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me 
 From all the impure blots and stains thereof; 
 For God he knows, and you may partly see, 
 How far I am from the desire thereof. 
Lord Mayor God bless your grace! we see it, and will say it.
GLOUCESTER In saying so, you shall but say the truth. 
BUCKINGHAM Then I salute you with this kingly title -- 
 Long live Richard, England's royal king! 
Lord Mayor { 
Citizens { 
BUCKINGHAM To-morrow will it please you to be crown'd?  240
GLOUCESTER Even when you please, since you will have it so. 
BUCKINGHAM To-morrow, then, we will attend your grace: 
 And so most joyfully we take our leave.
GLOUCESTER Come, let us to our holy task again. 
 Farewell, good cousin; farewell, gentle friends. 

Richard III, Act 4, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 7
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. Mum, silent.

4. Lady Lucy. This was Dame Elizabeth Lucy, Lady Eleanor Butler, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, to whom it was alleged the king had been betrothed before his marriage with the widow of Sir John Grey. The evidence of this pre-contract rested on the single testimony of Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells. The story has been generally discredited by historians.

Under the canon law, betrothal was as binding as matrimony, and could not be set aside without a dispensation. Bulls of divorce were often procured from Rome even by the party that had done the wrong, dissolving a marriage that had endured for years, on the ground of a pre-contract with another person. It will be remembered that it was upon this ground that Henry VIII, before putting Anne Boloyn to death, caused his marriage with her to he pronounced invalid by reason of a previous contract on her part with Percy, Earl of Northumberland.

5. The Earl of Warwick had been dispatched to France to bring about a marriage with Bona, the French king's sister, but in his absence the fickle king fell in love with and hastily married Sir John Grey's widow. This public affront put upon him, caused the proud kingmaker to abandon the Yorkist side. See Henry VI, Part III., III. iii.

12. Idea, image.

14. Richard commanded in Scotland in 1482.

24. Statuas, statues, a trisyllable. Breathing stones, stones endowed with life, but speechless.

29. The recorder is the keeper of the rolls in a city. At this time the recorder of London was Thomas Fitzwilliam.

44. Intend, put on, counterfeit.

45. Be not you spoken with except after great entreaty.

47. Churchmen, ecclesiastics.

48. For I shall make that circumstance the ground of a discourse on Richard's piety. Ground here is the plainsong, or theme, the descant the variations upon it.

54. Leads, the flat roof covered with lead.

55. I dance attendance, I am kept waiting to be admitted.

61. Divinely = devoutly.

67. Importing, concerning.

75. Engross, pamper, fatten.

80. God defend = God forbid. Fr. defendre has the same meaning.

92. Beads, the little stringed balls of the rosary, so called because used in counting the number of prayers. M.E. bede — A.-S. bed, a prayer, biddan, to pray. The same word appears in bead-roll and beads-man.

96. Fall, a defection from virtue, sin.

111. Disgracious, unpleasing. Dis- is used for un-, in sense of without.

115. If I be not ready to amend my faults, for what purpose do I live in a Christian land?

124. Doth want = is without, lacks.

126. Her royal stock impregnated with base elements from the-outside. Graft is participle of verb to graff = to make an incision into a tree or plant, and insert in it a small branch of another, to insert as a scion.

127. Shoulder'd, pushed violently, with a view to supplant; or, sunk to the shoulders.

129. Re-cure, to heal again.

133. Factor, agent.

135. Empery, empire, dominion.

143. If not to answer best fitted the occasion.

147. If to reprove best fitted the occasion.

149. I check'd for I should have cheeked, a simpler and earlier subjunctive form, identical with the indicative form used for the subjunctive. Abbott notes, "If it be asked, what is the difference between checked here and would have cheeked I should say that the simple form of the subjunctive, coinciding in sound with the indicative, implied to an Elizabethan more of inevitability (subject, of course, to a condition which is not fulfilled). The possibility is regarded as an unfulfilled fact, to speak paradoxically." See Abbott's Shakespearean Grammar, sect. 361.

150. To speak ... to avoid ... to incur. This is hardly the infinitive, but the gerund in e, and the to here corresponds to the Lat. ad, with the gerund denoting a purpose.

154. Unmeritable, devoid of merit.

156. Even, plain, smooth.

157. Ripe revenue, the possession quite mature and ready for me to occupy.

161. To brook, capable of enduring.

162-163. I had rather hide myself from greatness than seek to be crushed under the load of a greatness forced upon me.

165. I lack many qualities necessary in helping you, were my help needed.

167. Stealing, gliding quietly onwards.

174. Respects, reasons or motives. Nice, fanciful.

180. Substitute, deputy, proxy.

183. A many. The indefinite article was often inserted before a numeral adjective, to show that the objects enumerated are regarded collectively as one. Thus we still say a score, a fo(u)rt(een)night. The a in a many sons is perhaps thus to be explained. Some, however, explain a many by reference to the old noun many, a many men for a many (of) men. And the word is thus used: "A many of our bodies" (Henry V., IV. iii. 95). Nor can it be denied that in Early English, of is often omitted in such phrases as euery maner wyght (Chaucer, Sqirieres Tale, 329), just as in German we have diese Art Mensch. Dr. Abbott (sect. 87) sums up the question by stating that probably both the constructions above mentioned are required to explain this use of a. Thus a hundred men is for a hundred (of) men ; but in a twelvemonth, a fortnight, twelve and fourteen are not regarded as simple nouns, but are used adjectively in the compounds.

The queen had only three children by Sir John Grey.

186. Purchase, booty. The word is used for acquisition of any kind, and by any means.

187. Pitch, elevation, height. This was the word used to denote the height to which a falcon soars.

18S. Declension, deterioration. Bigamy. Wright notes that marriage with a widow was regarded as bigamy by the canon law. Shakespeare here closely follows More, as copied by Hall. The king's mother, the Dowager Duchess of York, who was strongly opposed to her son's marriage with Elizabeth Grey, urged this as an argument against it. 'The onely widowhed of dame Elizabeth Grey (although she were in all other poinctes and thynges conuenient for you) should suffice as me thynketh to refrain you from her marriage, and it is an vnfittying thynge and a greate blemishe to the sacred maiestie of a prince, that ought as nere to approche priesthode in clennesse as he doeth in dignitie, to be defiled with bigamy in his first marriage." (Hall's Chronicle, Edward V, p. 366).

191. Expostulate, set forth in full.

209. As = for so.

210. Remorse, pity, tenderness of heart.

212. Estates, ranks.

231. Acquittance, acquit.

How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < >.


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