home contact

Richard III

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

ACT IV SCENE II London. A Room of State in the Palace. 
[ Sennet. Enter KING RICHARD III, in pomp, crowned; BUCKINGHAM, CATESBY, a page, and others. ]
KING RICHARD IIIStand all apart Cousin of Buckingham!
BUCKINGHAMMy gracious sovereign!
KING RICHARD IIIGive me thy hand.
[Here he ascendeth his throne]
Thus high, by thy advice
And thy assistance, is King Richard seated;
But shall we wear these honours for a day?
Or shall they last, and we rejoice in them?
BUCKINGHAMStill live they and for ever may they last!
KING RICHARD IIIO Buckingham, now do I play the touch,
To try if thou be current gold indeed
Young Edward lives: think now what I would speak.10
BUCKINGHAMSay on, my loving lord.
KING RICHARD IIIWhy, Buckingham, I say, I would be king,
BUCKINGHAMWhy, so you are, my thrice-renowned liege.

KING RICHARD IIIHa! am I king? 'tis so: but Edward lives.
BUCKINGHAMTrue, noble prince.
KING RICHARD IIIO bitter consequence,
That Edward still should live! 'True, noble prince!'
Cousin, thou wert not wont to be so dull:
Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead;
And I would have it suddenly perform'd.
What sayest thou? speak suddenly; be brief.20
BUCKINGHAMYour grace may do your pleasure.
KING RICHARD IIITut, tut, thou art all ice, thy kindness freezeth:
Say, have I thy consent that they shall die?
BUCKINGHAMGive me some breath, some little pause, my lord
Before I positively herein:
I will resolve your grace immediately.
The king is angry: see, he bites the lip.
KING RICHARD IIII will converse with iron-witted fools
And unrespective boys: none are for me
That look into me with considerate eyes:30
High-reaching Buckingham grows circumspect.
PageMy lord?
KING RICHARD IIIKnow'st thou not any whom corrupting gold
Would tempt unto a close exploit of death?
PageMy lord, I know a discontented gentleman,
Whose humble means match not his haughty mind:
Gold were as good as twenty orators,
And will, no doubt, tempt him to any thing.
KING RICHARD IIIWhat is his name?
PageHis name, my lord, is Tyrrel.40
KING RICHARD IIII partly know the man: go, call him hither.
[Exit Page]
The deep-revolving witty Buckingham
No more shall be the neighbour to my counsel:
Hath he so long held out with me untired,
And stops he now for breath?
How now, Lord Stanley! what news with you?
STANLEYKnow, my loving lord, the Marquis Dorset, as I hear, is fled
To Richmond, in the parts
Where he abides.
KING RICHARD IIICome hither, Catesby:
KING RICHARD IIIRumour is abroad
That Anne, my wife, is very grievous sick;
I will take order for her keeping close.
Inquire me out some mean-born gentleman,
Whom I will marry straight to Clarence' daughter:
The boy is foolish, and I fear not him.
Look, how thou dream'st! I say again, give out
That Anne my queen is sick and like to die:
About it; for it stands me much upon,
To stop all hopes whose growth may damage me.
I must be married to my brother's daughter,60
Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass.
Murder her brothers, and then marry her!
Uncertain way of gain! But I am in
So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin:
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye.
[Re-enter Page, with TYRREL]
Is thy name Tyrrel?
TYRRELJames Tyrrel, and your most obedient subject.
KING RICHARD IIIArt thou, indeed?
TYRRELProve me, my gracious sovereign.
KING RICHARD IIIDar'st thou resolve to kill a friend of mine?
TYRRELAy, my lord;
Please you, I had rather kill two enemies.70
KING RICHARD IIIWhy, there thou hast it: two deep enemies,
Foes to my rest and my sweet sleep's disturbers
Are they that I would have thee deal upon:
Tyrrel, I mean those bastards in the Tower.
TYRRELLet me have open means to come to them,
And soon I'll rid you from the fear of them.
KING RICHARD IIIThou sing'st sweet music. Hark, come hither, Tyrrel
Go, by this token: rise, and lend thine ear:
There is no more but so: say it is done,
And I will love thee, and prefer thee too.80
TYRREL'Tis done, my gracious lord.
KING RICHARD IIIShall we hear from thee, Tyrrel, ere we sleep?
TYRRELYe shall, my Lord.
BUCKINGHAMMy Lord, I have consider'd in my mind
The late demand that you did sound me in.
KING RICHARD IIIWell, let that pass. Dorset is fled to Richmond.
BUCKINGHAMI hear that news, my lord.
KING RICHARD IIIStanley, he is your wife's son well, look to it.
BUCKINGHAMMy lord, I claim your gift, my due by promise,
For which your honour and your faith is pawn'd;90
The earldom of Hereford and the moveables
The which you promised I should possess.
KING RICHARD IIIStanley, look to your wife; if she convey
Letters to Richmond, you shall answer it.
BUCKINGHAMWhat says your highness to my just demand?
KING RICHARD IIIAs I remember, Henry the Sixth
Did prophesy that Richmond should be king,
When Richmond was a little peevish boy.
A king, perhaps, perhaps,--
KING RICHARD IIIHow chance the prophet could not at that time
Have told me, I being by, that I should kill him?
BUCKINGHAMMy lord, your promise for the earldom,--
KING RICHARD IIIRichmond! When last I was at Exeter,
The mayor in courtesy show'd me the castle,
And call'd it Rougemont: at which name I started,
Because a bard of Ireland told me once
I should not live long after I saw Richmond.
KING RICHARD IIIAy, what's o'clock?
BUCKINGHAMI am thus bold to put your grace in mind110
Of what you promised me.
KING RICHARD IIIWell, but what's o'clock?
BUCKINGHAMUpon the stroke of ten.
KING RICHARD IIIWell, let it strike.
BUCKINGHAMWhy let it strike?
KING RICHARD IIIBecause that, like a Jack, thou keep'st the stroke
Betwixt thy begging and my meditation.
I am not in the giving vein to-day.
BUCKINGHAMWhy, then resolve me whether you will or no.
Thou troublest me; am not in the vein.
[Exeunt RICHARD and train.
BUCKINGHAMAnd is it thus? repays my deep service
With such contempt? made I him king for this?
O, let me think on Hastings, and be gone
To Brecknock, while my fearful head is on!

Richard III, Act 4, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 2
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.


8. Touch, the touchstone used to test the genuineness or purity of any metal which has the appearance of gold. The purity of the metal is judged from the streak which it leaves upon the stone, as compared with the streak made by the touch-needle, which is of pure gold. The stone is an extremely compact siliceous schist, almost as close as flint, and is known also as Black Jasper and Basanite.

15. Consequence, something that must follow, a necessary or inevitable event.

15-16. The bitter consequence lay in the fact that Edward lived as the true, noble prince — to quote Buckingham's words with another meaning in them.

27. This is mentioned by Hall as a habit of Richard's. When he stode musing he would byte and chew besely his nether lippe, as who sayd, that his fyerce nature in hys cruell body alwaies chafed, sturred and was ever vnquiete.

28. Iron-witted, unfeeling, insensible.

30. Considerate, thoughtful, observant, the opposite of unrespective.

35. Close, secret.

42. Witty, quick-witted, clever.

55. The boy is foolish. Edward, son of Clarence, was imprisoned by Richard III in Sheriff Button Castle. Was removed by Henry VII to the Tower. Beheaded in 1499. Imprisonment and lack of education made him idiotic. But he was not yet foolish.

68. About it; for it is very important for me.

64. Pluck on, draw on.

73. Deal upon, act with.

79. No more out so, that is, to carry out Richard's whispered instructions.

98. Peevish, silly, thoughtless.

104. Richard visited Exeter in the first year of his reign. This incident is mentioned by Hollnshed. "And during his abode here he went about the citie and viewed the seal of the same, and at length he came to the castell: and when he vnderstood that it was called Rugemont, suddenlie he fell into a dumpe and (as one astonied) said: Well, I see my dales be not long. He spake this of a prophesie told him, that when he came once to Richmond, he should not live long after."

114. Jack, the figure which struck the hour upon the bell in old clocks. Keep'st the stroke, keepest on striking.

117. Resolve, answer.

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


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

Textual Notes

"[Richard III] is distinguished by the extraordinary divergence of the text of the Quarto of 1597 from that of the Folio. Were this divergence confined solely to verbal changes, the editor would be guided in the task of forming a composite text either by his own personal preference or by the consensus of opinion of his predecessors; but the divergences here are so wide that no such guide avail him. There are many consecutive lines in the Folio whereof there are no traces in the Quarto, and again there are similar lines in the Quartos which are omitted in the Folio." (Horace Howard Furness. Variorum Edition of Shakespeare)

Notes on Shakespeare...

Richard Shakespeare, Shakespeare's paternal grandfather, was a farmer in the small village of Snitterfield, located four miles from Stratford. Records show that Richard worked on several different farms which he leased from various landowners. Coincidentally, Richard leased land from Robert Arden, Shakespeare's maternal grandfather. Read on...

Shakespeare acquired substantial wealth thanks to his acting and writing abilities, and his shares in London theatres. The going rate was £10 per play at the turn of the sixteenth century. So how much money did Shakespeare make? Read on...

Henry Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt and the grandson of King Edward III, was born on April 3, 1367. Henry usurped the throne from the ineffectual King Richard II in 1399, and thus became King Henry IV, the first of the three kings of the House of Lancaster. Read on...

Known to the Elizabethans as ague, Malaria was a common malady spread by the mosquitoes in the marshy Thames. The swampy theatre district of Southwark was always at risk. King James I had it; so too did Shakespeare's friend, Michael Drayton. Read on...

Shakespeare was familiar with seven foreign languages and often quoted them directly in his plays. His vocabulary was the largest of any writer, at over twenty-four thousand words. Read on...