|ACT II SCENE III||London. A street.|
|Enter two Citizens meeting.|
|First Citizen||Neighbour, well met: whither away so fast?|
|Second Citizen||I promise you, I scarcely know myself:|
|Hear you the news abroad?|
|First Citizen||Ay, that the king is dead.|
|Second Citizen||Bad news, by’r lady; seldom comes the better:||5|
|I fear, I fear ’twill prove a troublous world.|
|Enter another Citizen.|
|Third Citizen||Neighbours, God speed!|
|First Citizen||Give you good morrow, sir.|
|Third Citizen||Doth this news hold of good King Edward’s death?|
|Second Citizen||Ay, sir, it is too true; God help the while!||10|
|Third Citizen||Then, masters, look to see a troublous world.|
|First Citizen||No, no; by God’s good grace his son shall reign.|
|Third Citizen||Woe to the land that’s govern’d by a child!|
|Second Citizen||In him there is a hope of government,|
|That in his nonage council under him,||15|
|And in his full and ripen’d years himself,|
|No doubt, shall then and till then govern well.|
|First Citizen||So stood the state when Henry the Sixth|
|Was crown’d in Paris but at nine months old.|
|Third Citizen||Stood the state so? No, no, good friends, God wot;|
|For then this land was famously enrich’d|
|With politic grave counsel; then the king|
|Had virtuous uncles to protect his grace.||23|
|First Citizen||Why, so hath this, both by the father and mother.|
|Third Citizen||Better it were they all came by the father,|
|Or by the father there were none at all;|
|For emulation now, who shall be nearest,|
|Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not.|
|O, full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester!|
|And the queen’s sons and brothers haught and proud:|
|And were they to be ruled, and not to rule,|
|This sickly land might solace as before.||32|
|First Citizen||Come, come, we fear the worst; all shall be well.|
|Third Citizen||When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks;|
|When great leaves fall, the winter is at hand;|
|When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?|
|Untimely storms make men expect a dearth.|
|All may be well; but, if God sort it so,|
|‘Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.|
|Second Citizen||Truly, the souls of men are full of dread:|
|Ye cannot reason almost with a man||41|
|That looks not heavily and full of fear.|
|Third Citizen||Before the times of change, still is it so:|
|By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust|
|Ensuing dangers; as by proof, we see|
|The waters swell before a boisterous storm.|
|But leave it all to God. whither away?|
|Second Citizen||Marry, we were sent for to the justices.|
|Third Citizen||And so was I: I’ll bear you company.|
Richard III, Act 2, Scene 4
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, 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.
2. Promise, assure.
5. By ‘r lady, that is, by the Holy Virgin. Seldom comes the better, a proverb meaning good news is scarce. The here is the ablative of the demonstrative, and signifies with comparatives the measure of excess or defect. The sooner the better = by how much the sooner by so much the better, Lat. quo citius, eo melius.
11. See Ecclesiastes 10 : 16.
15. Nonage, minority.
18. God wot, God knows. Wot is the third person singular present indicative of the verb. M. E. infinitive witen; present tense (1) Iwot, (2) thou wost (later wottest, (3) he wot (later wotteth), plural witen; past tense, I wiste; past participle, wist. The A.-S. infinitive iswitan; present (1) Ic wat, (2) thu wast, (3) he wat, plural witen; past, wiste (also wisse), plural wiston; past participle, wist. Gerund, to witanne (modern English, to wit).
23. Virtuous uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester.
32. Solace, enjoy comfort.
41. Cannot . . . almost = can hardly. Almost frequently follows the word which it qualifies.
How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886.