Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Richard III


ACT II SCENE IVLondon. The palace.
ARCHBISHOP OF YORKLast night, I hear, they lay at Northampton;
At Stony-Stratford will they be to-night:
To-morrow, or next day, they will be here.
DUCHESS OF YORKI long with all my heart to see the prince:
I hope he is much grown since last I saw him. 5
QUEEN ELIZABETHBut I hear, no; they say my son of York
Hath almost overta’en him in his growth.
YORKAy, mother; but I would not have it so.
DUCHESS OF YORKWhy, my young cousin, it is good to grow.
YORKGrandam, one night, as we did sit at supper, 10
My uncle Rivers talk’d how I did grow
More than my brother: ‘Ay,’ quoth my uncle
‘Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:’
And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast, 15
Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.
DUCHESS OF YORKGood faith, good faith, the saying did not hold
In him that did object the same to thee;
He was the wretched’st thing when he was young,
So long a-growing and so leisurely, 20
That, if this rule were true, he should be gracious.
ARCHBISHOP OF YORKWhy, madam, so, no doubt, he is.
DUCHESS OF YORKI hope he is; but yet let mothers doubt.
YORKNow, by my troth, if I had been remember’d,
I could have given my uncle’s grace a flout, 25
To touch his growth nearer than he touch’d mine.
DUCHESS OF YORKHow, my pretty York? I pray thee, let me hear it.
YORKMarry, they say my uncle grew so fast
That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old
‘Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth. 30
Grandam, this would have been a biting jest.
DUCHESS OF YORKI pray thee, pretty York, who told thee this?
YORKGrandam, his nurse.
DUCHESS OF YORKHis nurse! why, she was dead ere thou wert born.
YORKIf ’twere not she, I cannot tell who told me. 35
QUEEN ELIZABETHA parlous boy: go to, you are too shrewd.
ARCHBISHOP OF YORKGood madam, be not angry with the child.
QUEEN ELIZABETHPitchers have ears.
Enter a Messenger.
ARCHBISHOP OF YORKHere comes a messenger. What news?
MessengerSuch news, my lord, as grieves me to unfold. 40
QUEEN ELIZABETHHow fares the prince?
MessengerWell, madam, and in health.
DUCHESS OF YORKWhat is thy news then?
MessengerLord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,
With them Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners. 45
DUCHESS OF YORKWho hath committed them?
MessengerThe mighty dukes
Gloucester and Buckingham.
QUEEN ELIZABETHFor what offence?
MessengerThe sum of all I can, I have disclosed; 50
Why or for what these nobles were committed
Is all unknown to me, my gracious lady.
QUEEN ELIZABETHAy me, I see the downfall of our house!
The tiger now hath seized the gentle hind;
Insulting tyranny begins to jet 55
Upon the innocent and aweless throne:
Welcome, destruction, death, and massacre!
I see, as in a map, the end of all.
DUCHESS OF YORKAccursed and unquiet wrangling days,
How many of you have mine eyes beheld! 60
My husband lost his life to get the crown;
And often up and down my sons were toss’d,
For me to joy and weep their gain and loss:
And being seated, and domestic broils
Clean over-blown, themselves, the conquerors. 65
Make war upon themselves; blood against blood,
Self against self: O, preposterous
And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen;
Or let me die, to look on death no more!
QUEEN ELIZABETHCome, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary. 70
Madam, farewell.
DUCHESS OF YORKI’ll go along with you.
QUEEN ELIZABETHYou have no cause.
ARCHBISHOP OF YORKMy gracious lady, go;
And thither bear your treasure and your goods. 75
For my part, I’ll resign unto your grace
The seal I keep: and so betide to me
As well I tender you and all of yours!
Come, I’ll conduct you to the sanctuary.

Richard III, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, 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.


1. This archbishop was Thomas Rotherham, Lord Chancellor of England, afterwards created a cardinal.

24. Had been remembered = had remembered.

25. Flout, a jibe or mocking jest.

36. Parlous, dangerous, a corruption of perilousShrewd, sharp-tongued.

49. Can seems here to have its original meaning of know.

50. Why perhaps refers to the past cause: for what to the future object.

55. Jet and jut are the same in origin, and signify to project, to encroach upon.

56. Aweless, inspiring no awe.

65. Over blown, quite blown aside.

70. The Sanctuary was in the precincts of Westminster Abbey.

78. Tender, to regard with kindness.


How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886.