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Richard III


ACT III SCENE VThe Tower-walls.
Enter GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM, in rotten armour, marvellous ill-favoured.
GLOUCESTERCome, cousin, canst thou quake, and change thy colour,
Murder thy breath in the middle of a word,
And then begin again, and stop again,
As if thou wert distraught and mad with terror? 4
BUCKINGHAMTut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian;
Speak and look back, and pry on every side,
Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
Intending deep suspicion: ghastly looks
Are at my service, like enforced smiles;
And both are ready in their offices,
At any time, to grace my stratagems. 11
But what, is Catesby gone?
GLOUCESTERHe is; and, see, he brings the mayor along.
Enter the Lord Mayor and CATESBY.
BUCKINGHAMLord mayor,–
GLOUCESTERLook to the drawbridge there!
BUCKINGHAMHark! a drum.
GLOUCESTERCatesby, o’erlook the walls.
BUCKINGHAMLord mayor, the reason we have sent–
GLOUCESTERLook back, defend thee, here are enemies.
BUCKINGHAMGod and our innocency defend and guard us!
GLOUCESTERBe patient, they are friends, Ratcliff and Lovel. 21
Enter LOVEL and RATCLIFF, with HASTINGS’ head.
LOVELHere is the head of that ignoble traitor,
The dangerous and unsuspected Hastings.
GLOUCESTERSo dear I loved the man, that I must weep.
I took him for the plainest harmless creature
That breathed upon this earth a Christian;
Made him my book wherein my soul recorded
The history of all her secret thoughts:
So smooth he daub’d his vice with show of virtue,
That, his apparent open guilt omitted, 30
I mean, his conversation with Shore’s wife,
He lived from all attainder of suspect.
BUCKINGHAMWell, well, he was the covert’st shelter’d traitor
That ever lived.
Would you imagine, or almost believe,
Were’t not that, by great preservation,
We live to tell it you, the subtle traitor
This day had plotted, in the council-house
To murder me and my good Lord of Gloucester?
Lord MayorWhat, had he so?
GLOUCESTERWhat, think You we are Turks or infidels?
Or that we would, against the form of law,
Proceed thus rashly to the villain’s death,
But that the extreme peril of the case,
The peace of England and our persons’ safety,
Enforced us to this execution? 45
Lord MayorNow, fair befall you! he deserved his death;
And you my good lords, both have well proceeded,
To warn false traitors from the like attempts.
I never look’d for better at his hands,
After he once fell in with Mistress Shore.
GLOUCESTERYet had not we determined he should die,
Until your lordship came to see his death;
Which now the loving haste of these our friends,
Somewhat against our meaning, have prevented:
Because, my lord, we would have had you heard 55
The traitor speak, and timorously confess
The manner and the purpose of his treason;
That you might well have signified the same
Unto the citizens, who haply may
Misconstrue us in him and wail his death.
Lord MayorBut, my good lord, your grace’s word shall serve,
As well as I had seen and heard him speak
And doubt you not, right noble princes both,
But I’ll acquaint our duteous citizens
With all your just proceedings in this cause. 65
GLOUCESTERAnd to that end we wish’d your lord-ship here,
To avoid the carping censures of the world.
BUCKINGHAMBut since you come too late of our intents,
Yet witness what you hear we did intend:
And so, my good lord mayor, we bid farewell.
Exit Lord Mayor.
GLOUCESTERGo, after, after, cousin Buckingham.
The mayor towards Guildhall hies him in all post:
There, at your meet’st advantage of the time,
Infer the bastardy of Edward’s children: 75
Tell them how Edward put to death a citizen,
Only for saying he would make his son
Heir to the crown; meaning indeed his house,
Which, by the sign thereof was termed so.
Moreover, urge his hateful luxury
And bestial appetite in change of lust;
Which stretched to their servants, daughters, wives,
Even where his lustful eye or savage heart,
Without control, listed to make his prey.
Nay, for a need, thus far come near my person: 85
Tell them, when that my mother went with child
Of that insatiate Edward, noble York
My princely father then had wars in France
And, by just computation of the time,
Found that the issue was not his begot;
Which well appeared in his lineaments,
Being nothing like the noble duke my father:
But touch this sparingly, as ’twere far off,
Because you know, my lord, my mother lives.
BUCKINGHAMFear not, my lord, I’ll play the orator 95
As if the golden fee for which I plead
Were for myself: and so, my lord, adieu.
GLOUCESTERIf you thrive well, bring them to Baynard’s Castle;
Where you shall find me well accompanied
With reverend fathers and well-learned bishops.
BUCKINGHAMI go: and towards three or four o’clock
Look for the news that the Guildhall affords.
GLOUCESTERGo, Lovel, with all speed to Doctor Shaw;
Go thou to Friar Penker; bid them both 105
Meet me within this hour at Baynard’s Castle.
Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER.
Now will I in, to take some privy order,
To draw the brats of Clarence out of sight;
And to give notice, that no manner of person
At any time have recourse unto the princes.

Richard III, Act 3, Scene 6


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 5

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.


4. Distraught = distracted.

8. Intending = pretending.

11. Grace my stratagems, to set off my schemes.

13. The Mayor of London at this time, according to Hall, was Edmund Shaw, brother of the Doctor Shaw of line 102.

21. Ratcliff was at Pomfret at this time, conducting the execution of Rivers, Grey, and Vaughan.

24. Dear = dearly.

25. Plainest harmless; either the plainest, (the most) harmless creature, or plainest-harmless is to be taken as a compound word, like sudden-bold, fertile-fresh, crafty-sick, etc.; plainest being regarded as an adverb.

30-32. That, overlooking the single exception of his manifest guilt, in his intercourse with Shore’s wife, he lived free from all stain of suspicion. Guilt in line 30 is in the nominative absolute. From = free from.

33. Covert’st, most secret.

54-55. But now the loving haste of these our friends, somewhat against our own intentions, has prevented this.

61. Put a wrong construction on our dealings with him, and lament his death.

63. As = as if.

69. Of our intent, for our purposes.

73. In all post, in all haste, as a post or messenger.

74. Meetest vantage, most favorable opportunity.

75. Infer, use as an argument.

76. Hall tells the story of one Burdet, a merchant in Cheapside, at the sign of the Crown, and how his unfortunate jest cost him his life.

83. Listed, desired.

85. For a need, in case of necessity.

87. Insatiate, not to be satisfied. The Duke of York succeeded the Duke of Bedford as regent of France.

91. His lineaments, Edward’s features.

106. Baynard’s Castle. This was a residence of Richard, and was situated on the north bank of the Thames.

104. Doctor Shaw. . . . Friar Penker. These were both popular preachers of the clay. “They were,” says Holinshed, “both doctors of divinitie, both great preachers, both of more learning than vertue, of more fame than learning.”

107. To take some secret measures.

108. Brats, originally a rag, clout, especially a child’s bib or apron; hence, in contempt, a child. A Celtic word. Clarence’s son was imprisoned both by Richard and Henry VII, and ultimately beheaded by the latter; his daughter married Sir Richard de la Pole, and was the mother of Cardinal Pole. She was created Countess of Salisbury by Henry VIII, but was sent to the block at the age of seventy by that vindictive king, in answer to her son’s treatise, De Unitate Ecclesiastica.


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