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Richard III

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ACT V SCENE III Bosworth Field. 
Enter KING RICHARD III and Forces; the DUKE OF NORFOLK, EARL OF SURREY, and others.
KING RICHARD IIIHere pitch our tents, even here in Bosworth field.
My Lord of Surrey, why look you so sad?
SURREYMy heart is ten times lighter than my looks.
KING RICHARD IIIMy Lord of Norfolk,--
NORFOLKHere, most gracious liege.
KING RICHARD IIINorfolk, we must have knocks; ha! must we not?
NORFOLKWe must both give and take, my gracious lord.
KING RICHARD IIIUp with my tent there! here will I lie tonight;
KING RICHARD III[ Soldiers begin to set up the KING'S tent.
But where to-morrow? Well, all's one for that.
Who hath descried the number of the foe?
NORFOLKSix or seven thousand is their utmost power.10
KING RICHARD IIIWhy, our battalia trebles that account:
Besides, the king's name is a tower of strength,
Which they upon the adverse party want.
Up with my tent there! Valiant gentlemen,
Let us survey the vantage of the field
Call for some men of sound direction
Let's want no discipline, make no delay,
For, lords, to-morrow is a busy day.
[ Exeunt .
Enter, on the other side of the field, RICHMOND, SIR WILLIAM BRANDON, OXFORD, and other Lords. Some of the Soldiers pitch RICHMOND's tent.
RICHMONDThe weary sun hath made a golden set,20
And by the bright track of his fiery car,
Gives signal, of a goodly day to-morrow.
Sir William Brandon, you shall bear my standard.
Give me some ink and paper in my tent
I'll draw the form and model of our battle,
Limit each leader to his several charge,
And part in just proportion our small strength.

My Lord of Oxford, you, Sir William Brandon,
And you, Sir Walter Herbert, stay with me.
The Earl of Pembroke keeps his regiment:
Good Captain Blunt, bear my good night to him30
And by the second hour in the morning
Desire the earl to see me in my tent:
Yet one thing more, good Blunt, before thou go'st,
Where is Lord Stanley quarter'd, dost thou know?
BLUNTUnless I have mista'en his colours much,
Which well I am assured I have not done,
His regiment lies half a mile at least
South from the mighty power of the king.
RICHMONDIf without peril it be possible,
Sweet Blunt, bear my good-night to him,40
And give him from me this most needful scroll.
BLUNTUpon my life, my lord, I'll under-take it;
And so, God give you quiet rest to-night!
RICHMONDGood night, good Captain Blunt. Come gentlemen,
Let us consult upon to-morrow's business
In to our tent; the air is raw and cold.
[ They withdraw into the tent.
Enter, to his tent, KING RICHARD III, NORFOLK, RATCLIFF, CATESBY, and others.
KING RICHARD IIIWhat is't o'clock?
CATESBYIt's supper-time, my lord;
It's nine o'clock.
KING RICHARD IIII will not sup to-night.
Give me some ink and paper.
What, is my beaver easier than it was?50
And all my armour laid into my tent?
CATESBYIf is, my liege; and all things are in readiness.
KING RICHARD IIIGood Norfolk, hie thee to thy charge;
Use careful watch, choose trusty sentinels.
NORFOLKI go, my lord.
KING RICHARD IIIStir with the lark to-morrow, gentle Norfolk.
NORFOLKI warrant you, my lord.
[ Exit.
KING RICHARD IIISend out a pursuivant-at-arms.60
To Stanley's reg'ment; bid him bring his power
Before sunrising, lest his son George fall
Into the blind cave of eternal night.
Fill me a bowl of wine. Give me a watch.
Saddle white Surrey for the field to-morrow.
Look that my staves be sound, and not too heavy.
KING RICHARD IIISaw'st thou the melancholy Lord Northumberland?
RATCLIFFThomas the Earl of Surrey, and himself,70
Much about cock-shut time, from troop to troop
Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers.
KING RICHARD IIISo, I am satisfied. Give me a bowl of wine:
I have not that alacrity of spirit,
Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have.
Set it down. Is ink and paper ready?
RATCLIFFIt is, my lord.
KING RICHARD IIIBid my guard watch; leave me.
Ratcliff, about the mid of night come to my tent
And help to arm me. Leave me, I say.
[ KING RICHARD retires into his tent. Exeunt RATCLIFF and CATESBY]
RICHMOND'S tent opens and discovers him and his Officers, etc.
STANLEYFortune and victory sit on thy helm!80
RICHMONDAll comfort that the dark night can afford
Be to thy person, noble father-in-law!
Tell me, how fares our loving mother?
STANLEYI, by attorney, bless thee from thy mother
Who prays continually for Richmond's good:
So much for that. The silent hours steal on,
And flaky darkness breaks within the east.
In brief,--for so the season bids us be,--
Prepare thy battle early in the morning,
And put thy fortune to the arbitrement90
Of bloody strokes and mortal-staring war.
I, as I may--that which I would I cannot,--
With best advantage will deceive the time,
And aid thee in this doubtful shock of arms:
But on thy side I may not be too forward
Lest, being seen, thy brother, tender George,
Be executed in his father's sight.
Farewell: the leisure and the fearful time
Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love
And ample interchange of sweet discourse,100
Which so long sunder'd friends should dwell upon:
God give us leisure for these rites of love!
Once more, adieu: be valiant, and speed well!
RICHMONDGood lords, conduct him to his regiment:
I'll strive, with troubled thoughts, to take a nap,
Lest leaden slumber peise me down to-morrow,
When I should mount with wings of victory:
Once more, good night, kind lords and gentlemen.
[ Exeunt all but RICHMOND.
O Thou, whose captain I account myself,
Look on my forces with a gracious eye;110
Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,
That they may crush down with a heavy fall
The usurping helmets of our adversaries!
Make us thy ministers of chastisement,
That we may praise thee in the victory!
To thee I do commend my watchful soul,
Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes:
Sleeping and waking, O, defend me still!
[ Sleeps.
The Ghost of PRINCE EDWARD, son to HENRY THE SIXTH, rises between the two tents.
Ghost of Prince Edward[To KING RICHARD III]
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!
Think, how thou stabb'dst me in my prime of youth120
At Tewksbury: despair, therefore, and die!
Be cheerful, Richmond; for the wronged souls
Of butcher'd princes fight in thy behalf
King Henry's issue, Richmond, comforts thee.
The Ghost of HENRY THE SIXTH rises.
Ghost of King Henry VI[To KING RICHARD III]
When I was mortal, my anointed body
By thee was punched full of deadly holes
Think on the Tower and me: despair, and die!
Harry the Sixth bids thee despair, and die!
Virtuous and holy, be thou conqueror!
Harry, that prophesied thou shouldst be king,130
Doth comfort thee in thy sleep: live, and flourish!
The Ghost of CLARENCE rises.
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!
I, that was wash'd to death with fulsome wine,
Poor Clarence, by thy guile betrayed to death!
To-morrow in the battle think on me,
And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!--
Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster
The wronged heirs of York do pray for thee
Good angels guard thy battle! live, and flourish!
The Ghosts of RIVERS, GRAY, and VAUGHAN rise.
Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow,140
Rivers. that died at Pomfret! despair, and die!
Think upon Grey, and let thy soul despair!
Think upon Vaughan, and, with guilty fear,
Let fall thy lance: despair, and die!
Awake! and think our wrongs in Richard's bosom
Will conquer him! awake, and win the day!
The Ghost of HASTINGS rises.
Bloody and guilty, guiltily awake,
And in a bloody battle end thy days!
Think on Lord Hastings: despair, and die!
Quiet untroubled soul, awake, awake!150
Arm, fight, and conquer, for fair England's sake!
The Ghosts of the two young Princes rise.
Ghosts of young Princes[To KING RICHARD III]
Dream on thy cousins smother'd in the Tower:
Let us be led within thy bosom, Richard,
And weigh thee down to ruin, shame, and death!
Thy nephews' souls bid thee despair and die!
Sleep, Richmond, sleep in peace, and wake in joy;
Good angels guard thee from the boar's annoy!
Live, and beget a happy race of kings!
Edward's unhappy sons do bid thee flourish.
The Ghost of QUEEN ANNE rises.
Richard, thy wife, that wretched Anne thy wife,
That never slept a quiet hour with thee,
Now fills thy sleep with perturbations
To-morrow in the battle think on me,
And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!
Thou quiet soul, sleep thou a quiet sleep
Dream of success and happy victory!
Thy adversary's wife doth pray for thee.
The Ghost of BUCKINGHAM rises.
The last was I that helped thee to the crown;
The last was I that felt thy tyranny:
O, in the battle think on Buckingham,170
And die in terror of thy guiltiness!
Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death:
Fainting, despair; despairing, yield thy breath!
I died for hope ere I could lend thee aid:
But cheer thy heart, and be thou not dismay'd:
God and good angel fight on Richmond's side;
And Richard falls in height of all his pride.
[The Ghosts vanish]
[KING RICHARD III starts out of his dream]
KING RICHARD IIIGive me another horse: bind up my wounds.
Have mercy, Jesu!--Soft! I did but dream.
O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!180
The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? myself? there's none else by:
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am:
Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why:
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?
Alack. I love myself. Wherefore? for any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!190
I am a villain: yet I lie. I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Perjury, perjury, in the high'st degree
Murder, stem murder, in the direst degree;
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, Guilty! guilty!
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;200
And if I die, no soul shall pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?
Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd
Came to my tent; and every one did threat
To-morrow's vengeance on the head of Richard.
KING RICHARD III'Zounds! who is there?
RATCLIFFRatcliff, my lord; 'tis I. The early village-cock
Hath twice done salutation to the morn;
Your friends are up, and buckle on their armour.210
KING RICHARD IIIO Ratcliff, I have dream'd a fearful dream!
What thinkest thou, will our friends prove all true?
RATCLIFFNo doubt, my lord.
KING RICHARD IIIO Ratcliff, I fear, I fear,--
RATCLIFFNay, good my lord, be not afraid of shadows.
KING RICHARD IIIBy the apostle Paul, shadows to-night
Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard
Than can the substance of ten thousand soldiers
Armed in proof, and led by shallow Richmond.
It is not yet near day. Come, go with me;
Under our tents I'll play the eaves-dropper,220
To see if any mean to shrink from me.
[ Exeunt.
Enter OXFORD and others.
LORDSGood morrow, Richmond!
RICHMONDCry mercy, lords and watchful gentlemen,
That you have ta'en a tardy sluggard here.
LORDSHow have you slept, my lord?
RICHMONDThe sweetest sleep, and fairest-boding dreams
That ever enter'd in a drowsy head,
Have I since your departure had, my lords.
Methought their souls, whose bodies Richard murder'd,
Came to my tent, and cried on victory:230
I promise you, my soul is very jocund
In the remembrance of so fair a dream.
How far into the morning is it, lords?
LORDSUpon the stroke of four.
RICHMONDWhy, then 'tis time to arm and give direction.
[His oration to his soldiers]
More than I have said, loving countrymen,
The leisure and enforcement of the time
Forbids to dwell upon: yet remember this,
God and our good cause fight upon our side;
The prayers of holy saints and wronged souls,240
Like high-rear'd bulwarks, stand before our faces;
Richard except, those whom we fight against
Had rather have us win than him they follow.
For what is he they follow? truly, gentlemen,
A bloody tyrant and a homicide;
One raised in blood, and one in blood establish'd;
One that made means to come by what he hath,
And slaughter'd those that were the means to help him;
Abase foul stone, made precious by the foil
Of England's chair, where he is falsely set;250
One that hath ever been God's enemy:
Then, if you fight against God's enemy,
God will in justice ward you as his soldiers;
If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,
You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;
If you do fight against your country's foes,
Your country's fat shall pay your pains the hire;
If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,
Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;
If you do free your children from the sword,260
Your children's children quit it in your age.
Then, in the name of God and all these rights,
Advance your standards, draw your willing swords.
For me, the ransom of my bold attempt
Shall be this cold corpse on the earth's cold face;
But if I thrive, the gain of my attempt
The least of you shall share his part thereof.
Sound drums and trumpets boldly and cheerfully;
God and Saint George! Richmond and victory!
[ Exeunt.
Re-enter KING RICHARD, RATCLIFF, Attendants and Forces.
KING RICHARD IIIWhat said Northumberland as touching Richmond?270
RATCLIFFThat he was never trained up in arms.
KING RICHARD IIIHe said the truth: and what said Surrey then?
RATCLIFFHe smil'd and said 'The better for our purpose.'
KING RICHARD IIIHe was in the right; and so indeed it is.
[ Clock strikes.
Tell the clock there. Give me a calendar.
Who saw the sun to-day?
RATCLIFFNot I, my lord.
KING RICHARD IIIThen he disdains to shine; for by the book
He should have brav'd the east an hour ago
A black day will it be to somebody. Ratcliff!
KING RICHARD IIIThe sun will not be seen to-day;280
The sky doth frown and lour upon our army.
I would these dewy tears were from the ground.
Not shine to-day! Why, what is that to me
More than to Richmond? for the selfsame heaven
That frowns on me looks sadly upon him.
NORFOLKArm, arm, my lord; the foe vaunts in the field.
KING RICHARD IIICome, bustle, bustle; caparison my horse.
Call up Lord Stanley, bid him bring his power:
I will lead forth my soldiers to the plain,
And thus my battle shall be ordered:
My foreward shall be drawn out all in length,
Consisting equally of horse and foot;
Our archers shall be placed in the midst
John Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Earl of Surrey,
Shall have the leading of this foot and horse.
They thus directed, we will follow
In the main battle, whose puissance on either side
Shall be well winged with our chiefest horse.
This, and Saint George to boot! What think'st thou, Norfolk?
NORFOLKA good direction, warlike sovereign.
This found I on my tent this morning.
[ Giving him a scroll.
'Jockey of Norfolk, be not too bold,
For Dickon thy master is bought and sold.'
A thing devised by the enemy.
Go, gentleman, every man unto his charge
Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls:
Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe:
Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law.
March on, join bravely, let us to 't pell-mell310
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.
What shall I say more than I have inferr'd?
Remember whom you are to cope withal;
A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and runaways,
A scum of Bretons, and base lackey peasants,
Whom their o'er-cloyed country vomits forth
To desperate ventures and assured destruction.
You sleeping safe, they bring to you unrest;
You having lands, and blest with beauteous wives,
They would restrain the one, distain the other.320
And who doth lead them but a paltry fellow,
Long kept in Bretagne at our mother's cost?
A milksop, one that never in his life
Felt so much cold as over shoes in snow?
Let's whip these stragglers o'er the seas again;
Lash hence these overweening rags of France,
These famish'd beggars, weary of their lives;
Who, but for dreaming on this fond exploit,
For want of means, poor rats, had hang'd themselves:
If we be conquer'd, let men conquer us,
And not these bastard Bretons; whom our fathers
Have in their own land beaten, bobb'd, and thump'd,
And in record, left them the heirs of shame.
Shall these enjoy our lands? lie with our wives?
Ravish our daughters?
[ Drum afar off.
Hark! I hear their drum.
Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yoemen!
Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!
Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood;
Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!
Enter a Messenger.
What says Lord Stanley? will he bring his power?340
MessengerMy lord, he doth deny to come.
KING RICHARD IIIOff with his son George's head!
NORFOLKMy lord, the enemy is past the marsh
After the battle let George Stanley die.
KING RICHARD IIIA thousand hearts are great within my bosom:
Advance our standards, set upon our foes
Our ancient word of courage, fair Saint George,
Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons!
Upon them! victory sits on our helms.

Richard III, Act 5, Scene 4


Explanatory Notes for Act 5, 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.


8. All's one for that, no matter for that.

9. Descried, observed.

11. Battalia, host. army [battalion in the quartos. Battalia is not the plural of battalion, but an old noun singular -- W. Rolfe]. Account, reckoning.

12. Proverbs 18: 10: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower."

15. Vantage, the points of advantage.

16. Sound direction, skill in planning military movements.

20. Track, course. Helios, the god of the sun, rose in the morning, in the east, out of the ocean: traversed the heavens in a flaming car, drawn by four horses; and descended in the evening into the darkness of the ocean in the west.

21. A bright sky at sunset is supposed to portend a fine on the morrow.

26. Limit, appoint. Several, particular.

26. Part, divide.

29. Keeps, remains with.

50. Beaver — the helmet. It meant etymologically only the front part of the helmet, that part which lets down to enable the wearer to drink. Lat. bibere, to drink.

60. Pursuivant, an attendant upon a herald.

64. Watch, a watch-light, a candle marked out into sections, each of which was a certain portion of time in burning

65. White Surrey. Hall mentions Richard's great white courser.

66. My staves, the shafts of my lanoes.

69. Richard applies the term melancholy to Northumberland, because he knew he was only half-hearted in the cause.

71. Cock-shut time, twilight; from the time when the cock-shut that is, a large net used to catch woodcocks, used to be spread.

82. Father-in-law, stepfather.

87. Flaky, breaking up into flakes, through which the light is beginning to appear.

89. Prepare your army in the order of battle.

91. Mortal-staring, staring fatally on its victims.

93. I will give as little help as I can to Richard during the battle.

96. Tender George was at this time a married man. But Shakespeare followed the chroniclers, Hall and Holinshed.

98. Leisure, the time at our command. Fearful, causing fear.

106. Peise. weigh.

111. Bruising irons of wrath, the heavy iron maces wielded in battle.

125. Anointed, consecrated by unction at his coronation.

133. Fulsome, nauseous.

136. Fall - let fall.

152. Cousins, nephews. See II. ii. 8; III. i. 2, and note on the latter passage.

174. I died for wishing well to you, before I could give thee aid.

181. The lights burn blue. This is invariable when spirits are present.

198. Us'd, committed.

200. Shall - will.

218. Proof, in armor there is proof against weapons.

230. Cried on, uttered the cry of.

237. Enforcement, constraint.

242. Except, excepted. Except here is a passive participle.

247. Made means, contrived means.

248. To help, of helping.

249. A worthless stone, rendered valuable only by its setting — the throne of England. Foil, a bright colored leaf (Lat. folium, leaf) of metal on which a jewel is placed to set it off; hence, anything serving to give luster to another thing.

253. Ward, guard, defend.

257. Fat, wealth, means.

261. Quit, requite.

264-265. As for me, if I fail in my bold attempt, the atonement for my boldness shall be my death.

275. Tell, count.

279. Brav'd, made brave, that is, splendid, glorious.

287. Bustle, be active. Caparison, put on his trapplngfs.

291. Foreward, vanguard.

298. Winged, supported on the wings.

302. According to Hall, "The nyghte before he shoulde set forwarde towarde the kynge, one wrote on his gate: "Iack of Norffolke, be not to bolde,
For Dykon thy maister is bought and solde."

312. Inferr'd, mentioned.

314. Sort, a pack.

315. Scum, refuse. Lackey, servile.

316. O'er-cloyed, filled beyond satiety with them.

320. Restrain, keep from us. Distain, stain, defile.

321. Paltry, contemptible.

322. At our mother's cost. This should be at our brother's cost. The speech closely follows Hall's Chronicle, where find the following passage: "And to begyn with the earle of Richmond, captaine of this rebellion, he is a Welsh mylkesoppe, a man of small courage and lesse experience in marcyall actes and feates of war, brought up by my brother's means and myne, like a captiue in a close cage, in the court of Fraunces duke of Britaine." Holinshed copied from Hall, and in his second edition, by a printer's error, "brother's" was changed into "mother's," and Shakespeare, having this edition in his hands, perpetuated the error. The brother in question was Richard's brother-in-law, Charles, Duke of Burgundy; who maintained Richmond at the court of Francis, Duke of Brittany, in a kind of honorable custody.

323. Milksop, an effeminate fellow.

326. Overweening rags, presumptuous beggars.

332. Bobb'd, drubbed.

339. Fright the skies with the splintering of your lances. Welkin, A.-S. wolcnu, clouds, plural of wolcen, a cloud.

341. Deny, refuse.

348. Spleen, anger, as the spleen was supposed to be the seat of that passion.

How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < >.
Hammond, Eleanor P. The Tent Scene in Richard III. Modern Language Notes. Vol. 17. 1 May, 1902.

Thoughts on The Tent Scene

"As we look the figure of Richmond grows in importance. Richard no longer dominates the stage. He is no longer the moving spirit of the action, but is passive in the grip of a fate as pitiless as himself. He is to die; but that is to him, and to us, and to the dramatist, nothing. What is here presented is everything: — that each of his victims is to strike him with Richmond's arm, and that he is to realize, in the few moments of horror as the vision passes away, his own bondage to the humanity he had scorned. We see the consecration and ennobling of Richmond as fit adversary to the hitherto redoubtable Richard, from whose grasp victory is withdrawn. We see the iron Richard forced to confess the human needs he had denied and despised; and his cry of despair, as he first feels his lack of all earthly ties, as he first shrinks from the solitude on which he had prided himself, makes us realize, like the knocking at the gate in Macbeth, the awful pause during which our ideas of life had been deranged as we watched with fascination a creature who set the world at naught. Richard becomes human in that cry; our vision returns to us. The spell is broken; the balance is restored." (Eleanor P. Hammond. The Tent Scene in Richard III, Modern Language Notes, Vol. 17)

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