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Richard III

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ACT III SCENE IVThe Tower of London.
Enter BUCKINGHAM, DERBY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP OFELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL, with others, and take their seats at a table.
HASTINGSMy lords, at once: the cause why we are met
Is, to determine of the coronation.
In God’s name, speak: when is the royal day?
BUCKINGHAMAre all things fitting for that royal time?
DERBYIt is, and wants but nomination. 5
BISHOP OF ELYTo-morrow, then, I judge a happy day.
BUCKINGHAMWho knows the lord protector’s mind herein?
Who is most inward with the royal duke?
BISHOP OF ELYYour grace, we think, should soonest know his mind.
BUCKINGHAMWho, I, my lord I we know each other’s faces, 10
But for our hearts, he knows no more of mine,
Than I of yours;
Nor I no more of his, than you of mine.
Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.
HASTINGSI thank his grace, I know he loves me well; 15
But, for his purpose in the coronation.
I have not sounded him, nor he deliver’d
His gracious pleasure any way therein:
But you, my noble lords, may name the time;
And in the duke’s behalf I’ll give my voice, 20
Which, I presume, he’ll take in gentle part.
BISHOP OF ELYNow in good time, here comes the duke himself.
GLOUCESTERMy noble lords and cousins all, good morrow.
I have been long a sleeper; but, I hope,
My absence doth neglect no great designs, 25
Which by my presence might have been concluded.
BUCKINGHAMHad not you come upon your cue, my lord
William Lord Hastings had pronounced your part,–
I mean, your voice,–for crowning of the king.
GLOUCESTERThan my Lord Hastings no man might be bolder; 30
His lordship knows me well, and loves me well.
HASTINGSI thank your grace.
GLOUCESTERMy lord of Ely!
GLOUCESTERWhen I was last in Holborn, 35
I saw good strawberries in your garden there
I do beseech you send for some of them.
BISHOP OF ELYMarry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.
GLOUCESTERCousin of Buckingham, a word with you.
Drawing him aside. 40

Catesby hath sounded Hastings in our business,
And finds the testy gentleman so hot,
As he will lose his head ere give consent
His master’s son, as worshipful as he terms it,
Shall lose the royalty of England’s throne.
BUCKINGHAMWithdraw you hence, my lord, I’ll follow you. 45
DERBYWe have not yet set down this day of triumph.
To-morrow, in mine opinion, is too sudden;
For I myself am not so well provided
As else I would be, were the day prolong’d.
BISHOP OF ELYWhere is my lord protector? I have sent for these 50
HASTINGSHis grace looks cheerfully and smooth to-day;
There’s some conceit or other likes him well,
When he doth bid good morrow with such a spirit.
I think there’s never a man in Christendom 55
That can less hide his love or hate than he;
For by his face straight shall you know his heart.
DERBYWhat of his heart perceive you in his face
By any likelihood he show’d to-day?
HASTINGSMarry, that with no man here he is offended; 60
For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.
DERBYI pray God he be not, I say.
GLOUCESTERI pray you all, tell me what they deserve
That do conspire my death with devilish plots
Of damned witchcraft, and that have prevail’d 65
Upon my body with their hellish charms?
HASTINGSThe tender love I bear your grace, my lord,
Makes me most forward in this noble presence
To doom the offenders, whatsoever they be
I say, my lord, they have deserved death. 70
GLOUCESTERThen be your eyes the witness of this ill:
See how I am bewitch’d; behold mine arm
Is, like a blasted sapling, wither’d up:
And this is Edward’s wife, that monstrous witch,
Consorted with that harlot strumpet Shore, 75
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.
HASTINGSIf they have done this thing, my gracious lord–
GLOUCESTERIf I thou protector of this damned strumpet–
Tellest thou me of ‘ifs’? Thou art a traitor:
Off with his head! Now, by Saint Paul I swear, 80
I will not dine until I see the same.
Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done:
The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.
Exeunt all but HASTINGS, RATCLIFF, and LOVEL.
HASTINGSWoe, woe for England! not a whit for me;
For I, too fond, might have prevented this. 85
Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm;
But I disdain’d it, and did scorn to fly:
Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,
And startled, when he look’d upon the Tower,
As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house. 90
O, now I want the priest that spake to me:
I now repent I told the pursuivant
As ’twere triumphing at mine enemies,
How they at Pomfret bloodily were butcher’d,
And I myself secure in grace and favour. 95
O Margaret, Margaret, now thy heavy curse
Is lighted on poor Hastings’ wretched head!
RATCLIFFDispatch, my lord; the duke would be at dinner:
Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head.
HASTINGSO momentary grace of mortal men, 100
Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!
Who builds his hopes in air of your good looks,
Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast,
Ready, with every nod, to tumble down
Into the fatal bowels of the deep. 105
LOVELCome, come, dispatch; ’tis bootless to exclaim.
HASTINGSO bloody Richard! miserable England!
I prophesy the fearful’st time to thee
That ever wretched age hath look’d upon.
Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head. 110
They smile at me that shortly shall be dead.

Richard III, Act 3, Scene 5


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, 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.


2. Determine of = decide about.

5. Wants. This is more probably intransitive than impersonal; = is wanting.

8. Inward, intimate.

25. Neglect, cause to be neglected.

27. Upon your cue. The last few words of a speech, by which an actor knows when his part is coming, are called his cue. Fr.queue, a tail.

33. The Bishop of Ely was John Morton, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. Sir Thomas More, in early life, was a member of his household, and no doubt learned from his lips many of the incidents told in his Life of Richard III.

37. Marry and will = and so I will.

45. Prolong’d, put off.

59. Likelihood, sign from which any inference could be drawn.

60. Marry = indeed, to be sure. This exclamation is derived from the name of the Virgin Mary.

75. Consorted, allied, associated.

85. Fond, foolish.

87. My foot-cloth horse = my horse with its housings or trappings. The foot-cloth was the name given to such trappings, or caparison, of a horse as hung down near the ground and were used only by the nobility.

93. Triumphing = triumphant.

99. Shrift, last confession.

100. Momentary grace, favor lasting but for a moment.

102. Cf. our phrase to build castles in the air.


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