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The Richard III Study Guide

With a Complete Annotated Text
Of the Shakespeare Play

Copyright  © 2016-2018 by Michael J. Cummings
All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents

Type of Work
Composition and Publication
First Performance
Settings and Time
Plot Summary
The Story
Climax and Conclusion
The Supernatural
Richard's Talented Tongue
The Fragility of Peace
The Tutors
Capital Punishment
It's Good to Be Bad
Foreshadowings and Richard's Revelations
Richard as a Psychopath
Richard as "The Boar"
The Historical Richard
Figures of Speech
The Complete Annotated Text
About the Author of This Study Guide

Type of Work 

William Shakespeare's Richard III is a stage play that is both a history and a tragedy. It is the last of the four Shakespeare plays that focus in part on the Wars of the Roses. The others were Henry VI Part I, Henry VI Part II, and Henry VI Part III.  Although there are many murders in the play, it is not a whodunit but a character study of the remorselessly evil title character.

Composition and Publication

Richard III was probably written between 1591 and 1593. It was first published in a quarto edition in 1597. A quarto was a sheet of paper folded in half to create four pages. Five other quarto editions appeared between 1598 and 1622. Friends of Shakespeare published the play again in 1623, seven years after the author's death, in a collection that included thirty-five other Shakespeare plays. This collection was carefully edited and proofread, then printed in folio format. A folio was a larger sheet of paper than a quarto. Like the quarto, it was folded to create pages. Because the folio book was the first publication containing a collection of Shakespeare's plays, it came to be known as the First Folio after other folio editions were published in 1632, 1663, and 1685.

First Performance

Richard III was first performed in the 1590s, although the place of its performance and the exact date of its debut are uncertain. It is likely that the play was performed at the Globe Theatre after it opened in 1599. A record exists that the play was performed at the royal court in November of 1633.


Shakespeare based Richard III partly on accounts in The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, by Raphael Holinshed (1529-1580). This history was published in 1577 in two volumes. Other sources Shakespeare used were The Union of Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and Yorke (published in 1548), by Edward Hall (1497-1547); The Mirror for Magistrates, published in 1559 and edited by William Baldwin and George Ferrers; and The History of King Richard the Thirde (published in 1557), by Sir Thomas More (1477-1535).  Shakespeare also appears to have used information from A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels, by George North, according to a book by Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter. McCarthy, an American writer in New Hamphsire, and Schlueter, an English professor at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, 

Settings and Time

The action takes place in England. The locales are London, an open place near Salisbury, a camp near Tamworth, and Bosworth Field (about twelve miles west of Leicester in the East Midlands). Although the historical events depicted in the play took place over approximately fourteen years, Shakespeare compresses them into about a month. The play ends in 1485 after the Battle of Bosworth Field.


Richard, Duke of Gloucester: Richard is the son of the late Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York. The play script refers to Richard as Gloucester in the first three acts (when he is a duke) and as King Richard in the last two acts (when he is England's ruler). Gloucester gleefully murders his way to power to become King Richard III. At the beginning of the play, Richard is in his early twenties; at the end, when he dies in the Battle of Bosworth Field, he is thirty-two. Richard is the main character, or protagonist.
Edward IV: Sickly King of England and brother of Richard (Duke of Gloucester) and George (Duke of Clarence). Edward dies and leaves two boys as heirs to the throne—and prey for the murderously ambitious Richard.
George, Duke of Clarence: Brother of Edward IV and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Because he stands in the way of Richard's evil plans, Richard has him murdered. 
Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth Woodville): Wife of King Edward IV. She was the widow of Sir John Grey.
Elizabeth of York: Daughter of Queen Elizabeth and King Edward IV.
Edward, Prince of Wales: Twelve-year-old son of Edward IV.  After his father dies, Edward reigns briefly as king—from April 9,1483, to June 29, 1483. In Richard III, he dies in the Tower of London at the hands of murderers hired by Richard.
Richard of Shrewsbury, First Duke of York (also referred to as Prince Richard): Younger brother of Edward, Prince of Wales.The murderers who kill his twelve-year-old brother also kill young Richard.
Lady Anne: Widow of Prince Edward, the son of King Henry VI. She was the daughter of Richard Neville, the Sixteenth Earl of Warwick. She despises Gloucester; however, through guile and lies, he persuades her to marry him.
Richmond: Henry Tudor, Second Earl of Richmond. A long-standing foe of Richard III, he leads an army against Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
Lord Thomas Stanley: First Earl of Derby and stepfather of Richmond.
Duke of Buckingham: Henry Stafford, Second Duke of Buckingham. He is a key supporter, then enemy, of the title character. He turns against Richard after the latter announces plans to murder Prince Edward and Prince Richard, the children of Edward IV.
Lord William Hastings: Close friend of King Edward IV. Before King Edward's death, Hastings served as his lord chamberlain. Because Hastings supports the accession of Prince Edward after Edward IV dies, Richard orders his execution.
Duchess of York: Mother of Edward IV, Richard III, and the Duke of Clarence.
Earl Rivers (Anthony Woodville): Brother of Queen Elizabeth with the title of Second Earl Rivers.
Marquess of Dorset (Thomas Grey): Son of Queen Elizabeth and her first husband, Sir John Grey. 
Lord Richard Grey: Son of Queen Elizabeth and her first husband, Sir John Grey.
Sir William Catesby: Loyal supporter and advisor of Richard III.
Sir Richard Ratcliff: Loyal supporter and confidant of Richard III.
Queen Margaret: Margaret of Anjou and widow of King Henry VI.
Cardinal Thomas Bourchier: Archbishop of Canterbury. He crowned Gloucester as King Richard III, although historically he may not have been a supporter or Richard.
Thomas Rotherham: Archbishop of York.
John Morton: Bishop of Ely.
Boy: Son of George, Duke of Clarence.
Daughter: Daughter of George, Duke of Clarence.
Sir James Tyrrell: Unscrupulous nobleman whom Richard hires to kill Prince Edward and Prince Richard.
Duke of Norfolk (John Howard): Loyal supporter of Richard III.
Earl of Surrey (Thomas Howard): Son of the Duke of Norfolk and supporter of Richard III.
Lord Francis Lovel (also spelled Lovell): Loyal supporter of Richard III.
Earl of Oxford (John de Vere): Supporter of Richmond against Richard III.
Sir Thomas Vaughan: Loyal supporter of King Edward IV. He is executed by Richard III.
Sir James Blount: A leader of forces supporting Richmond against Richard III.
Sir Walter Herbert: Supporter of Richmond
Sir William Brandon: Standard-bearer in Richmond's army.
Sir Robert Brakenbury: Lieutenant of the Tower of London.
Christopher Urswick: Priest and chaplain in the Stanley home.
Tressel, Berkeley: Attendants of Lady Anne.
Dighton, Forrest: Murderers.
Mistress Shore: Elizabeth Shore, a mistress of King Edward IV. She has no speaking part in the play.
Ghosts: Spirits of Richard III’s murder victims.
Others: Another Priest, Lord Mayor of London, Sheriff of Wiltshire, Lords, Attendants, Citizens, Messengers, Soldiers, Pursuivant, Scrivener. (A pursuivant is an attendant or an officer ranking below a herald. A scrivener is a copier of documents. The scrivener in Richard III prepares papers indicting Lord Hastings.)

Plot Summary


Richard III centers in part on events at the end of the Wars of the Roses, fought between 1455 and 1485. These conflicts pitted the House of York (symbolized by a white rose) against the House of Lancaster (symbolized by a red rose). Both houses were branches of the House of Plantagenet. The House of York maintained that only members of its family had a legitimate right to the throne of England. The House of Lancaster made the same claim for members of its family. 

At the beginning of the wars, Henry VI, a Lancaster, sat on the throne. He lost it in 1461 to Edward IV, a York. Edward ruled from March 1461 to October 1470, when Henry VI regained the throne. Henry lost it again to Edward in April 1471. Henry died in the Tower of London on May 21 of that year. Edward continued to reign until his death from illness in 1483. Shakespeare picks up the story during Edward's second reign, when the king becomes ill. Edward's brother Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, covets the throne. He is ruthless and unscrupulous and is willing to do anything—even commit murder—to eliminate those ahead of him in the line of succession.

The Story

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, appears alone on a London Street and announces to the audience his plans to overthrow his brother, King Edward IV. Richard is evil—so evil, in fact, that he derives immense satisfaction from committing vile deeds. There appears to be a measure of revenge—against nature and against the world and its people—in his motives. For he was born into this world as a lame hunchback, “deformed, unfinished . . . scarce half made up” (1.1.22-23). His misshapen form annoys even the dogs that bark at him as he limps by. Cheated of the fairness of feature that marks others around him, he decides to cheat them of position, power, even life. His vengefulness abets another motive: ambition. Richard covets the throne and will stop at nothing to get it. All options are open, including murder.

I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous. (1.1. 32-34)

First, he convinces King Edward that their brother, the Duke of Clarence, craves the crown. Edward then claps Clarence in chains and imprisons him in the Tower of London. Edward, meanwhile, becomes seriously ill. (How lucky for Richard.) Richard wants Edward to die, of course, but not until Clarence is dead. “Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns: / When they are gone, then must I count my gains” (1.1.168-169).

Of course, kings-to-be must have queens-to-be. Richard is no exception, he believes, in spite of his villainous reputation and grotesque appearance. So he woos Lady Anne—the daughter-in-law of the late King Henry and widow of Henry's son—even as the coffin of the dead king passes with Lady Anne attending it in mourning. When Richard orders the procession to halt, Lady Anne glares at Richard and exclaims, “What black magician conjures up this fiend / To stop devoted charitable deeds?” (2.1.37-38). Anne has good reason to loathe Richard. It was he who murdered King Henry (according to Shakespeare's version of historical events.) What is more, he murdered Anne’s husband. Anne, who well knows that Richard committed the murders, tells him,

Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell!
Thou hadst but power over his [the dead king's] mortal body,
His soul thou canst not have; therefore be gone. (1. 2. 47-49) 

Richard blames Edward for the death of Lady Anne's husband, but she says she knows better, reminding him that there was a witness to the murder:

In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw
Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point. (1. 2. 98-101)

When she asks Richard to own up to killing the king, he admits the deed and says he did the king a favor by sending him to heaven: “He was fitter for that place than earth” (1.2.114). Lady Anne pronounces Richard fit for only one place: hell. Boldly, Richard retorts that he is fit for another place, her bed-chamber. Lady Anne spits at him.

By and by, however, Richard’s wheedling tongue persuades her that he is repentant and worthy of her attention. He offers her a ring and, wonder of wonders, she puts it on and agrees to marry him. Later, Richard laughs up his sleeve at her for falling victim to his words, and he thinks he might be a fine figure of a man after all.

At court, Richard pretends to be sensible and selfless, with only the king’s best interests at heart. But behind the king’s back, Richard accuses the king’s wife, Queen Elizabeth, of scheming against Clarence, who remains Richard’s prisoner in the Tower of London, and convinces important noblemen—the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Hastings, and Lord Stanley—of her guilt. Then he dispatches henchmen to kill Clarence. They are thorough. First, they stab him; then they submerge him in a barrel of wine. Richard also orders the arrest of three supporters of Elizabeth—the Second Earl Rivers, Sir Thomas Vaughn, and Lord Richard Grey—and imprisons them in Pomfret Castle, located in Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, King Edward dies, and Richard confines the king’s children—Prince Edward, heir to the throne, and his brother, Richard—to the Tower of London under a pretense that Edward is to be prepared for coronation. Events then begin to move swiftly as Richard advances his scheme to win the throne. First, he orders the execution of Grey, Rivers, and Vaughn and follows up with the beheading of Lord Hastings, a supporter of the accession of Prince Edward. However, Richard has duped Buckingham into becoming one of his supporters after making the following claims: first, that the late king’s sons were illegitimate and therefore ineligible to inherit the throne; second, that the king ordered the murder of a citizen simply for speaking of the matter of royal succession; and, third, that Edward lusted after “servants, daughters, wives” (3.5.86) of the House of York.

Buckingham then speaks on Richard’s behalf to the people of London, repeating what Richard said. As a result, a delegation of citizens, including the Lord Mayor of London, comes to offer Richard the crown at Baynard Castle. After Buckingham greets them, they see Richard going to prayer with two bishops. In his hand is a prayer book. Buckingham praises Richard as a devout man. Then the citizens importune Richard to accept the crown. Ever playing the innocent, Richard replies,

I am unfit for state and majesty;
I do beseech you, take it not amiss;
I cannot nor I will not yield to you. (3.7.210-212)

 When the citizens press Richard further, he tells them that

    I am not made of stone,
    But penetrable to your kind entreats,
    Albeit against my conscience and my soul. (3.7.228-230)

So, in June of 1483, Richard is crowned King of England and his wife Anne queen. There remains, of course, unfinished business: the two little boys in the Tower, Princes Edward and Richard. In a room of state in the palace, he tells the Duke of Buckingham: “I wish the bastards dead; / And I would have it suddenly perform’d” (4.2. 21-22). When he asks Buckingham to endorse his murder plan, the duke asks for time to reflect on the matter, then leaves.

Richard then sends for a man of meager means reputed to be willing to do anything for money. His name is Sir James Tyrrell. When Richard asks him whether he will serve his king by killing the boys, calling them “foes to my rest, and my sweet sleep’s disturbers” (4.2.79), Tyrrell replies, “I’ll rid you from the fear of them” (4.2.83).

When Buckingham returns to inform the king of his position on the murder plan, he first asks the king to make him Earl of Hereford. Richard ignores the request and instead speaks of a prophecy of King Henry VI that Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, would become king. Buckingham then repeats his request several times until the king finally replies that he is not in a giving mood. Furthermore, he tells Buckingham, “Thou troublest me” (4.2.127). Buckingham now realizes that he is out of favor and probably in mortal danger. After the king and his attendants leave the room, Buckingham flees the court “while my fearful head is on” (4.2.131).

Elsewhere Tyrrell hires two men, Dighton and Forrest, to murder the boys. After the young Edward and Richard lie dead, Tyrrell does something that Richard never does: he owns up to the foulness of his action.

The tyrannous and bloody act is done.
The most arch of piteous massacre
That ever yet this land was guilty of.
Dighton and Forrest, whom I did suborn
To do this ruthless piece of butchery,
Albeit they were flesh’d villains, bloody dogs,
Melting with tenderness and kind compassion
Wept like two children in their deaths’ sad stories. (4.3.3-10)

Pleased with the success of the mission, King Richard replies, “Come to me, Tyrrell, soon after supper, / And thou shalt tell the process of their death” (4.3.37-38).

Next, Richard arranges the death of Queen Anne so that he can marry the sister of the murdered boys, thereby giving him stronger royal connections. England, though, is coming to its senses, and the Earl of Richmond (Henry Tudor) raises an army to overthrow Richard. Buckingham now backs Richmond with a force of Welshmen. John Morton, Bishop of Ely, also supports Richmond’s cause, as does the Marquis of Dorset, a son of Elizabeth. In addition, Lord Stanley supports Richmond but cannot fight on his behalf, for Richard is holding Stanley's son as a hostage, threatening to kill him if Stanley enters the fray.

Armies of Richard and Richmond gather at Bosworth Field in August of 1485 to settle the issue. While the two foes, Richard and Richmond, sleep in their tents before the battle, the ghosts of the persons murdered by Richard appear to both of them, predicting Richard’s defeat and death.

When the armies clash on August 22, Richard fights with remarkable tenacity. One of his comrades in arms, Catesby, says,

The king enacts more wonders than a man,
Daring an opposite to every danger:
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death. (5.4.4-7)

But as the tide of battle turns against Richard, he loses his mount and cries out, “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” (5. 4.10). When Catesby offers to help Richard to another horse, Richard replies, “Slave, I have set my life upon a cast, / And I will stand the hazard of the die” (5. 4.12-13). The Earl of Richmond then slays Richard, and says, “The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead” (5.4.19). Richmond is to ascend the throne as Henry VII, King of England, and the Wars of the Roses ends.

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The tone of the play is generally dark and threatening, with Richard's evil machinations driving the plot. Richard establishes the tone in his opening soliloquy, when he speaks of his villainy and the hatred he will stir up.

      I, in this weak piping time of peace,     
Have no delight to pass away the time,     
Unless to see my shadow in the sun  
And descant on mine own deformity:     
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,     
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,     
I am determined to prove a villain,      
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.     
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,     
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,     
To set my brother Clarence and the king  
In deadly hate the one against the other.  (1.1.-26-37)

Richard at times is gleefully evil, taking great pleasure in his murderous adventures. His delight in ruining and ending the lives of others is sometimes perversely comic, as is the dialogue between the two murderers hired by Richard after they enter the Tower of London to kill the Duke of Clarence.

SECOND MURDERER:   What! shall we stab him as he sleeps?     
FIRST MURDERER:   No; he’ll say ’twas done cowardly, when he wakes.     
SECOND MURDERER:   When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake till the judgment-day.     
FIRST MURDERER:   Why, then he’ll say we stabbed him sleeping. (1.4.101-104) 

The murderers plan to stuff Clarence into a barrel of wine after killing him. While they stand over him, Clarence awakens and cries out to the keeper of the Tower, "Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine." The First Murderer replies, "You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon."


The main conflict of the play pits Richard against anyone who stands between him and the achievement of his goals, notably the Earl of Richmond, who leads an army against Richard. Richard is also an enemy of his own brothers, his mother, and his nephews.

Climax and Conclusion

The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events. The climax of Richard III occurs, according to the first definition, when Richard ascends the throne (Act 4, Scene 2) as King of England. According to the second definition, the climax occurs in the final act when Richard, who has lost his mount, shouts “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (5.4.10; repeated in line 16).

The play concludes after Henry, Earl of Richmond, slays Richard and announces plans to unite the Houses of York and Lancaster.



After reading Richard III or attending a performance of it, one inevitably asks: Why is Richard such a thoroughgoing villain? Why is he so ruthless? Why does he covet the throne with such passion that he is willing to kill members of his own family to sit in it as king?

One can make a strong case that his main motive is vengeance. Unable to lead a normal life because of his grotesque appearance—and the envy and anger it generates in his psyche—he seeks revenge against a world of people blessed with the qualities he lacks. He will gain his revenge by making himself superior to everyone; he will become king of England!  On his way to his goal, he will step over anyone who opposes him—even family members, even children. His all-consuming ambition to win the crown leads him to lie, cheat, and kill. He becomes Macbeth raised to the second power, showing no mercy, no compassion. But he does delight in the misery he causes and the murders he orders. For example, after Richard's henchman, Tyrrell, reports that he has carried out Richard's charge to murder the late King Edward's sons, Richard is eager to hear the gruesome details of their death. He tells Tyrrell to sit down with him after supper to "tell the process of their death” (4.3.38).


During most of the play, Richard wears a mask of innocence. He is almost always pretending, always deceiving. In the first act, for example, he tells his brother Clarence that he will work on his behalf, then sets about arranging the murder of Clarence. In the same act, he tells Lady Anne—who loathes him—that he loves her beyond measure and that he sincerely repents his past evildoing against her loved ones, including her dead father and dead husband. He goes on to say that his repentance will make him a worthy husband for her. She heaps insult after insult upon him and curse after curse. In the end, though, after he continues to act remorseful while continuing to vow love for her, Anne relents and agrees to marry him. After Richard becomes king, he begins plotting her murder so that he can marry another woman for political reasons.

Richard also pretends that he does not wish to become king even though his desire for the crown permeates every fiber of his being. When Lord Stanley mentions what stance he would take if Richard should become king, Richard answers, "If I should be! I had rather be a pedlar: / Far be it from my heart, the thought of it!" (1.3.154-155). By pretending that he eschews the crown, Richard believes he will become more attractive as a kingly candidate. He is right. And his deceit pays off. Eventually, though, many of his associates and friends see through his mask and rise up against him.

The Supernatural

Belief in witchcraft, omens, auguries, ghosts, curses, soothsaying, and everyday superstitions was commonplace among the British in Shakespeare's day. One confirmed believer in the paranormal was none other than England's King James I. In 1591, when he was the king of Scotland, a group of so-called witches and sorcerers attempted to murder him. Their trial and testimony convinced him that they were agents of evil. Thereafter, he studied the occult and wrote a book called Daemonologie (Demonology), published in 1597. This book—and an earlier one called Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches' Hammer, 1486, by Heinrick Kramer and Jacob Springer), describing the demonic rites of witches—helped feed the interest of the English in the supernatural.

In Richard III, the supernatural manifests itself mainly in the results of curses, dreams, and prophecies; in references to Richard as a demon from hell; in references to witches and witchcraft; and in the appearance of ghosts.

Old Queen Margaret is the champion curser in the play, if one judges by the effectiveness of her curses. Most of them come true. After she curses King Edward, he dies. After she curses his son, young Prince Edward, saying he will die "by untimely violence," he dies at the hands of two murderers. She tells Lord Rivers, Lord Hastings, and the Marquis of Dorset that they stood by, doing nothing, when her son

Was stabb'd with bloody daggers: God, I pray him,
That none of you may live your natural age,
But by some unlook'd accident cut off! (1.3.217-219)

Rivers and Hastings lose their heads at the chopping block. Dorset (Thomas Grey) escapes to Brittany, France. So Margaret got one wrong. However, Dorset's brother Richard Grey was not so fortunate. Richard had him executed at Pomfret Castle in West Yorkshire, England.

Dreams and prophecies have the same effect as curses. For example, after the Duke of Clarence is imprisoned in the Tower of London under suspicion that he is plotting against his brother, King Edward IV, Clarence has a terrifying dream about drowning at sea. When he awakens, he tells the keeper of the Tower, Brakenbury:

Lord, Lord! Methought what pain it was to drown,
What dreadful noise of waters in my ears,
What sights of ugly death within my eyes” (1.4.23-25)

Soon afterward, Clarence dies at the hands of two murderers hired by Richard. They stow his body in a "sea" of wine—a barrel of malmsey.

Lord Stanley also has an ominous dream. It suggests that Richard has marked him and Lord Hastings for death. Stanley takes the dream seriously and acts to protect himself. He sends a messenger to Hastings to warn him "to take horse with him, / And with all speed post with him toward the north" (3.2.19-20). But Hastings dismisses the dream as merely the product of "unquiet slumbers" (3.2.30). Later, after openly stating that he opposes Richard's plan to seize the throne, the ax falls on his neck in the Tower of London. Before dying, Hastings prophesies Richard's death: “Come lead me to the block; bear [to Richard] my head. / They smile at me, who shortly shall be dead” (3.4.110-111). Richard, of course, dies in the Battle of Bosworth Field.

In Act 3, Richard accuses Queen Elizabeth and Mistress Shore of practicing witchcraft on him. Exposing an arm, he says,

Look 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,          
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me. (4.71-76)

References to hell and to Richard as a devil abound in the play. For example, Queen Margaret tells him in the third scene of Act 1, "Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave the world, / Thou cacodemon [evil spirit]! there thy kingdom is" (148). Later in 1.3, she says,

No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal'd in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell! (230-235)

She warns Buckingham not to associate with Richard, saying, "Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him, / And all their ministers attend on him.

In Act 5, the ghosts of Prince Edward, King Henry VI, Clarence and others who died at Richard's behest appear to Richard to terrorize him and to Richmond to hearten him for the coming battle. Here is what Clarence says:

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! (5.3.145-152)

Afterward, the ghosts of Rivers, Grey, and Vaughn each curse Richard and then, speaking in unison, tell Richmond to "awake, and win the day" (5.3.160). The ghosts of Hastings, young Edward and brother, Lady Anne,and Buckingham then appear to condemn Richard and encourage Richmond. Buckingham tells Richard, in part:

          Die in terror of thy guiltiness!   
Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death:           
Fainting, despair; despairing, yield thy breath! (5.3.189-191)

Richard's Talented Tongue

Richard is a master of the English language, using it with astounding skill to lie, rebut accusations, parry insults and curses, and stir up hatred between his enemies. In Act 1, Richard's way with words manifests itself in his clash with Lady Anne, as in the following passage.

ANNE: Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!  [killing Henry VI, Anne's father]
O! he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.          
GLOUCESTER:  The fitter for the King of heaven, that hath him.
[The fitter . . . him: Those virtues made him fit for heaven, where he is now.]  
ANNE:  He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.   
GLOUCESTER:  Let him thank me, that help’d to send him thither [there];   
For he was fitter for that place than earth.   
ANNE:  And thou unfit for any place but hell.           
GLOUCESTER:  Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.   
ANNE:  Some dungeon.   
GLOUCESTER:  Your bed-chamber. (1.2.109-118) 

After more insults and curses from Anne, Richard—wonder of wonders—persuades her to marry him. Anne later says of this moment:

Within so small a time, my woman’s heart   
Grossly grew captive to his honey words,           
And prov’d the subject of mine own soul’s curse:   
Which hitherto hath held mine eyes from rest;   
For never yet one hour in his bed   
Did I enjoy the golden dew of sleep,   
But with his timorous dreams was still awak’d.           
Besides, he hates me for my father Warwick,   
And will, no doubt, shortly be rid of me. (4.1.84-92) 

Richard does, in fact, murder her.

Richard also uses his clever tongue to defend himself against accusations of wrongdoing and turn the spotlight of guilt on his accusers.

They do me wrong, and I will not endure it:   
Who are they that complain unto the king,   
That I, forsooth [in truth], am stern and love them not?   
By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly   
That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.           
Because I cannot flatter and speak fair,   
Smile in men’s faces, smooth [be pleasant], deceive, and cog [cheat],   
Duck [bow] with French nods and apish courtesy,   
I must be held a rancorous enemy.   
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,           
But thus his simple truth must be abus’d   
By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks [knaves]. (1.3.46-57)

Moments later he makes this observation.

                         The world is grown so bad   
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch:           
Since every Jack [knave] became a gentleman   
There’s many a gentle person made a Jack. (1.3.74-77)

The Fragility of Peace

Peace within a country or between countries is fragile, for it depends on the rationality and the mental and emotional stability of human beings. Richard III is obiously irrational and mentally and emotionally unstable. He causes discord, conflict, and finally civil war.

The Tudors

Shakespeare and his theater associates staged Richard III during the reign of a Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England from 1558 to 1604. In an effort to please the queen—or at the very least not to incur her wrath—Shakespeare depicted Richard, a member of the House of York, as so vile that his enemy, Henry Tudor (the Earl of Richmond), would seem the personification of goodness by comparison. (Historians doubt that the real Richard was as evil the Richard in Shakespeare's play.) After he defeated Richard in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and then took the throne, Henry ended the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster and became the founder of the Tudor dynasty, which began in 1485 and ended with the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603.

Capital Punishment

In Richard III, Shakespeare presents a strong argument—intentionally or unintentionally—against capital punishment, for Clarence and others receive death sentences based on little or no evidence of wrongdoing against the state.  Like Richard, dictators in modern times have routinely sent citizens to death to rid themselves of enemies. Courts in the United States and other countries have delivered guilty verdicts in capital cases against citizens later found to be innocent, perhaps through DNA evidence. Movements are under way to abolish the death penalty entirely.

It's Good to Be Bad

In his soliloquies, asides, and short discourses, Richard gleefully announces his evil intentions and reinforces the paradox that guides his behavior—it's good to be bad. His frequent revelations of the crimes he plans and the delight he takes in committing them resemble leitmotivs in an opera (recurring musical passages associated with a theme, a character, or a character trait). His running commentary generally intrigues audiences and sometimes even amuses them after the manner of crafty villains that people horror films. It all begins in the first scene of Act 1, when Richard proudly discloses his nefarious plans:

I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other. (32-37)

While alone on the stage after setting his plans in motion, he wryly comments on the fate that awaits the Duke of Clarence.

Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne'er return.
Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so,
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
If heaven will take the present at our hands.(1.1.123-126)

After he persuades Lady Anne to marry him, he takes delight in ridiculing her for having agreed to wed so heinous a reprobate as he.

Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,
Stabb'd in my angry mood at Tewksbury?
A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,
Framed in the prodigality of nature,
Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,
The spacious world cannot again afford
And will she yet debase her eyes on me,
That cropp'd the golden prime of this sweet prince,
And made her widow to a woeful bed?
On me, whose all not equals Edward's moiety?4 (1.2.252-263)

Later, he reveals his plan to blame others for his crimes while presenting himself as beyond reproach.

I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
Clarence, whom I, indeed, have laid in darkness,
I do beweep to many simple gulls
Namely, to Hastings, Derby, Buckingham;
And say it is the queen and her allies
That stir the king against the duke my brother.
Now, they believe it; and withal whet me
To be revenged on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey:
But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil. (1.3.333-347)

By the way, Richard III has in fact been made into an opera—Giorgio Battistelli's post-modernist production, with lyrics by Ian Burton.

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Foreshadowings and Revelations

Curses, dreams, and prophecies all foreshadow future events in Richard III. (See "The Supernatural.") Richard's revelations about his intentions, beginning with the soliloquy that opens the play, also indicate the direction of the plot. The foreshadowings and revelations help to maintain the dark and ominous tone of the play and to develop the play as a study of a remorseless evildoer and the methods he uses to achieve his goals.

Richard as a Psychopath

Shakespeare's depiction of Richard reveals symptoms of what modern psychologists call antisocial-personality disorder. Known as psychopaths or sociopaths, persons with this disorder act without regard to the moral or social acceptability of their behavior. They tend to engage in offensive behavior—and even violently criminal behavior—without feeling remorse, guilt, or regret. They have no conscience.

A psychopath can be winsome, intelligent, self-confident, bold, cruel, and articulate. But he wears a mask. Beneath it is a manipulator and an egotist who is insincere and incapable of loving another person.

As a pychopath, Richard is one of the most brazen examples of this character type in English literature. Give him credit, though. He informs you about himself at the very outset of the play.

Richard as "The Boar"

Lord Stanley and Richmond refer to Richard as a boar. A boar was Richard's heraldic symbol. An image of a boar appeared on his coat of arms to suggest that he possessed the courage and ferocity of a boar against an enemy. However, Richard's enemies use the term derogatorily to suggest that he is no more than a pig with an appetite for evildoing. Old Margaret calls him a "rooting hog" (1.3.233). Richmond calls him a "foul swine" (5.2.12).

The Historical Richard

Shakespeare presented Richard III (1452-1485) as one of the most evil rulers in history. However, the historical Richard, though unscrupulous, may not have been as ruthless as depicted. After his brother King Edward IV (Richard's brother) died in 1483, Parliament declared Richard king instead of Edward's young son on grounds that King Edward's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492) was illegal. Parliament said Edward had earlier agreed to marry another woman. To secure his position as king, Richard confined both of the late king's boys to the Tower of London, where they were later killed. There is no ironclad proof that Richard ordered them killed. Nevertheless, after the boys died, public sentiment turned against Richard; the people favored Henry, Earl of Richmond. Armies of Richard and Henry had it out at Bosworth Field in 1485. Richard fought bravely before suffering mortal blows.

In autumn 2012, archeologists from the University of Leicester exhumed the skeletal remains of Richard from the foundations of a Franciscan friary, Greyfriars. The foundations were beneath a parking lot in Leicester, a large city in England's East Midlands. Scientific tests dated the remains to Richard's time and revealed that the body had suffered ten battle wounds, eight to the head. The DNA of the skeleton matched that of surviving descendants of Richard. The scientific tests also indicated that the spine of the skeleton was deformed as a result of a condition known as scoliosis. In early 2013, the archeologists positively identified the remains as those of Richard. 

After the death of Richard, the Earl of Richmond (Henry Tudor) succeeded to the throne as Henry VII, inaugurating the Tudor dynasty of monarchs and ending the Wars of the Roses.

In a discussion of the approach of historians in Richard's day, Marchette Chute wrote,

         In writing [history plays], Shakespeare had nothing to help him except the standard history books of his day. The art of the historian was not very advanced in this period, and no serious attempt was made to get at the exact truth about a king and his reign. Instead, the general idea was that any nation which opposed England was wrong, and that any Englishman who opposed the winning side in the civil war was wrong also. Since Shakespeare had no other sources, the slant that appears in the history books appears also in his plays. . . .  Richard III fought against the first of the Tudor monarchs and was therefore labeled in the Tudor histories as a vicious usurper, and he duly appears in Shakespeare's plays as a murdering monster. (Stories From Shakespeare. Eau Claire, Wis.: E.M. Hale, 1956 (page 257).

Figures of Speech

Shakespeare wrote Richard III early in his career, when he was attempting establish himself as a writer. One way to show off his talent was to work many figures of speech into his writing. A figure of speech is a group of words that inform the reader or listener (1) in a nonliteral way, as in Michael is as strong as an ox; (2) through the sounds of words or through an unusual arrangement of words, as in the examples of onomatopoeia, alliteration and anaphora below; (3) by addressing an abstraction or an absent person or entity, as in the example of apostrophe below.

Following are examples of figures of speech in the play.

Alliteration: Repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of words or syllables


Poor key-cold figure of a holy king! (1.2.7)
(Note that k and c, though different letters, have the same consonant sound.)

For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell.
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims. (1.2.54-55)

My woe-wearied tongue is still and mute. (4.4.21)

Anaphora: Repetition of a word or group of words at the beginning of a phrase, clause, or sentence


Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings;
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. (1.1.8-10)

O God! which this blood mad’st, revenge his death;    
O earth! which this blood drink’st, revenge his death;  (1.2.65-66)

Apostrophe: Addressing an abstraction or an absent person or entity


O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me! (5.3.198)
(Conscience is addressed.)

Hyperbole: A gross exaggeration


      I, being govern’d by the wat’ry moon,
May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world! (2.2.72-73)

Irony, Dramatic: Situation in which an audience or reader Is aware of what a character Is not


In the opening scene of Act 1, Clarence is on his way to the Tower of London, under guard, when he meets Richard. Richard asks him why he has been arrested. Clarence says he has been falsely accused of plotting against the king. Richard then persuades him that the queen's wife is responsible for his predicament. The audience well knows, however, that Richard engineered the arrest of Clarence. Dramatic irony continues to play a role in the drama when Richard pretends to be an innocent bystander to the evil machinations he has set in motion.

Irony, Situational: Development that Is the opposite of what one would expect


A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse! (5.4.10 and 5.4.16).
(Richard had supreme power in England as its king. But when his adversaries unhorse him on the battlefield, he is so powerless that he says he is willing to trade his kingdom for a horse.)

Irony, Verbal: Saying the opposite of what Is meant


Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven. (1.1.124-125)
(The speaker is Richard. He does not love Clarence but despises him and arranges his murder.)

Metaphor: Comparison of unlike things without the use of like, as, or than


No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. (1.2.74)
(Lady Anne compares Richard to a beast.)

The world is grown so bad,
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch. (1.3.74-75)
(Playing the innocent, Richard accuses the king’s wife of wrongful deeds, comparing her to a predatory wren.)

                  They spake not a word;
But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,
Stared each on other, and looked deadly pale. (3.7.26- 28)
(Comparison of people to statues and "breathing stones")

True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings. (5.2.25)
(Comparison of hope to a bird)

My conscience hath a thousand several [separate] tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain. (5.3.212-214)
(Comparison of conscience to a creature with many tongues)

Onomatopoeia: Word that imitates a sound


What! were you snarling all before I came,
Ready to catch each other by the throat . . . ? (1.3.193-194)

Oxymoron: Juxtaposition of words that are opposite in meanings


Dead life, blind sight, poor mortal living ghost (4.4.29)

Paradox: Use of opposite words (but not in juxtaposition, as in an oxymoron)

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York. (1.1.3)
(Winter becomes summer.)

Personification: Attributing human qualities to a thing or an abstraction. A personification is a type of metaphor.


Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now,—instead of mounting barbed steeds,
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,—
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. (1.1.11-15)
(Comparison of war to a person)

Pun: A play on words; a word with a double meaning


Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York. (1.1.3)
(Gloucester, the future Richard III, compares the state of affairs in England to winter and the sun. Sun has a double meaning. Besides referring to the great star in the sky, it refers to King Edward IV, the son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.)


(Pronunciation: STIK uh MITH e uh)

Stichomythia is dialogue consisting of short lines spoken by alternate speakers. Generally the speakers, usually two, are insulting each other, arguing with each other, or engaged in a contest of wits. In Richard III, stichomythia occurs most noticeably in the verbal sparring between Richard and Lady Anne. Here is an example.

GLOUCESTER:  Lady, you know no rules of charity,   
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.   
ANNE:  Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man:   
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.   
GLOUCESTER:  But I know none, and therefore am no beast.           
ANNE:  O! wonderful, when devils tell the truth.   
GLOUCESTER:  More wonderful when angels are so angry.   
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,   
Of these supposed evils, to give me leave,   
By circumstance, but to acquit myself.           
ANNE:  Vouchsafe, diffus’d infection of a man,   
For these known evils, but to give me leave,   
By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self.   
GLOUCESTER:  Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have   
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.           
ANNE:  Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make   
No excuse current, but to hang thyself.   
GLOUCESTER:  By such despair I should accuse myself.   
ANNE:  And by despairing shouldst thou stand excus’d   
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,           
Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.   
GLOUCESTER:  Say that I slew them not.   
ANNE:  Then say they were not slain:   
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.   
GLOUCESTER:  I did not kill your husband.           
ANNE:  Why, then he is alive.   
GLOUCESTER:  Lady, you know no rules of charity,   
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.   
ANNE:  Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man:   
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.   
GLOUCESTER:  But I know none, and therefore am no beast.           
ANNE:  O! wonderful, when devils tell the truth.   
GLOUCESTER:  More wonderful when angels are so angry.   
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,   
Of these supposed evils, to give me leave,   
By circumstance, but to acquit myself.           
ANNE:  Vouchsafe, diffus’d infection of a man,   
For these known evils, but to give me leave,   
By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self.   
GLOUCESTER:  Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have   
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.           
ANNE:  Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make   
No excuse current, but to hang thyself.   
GLOUCESTER:  By such despair I should accuse myself.   
ANNE:  And by despairing shouldst thou stand excus’d   
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,           
Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.   
GLOUCESTER:  Say that I slew them not.   
ANNE:  Then say they were not slain:   
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.   
GLOUCESTER:  I did not kill your husband.          
ANNE:  Why, then he is alive. (1.2.71-95)

Text of Richard III

The following version of Richard III is based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." Annotations (notes and definitions) appear in boldfaced type within the text.

Annotations by Michael J. Cummings


Act 1, Scene 1: London. A street.
Act 1, Scene 2: London. Another street.
Act 1, Scene 3: London. A room in the palace.
Act 1, Scene 4: London: The Tower.

Act 2, Scene 1: London. A room in the palace.
Act 2, Scene 2: London. A room in the palace.
Act 2, Scene 3: London. A street.
Act 2, Scene 4: London. A room in the palace.

Act 3, Scene 1: London. A street.
Act 3, Scene 2: London. Before Lord Hastings' home.
Act 3, Scene 3: Pomfret. Before the castle.
Act 3, Scene 4: London. The Tower.
Act 3, Scene 5: London. The Tower walls.
Act 3, Scene 6: London. A street.
Act 3, Scene 7: London. The court of Baynard's Castle.

Act 4, Scene 1: London. Before the Tower.
Act 4, Scene 2: London. A room of state in the palace.
Act 4, Scene 3: London. A room of state in the palace.
Act 4, Scene 4: London. Before the palace.
Act 4, Scene 5: London. A room in Lord Stanley's house.

Act 5, Scene 1: Salisbury. An open place.
Act 5, Scene 2: A plain near Tamworth.
Act 5, Scene 3: Bosworth Field.
Act 5, Scene 4. Another part of the field.
Act 5, Scene 5. Another part of the field.

Act 1, Scene 1

London.  A Street.
GLOUCESTER:  Now is the winter of our discontent   
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
[sun of York: Gloucester, the future King Richard III, was the brother of King Edward IV. Both were sons of Richard Plantagenet, the Third Duke of York. Here, "sun of York" refers to Edward as the son of the duke.]
And all the clouds that lour’d upon [descended upon; hovered over] our house            5
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried [are now buried in the ocean].   
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;   
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;   
Our stern alarums [calls to take up arms for war] changed to merry meetings;   
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.            10
[Now are our. . . delightful measures: Now we wear wreaths of victory because we defeated our enemies in the civil war over who should wear the English crown. Our bruised arms are evidence of our valor in battle. Alarms that called us to war have been replaced by merry greetings. Our wearisome marches have become joyful dances.]
Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;   
And now,—instead of mounting barbed steeds,   
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,—   
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber   
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.            15
[Grim-visag'd . . . lute: Grim-faced war has smoothed his wrinkled face; now, instead mounting armored horses to frighten the enemy, he frolics in a lady's bedroom to the seductive music of a lute.]
But I, that am not shap’d for sportive tricks,   
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;   
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty   
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;   
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,            20
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,   
Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time   
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,   
And that so lamely and unfashionable   
That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;            25
[But I . . . halt by them: In this passage, Gloucester speaks of his deformed body, saying that it was not made to reveal a pleasing image in a mirror or strut before a promiscuous woman. His deformity was said to have been a hunched back.  He also says that he walked with a limp. Recently discovered evidence suggests that he suffered from scoliosis, which causes the spine to curve sideways.]
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,   
Have no delight to pass away the time,   
Unless to see my shadow in the sun   
And descant [comment] on mine own deformity:   
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,            30
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,   
I am determined to prove a villain,   
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.   
Plots have I laid, inductions [schemes] dangerous,   
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,            35
To set my brother Clarence [George, Duke of Clarence] and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:   
[By drunken . . . other: I will use lies and other underhanded tactics to turn my two brothers, Clarence and King Edward, into enemies of each other.]
And if King Edward be as true and just   
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,   
This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up [imprisoned],            40
About a prophecy, which says, that G [referring to the first letter of the Duke of Clarence's first name, George]  
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.   
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes.   
Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY.
Brother, good day: what means this armed guard            45
That waits upon your Grace?   
CLARENCE:  His majesty,   
Tendering my person’s safety, hath appointed   
This conduct [these guards] to convey me to the Tower.
[Tower: Tower of London, a castle and fortress that also served as a prison]  
GLOUCESTER:  Upon what cause?            50
CLARENCE: Because my name is George.   
GLOUCESTER:  Alack [alas]! my lord, that fault is none of yours;   
He should, for that, commit your godfathers.
[He should . . . godfathers: Imprisoning you is as ridiculous as imprisoning your godfathers for being present at your baptism, when you were christened George.]   
O! belike [perhaps; possibly; probably] his majesty hath some intent   
That you should be new-christen’d in the Tower.            55
But what’s the matter, Clarence? may I know?   
CLARENCE:  Yea, Richard, when I know; for I protest   
As yet I do not: but, as I can learn,   
He hearkens after prophecies and dreams;   
And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,            60
And says a wizard told him that by G   
His issue disinherited should be;   
[He hearkens . . . should be: He puts faith in foolish prophecies and dreams. In fact, he got the idea that the letter G represents something ominous. When he asked a wizard for his opinion, the wizard told him that the letter represents the man that will disinherit his children (issue, line 62).]
And, for [because] my name of George begins with G,   
It follows in his thought that I am he.   
These, as I learn, and such like toys [ridiculous charges] as these,            65
Have mov’d his highness to commit me now.   
GLOUCESTER:  Why, this it is, when men are rul’d by women:   
’Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower;   
My Lady Grey, his wife, Clarence, ’tis she   
That tempers him to this extremity.            70
Was it not she and that good man of worship,   
Anthony Woodville, her brother there,   
That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,   
From whence this present day he is deliver’d?
[From . . . deliver'd: From which he was recently released?]  
We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.            75
CLARENCE:  By heaven, I think there is no man secure   
But the queen’s kindred [relatives] and night-walking heralds [messengers]  
That trudge betwixt [between] the king and Mistress Shore.   
[That trudge . . . Shore: That carry letters to and from his mistress, Miss Shore]
Heard you not what a humble suppliant   
Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?            80
[Heard you . . . delivery: Did you hear how Lord Hastings had to humble himself to the queen and plead for his release?]
GLOUCESTER:  Humbly complaining to her deity   
Got my lord chamberlain his liberty.  
[Humbly . . . liberty: True, humiliating himself before the queen, who seems to regard herself as a deity, got Hastings his freedom.]
I’ll tell you what; I think it is our way,   
If we will keep in favour with the king,   
To be her men and wear her livery:            85
The jealous o’er-worn widow and herself,   
Since that our brother dubb’d them gentlewomen,   
Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.   
[I'll tell . . . monarchy: Here's what I think. The only way for us to retain favor with the king is to act like servants of the queen. (Livery refers to the uniforms that servants wear. Here, Gloucester uses the word figuratively.) After she and that mistress of the king became gentlewomen, they became powerful gossips in the kingdom.]
BRAKENBURY:  I beseech your Graces both to pardon me;   
His majesty hath straitly given in charge            90
That no man shall have private conference,   
Of what degree soever, with your brother.   
[I beseech . . . brother: Please pardon me for interrupting you, but I must tell you that the king has declared that no man, no matter his rank, is permitted to speak with the Duke of Clarence.]
GLOUCESTER:  Even so; an please your worship, Brakenbury,   
You may partake of anything we say: 
[Okay. But if it would please you, Brakenbury, you may listen to everything we say.] 
We speak no treason, man: we say the king            95
Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen   
Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous; 
[well struck . . . jealous: Although she is getting older, she is still beautiful and is not jealous.] 
We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot,   
A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue;   
And that the queen’s kindred are made gentlefolks.            100
How say you, sir? can you deny all this?   
BRAKENBURY:  With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.   
[With this . . . to do: My lord, I have nothing to do with these matters.]
GLOUCESTER:  Naught to do with Mistress Shore! I tell thee, fellow,   
He that doth naught with her, excepting one,   
Were best to do it secretly, alone.            105
[Naught: In Shakespeare's time, naught—besides meaning nothing or referring to zero—also was a slang word for the vagina. Thus, to do nothing—that is, to do naught—was to engage in sex with a woman.]
BRAKENBURY:  What one, my lord?   
GLOUCESTER:  Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?   
BRAKENBURY:  I beseech your Grace to pardon me; and withal   
Forbear your conference with the noble duke.   
CLARENCE:  We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.            110
GLOUCESTER:  We are the queen’s abjects, and must obey.   
Brother, farewell: I will unto the king;   
And whatsoe’er you will employ me in,   
Were it to call King Edward’s widow sister,   
I will perform it to enfranchise you [to restore your good standing].            115
Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood   
Touches me deeper than you can imagine.   
CLARENCE:  I know it pleaseth neither of us well.   
GLOUCESTER:  Well, your imprisonment shall not be long;   
I will deliver you, or else lie for you:            120
Meantime, have patience.   
CLARENCE: I must perforce: farewell.  [Exeunt CLARENCE, BRAKENBURY, and Guard.   
[Exeunt: The specified characters leave the stage.]
GLOUCESTER:  Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return,   
Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so   
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,            125
If heaven will take the present at our hands.   
But who comes here? the new-deliver’d Hastings!   
HASTINGS:  Good time of day unto my gracious lord!   
GLOUCESTER:  As much unto my good lord chamberlain!            130
Well are you welcome to this open air.   
How hath your lordship brook’d imprisonment?   
HASTINGS:  With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must:   
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
[to give them thanks: Hastings speaks these words with irony. He really means "to gain revenge against them"] 
That were the cause of my imprisonment.            135
GLOUCESTER:  No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too;   
For they that were your enemies are his,   
And have prevail’d as much on him as you.   
HASTINGS:  More pity that the eagles should be mew’d [caged],   
While kites [predatory birds] and buzzards prey at liberty.            140
GLOUCESTER:  What news abroad?   
HASTINGS:  No news so bad abroad as this at home;   
The king is sickly, weak, and melancholy,   
And his physicians fear him [fear for his health] mightily.   
GLOUCESTER:  Now by Saint Paul, this news is bad indeed.            145
O! he hath kept an evil diet long,   
And over-much consum’d his royal person:   
’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.   
What, is he in his bed?   
HASTINGS:  He is.            150
GLOUCESTER:  Go you before, and I will follow you.  [Exit HASTINGS.   
He cannot live, I hope; and must not die   
Till George be pack’d with post-horse up to heaven.  
[post-horse: Mail-carrying horse, a term used figuratively here. Gloucester is saying, in effect, until George can be sent to heaven.]
I’ll in, to urge his hatred more to Clarence [to stir up more hatred for Clarence],  
With lies well steel’d with weighty arguments;            155
And, if I fail not in my deep intent,   
Clarence hath not another day to live:   
Which done, God take King Edward to his mercy,   
And leave the world for me to bustle in!   
For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter [Lady Anne, widow of Prince Edward].            160
What though I kill’d her husband and her father,   
The readiest way to make the wench amends   
Is to become her husband and her father:   
[The readiest . . . father: The best way to make up to her is to take over the roles of the men I killed, her husband and her father.]
The which will I; not all so much for love   
As for another secret close intent,            165
[As for . . . intent: As for advancing my plans]
By marrying her, which I must reach unto.   
But yet I run before my horse to market:   
[But . . . market: But I don't want get too cocky here.]
Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns:   
When they are gone, then must I count my gains.  [Exit.   

Act 1, Scene 2

London.  Another street.
Enter the corpse of KING HENRY THE SIXTH, borne in an open coffin; gentlemen bearing halberds to guard it; and LADY ANNE, as mourner.
ANNE:  Set down, set down your honourable load,   
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse,   
[Set down . . . hearse: Set down the casket if there is any honor in it.]
Whilst I a while obsequiously [sorrowfully; tearfully] lament            5
The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.   
Poor key-cold figure of a holy king!   
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster! [His ashes are all that's left of the House of Lancaster.]   
[The pall bearers set down the casket.]
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood!   
Be it lawful that I invocate [ask; call upon] thy ghost,            10
To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,   
Wife to thy Edward [your son Edward], to thy slaughter’d son,   
Stabb’d by the self-same hand that made these wounds!   
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life,   
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.            15
O! cursed be the hand that made these holes;   
Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it!   
Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!   
More direful hap betide that hated wretch,   
That makes us wretched by the death of thee,            20
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,   
Or any creeping venom’d thing that lives!   
[More direful . . . lives: I hope Gloucester, who has made us all wretched by killing you, has worse luck than hated adders, spiders, toads or any other venomous creatures.]
If ever he have child, abortive be it,   
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,   
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect            25
May fright the hopeful mother at the view;
And that be heir to his unhappiness!   
[If ever . . . unhappiness: If he ever impregnates a woman, I hope his child is born too early so that it is ugly and so deformed that it frightens its mother when she first sees it. Let that child be the heir of his unhappiness.]
If ever he have wife, let her be made   
More miserable by the death of him   
Than I am made by my young lord [her dead husband] and thee [her dead father]!            30
Come, now toward Chertsey with your holy load,
[Chertsey: Town in Greater London. Henry VI was entombed in a Benedictine Abbey there. His body was moved in 1484 to Windsor Castle.]  
Taken from Paul’s [St. Paul's Church] to be interred there;   
And still, as you are weary of the weight,   
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse [corpse].  [The Bearers take up the corpse and advance.   
Enter GLOUCESTER.            35

GLOUCESTER:  Stay, you that bear the corse [corpse], and set it down.   
ANNE:  What black magician conjures up this fiend,   
To stop devoted charitable deeds?   
GLOUCESTER:  Villains! set down the corse; or, by Saint Paul,   
I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys.            40
First Gent.  My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.   
GLOUCESTER:  Unmanner’d dog! stand thou when I command:   
Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,   
Or, by Saint Paul, I’ll strike thee to my foot,   
And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.  [The bearers set down the coffin.            45
ANNE:  What! do you tremble? are you all afraid?   
Alas! I blame you not; for you are mortal,   
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.   
Avaunt! [Go away!] thou dreadful minister of hell,   
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body,            50
His soul thou canst not have: therefore, be gone.   
GLOUCESTER:  Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.   
ANNE:  Foul devil, for God’s sake hence [get going], and trouble us not;   
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,   
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.            55
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,   
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.   
O! gentlemen; see, see! dead Henry’s wounds   
Open their congeal’d mouths and bleed afresh.   
Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,            60
For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood   
From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells:   
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,   
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.   
O God! which this blood mad’st, revenge his death;            65
O earth! which this blood drink’st, revenge his death;   
Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer dead,   
Or earth, gape open wide, and eat him quick,   
As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood,   
Which his [Gloucester's] hell-govern’d arm hath butchered!            70
GLOUCESTER:  Lady, you know no rules of charity,   
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.   
ANNE:  Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man:   
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.   
GLOUCESTER:  But I know none, and therefore am no beast.            75
[But I . . . beast: But I know no pity and therefore am no beast.]
ANNE:  O! wonderful, when devils tell the truth.   
GLOUCESTER:  More wonderful when angels are so angry.   
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,   
Of these supposed evils, to give me leave,   
By circumstance, but to acquit myself.            80
[Vouchsafe . . . myself: Grant me the right, divine woman, to present evidence that would acquit me of the evils that you say I committed.]
ANNE:  Vouchsafe, diffus’d infection of a man,   
For these known evils, but to give me leave,   
By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self.  
[Vouchsafe . . . self: Grant me the right, you infection of a man, to curse you for these evils that are known to the public.] 
GLOUCESTER:  Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have   
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.            85
ANNE:  Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make   
No excuse current, but to hang thyself.   
GLOUCESTER:  By such despair I should accuse myself.   
[By . . . myself: By doing that, I would implicate myself as guilty.]
ANNE:  And by despairing shouldst thou stand excus’d   
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,            90
Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.   
[And by . . . others: By hanging yourself, you would be carrying out the just punishment you deserve. People would then say that you satisfied your debt for wreaking slaughter upon others.]
GLOUCESTER:  Say that I slew them not.   
ANNE: Then say they were not slain:   
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.   
GLOUCESTER:  I did not kill your husband.           95
ANNE:  Why, then he is alive.   
GLOUCESTER:  Nay, he is dead; and slain by Edward’s hand.  [There is historical evidence to support this claim.]  
ANNE:  In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw   
Thy murderous falchion [short sword] smoking in his blood;   
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,            100
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.   
[The which . . . point: You used that same sword to threaten Queen Margaret. She would be dead now if your brothers hadn't restrained you.]
GLOUCESTER:  I was provoked by her sland’rous tongue,   
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.   
[I was provoked when she accused me of doing the evil that they committed.]
ANNE:  Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,   
That never dreamt on aught [anything] but butcheries.            105
Didst thou not kill this king?   
GLOUCESTER:  I grant ye. [I admit that I did.]   
ANNE:  Dost grant me, hedge-hog? Then, God grant me too   
Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!   
O! he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.            110
GLOUCESTER:  The fitter for the King of heaven, that hath him.
[The fitter . . . him: Those virtues made him fit for heaven, where he is now.]  
ANNE:  He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.   
GLOUCESTER:  Let him thank me, that help’d to send him thither [there];   
For he was fitter for that place than earth.   
ANNE:  And thou unfit for any place but hell.            115
GLOUCESTER:  Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.   
ANNE:  Some dungeon.   
GLOUCESTER:  Your bed-chamber.   
ANNE:  Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!   
[Ill rest . . . liest: I hope no rest comes to you in any bedroom that you lie in.]
GLOUCESTER:  So will it, madam, till I lie with you.            120
ANNE:  I hope so. [I hope it's true that you will never get rest until you lie with me, for I will never go to bed with you.]  
GLOUCESTER: I know so, but, gentle Lady Anne,   
To leave this keen encounter of our wits,   
And fall somewhat into a slower method,   
Is not the causer of the timeless deaths            125
Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,   
As blameful as the executioner?  
[I know . . . executioner: I know that my plans will come to fruition. But, gentle Lady Anne, let's stop exchanging insults and consider this point: Isn't it true that the person who caused the deaths of King Henry and Prince Edward is as guilty as the person who executed them?]
ANNE:  Thou wast the cause, and most accurs’d effect.   
GLOUCESTER:  Your beauty was the cause of that effect;   
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep            130
To undertake the death of all the world,   
So might I live one hour in your sweet bosom.   
ANNE:  If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,   
These nails should rend [tear] that beauty from my cheeks.   
GLOUCESTER:  These eyes could not endure that beauty’s wrack [wreck];            135
You should not blemish it if I stood by:   
As all the world is cheered by the sun,   
So I by that; it is my day, my life.   
ANNE:  Black night o’ershade thy day, and death thy life!   
GLOUCESTER:  Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both.            140
ANNE:  I would I were, to be reveng’d on thee.   
GLOUCESTER:  It is a quarrel most unnatural,   
To be reveng’d on him that loveth thee.   
ANNE:  It is a quarrel just and reasonable,   
To be reveng’d on him that kill’d my husband.            145
GLOUCESTER:  He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,   
Did it to help thee to a better husband.   
ANNE:  His better doth not breathe upon the earth.   
GLOUCESTER:  He lives that loves thee better than he could.   
ANNE:  Name him.            150
GLOUCESTER:  Plantagenet.    
ANNE:  Why, that was he.   
GLOUCESTER:  The self-same name, but one of better nature.   
ANNE:  Where is he?   
GLOUCESTER: Here.  [She spitteth at him.]  Why dost thou spit at me?            155
[Gloucester was the son of Richard Plantagenet, third Duke of York.]
ANNE:  Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake!   
GLOUCESTER:  Never came poison from so sweet a place.   
ANNE:  Never hung poison on a fouler toad.   
Out of my sight! thou dost infect mine eyes.   
GLOUCESTER:  Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.            160
ANNE:  Would they were basilisks, to strike thee dead!   
[basilisk: Mythical monster that could kill with its breath or glance]
GLOUCESTER:  I would they were, that I might die at once;   
For now they kill me with a living death.   
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,   
Sham’d their aspects with store of childish drops;            165
These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear;   
No, when my father York and Edward wept   
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made   
When black-fac’d Clifford shook his sword at him;
[Those eyes . . . sword at him: Your eyes make me cry like a child. I never before cried a remorseful tear, not even when my father (Richard Plantagenet) and my brother Edward wept to hear the piteous moan of my brother Rutland (Edmund, Earl of Rutland) when black-faced Clifford (Baron John Clifford) stabbed him. (Clifford killed Edmund in the Battle of Wakefield during the Wars of the Roses.)]  
Nor when thy war-like father like a child,            170
Told the sad story of my father’s death,   
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,   
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks,   
Like trees bedash’d with rain: in that sad time,   
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;            175
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,   
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.   
I never sued to friend, nor enemy;   
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing words;
[I never . . . words: I never pleaded with a friend or an enemy by using sweet words.]
But, now thy beauty is propos’d my fee,            180
My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.  [She looks scornfully at him.
[But, now . . . speak: But, in my attempt to win over a beautiful creature such as you, my proud heart is willing to plead with sweet words.]  
Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made   
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.   
If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,   
Lo! here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword;            185
Which if thou please to hide in this true breast,   
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,   
I lay it open to the deadly stroke,   
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.  [He lays his breast open [bares his chest]: she offers at it with his sword.   
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry;            190
But ’twas thy beauty that provoked me.   
Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabb’d young Edward;  [She again offers at his breast.   
But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.  [She lets fall [drops] the sword.   
Take up the sword again, or take up me.   
ANNE:  Arise, dissembler [deceiver]: though I wish thy death,            195
I will not be thy executioner.   
GLOUCESTER:  Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.   
ANNE:  I have already.   
GLOUCESTER:  That was in thy rage:   
Speak it again, and, even with the word,            200
This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,   
Shall, for thy love, kill a far truer love:   
To both their deaths shalt thou be accessary.   
ANNE:  I would I knew thy heart.   
GLOUCESTER:  ’Tis figur’d in my tongue.            205
ANNE:  I fear me both are false. 
[I fear . . . false: I fear that your heart and tongue are both false.]
GLOUCESTER:  Then never man was true.   
ANNE:  Well, well, put up your sword.   
GLOUCESTER:  Say, then, my peace is made.   
ANNE:  That shalt thou know hereafter.            210
GLOUCESTER:  But shall I live in hope?   
ANNE:  All men, I hope, live so.   
GLOUCESTER:  Vouchsafe [Please agree] to wear this ring.   
ANNE:  To take is not to give.  [She puts on the ring. 
[To take . . . give: Taking your ring doesn't mean I will give anything in return.] 
GLOUCESTER:  Look, how my ring encompasseth thy finger,            215
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;   
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.   
And if thy poor devoted servant may   
But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,   
Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.            220
ANNE:  What is it?   
GLOUCESTER:  That it may please you leave these sad designs   
To him that hath most cause to be a mourner,   
And presently repair to Crosby-place;  
[That it . . . Crosby-place: Please leave to me the burden of burying your father. After all, I have the most cause to mourn his death, since I was the one who caused it. Meanwhile, you go to my London residence, Crosby Place.]
Where, after I have solemnly interr’d            225
At Chertsey monastery this noble king,   
And wet his grave with my repentant tears,   
I will with all expedient duty see you:   
For divers [various] unknown reasons, I beseech you,   
Grant me this boon.            230
ANNE:  With all my heart; and much it joys me too   
To see you are become so penitent.   
Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.   
GLOUCESTER:  Bid me farewell.   
ANNE:  ’Tis more than you deserve;            235
But since you teach me how to flatter you,   
Imagine I have said farewell already.  [Exeunt LADY ANNE, TRESSEL, and BERKELEY.   
[Exeunt: The specified characters leave the stage.]
GLOUCESTER:  Sirs, take up the corse [corpse].   
Gent.  Toward Chertsey, noble lord?   
GLOUCESTER:  No, to White-Friars [a London monastery]; there attend [wait for] my coming.  [Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER.            240
Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?   
Was ever woman in this humour won?   
I’ll have her; but I will not keep her long.   
What! I, that kill’d her husband, and his father,   
To take her in her heart’s extremest hate;            245
With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,   
The bleeding witness of her hatred by;   
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,   
And nothing I to back my suit withal   
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,            250
[And nothing . . . looks: And I have nothing to support me in my courting of her except the devil and deceptive looks]
And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!   
Hath she forgot already that brave prince,   
Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,   
Stabb’d in my angry mood at Tewksbury?            255
[Tewksbury: Tewkesbury, a town in the county of Gloucestershire, England, and site of a battle in the Wars of the Roses.]
A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,   
Fram’d in the prodigality of nature,   
Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,   
The spacious world cannot again afford:   
And will she yet abase [lower] her eyes on me,            260
That cropp’d the golden prime of this sweet prince,   
And made her widow to a woeful bed?   
On me, whose all not equals Edward’s moiety? 
On me, that halt and am misshapen thus?   
[On me . . . misshapen thus: On me, who doesn't even have half the good qualities of Edward? On me, who walks with a limp and has a misshapen body?] 
My dukedom to a beggarly denier            265
I do mistake my person all this while:   
[My dukedom . . . while: I'll give my dukedom to anyone who denies that I have been mistaken about myself all this while.]
Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,   
Myself to be a marvellous proper man.   
I’ll be at charges for a looking-glass,   
[I'll be . . . looking-glass: I guess I should buy a mirror to take another look at myself]
And entertain [hire] a score or two of tailors,            270
To study fashions to adorn my body:   
Since I am crept in favour with myself,   
I will maintain it with some little cost.   
But first I’ll turn yon fellow in his grave,   
And then return lamenting to my love.            275
Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,   
That I may see my shadow as I pass.  [Exit.

Act 1, Scene 3

London. A room in the palace.

RIVERS:  Have patience, madam: there’s no doubt his majesty   
Will soon recover his accustom’d health.   
GREY:  In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse:            5
[In that . . . worse: When you say he will recover, you're emphasizing that he is ill.]
Therefore, for God’s sake, entertain [be of] good comfort,   
And cheer his Grace with quick and merry words.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  If he were dead, what would betide on [happen to] me?   
GREY:  No other harm but loss of such a lord.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  The loss of such a lord includes all harms.            10
GREY:  The heavens have bless’d you with a goodly son,   
To be your comforter when he is gone.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Ah! he is young; and his minority   
Is put into the trust of Richard Gloucester,   
A man that loves not me, nor none of you.            15
RIVERS:  Is it concluded he shall be protector?   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  It is determin’d, not concluded yet [not officially approved yet]:   
But so it must be if the king miscarry [if the king should die].   
GREY:  Here come the Lords of Buckingham and Stanley.            20
[Stanley is also referred to as the Earl of Derby]
BUCKINGHAM:  Good time of day unto your royal Grace!   
STANLEY:   God make your majesty joyful as you have been!   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Stanley [my good Lord of Stanley],   
To your good prayer will scarcely say amen.   
Yet, Stanley, notwithstanding she’s your wife,            25
And loves not me, be you, good lord, assur’d   
I hate not you for her proud arrogance.   
STANLEY:   I do beseech you, either not believe   
The envious slanders of her false accusers;   
Or, if she be accus’d on true report,            30
Bear with her weakness, which, I think, proceeds   
From wayward sickness, and no grounded malice.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Saw you the king to-day, my Lord of Stanley?   
STANLEY:   But [just] now the Duke of Buckingham and I,   
Are come from visiting his majesty.            35
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  What likelihood of his amendment [recovery], lords?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Madam, good hope; his Grace speaks cheerfully.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  God grant him health! did you confer with him?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Ay, madam: he desires to make atonement
[make atonement: Bring about reconciliation]   
Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,            40
And between them and my lord chamberlain;   
And sent to warn [summon] them to his royal presence.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Would all were well! But that will never be.   
I fear our happiness is at the highest.   
Enter GLOUCESTER, HASTINGS, and DORSET.            45

GLOUCESTER:  They do me wrong, and I will not endure it:   
Who are they that complain unto the king,   
That I, forsooth [in truth], am stern and love them not?   
By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly   
That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.            50
Because I cannot flatter and speak fair,   
Smile in men’s faces, smooth [be pleasant], deceive, and cog [cheat],   
Duck [bow] with French nods and apish courtesy,   
I must be held a rancorous enemy.   
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,            55
But thus his simple truth must be abus’d   
By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks [knaves]?   
GREY:  To whom in all this presence speaks your Grace?   
GLOUCESTER:  To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.   
When have I injur’d thee? when done thee wrong?            60
Or thee? or thee? or any of your faction?   
A plague upon you all! His royal person,—   
Whom God preserve better than you would wish!—   
Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing-while,   
But you must trouble him with lewd [disgusting; vile] complaints.            65
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.   
The king, on his own royal disposition,   
And not provok’d by any suitor else,   
Aiming, belike [probably], at your interior hatred,   
That in your outward action shows itself            70
Against my children, brothers, and myself,   
Makes him to send [summon people]; that thereby he may gather   
The ground of your ill-will, and so remove it.   
GLOUCESTER:  I cannot tell; the world is grown so bad   
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch:            75
Since every Jack [knave] became a gentleman   
There’s many a gentle person made a Jack.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Come, come, we know your meaning, brother Gloucester;   
You envy my advancement and my friends’.   
God grant we never may have need of you!            80
GLOUCESTER:  Meantime, God grants that we have need of you:   
Our brother is imprison’d by your means,   
Myself disgrac’d, and the nobility   
Held in contempt; while great promotions   
Are daily given to ennoble those            85
That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  By him that rais’d me to this careful height   
From that contented hap [luck; good fortune] which I enjoy’d,   
I never did incense his majesty   
Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been            90
An earnest advocate to plead for him.   
My lord, you do me shameful injury,   
Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
[Falsely . . . suspects:  Falsely to accuse me of wrongdoing]   
GLOUCESTER:  You may deny that you were not the mean [cause]  
Of my Lord Hastings’ late imprisonment.            95
RIVERS:  She may, my lord; for—   
GLOUCESTER:  She may, Lord Rivers! why, who knows not so?   
She may do more, sir, than denying that:   
She may help you to many fair preferments,   
And then deny her aiding hand therein,            100
And lay those honours on your high deserts.   
What may she not? She may,—ay, marry, may she,—   
RIVERS:  What, marry [by the Virgin May], may she?   
GLOUCESTER:  What, marry, may she! marry with a king,   
A bachelor, a handsome stripling too.            105
I wis [iwis, an archaic word meaning certainly or assuredly] your grandam [grandmother] had a worser match.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne   
Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs;   
By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty   
Of those gross taunts that oft I have endur’d.            110
I had rather be a country servantmaid   
Than a great queen, with this condition,   
To be so baited, scorn’d, and stormed at:   
Small joy have I in being England’s queen.   

Enter QUEEN MARGARET, behind.            115
[She enters unseen]

QUEEN MARGARET:  [Aside.]  And lessen’d be that small, God, I beseech him!
[Aside: Stage direction indicating that an actor is not speaking loudly enough for other actors onstage to hear him or her. Sometimes, an aside is whispered or spoken to a nearby actor or actors while the rest of the actors onstage are out of hearing range.]
Thy honour, state, and seat is due to me.   
[And . . . him: And I beg God to lessen that small joy. Your high honor and status, your position as queen, are all due to me.]
GLOUCESTER:  What! threat you me with telling of the king?   
Tell him, and spare not: look, what I have said   
I will avouch in presence of the king:            120
I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower.   
’Tis time to speak; my pains are quite forgot.
[What!  . . . quite forgot: What! You are threatening to tell the king about me? Go ahead. Tell everything. I myself will tell everything in the presence of the king even if it means I will be imprisoned in the Tower of London. It's time for me to speak up and forget about all the pains I suffered on behalf of the king.]  
QUEEN MARGARET:  [Aside.]  Out, devil! I remember them too well:   
Thou kill’dst my husband Henry in the Tower,   
And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.            125
GLOUCESTER:  Ere [Before] you [Elizabeth] were queen, ay, or your husband king,   
I was a pack-horse in his great affairs,   
A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,   
A liberal rewarder of his friends;   
To royalize his blood I spilt mine own. [I spilled my own blood for him.]           130
QUEEN MARGARET: [Aside].  Ay, and much better blood than his, or thine.   
GLOUCESTER:  In all which time you [Elizabeth] and your husband Grey [her first husband, John Grey]  
Were factious for [supporting] the house of Lancaster;   
And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband [John Grey]   
In Margaret’s battle at Saint Alban’s slain?            135
Let me put in your minds, if you forget,   
What you have been ere [before] now, and what you are;   
Withal, what I have been, and what I am.   
QUEEN MARGARET: [Aside]. A murderous villain, and so still thou art.   
GLOUCESTER:  Poor Clarence did forsake his father [father-in-law], Warwick,            140
Ay, and forswore himself [broke his promise],—which Jesu pardon!—   
QUEEN MARGARET: [Aside.] Which God revenge!   
GLOUCESTER:  To fight on Edward’s part for the crown;   
And for his meed [reward], poor lord, he is mew’d [caged] up.   
I would to God my heart were flint, like Edward’s;            145
Or Edward’s soft and pitiful, like mine:   
I am too childish-foolish for this world.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world,   
Thou cacodemon [evil spirit]! there thy kingdom is.   
RIVERS:  My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days            150
Which here you urge to prove us enemies,   
We follow’d then our lord, our lawful king;   
So should we you, if you should be our king.
Glo  If I should be! I had rather be a pedlar [peddler].   
Far be it from my heart the thought thereof!            155
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  As little joy, my lord, as you suppose   
You should enjoy, were you this country’s king,   
As little joy you may suppose in me   
That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
[As little . . . thereof: I have as little joy in being queen as you think you would have in being king.]  
QUEEN MARGARET: [Aside]. As little joy enjoys the queen thereof;            160
For I am she, and altogether joyless.  
[As little . . . joyless: As the widowed queen, I am utterly joyless.
I can no longer hold me patient.  [Advancing.
[Old Queen Margaret now shows herself and speaks to everyone.]  
Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out [argue]  
In sharing that which you have pilled [stolen] from me!   
Which of you trembles not that looks on me?            165
If not, that, I being queen, you bow like subjects,   
Yet that, by you depos’d, you quake like rebels?   
[If not . . . rebels: You tremble not because you bow to me as a queen but because you forced me off my throne.]
Ah! gentle villain, do not turn away.   
GLOUCESTER:  Foul wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my sight? [what are you doing here in my presence?]   
QUEEN MARGARET:  But repetition of what thou hast marr’d;            170
That will I make before I let thee go.   
[But repetition . . . go: I just want to call attention to your evildoing. That will I do before I let you go.]
GLOUCESTER:  Wert thou not banished on pain of death?   
QUEEN MARGARET:  I was; but I do find more pain in banishment   
Than death can yield me here by my abode. 
[I was . . . abode: I was banished to another place. But I found more pain in being banished than I would find in dying here in my home.] 
A husband and a son thou ow’st to me;            175
And thou, a kingdom; all of you, allegiance:   
[A husband . . . allegiance: You, Gloucester, owe me the husband and son whom you killed. You, Elizabeth, owe me a kingdom. The rest of you owe me loyalty.]
This sorrow that I have by right is yours,   
And all the pleasures you usurp are mine. 
[This sorrow . . . mine: The sorrow that I feel is really yours, and all the pleasures you engage in are really mine.] 
GLOUCESTER:  The curse my noble father [Richard Plantagenet] laid on thee,   
When thou didst crown his war-like brows with paper,            180
[When thou . . . paper: When you mocked him by placing a paper crown on his head]
And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes;   
And then, to dry them, gav’st the duke [Richard Plantagenet] a clout [piece of cloth]   
Steep’d [soaked] in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland [of my pretty brother Rutland];   
His curses, then from bitterness of soul   
Denounc’d against thee, are all fall’n upon thee;            185
And God, not we, hath plagu’d thy bloody deed.  
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  So just is God, to right [exonerate] the innocent.   
HASTINGS:  O! ’twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,   
And the most merciless, that e’er was heard of.   
RIVERS:  Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.            190
DORSET:  No man but prophesied revenge for it.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Northumberland [an enemy], then present, wept to see it.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  What! were you snarling all before I came,   
Ready to catch each other by the throat,   
And turn you all your hatred now on me?            195
[What! were . . . on me: You were all snarling at each other before I came, ready to choke each other. Then when I appeared you turned all your hatred on me.]
Did York’s dread curse prevail so much with heaven   
That Henry’s death, my lovely Edward’s death,   
Their kingdom’s loss, my woeful banishment,   
Should all but answer for that peevish brat? 
[Did  York's . . . brat: Did Richard Plantagenet's curse on me before he died win so much approval in heaven that the deaths of my husband, King Henry, and his son, Edward—and their loss of their kingdom and my banishment—should stand as retribution for the death of that peevish brat Rutland?] 
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?            200
Why then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!   
Though not by war, by surfeit [overeating and/or drinking too much] die your king,   
As ours by murder, to make him a king!   
[Though not . . . king: Elizabeth, my husband was murdered to make your husband king. Your husband did not suffer any mortal wounds in war, but I hope he dies just the same—by overindulgence!]
Edward, thy son, that now is Prince of Wales,   
For Edward, my son, which was Prince of Wales,            205
Die in his youth by like untimely violence! 
[Edward . . . violence: May your son Edward, Prince of Wales, die a violent death while he is still young—just as my son, Edward, who was also Prince of Wales, died.]
Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,   
Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!   
[Thyself . . . wretched self: I hope you outlive your glory as queen, as I am doing now in wretchedness.]
Long mayst thou live to wail thy children’s loss,   
And see another, as I see thee now,            210
Deck’d in thy rights, as thou art stall’d [installed] in mine!   
[Long . . . in mine: I hope you live long enough to mourn the loss of your children and to see another woman take the throne from you, just as you have taken the throne from me.]
Long die thy happy days before thy death;   
And, after many lengthen’d hours of grief,   
Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s queen!   
Rivers, and Dorset, you were standers by,—            215
And so wast thou, Lord Hastings,—when my son   
Was stabb’d with bloody daggers: God, I pray him,   
But by some unlook’d accident cut off.   
[God, I pray . . . cut off: I pray to God that none of you may live a normal lifespan but instead die early from some accident.]
GLOUCESTER:  Have done thy charm, thou hateful wither’d hag!            220
[Have done . . . hag: It's time for you to shut up, you hateful old hag!]
QUEEN MARGARET:  And leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.   
If heaven have any grievous plague in store   
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,   
O! let them keep it till thy sins be ripe,   
And then hurl down their indignation            225
On thee, the troubler of the poor world’s peace.   
[If heaven . . . peace: If God has any grievous punishment in store for you—a punishment worse than I can wish on you—I pray that He keeps it until you are very ripe with sin, then send you—that troubler of world peace—to hell.]
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!   
[The worm . . . soul: May your conscious gnaw at your soul!]
Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st   
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!   
[Thy friends . . . dearest friends: I hope your friends fall under suspicion of betraying you while you live, and I hope you take the worst traitors as friends!]
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,            230
Unless it be while some tormenting dream   
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!   
Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog! [You deformed, rooting hog!]  
Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity [birth]   
The slave of nature and the son of hell!            235
Thou slander of thy mother’s heavy womb!   
Thou loathed issue [child] of thy father’s loins!   
Thou rag of honour! thou detested—   
GLOUCESTER:  Margaret!   
QUEEN MARGARET: Richard!            240
GLOUCESTER:  Ha! [What's that? Did you call me?]  
QUEEN MARGARET: I call thee not.   
GLOUCESTER:  I cry thee mercy then, for I did think   
That thou hadst call’d me all these bitter names.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Why, so I did; but look’d for no reply.            245
O! let me make the period [put an end] to my curse.   
GLOUCESTER:  ’Tis done by me, and ends in ‘Margaret.’   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Thus have you breath’d your curse against yourself. [He has turned your curse against him into a curse against you.]  
QUEEN MARGARET:  Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!   
Why strew’st thou sugar on that bottled spider,            250
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?   
[Poor painted . . . about: You poor imitation of a queen, why do you side with that ugly spider, Gloucester, who has ensared you in his web?]
Fool, fool! thou whet’st a knife to kill thyself.   
The day will come that thou shalt wish for me   
To help thee curse this pois’nous bunch-back’d toad.   
HASTINGS:  False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,            255
Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.   
[False- . . . patience: You false prophet, end your curses. We're running out of patience and are ready to strike back.]
QUEEN MARGARET:  Foul shame upon you! you have all mov’d mine [you have all tested my patience].   
RIVERS:  Were you well serv’d, you would be taught your duty. 
[Were you . . . duty: If you had received what you truly deserve, you would be taught how to behave toward us.]
QUEEN MARGARET:  To serve me well, you all should do me duty,   
Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects:            260
O! serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty.   
DORSET:  Dispute not with her, she is lunatic.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Peace! Master marquess, you are malapert [impudent; bold]:   
Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current.  
[Your show of honor is new to me, like a newly fired coin from a mint, but is scare genuine currency]
O! that your young nobility could judge            265
What ’twere to lose it, and be miserable!   
They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,   
And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.   
GLOUCESTER:  Good counsel, marry [by the Virgin Mary]: learn it, learn it, marquess.   
DORSET:  It touches you, my lord, as much as me.            270
GLOUCESTER:  Ay, and much more; but I was born so high,   
Our aery buildeth in the cedar’s top [Our nest was made at the top of a cedar tree],   
And dallies with the wind, and scorns the sun.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  And turns the sun to shade; alas! alas!   
Witness my son, now in the shade of death;            275
Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath   
Hath in eternal darkness folded up.   
Your aery buildeth in our aery’s nest:   
O God! that seest it, do not suffer [do not tolerate] it;   
As it was won with blood, lost be it so!            280
BUCKINGHAM:  Peace, peace! for shame, if not for charity.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Urge neither charity nor shame to me:   
Uncharitably with me have you dealt,   
And shamefully my hopes by you are butcher’d.   
My charity is outrage, life my shame;            285
And in that shame still live my sorrow’s rage!   
[And . . . rage: And in that shame, I live with rage that results from sorrow!]
BUCKINGHAM:  Have done, have done.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  O princely Buckingham! I’ll kiss thy hand,   
In sign of league and amity with thee:   
Now fair [good fortune] befall thee and thy noble house!            290
Thy garments are not spotted with our blood,   
Nor thou within the compass of my curse.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Nor no one here; for curses never pass   
The lips of those that breathe them in the air. 
[for curses . . . air: For curses are no more than hot air.]
QUEEN MARGARET:  I will not think but they ascend the sky,            295
And there awake God’s gentle-sleeping peace.   
O Buckingham! take heed of yonder dog:   
Look, when he fawns, he bites; and when he bites   
His venom tooth will rankle to the death:   
Have not to do with him, beware of him;            300
Sin, death and hell have set their marks on him,   
And all their ministers attend on him.   
GLOUCESTER:  What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  What! dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel,            305
And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?   
O! but remember this another day,   
When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,   
And say poor Margaret was a prophetess.   
Live each of you the subject to his hate,            310
And he to yours, and all of you to God’s!  [Exit.   
[Live . . . God's: May all of you live as subjects of his hate, and he as a subject of your hate, and all of you as subjects of God's wrath.]
HASTINGS:  My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses.   
RIVERS:  And so doth mine. I muse [wonder] why she’s at liberty.   
GLOUCESTER:  I cannot blame her: by God’s holy mother,   
She hath had too much wrong, and I repent            315
My part thereof that I have done to her.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  I never did her any, to my knowledge.   
GLOUCESTER:  Yet you have all the vantage [all the advantages] of her wrong [of the wrong done to her].   
I was too hot to do somebody good,   
That is too cold in thinking of it now.            320
Marry [by the Virgin Mary], as for Clarence, he is well repaid;   
He is frank’d up to fatting for his pains:   
[He is . . . pains: For his pains, he is penned up like a pig being fattened for slaughter.]
God pardon them that are the cause thereof!   
RIVERS:  A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion,   
To pray for them that have done scath [harm] to us.            325
GLOUCESTER:  So do I ever  [Aside], being well-advis’d;   
For had I curs’d now, I had curs’d myself.   
Cates.  Madam, his majesty doth call for you;   
And for your Grace; and you, my noble lords.            330
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Catesby, I come. Lords, will you go with me?   
RIVERS:  We wait upon your Grace.  [Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER. [All leave the stage except Gloucester.]  
GLOUCESTER:  I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.   
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach   
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.            335
[The secret . . . others: I blame others for the secret mischiefs that I set in motion.]
Clarence, whom I, indeed, have cast in darkness,   
I do beweep to many simple gulls;   
[I do . . . gulls: I pretend to weep for Clarence in the presence of many simple fools.]
Namely, to Stanley, Hastings, Buckingham;   
And tell them ’tis the queen and her allies   
That stir the king against the duke my brother [Clarence].            340
Now they believe it; and withal whet [urge] me   
To be reveng’d on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey;   
But then I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,   
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:   
And thus I clothe my naked villany [villainy]           345
With odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ,   
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.   
Enter two murderers.
But soft! here come my executioners.   
How now, my hardy, stout resolved mates!            350
Are you now going to dispatch this thing?   
FIRST MURDERER:  We are, my lord; and come to have the warrant,   
That we may be admitted where he is.   
GLOUCESTER:  Well thought upon; I have it here about me:  [Gives the warrant.   
When you have done, repair to Crosby-place [Gloucester's London residence].            355
But, sirs, be sudden in the execution,   
Withal obdurate [while being hardened, showing no sympathy], do not hear him plead;   
For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps   
May move your hearts to pity, if you mark him.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate [talk];            360
Talkers are no good doers: be assur’d   
We go to use our hands and not our tongues.   
GLOUCESTER:  Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes fall tears:   
[millstones: In the Book of Job (41:24), a hardened heart is referred to as a millstone.]
I like you, lads; about your business straight;   
Go, go, dispatch.            365
FIRST MURDERER:  We will, my noble lord.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 1, Scene 4

London.  The Tower.
BRAKENBURY:  Why looks your Grace so heavily [weary and preoccupied] to-day?   
CLARENCE:  O, I have pass’d a miserable night,   
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,            5
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,   
I would not spend another such a night,   
Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days,   
So full of dismal terror was the time.   
BRAKENBURY:  What was your dream, my lord? I pray you, tell me.            10
CLARENCE:  Methought that I had broken from the Tower,   
And was embark’d to cross to Burgundy;   
And in my company my brother Gloucester,   
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk   
Upon the hatches: thence we look’d toward England,            15
And cited up [talked about] a thousand heavy times,   
During the wars of York and Lancaster,   
That had befall’n us. As we pac’d along   
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,   
Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,            20
Struck me, that thought to stay him [as I was trying to steady him], overboard,   
Into the tumbling billows of the main [sea].   
Lord, Lord! methought what pain it was to drown:   
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!   
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!            25
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wracks [shipwrecks];   
A thousand men that fishes gnaw’d upon;   
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,   
Inestimable stones, unvalu’d jewels,   
All scatter’d in the bottom of the sea.            30
Some lay in dead men’s skulls; and in those holes   
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,   
As ’twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
[and in those . . . gems: And in those holes were reflecting gems where once there were eyes]
That woo’d the slimy bottom of the deep,   
And mock’d the dead bones that lay scatter’d by.            35
BRAKENBURY:  Had you such leisure in the time of death   
To gaze upon those secrets of the deep?   
CLARENCE:  Methought I had; and often did I strive   
To yield the ghost [to yield my soul and die]; but still the envious flood   
Stopt in my soul, and would not let it forth            40
To find the empty, vast, and wandering air;   
But smother’d it within my panting bulk,   
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.   
BRAKENBURY:  Awak’d you not with this sore agony?   
CLARENCE:  No, no, my dream was lengthen’d after life [my dream lengthened after my life ended];            45
O! then began the tempest to my soul.   
I pass’d, methought, the melancholy flood,   
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.   
[I pass'd . . .  night: I was taken across a river by the ferryman that poets write of. (In classical mythology, a ferryman named Charon took the dead across the River Styx or the River Acheron to the shore of the Underworld (Hades).]
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,            50
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;   
Who cried aloud, ‘What scourge for perjury   
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?’   
And so he vanish’d: then came wandering by   
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair            55
Dabbled in blood; and he shriek’d out aloud,   
‘Clarence is come,—false, fleeting, perjur’d Clarence,   
That stabb’d me in the field by Tewksbury;—   
Seize on him! Furies, take him unto torment.’
[Furies: In classical mythology, goddesses of vengeance.]   
With that, methought, a legion of foul fiends            60
Environ’d me, and howled in mine ears   
Such hideous cries, that, with the very noise   
I trembling wak’d, and, for a season after   
Could not believe but that I was in hell,   
Such terrible impression made my dream.            65
BRAKENBURY:  No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you; [No wonder that it scared you, my lord]  
I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.   
CLARENCE:  O Brakenbury! I have done these things   
That now give evidence against my soul,   
For Edward’s sake; and see how he requites [rewards] me.            70
O God! if my deep prayers cannot appease thee,   
But thou wilt be aveng’d on my misdeeds,   
Yet execute thy wrath on me alone:  
O! spare my guiltless wife and my poor children.   
[O God . . . alone: O God, If my prayers cannot appease you and you have decided to punish me for the wrongs I committed on behalf of Edward, execute your wrath only on me and not on my guiltless wife and children.]
I pray thee, gentle keeper [Brakenbury], stay by me;            75
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.   
BRAKENBURY:  I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest!  [CLARENCE sleeps.   
Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,   
Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night.   
Princes have but their titles for their glories,            80
An outward honour for an inward toil;   
And, for unfelt imaginations,   
They often feel a world of restless cares:   
So that, between their titles and low names,   
There’s nothing differs but the outward fame.            85
[Sorrow . . . fame: Sorrow changes the seasons and interrupts sleep. Princes experience inward turmoil just like the rest of us. Their only glories are their titles. Because we can't feel what they feel, we imagine that they are always happy. But they have a world of restless cares. There's nothing different between them and the rest of us except their fame and titles.]

Enter the two murderers.
FIRST MURDERER:  Ho! who’s here?   
BRAKENBURY:  What wouldst thou, fellow? and how cam’st thou hither [here]?   
FIRST MURDERER:  I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.   
BRAKENBURY:  What! so brief?            90
SECOND MURDERER:  ’Tis better, sir, than to be tedious.—   
Let him see our commission, and talk no more.  [A paper is delivered to BRAKENBURY, who reads it.   
BRAKENBURY:  I am, in this, commanded to deliver   
The noble Duke of Clarence to your hands:   
I will not reason what is meant hereby,            95
Because I will be guiltless of the meaning.
[I will . . . meaning: I won't try to figure out what this means; if I don't know what it means, I can't be guilty of anything if any wrongdoing is involved.]  
There lies the duke asleep, and there the keys.   
I’ll to the king; and signify to him   
That thus I have resign’d to you my charge.   
FIRST MURDERER:  You may, sir; ’tis a point of wisdom: fare you well.  [Exit BRAKENBURY.            100
SECOND MURDERER:  What! shall we stab him as he sleeps?   
FIRST MURDERER:  No; he’ll say ’twas done cowardly, when he wakes.   
SECOND MURDERER:  When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake till the judgment-day.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Why, then he’ll say we stabbed him sleeping.   
SECOND MURDERER:  The urging of that word ‘judgment’ hath bred a kind of remorse in me.            105
FIRST MURDERER:  What! art thou afraid?   
SECOND MURDERER:  Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to be damn’d for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.   
FIRST MURDERER:  I thought thou hadst been resolute.   
SECOND MURDERER:  So I am, to let him live.   
FIRST MURDERER:  I’ll back to the Duke of Gloucester, and tell him so.            110
SECOND MURDERER:  Nay, I prithee, stay a little: I hope my holy humour will change; it was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty. 
[Nay . . . twenty: No, please don't do that. Hang on for a moment. Maybe my guilty feeling will go away in about twenty seconds.]
FIRST MURDERER:  How dost thou feel thyself now?   
SECOND MURDERER:  Some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Remember our reward when the deed’s done.   
SECOND MURDERER:  ’Zounds! he dies: I had forgot the reward.            115
['Zounds: Corruption of by His wounds, referring to the wounds of the crucified Christ.]
FIRST MURDERER:  Where’s thy conscience now?   
SECOND MURDERER:  In the Duke of Gloucester’s purse.   
FIRST MURDERER:  So when he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.   
SECOND MURDERER:  ’Tis no matter; let it go: there’s few or none will entertain it.
['Tis no . . . entertain it: It doesn't matter if my conscience flies out. Let it. Nobody will pay attention to it.]   
FIRST MURDERER:  What if it come to thee again?            120
SECOND MURDERER:  I’ll not meddle with it; it makes a man a coward; a man cannot steal, but it accuseth him; a man cannot swear, but it checks him; a man cannot lie with his neighbour’s wife, but it detects him: ’tis a blushing shamefast spirit, that mutinies in a man’s bosom; it fills one full of obstacles; it made me once restore a purse of gold that I found; it beggars any man that keeps it; it is turned out of all towns and cities for a dangerous thing; and every man that means to live well, endeavours to trust to himself and live without it.   
FIRST MURDERER:  ’Zounds! it is even now at my elbow, persuading me not to kill the duke.   
SECOND MURDERER:  Take the devil in thy mind, and believe him not: he would insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.   
[Take the . . . sigh: Forget about your conscience, and don't believe what it tells you. It would try to work its way into your decisions and make you unhappy and indecisive.]
FIRST MURDERER:  Tut, I am strong-framed; he cannot prevail with me.   
SECOND MURDERER:  Spoke like a tall fellow that respects his reputation. Come, shall we to this gear [shall we get on with our work]?            125
FIRST MURDERER:  Take him over the costard with the hilts of thy sword, and then throw him into the malmsey-butt in the next room.   
[Take him . . . room: Let's hit him on the head with the hilts of our swords, then throw him into the malmsey barrel in the next room. (Malmsey was a sweet wine.)]
SECOND MURDERER:  O, excellent device! make a sop of him.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Soft! he wakes.   
FIRST MURDERER:  No, we’ll reason with him.            130
CLARENCE:  Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine.   
FIRST MURDERER:  You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon [soon].   
CLARENCE:  In God’s name, what art thou?   
FIRST MURDERER:  A man, as you are.   
CLARENCE:  But not, as I am, royal.            135
FIRST MURDERER:  Nor you, as we are, loyal.   
CLARENCE:  Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.   
FIRST MURDERER:  My voice is now the king’s, my looks mine own.   
CLARENCE:  How darkly, and how deadly dost thou speak!   
Your eyes do menace me: why look you pale?            140
Who sent you hither [here]? Wherefore do you come?   
BOTH MURDERERS:  To, to, to—   
CLARENCE:  To murder me?   
CLARENCE:  You scarcely have the hearts to tell me so,            145
And therefore cannot have the hearts to do it.   
Wherein, my friends, have I offended you?   
FIRST MURDERER:  Offended us you have not, but the king.   
CLARENCE:  I shall be reconcil’d to him again.   
SECOND MURDERER:  Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die.            150
CLARENCE:  Are you call’d forth from out a world of men   
To slay the innocent? What is my offence?   
Where is the evidence that doth accuse me?   
What lawful quest [jury] have given their verdict up   
Unto the frowning judge? or who pronounc’d            155
The bitter sentence of poor Clarence’ death?   
Before I be convict [convicted] by course of law,   
To threaten me with death is most unlawful.   
I charge you, as you hope to have redemption   
By Christ’s dear blood shed for our grievous sins,            160
That you depart and lay no hands on me;   
The deed you undertake is damnable.   
FIRST MURDERER:  What we will do, we do upon command.   
SECOND MURDERER:  And he that hath commanded is our king.   
CLARENCE:  Erroneous vassal! the great King of kings            165
Hath in the table of his law commanded   
That thou shalt do no murder: will you, then,   
Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man’s?   
Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hand,   
To hurl upon their heads that break his law.            170
SECOND MURDERER:  And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee,   
For false forswearing and for murder too:   
Thou didst receive the sacrament to fight   
In quarrel of the house of Lancaster.   
[Thou didst . . . Lancaster: You pledged to God to fight on the side of Henry VI and the House of Lancaster.]
FIRST MURDERER:  And, like a traitor to the name of God,            175
Didst break that vow, and, with thy treacherous blade   
Unripp’dst the bowels of thy sovereign’s son.   
SECOND MURDERER:  Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.   
FIRST MURDERER:  How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to us,   
When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?            180
CLARENCE:  Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed?   
For Edward, for my brother, for his sake:   
He sends you not to murder me for this;   
For in that sin he is as deep as I.   
If God will be avenged for the deed,            185
O! know you yet, he doth it publicly:   
Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm;   
He needs no indirect or lawless course   
To cut off those that have offended him.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Who made thee then a bloody minister,            190
When gallant-springing, brave Plantagenet,   
That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?   
CLARENCE:  My brother’s love, the devil, and my rage.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Thy brother’s love, our duty, and thy fault,   
Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.            195
CLARENCE:  If you do love my brother, hate not me;   
I am his brother, and I love him well.   
If you are hir’d for meed [reward], go back again,   
And I will send you to my brother Gloucester,   
Who shall reward you better for my life            200
Than Edward will for tidings of my death.   
SECOND MURDERER:  You are deceiv’d, your brother Gloucester hates you.   
CLARENCE:  O, no! he loves me, and he holds me dear:   
Go you to him from me.   
BOTH MURDERERS:  Ay, so we will.            205
CLARENCE:  Tell him, when that our princely father York   
Bless’d his three sons with his victorious arm,   
And charg’d us from his soul to love each other,   
He little thought of this divided friendship:   
Bid Gloucester think on this, and he will weep.            210
FIRST MURDERER:  Ay, millstones; as he lesson’d us to weep.   
[Ay . . . weep: Yes, to cry millstones, as he taught us to weep. (Millstones symbolizes hard-heartedness, or lack of sympathy.)]
CLARENCE:  O! do not slander him, for he is kind.   
As snow in harvest. Thou deceiv’st thyself:   
’Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.            215
CLARENCE:  It cannot be; for he bewept my fortune,
[bewept my fortune: Sympathized with me for my ill fortune]  
And hugg’d me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,   
That he would labour my delivery [that he would work to set me free].
FIRST MURDERER:  Why, so he doth, when he delivers you   
From this earth’s thraldom [captivity] to the joys of heaven.            220
SECOND MURDERER:  Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.   
CLARENCE:  Hast thou that holy feeling in thy soul,   
To counsel me to make my peace with God,   
And art thou yet to thy own soul so blind,   
That thou wilt war with God by murdering me?            225
O! sirs, consider, he that set you on   
To do this deed, will hate you for the deed.   
SECOND MURDERER:  What shall we do?   
CLARENCE:  Relent and save your souls.   
FIRST MURDERER:  Relent! ’tis cowardly, and womanish.            230
CLARENCE:  Not to relent, is beastly, savage, devilish.   
Which of you, if you were a prince’s son,   
Being pent [imprisoned] from liberty, as I am now,   
If two such murd’rers as yourselves came to you,   
Would not entreat for life?            235
My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks;   
O! if thine eye be not a flatterer,   
Come thou on my side, and entreat for me,   
As you would beg, were you in my distress:   
A begging prince what beggar pities not?            240
SECOND MURDERER:  Look behind you, my lord.   
FIRST MURDERER:  [Stabs him.]  Take that, and that: if all this will not do,   
I’ll drown you in the malmsey-butt  [wine barrel] within.  [Exit with the body.
[The first murderer removes the body.]
SECOND MURDERER:  A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch’d!   
How fain [willing; gladly], like Pilate [Pontius Pilate], would I wash my hands            245
Of this most grievous murder.   
Re-enter first murderer.
FIRST MURDERER:  How now! what mean’st thou, that thou help’st me not?   
By heaven, the duke shall know how slack you have been.   
SECOND MURDERER:  I would he knew that I had sav’d his brother!            250
Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say;   
For I repent me that the duke is slain.  [Exit.   
FIRST MURDERER:  So do not I: go, coward as thou art.   
Well, I’ll go hide the body in some hole,   
Till that the duke give order for his burial:            255
And when I have my meed [reward], I will away;   
For this will out, and here I must not stay.  [Exit.

Act 2, Scene 1

London. A room in the palace.

KING EDWARD:  Why, so: now have I done a good day’s work.   
You peers, continue this united league:   
[You . . . league: You noble friends, continue to band together.]
I every day expect an embassage            5
From my Redeemer to redeem me hence;  
[I every . . . hence: Every day, I expect an angel of the Lord to come for me.]
And more in peace my soul shall part to heaven,   
Since I have made my friends at peace on earth.   
Rivers and Hastings, take each other’s hand;   
Dissemble not your hatred, swear your love.            10
[Dissemble . . . love: Don't conceal your hatred for each other. But now I want you to make up and swear your love for each other.]
RIVERS:  By heaven, my soul is purg’d from grudging hate;   
And with my hand I seal my true heart’s love.   
HASTINGS:  So thrive I, as I truly swear the like!   
KING EDWARD:  Take heed, you dally not before your king;   
Lest he that is the supreme King of kings            15
Confound your hidden falsehood, and award   
Either of you to be the other’s end.   
[Take heed . . . end: Make sure you are not pretending to be friends just because you are here before your king. God, the king of kings, can detect any falsehoods on your part and cause you to kill each other.]
HASTINGS:  So prosper I, as I swear perfect love!  
[So prosper . . . love: I swear my love for Hastings and will be the better for it.]
RIVERS:  And I, as I love Hastings with my heart!   
KING EDWARD:  Madam, yourself are not exempt in this,            20
Nor you, son Dorset, Buckingham, nor you;   
You have been factious one against the other.   
Wife, love Lord Hastings, let him kiss your hand;   
And what you do, do it unfeignedly [genuinely].  
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  There, Hastings; I will never more remember            25
Our former hatred, so thrive I and mine!   
KING EDWARD:  Dorset, embrace him; Hastings, love lord marquess.   
DORSET:  This interchange of love, I here protest [vow],   
Upon my part shall be inviolable.   
HASTINGS:  And so swear I.  [They embrace.            30
KING EDWARD:  Now, princely Buckingham, seal thou this league   
With thy embracements to my wife’s allies,   
And make me happy in your unity.   
BUCKINGHAM:  [To the QUEEN.]  Whenever Buckingham doth turn his hate   
Upon your Grace, but with all duteous love            35
Doth cherish you and yours, God punish me   
With hate in those where I expect most love!  
[Whenever . . . most love: If ever I turn hate upon you, my queen, instead of cherishing you and those dear to you, may God punish me with hatred from those from whom I expect love.]
When I have most need to employ a friend,   
And most assured that he is a friend,   
Deep, hollow, treacherous, and full of guile,            40
Be he unto me! This do I beg of God,   
When I am cold in love to you or yours.  [They embrace.
[When I . . . yours: Whenever I need a friend that I know I can count on, let him be treacherous and deceitful if I do not love you and yours.]  
KING EDWARD:  A pleasing cordial, princely Buckingham,   
Is this thy vow unto my sickly heart.   
[A pleasing . . . heart: That vow to my sickly heart is a pleasing sentiment, princely Buckingham.]
There wanteth now our brother Gloucester here            45
To make the blessed period of this peace.   
BUCKINGHAM:  And, in good time, here comes the noble duke.   
GLOUCESTER:  Good morrow to my sovereign king and queen;   
And princely peers, a happy time of day!            50
KING EDWARD:  Happy, indeed, as we have spent the day.   
Gloucester, we have done deeds of charity;   
Made peace of enmity, fair love of hate,   
Between these swelling wrong-incensed peers.   
GLOUCESTER:  A blessed labour, my most sovereign lord.            55
Among this princely heap, if any here,   
By false intelligence, or wrong surmise,   
Hold me a foe;   
If I unwittingly [unintentionally], or in my rage,   
Have aught committed that is hardly borne            60
By any in this presence, I desire   
To reconcile me to his friendly peace:   
[Have . . . peace: Have done anything to offend anyone here, I desire to make peace with that person]
’Tis death to me to be at enmity;   
I hate it, and desire all good men’s love.   
First, madam, I entreat true peace of you,            65
Which I will purchase with my duteous service;   
Of you, my noble cousin Buckingham,   
If ever any grudge were lodg’d between us;   
Of you, Lord Rivers, and Lord Grey, of you,   
That all without desert have frown’d on me;            70
Of you, Lord Woodvile, and Lord Scales, of you;   
Dukes, earls, lords, gentlemen; indeed, of all.  
I do not know that Englishman alive   
With whom my soul is any jot at odds   
More than the infant that is born to-night:            75
[Of you, my noble . . . at odds: Noble Buckingham, if ever there was a grudge between us that caused you to frown on me without just cause, I want to make peace with you now. The same goes for Lord Rivers, Lord Grey, Lord Woodville, Lord Scales—indeed, all of you. I don't know any Englishman that I dislike. To hate you would be like hating an innocent infant born tonight.]
I thank my God for my humility.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  A holy day shall this be kept hereafter:   
I would to God all strifes were well compounded [settled].   
My sov’reign lord, I do beseech your highness   
To take our brother Clarence to your grace.            80
[To take . . . grace: To forgive and release our brother Clarence.]
GLOUCESTER:  Why, madam, have I offer’d love for this,   
To be so flouted in this royal presence?   
Who knows not that the gentle duke is dead?  [They all start.   
You do him injury to scorn his corse [corpse].   
KING EDWARD:  Who knows not he is dead! who knows he is?            85
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  All-seeing heaven, what a world is this!   
BUCKINGHAM:  Look I so pale, Lord Dorset, as the rest?   
DORSET:  Ay, my good lord; and no man in the presence   
But his red colour hath forsook [left] his cheeks.   
KING EDWARD:  Is Clarence dead? the order was revers’d.            90
GLOUCESTER:  But he, poor man, by your first order died,   
And that a winged Mercury did bear;
[winged Mercury: In classical mythology, the messenger god. The Romans called him Mercury, and the Greeks called him Hermes. He was depicted as having winged feet. Here, Gloucester compares the speed of the messenger carrying King Edward's orders to the speed of Mercury.]  
Some tardy cripple bore the countermand [the orders canceling the death sentence],   
That came too lag to see him buried.
[That . . . buried: That arrived too late to prevent his execution and burial] 
God grant that some, less noble and less loyal,            95
Nearer in bloody thoughts, and not in blood,   
Deserve not worse than wretched Clarence did,   
And yet go current from suspicion.
[God grant . . . suspicion: Most assuredly, some murderous person—someone ignoble and disloyal who was not related to Clarence—deserves to go to the gallows. Yet this person is free of suspicion at the moment.]  
STANLEY:   A boon [reward], my sov’reign, for my service done!            100
KING EDWARD:  I prithee, peace [Please, not now]: my soul is full of sorrow.   
STANLEY:   I will not rise [apparently, he is kneeling], unless your highness hear me.   
KING EDWARD:  Then say at once, what is it thou request’st.   
STANLEY:   The forfeit, sovereign, of my servant’s life;   
Who slew to-day a riotous gentleman            105
Lately attendant on the Duke of Norfolk. 
[My king, free my servant. He was arrested and charged with murder for killing a riotous gentlemen who, until recently, was the Duke of Norfolk's servant ].
KING EDWARD:  Have I a tongue to doom my brother’s death,   
And shall that tongue give pardon to a slave?   
My brother kill’d no man, his fault was thought;   
And yet his punishment was bitter death.            110
Who su’d [pleaded] to me for him? who, in my wrath,   
Kneel’d at my feet, and bade me be advis’d?   
Who spoke of brotherhood? who spoke of love?   
Who told me how the poor soul did forsake   
The mighty Warwick, and did fight for me?            115
Who told me, in the field at Tewksbury,   
When Oxford had me down, he rescu’d me,   
And said, ‘Dear brother, live, and be a king?’   
Who told me, when we both lay in the field   
Frozen almost to death, how he did lap me            120
Even in his garments; and did give himself,   
All thin and naked, to the numb cold night?   
All this from my remembrance [memory] brutish wrath   
Sinfully pluck’d, and not a man of you   
Had so much grace to put it in my mind.            125
But when your carters [cart drivers] or your waiting-vassals [servants]  
Have done a drunken slaughter, and defac’d   
The precious image of our dear Redeemer,   
You straight are on your knees for pardon, pardon;   
And I, unjustly too, must grant it you;            130
[And I . . . you: Yet I must grant your request]
But for my brother not a man would speak,   
Nor I, ungracious, speak unto myself   
For him, poor soul. The proudest of you all   
Have been beholding to him in his life,   
Yet none of you would once beg for his life.            135
O God! I fear, thy justice will take hold   
On me and you and mine and yours for this.   
Come, Hastings, help me to my closet. O! poor Clarence!  [Exeunt KING EDWARD, QUEEN, HASTINGS, RIVERS, DORSET, and GREY.   
GLOUCESTER: This is the fruit of rashness. Mark’d you not [Did you notice]  
How that the guilty kindred of the queen            140
Look’d pale when they did hear of Clarence’ death?   
O! they did urge it still unto the king:   
God will revenge it. Come, lords; will you go   
To comfort Edward with our company?   
BUCKINGHAM:  We wait upon your Grace.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: All the remaining actors leave the stage.]

Act 2, Scene 2

London. A room in the palace.
Enter the DUCHESS OF YORK, with a son and daughter of CLARENCE.
BOY:   Good grandam, tell us, is our father dead?   
DUCHESS:  No, boy.   
DAUGHTER:  Why do you wring your hands, and beat your breast,            5
And cry—‘O Clarence, my unhappy son?’   
BOY:   Why do you look on us, and shake your head,   
And call us orphans, wretches, castaways,   
If that our noble father be alive?   
DUCHESS:  My pretty cousins, you mistake me much;            10
I do lament the sickness of the king,   
As loath to lose him, not your father’s death;   
It were lost sorrow to wail one that’s lost.   
BOY:   Then, grandam, you conclude that he is dead.   
The king mine uncle is to blame for it:            15
God will revenge it; whom I will importune [implore; ask a favor]    
With earnest prayers all to that effect.   
DAUGHTER:  And so will I.   
DUCHESS:  Peace, children, peace! the king doth love you well:   
Incapable and shallow innocents,            20
You cannot guess who caus’d your father’s death.   
BOY:   Grandam, we can; for my good uncle Gloucester   
Told me, the king, provok’d to ’t by the queen,   
Devis’d impeachments [charges] to imprison him:   
And when my uncle told me so, he wept,            25
And pitied me, and kindly kiss’d my cheek;   
Bade me rely on him, as on my father,   
And he would love me dearly as his child.   
DUCHESS:  Ah! that deceit should steal such gentle shape,   
And with a virtuous vizard hide deep vice.            30
[Ah! that . . . vice: Ah, that liar Gloucester is pretending to be gentle and friendly. He wears a mask of virtue to hide his evildoing.]
He is my son, ay, and therein my shame,   
Yet from my dugs [breasts] he drew not this deceit.   
BOY:   Think you my uncle did dissemble [pretend], grandam?   
DUCHESS:  Ay, boy.   
BOY:   I cannot think it. Hark! what noise is this?            35
Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH, distractedly; RIVERS and DORSET following her.
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Oh! who shall hinder me to wail and weep,   
To chide my fortune, and torment myself?   
I’ll join with black despair against my soul,   
And to myself become an enemy.            40
DUCHESS:  What means this scene of rude impatience?   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  To make an act of tragic violence:   
Edward, my lord, thy son, our king, is dead!   
Why grow the branches now the root is wither’d?  
Why wither not the leaves that want their sap?            45
[Why grow . . . sap: Why should we carry on with life as usual when the source of our life has died? Why are the leaves still green when the tree has withered?]
If you will live, lament: if die, be brief,   
That our swift-winged souls may catch the king’s;   
Or, like obedient subjects, follow him   
To his new kingdom of perpetual rest.   
DUCHESS:  Ah! so much interest have I in thy sorrow            50
As I had title in thy noble husband. 
[Ah! . . . husband: Ah, I sympathize with you in your sorrow for your noble husband, who was my son.] 
I have bewept a worthy husband’s death,   
And liv’d with looking on his images;   
But now two mirrors of his princely semblance   
Are crack’d in pieces by malignant death,            55
[I have bewept . . . death: I have wept for the death of my worthy husband but persevered by looking at the reflections of him in Edward and Clarence. But now those two mirrors of my husband's image are cracked by malignant death.]
And I for comfort have but one false glass [Gloucester],   
That grieves me when I see my shame in him.   
Thou art a widow; yet thou art a mother,   
And hast the comfort of thy children left thee:   
But death hath snatch’d my husband from mine arms,            60
And pluck’d two crutches from my feeble limbs,   
Clarence and Edward. O! what cause have I—   
Thine being but a moiety of my grief—
To overgo thy plaints, and drown thy cries!   
[O! what . . . cries: O! I have good reason to cry louder than you and drown out your own weeping, for your grief is only half of what mine is.]
BOY:  [Speaking to Queen Elizabeth.]  Ah, aunt, you wept not for our father’s death;            65
How can we aid you with our kindred tears?   
[Ah, aunt . . .  tears: Ah, Aunt Elizabeth, you did not weep for the death of our father, Clarence, so why should we weep in sympathy with you?]
DAUGHTER:  Our fatherless distress was left unmoan’d;   
Your widow-dolour likewise be unwept.   
[Our . . . unwept: No one wept for us when our father died. I think no one should weep for you in your present distress.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Give me no help in lamentation;   
I am not barren to bring forth complaints:            70
All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes,   
That I, being govern’d by the wat’ry moon,   
May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world!   
[Give me . . . complaints: I don't want anyone to help me weep for my loss and misfortune. But I do have plenty of things to cry about. In fact, all the springs in the world are now spilling from my eyes and threaten to drown the whole world.]
Ah! for my husband, for my dear Lord Edward!   
CHILDREN:   Ah! for our father, for our dear Lord Clarence!            75
DUCHESS:  Alas! for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  What stay [support]  had I but Edward? and he’s gone.   
CHILDREN:   What stay had we but Clarence? and he’s gone.   
DUCHESS:  What stays had I but they? and they are gone.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Was never widow had so dear a loss. [Was there ever a widow who endured such tragedy as mine?]           80
CHILDREN:   Were never orphans had so dear a loss.   
DUCHESS:  Was never mother had so dear a loss.   
Alas! I am the mother of these griefs:   
Their woes are parcell’d, mine are general.   
She for an Edward weeps, and so do I;            85
I for a Clarence weep, so doth not she:   
These babes for Clarence weep, and so do I;   
I for an Edward weep, so do not they:   
Alas! you three, on me, threefold distress’d,   
Pour all your tears; I am your sorrow’s nurse,            90
And I will pamper it with lamentation.
[Alas! I am . . . not they: Alas! I am experiencing all these griefs while others are experiencing only single griefs. Elizabeth weeps for Edward, and so do I. The children weep for Clarence, and so do I. But Elizabeth does not weep for Clarence, and the children do not weep for Edward. I weep for both. In addition, you three pour all your tears on me; I am the nurse of your sorrow. Well, I will pamper your sorrow by crying with you.]
DORSET: [to Elizabeth.]  Comfort, dear mother: God is much displeas’d   
That you take with unthankfulness his doing.   
In common worldly things ’tis call’d ungrateful   
With dull unwillingness to repay a debt            95
Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent;   
Much more to be thus opposite with heaven,   
For it requires the royal debt it lent you.   
[In common . . . lent you: In this world, it's called ungrateful to be unwilling to pay back a debt that was kindly lent. In heaven, God frowns on those who are unwilling to give back what He gave to them. He lent you Edward for a time, and you should be grateful for that.]
RIVERS:  Madam, bethink you, like a careful mother,   
Of the young prince your son [heir to the throne]: send straight for him;            100
Let him be crown’d; in him your comfort lives.   
Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward’s grave,   
And plant your joys in living Edward’s throne.   
GLOUCESTER:  Sister, have comfort: all of us have cause            105
To wail the dimming of our shining star;   
But none can cure their harms by wailing them.   
Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy;   
I did not see your Grace: humbly on my knee   
I crave your blessing.            110
DUCHESS:  God bless thee! and put meekness in thy mind,   
Love, charity, obedience, and true duty.   
GLOUCESTER:  Amen;  [Aside.]  and make me die a good old man!   
That is the butt-end of a mother’s blessing;
[That is . . . blessing: That should be the final wish in a mother's blessing.]  
I marvel that her Grace did leave it out.            115
BUCKINGHAM:  You cloudy [sad] princes and heart-sorrowing peers,   
That bear this heavy mutual load of moan,   
Now cheer each other in each other’s love:   
Though we have spent [used up] our harvest of this king,   
We are to reap the harvest of his son.            120
The broken rancour of your high-swoln [swollen] hearts,   
But lately splinter’d, knit, and join’d together,   
Must gently be preserv’d, cherish’d, and kept:
[The broken . . . kept: The love that replaced the hatred you harbored for one another must be gently preserved, cherished, and kept, especially at a time when your hearts have been broken with grief.]   
Me seemeth good, that, with some little train,   
Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fetch’d            125
Hither to London, to be crown’d our king.   
[Me seemeth . . . king: I think it would be good to have a small group go to Ludlow and bring young Prince Edward back here to London to be crowned our king.]
RIVERS:  Why with some little train [why only a small group], my Lord of Buckingham?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Marry [By the Virgin Mary], my lord, lest, by a multitude,   
The new-heal’d wound of malice should break out;   
Which would be so much the more dangerous,            130
By how much the estate is green and yet ungovern’d;   
Where every horse bears his commanding rein,   
And may direct his course as please himself,   
As well the fear of harm, as harm apparent,   
In my opinion, ought to be prevented.            135
[my lord, lest . . . prevented: My lord, if the group is too large, hatred and ill will could break out all over again. That would be very dangerous for the untried government of the new king. If all the horses pulling a coach did as they pleased instead of working together, the coach might overturn. Well, that's the kind of situation we would have here if we don't take action to prevent it.]
GLOUCESTER:  I hope the king made peace with all of us;   
And the compact [pledge to be agreeable] is firm and true in me.   
RIVERS:  And so in me; and so, I think, in all:   
Yet, since it is but green, it should be put   
To no apparent likelihood of breach,            140
Which haply [accidentally] by much company might be urg’d [provoked]:   
Therefore I say with noble Buckingham,   
That it is meet so few should fetch the prince.   
HASTINGS:  And so say I.   
GLOUCESTER:  Then be it so; and go we to determine            145
Who they shall be that straight shall post to Ludlow.   
Madam, and you my mother, will you go   
To give your censures [wisdom and support] in this business?  [Exeunt all [everyone leaves the stage] except BUCKINGHAM and GLOUCESTER.   
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord, whoever journeys to the prince,   
For God’s sake, let not us two stay at home:            150
For by the way I’ll sort occasion,   
As index to the story we late talk’d of,   
To part the queen’s proud kindred from the prince.  
[My lord . . . from the prince: My lord, whoever goes to accompany the prince, let's make sure we're among them. That way, I'll have an opportunity to separate the prince from his proud relatives, a matter we recently talked about.]
GLOUCESTER:  My other self, my counsel’s consistory,
[My . . . consistory: You are my other self, my advisor,]  
My oracle, my prophet! My dear cousin,            155
I, as a child, will go by thy direction.   
Towards Ludlow then, for we’ll not stay behind.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Gloucester and Buckingham leave the stage.]

Act 2, Scene 3

London. A street.
Enter two citizens, meeting.
FIRST CITIZEN:  Good morrow, neighbour: whither away [where are you going] so fast?   
SECOND CITIZEN:  I promise you, I scarcely know myself:   
Hear you the news abroad [that's now circulating]?            5
FIRST CITIZEN: Ay; that the king is dead.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Ill news, by ’r [by our] lady; seldom comes the better:   
I fear, I fear, ’twill prove a giddy world.   
Enter a third Citizen.
THIRD CITIZEN:  Neighbours, God speed!            10
FIRST CITIZEN:  Give you good morrow, sir.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  Doth the news hold of good King Edward’s death?   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Ay, sir, it is too true; God help the while!   
THIRD CITIZEN:  Then, masters, look to see a troublous world [a world full of trouble].   
FIRST CITIZEN:  No, no; by God’s good grace, his son shall reign.            15
THIRD CITIZEN:  Woe to that 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,  
And in his full and ripen’d years himself,   
No doubt, shall then and till then govern well.            20
[That while he is so you young his advisors will give him good advice. When he is old enough, I think he will govern well by himself.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  So stood the state when Henry the Sixth   
Was crown’d at Paris but at nine months old.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  Stood the state so? no, no, good friends, God wot [knows];   
For then this land was famously enrich’d   
With politic grave counsel [very good advisors]; then the king            25
Had virtuous uncles to protect his Grace.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Why, so hath this, both by his father and mother.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  Better it were they all came by his father,   
Or by his father there were none at all;   
For emulation, who shall now be nearest,            30
Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not.   
[For . . . prevent not: Because now there will be competition over who shall be nearest to the king, and this competition will affect all of us unless God prevents it.]
O! full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester!   
And the queen’s sons and brothers haught [haughty] and proud;   
And were they to be rul’d, and not to rule,   
This sickly land might solace as before.            35
[And were . . . before: If they were ruled instead of ruling, this sickly land would get well.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  Come, come, we fear the worst; all will be well.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  When clouds are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;   
When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand;   
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?   
Untimely storms make men expect a dearth.            40
[Untimely . . . dearth: Unexpected storms can ruin a harvest.]
All may be well; but, if God sort it so,   
’Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Truly, the hearts of men are full of fear:   
You cannot reason almost with a man   
That looks not heavily and full of dread.            45
THIRD CITIZEN:  Before the days of change, still is it so:
[Before . . . it so: Before a period of change, it's always this way.]  
By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust   
Ensuing danger; as, by proof, we see   
The waters swell before a boisterous storm.   
But leave it all to God. Whither away [Where are we going]?            50
SECOND CITIZEN:  Marry, we were sent for to the justices.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  And so was I: I’ll bear you company.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 2, Scene 4

London. A room in the palace.
ARCH:  Last night, I hear, they lay at Northampton;
At Stony Stratford they do rest to-night:   
[Northampton and Stony Stratford: Towns northwest of London.]
To-morrow, or next day, they will be here.            5
DUCHESS:  I long with all my heart to see the prince.   
I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  But I hear, no; they say my son of York   
Hath almost overtaken him in his growth.   
YORK:  Ay, mother, but I would not have it so.            10
DUCHESS:  Why, my young cousin, it is good to grow.   
YORK:  Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,   
My uncle Rivers talk’d how I did grow   
More than my brother: ‘Ay,’ quoth my uncle Gloucester,   
‘Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:’            15
And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,   
Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.   
DUCHESS:  Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold   
In him that did object the same to thee:
[In him . . . thee: In Gloucester, who said this to you]  
He was the wretched’st thing when he was young,            20
So long a-growing, and so leisurely,   
That, if his rule were true, he should be gracious.   
ARCH:  And so, no doubt, he is, my gracious madam.   
DUCHESS:  I hope he is; but yet let mothers doubt.   
YORK:  Now, by my troth, if I had been remember’d,            25
I could have given my uncle’s grace a flout,   
To touch his growth nearer than he touch’d mine.   
[Now, by . . . mine: Now, in truth, if I had known this information, I could have criticized my uncle Gloucester for being so much faster in his growth than I. He was more like a weed than I am.]
DUCHESS:  How, my young York? I prithee [I beg you], let me hear it.   
YORK:  Marry [by the Virgin Mary], they say my uncle grew so fast,   
That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old:            30
’Twas full two years ere [before] I could get a tooth.   
Grandam, this would have been a biting jest.   
DUCHESS:  I prithee, pretty York, who told thee this?   
YORK:  Grandam, his nurse.   
DUCHESS:  His nurse! why, she was dead ere [before] thou wast born.            35
YORK:  If ’twere not she, I cannot tell who told me.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  A parlous [cunning; clever]  boy: go to, you are too shrewd.   
ARCH:   Good madam, be not angry with the child.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Pitchers have ears. [Small pitchers have big ears.]  
Enter a Messenger.             40

ARCH:   Here comes a messenger. What news?   
MESSENGER:  Such news, my lord, as grieves me to report.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  How doth the prince?   
MESSENGER:  Well, madam, and in health.   
DUCHESS:  What is thy news?            45
MESSENGER:  Lord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,   
With them Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.   
DUCHESS:  Who hath committed them?   
MESSENGER: The mighty dukes,   
Gloucester and Buckingham.            50
ARCH:   For what offence?   
MESSENGER:  The sum of all I can I have disclos’d:   
Why or for what the nobles were committed   
Is all unknown to me, my gracious lord.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Ah me! I see the ruin of my house!            55
The tiger now hath seiz’d the gentle hind [female deer];   
Insulting tyranny begins to jet [spray]   
Upon the innocent and aweless throne:   
[Upon . . . throne: Upon the innocent new king]
Welcome, destruction, death, and massacre!   
I see, as in a map, the end of all.            60
DUCHESS:  Accursed and unquiet wrangling days,   
How many of you have mine eyes beheld!   
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:            65
And being seated, and domestic broils   
Clean over-blown, themselves, the conquerors,   
Make war upon themselves; brother to brother,
[And being . . . brother: And after one of them is seated as king and domestic quarrels are resolved, they make war with one another, brother against brother] 
Blood to blood, self against self: O! preposterous   
And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen;            70
[end . . . spleen: End your vicious hold over us.]
Or let me die, to look on death no more. 
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Come, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary [we will go to the safety of the church sanctuary].   
Madam, farewell.   
DUCHESS:  Stay [wait], I will go with you.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  You have no cause [It's not necessary].            75
ARCH:   [To the QUEEN.]  My gracious lady, go;   
And thither bear your treasure and your goods.   
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!            80
[And . . . goods: And to the sanctuary take your money and other necessities. For my part, I will turn over to you the Great Seal of England and then take on the responsibility of looking out for you and all of yours.]
Come; I’ll conduct you to the sanctuary.  [Exeunt.   
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 3, Scene 1

London. A street.

BUCKINGHAM:  Welcome, sweet prince, to London, to your chamber.   
GLOUCESTER:  Welcome, dear cousin, my thoughts’ sovereign [the ruler of my thoughts];   
The weary way hath made you melancholy.            5
PRINCE:  No, uncle; but our crosses [difficulties; troubles] on the way   
Have made it tedious, wearisome, and heavy:   
I want more uncles here to welcome me.   
GLOUCESTER:  Sweet prince, the untainted virtue of your years   
Hath not yet div’d into the world’s deceit:            10
No more can you distinguish of a man   
Than of his outward show; which, God he knows,   
Seldom or never jumpeth with the heart.   
[Sweet . . . the heart: Sweet prince, because you are young and innocent, you have not yet experienced the world's deceit. You do not yet know how to detect deceit in a man who pretends to be friendly and helpful. God knows that such a man seldom or never reveals the true feelings in his heart.]
Those uncles which you want were dangerous;   
Your Grace attended to their sugar’d words,            15
But look’d not on the poison of their hearts:   
God keep you from them, and from such false friends!   
PRINCE:  God keep me from false friends! but they were none [but they were not false to me].   
GLOUCESTER:  My lord, the Mayor of London comes to greet you.   
Enter the Lord Mayor and his train [entourage].            20

MAYOR:  God bless your Grace with health and happy days!   
PRINCE:  I thank you, good my lord [my good lord]; and thank you all.   
I thought my mother and my brother York   
Would long ere [before] this have met us on the way:   
Fie! what a slug is Hastings, that he comes not            25
To tell us whether they will come or no.   
BUCKINGHAM:  And in good time here comes the sweating lord.   
PRINCE:  Welcome, my lord. What, will our mother come?   
HASTINGS:  On what occasion, God he knows, not I,            30
The queen your mother, and your brother York,   
Have taken sanctuary: the tender prince   
Would fain have come with me to meet your Grace,   
But by his mother was perforce withheld.  
[On what . . . withheld: Your mother and your brother have taken sanctuary—only God only knows why. Your brother would surely have come to meet you, but he was held back by your mother.]
BUCKINGHAM:  Fie! what an indirect and peevish course            35
Is this of hers! Lord Cardinal, will your Grace   
Persuade the queen to send the Duke of York   
Unto his princely brother presently?   
If she deny, Lord Hastings, go with him,   
And from her jealous arms pluck him perforce.            40
CARDINAL:  My Lord of Buckingham, if my weak oratory   
Can from his mother win the Duke of York,   
Anon [soon] expect him here; but if she be obdurate   
To mild entreaties, God in heaven forbid   
We should infringe the holy privilege            45
Of blessed sanctuary! not for all this land   
Would I be guilty of so great a sin.   
BUCKINGHAM:  You are too senseless-obstinate [reluctant without good reason], my lord,   
Too ceremonious and traditional:   
Weigh it but with the grossness of this age,            50
You break not sanctuary in seizing him.   
[Weigh . . . age: If you compare this action to the gross wrongdoing typical of this age, you will see that you would not be violating sanctuary in seizing him.]
The benefit thereof [the benefit of sanctuary protection] is always granted   
To those whose dealings have deserv’d the place   
And those who have the wit to claim the place:   
This prince hath neither claim’d it, nor deserv’d it;            55
And therefore, in mine opinion, cannot have it:   
Then, taking him from thence that is not there,   
[taking him . . . there: Taking him from sanctuary protection when he has not claimed or needed it]
You break no privilege nor charter there.   
Oft have I heard of sanctuary men,   
But sanctuary children ne’er till now.            60
CARDINAL:  My lord, you shall o’er-rule my mind for once.   
Come on, Lord Hastings, will you go with me?   
HASTINGS:  I go, my lord.   
PRINCE:  Good lords, make all the speedy haste you may.  [Exeunt CARDINAL BOURCHIER and HASTINGS.   
[Exeunt: The specified characters leave the stage.]
Say, uncle Gloucester, if our brother come,            65
Where shall we sojourn till our coronation?   
GLOUCESTER:  Where it seems best unto your royal self.   
If I may counsel you, some day or two   
Your highness shall repose you at the Tower:   
Then where you please, and shall be thought most fit            70
For your best health and recreation.   
PRINCE:  I do not like the Tower, of any place:   
Did Julius Caesar build that place, my lord?   
BUCKINGHAM:  He did, my gracious lord, begin that place,   
Which, since, succeeding ages have re-edified.            75
PRINCE:  Is it upon record, or else reported   
Successively from age to age, he built it?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Upon record, my gracious lord.   
[Construction on the the Tower of London began in 1066 under William the Conqueror at the site of the old Roman walls, built between AD 190 and 225.]
PRINCE:  But say, my lord, it were not [if it had not been] register’d,   
Methinks the truth should live from age to age,            80
As ’twere retail’d [handed down] to all posterity,   
Even to the general all-ending day [end of the world].   
GLOUCESTER:  [Aside.]  So wise so young, they say, do never live long.   
PRINCE:  What say you, uncle?   
GLOUCESTER:  I say, without characters [letters of words written down], fame lives long.            85
[Aside.]  Thus, like the formal Vice, Iniquity,   
I moralize two meanings in one word.   
[Thus . . . one word: Thus, like the form (appearance) of a character in morality play, I have two meanings for the same word. (Characters refers to the letters of words and to characters in morality plays. A morality play was a drama in which the some characters were personifications of vices and virtues, such as justice and pride.
PRINCE:  That Julius Cæsar was a famous man;   
With what his valour did enrich his wit,   
His wit set down to make his valour live:            90
Death makes no conquest of this conqueror,   
For now he lives in fame, though not in life.   
I’ll tell you what, my cousin Buckingham,—   
BUCKINGHAM:  What, my gracious lord?   
PRINCE:  An if [an if: if] I live until I be a man,            95
I’ll win our ancient right in France again,   
Or die a soldier, as I liv’d a king.   
[ancient right in France: The English believed that they had an inherited the right to rule France.]
GLOUCESTER:  [Aside.]  Short summers lightly have a forward spring. [His life will be short.]  
BUCKINGHAM:  Now, in good time, here comes the Duke of York [young brother of Edward].            100
PRINCE:  Richard of York! how fares our loving brother?   
YORK:  Well, my dread lord; so must I call you now.   
PRINCE:  Ay, brother, to our grief, as it is yours:   
Too late he died that might have kept that title,   
Which by his death hath lost much majesty.            105
GLOUCESTER:  How fares our cousin, noble Lord of York?   
YORK:  I thank you, gentle uncle. O, my lord,   
You said that idle weeds are fast in growth:   
The prince my brother hath outgrown me far.   
GLOUCESTER:  He hath, my lord.            110
YORK:  And therefore is he idle [Is he an idle weed—that is, is he a lazy person]?   
GLOUCESTER:  O, my fair cousin, I must not say so.   
YORK:  Then he is more beholding to you than I.   
GLOUCESTER:  He may command me as my sovereign;   
But you have power in [over] me as in a kinsman [relative].            115
YORK:  I pray you, uncle, give me this [your] dagger.   
GLOUCESTER:  My dagger, little cousin? with all my heart.   
PRINCE:  A beggar, brother?   
YORK:  Of my kind uncle, that I know will give;   
And, being but a toy, which is no grief to give.            120
[Of my . . . give: Yes, I am a beggar when it comes to my Uncle Gloucester. I know that he likes to give me things. But what I'm asking for is just an insignificant toy.]
GLOUCESTER:  A greater gift than that I’ll give my cousin. [I'll give you something better than the dagger.].   
YORK:  A greater gift! O, that’s the sword to it [O, it must be your sword.].   
GLOUCESTER:  Ay, gentle cousin, were it light enough [Yes, gentle cousin, if it's light enough for you].   
YORK:  O, then, I see, you’ll part but with light gifts;   
In weightier things you’ll say a beggar nay.            125
GLOUCESTER:  It is too weighty for your Grace to wear.   
YORK:  I weigh it lightly, were it heavier.   
GLOUCESTER:  What! would you have my weapon, little lord?   
YORK:  I would, that I might thank you, as you call me.   
GLOUCESTER:  How?            130
YORK:  Little.   
Prince [Edward].  My Lord of York [my brother] will still be cross in talk.   
Uncle, your Grace knows how to bear [match wits] with him.   
YORK:  You mean, to bear [tolerate] me, not to bear with me:   
Uncle, my brother mocks both you and me.            135
Because that I am little, like an ape,   
He thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders.   
BUCKINGHAM:  [Aside.]With what a sharp provided wit he reasons!   
To mitigate the scorn he gives his uncle,   
He prettily and aptly taunts himself:            140
So cunning and so young is wonderful.   
[So cunning . . . wonderful: It's amazing that he is so cunning when he is so young.]
GLOUCESTER:  My lord [Edward], will ’t please you pass along [to pass along to the Tower of London]?   
Myself and my good cousin Buckingham   
Will [will go] to your mother, to entreat of her   
To meet you at the Tower and welcome you.            145
YORK:  What! will you go unto the Tower, my lord?   
PRINCE:  My Lord Protector [Gloucester] needs will have it so.   
YORK:  I shall not sleep in quiet at the Tower.   
GLOUCESTER:  Why, what would you fear?   
YORK:  Marry [by the Virgin Mary], my uncle Clarence’ angry ghost:            150
My grandam told me he was murder’d there.   
PRINCE:  I fear no uncles [who are] dead.   
GLOUCESTER:  Nor none that live, I hope.   
PRINCE:  An if they live, I hope, I need not fear.   
But come [speaking to his brother], my lord; and, with a heavy heart,            155
Thinking on them [thinking about my dead uncles], go I unto the Tower.  [Sennet.  Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER, BUCKINGHAM, and CATESBY.   
[Sennet: Trumpet sound played when important persons enter or exit.]
[Exeunt: Everyone except those specified leaves the stage.]
BUCKINGHAM: Think you, my lord, this little prating York   
Was not incensed [urged] by his subtle mother   
To taunt and scorn you thus opprobriously [contemptuously]?   
GLOUCESTER:  No doubt, no doubt: O! ’tis a parlous [cunning] boy;            160
Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable:   
He’s all the mother’s [he's just like his mother], from the top to toe.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Well, let them rest [Well, lets put that subject to rest]. Come hither, Catesby; thou art sworn   
As deeply to effect [help us succeed in] what we intend   
As closely to conceal what we impart [do].            165
Thou know’st our reasons urg’d upon the way:   
What think’st thou? is it not an easy matter   
To make [persuade] William Lord Hastings of our mind [joining our side],   
For the instalment of this noble duke [Gloucester]   
In the seat royal [on the throne] of this famous isle?            170
CATESBY:  He for his father’s sake so loves the prince   
That he will not be won to aught [any plot] against him.   
BUCKINGHAM:  What think’st thou then of Stanley? what will he?   
CATESBY:  He will do all in all as Hastings doth.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Well then, no more but this: go, gentle Catesby,            175
And, as it were far off, sound thou Lord Hastings,   
How he doth stand affected to our purpose;   
[sound thou . . . purpose: Find out what Lord Hastings thinks about our plan.]
And summon him to-morrow to the Tower,   
To sit about the coronation.   
If thou dost find him tractable to us, [find him open to our plan]           180
Encourage him, and tell him all our reasons:   
If he be leaden, icy-cold, unwilling,   
Be thou so too, and so break off the talk,   
And give us notice of his inclination;   
For we to-morrow hold divided [separate] councils,            185
Wherein thyself shalt highly be employ’d.   
GLOUCESTER: Commend me to Lord William: tell him, Catesby,   
His ancient knot of dangerous adversaries   
To-morrow are let blood [will be killed] at Pomfret Castle;   
And bid my lord, for joy of this good news,            190
Give Mistress Shore one gentle kiss the more.   
[And bid . . . more: And tell Hastings to celebrate the joy of this good news by giving Mistress Shore a kiss.]
BUCKINGHAM:  Good Catesby, go, effect this business soundly.   
CATESBY:  My good lords both, with all the heed I can.   
GLOUCESTER:  Shall we hear from you, Catesby, ere [before] we sleep?   
CATESBY:  You shall, my lord.            195
GLOUCESTER:  At Crosby-place, there shall you find us both.  [Exit CATESBY.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Now, my lord, what shall we do if we perceive   
Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots [will not support our schemes]
GLOUCESTER:  Chop off his head; something we will determine:   
And, look, when I am king, claim thou of me            200
The earldom of Hereford, and all the moveables   
Whereof the king my brother stood possess’d.   
[Chop . . . possess'd: Chop off his head or something else we decide on. And, look, when I am king, you will become the Earl of Hereford and receive anything movable that my brother owned.]
BUCKINGHAM:  I’ll claim that promise at your Grace’s hand.   
GLOUCESTER:  And look to have it yielded with all kindness.   
Come, let us sup betimes, that afterwards            205
We may digest our complots in some form.  [Exeunt.   
[Come . . . Exeunt: Come, let's go to supper and afterwards turn our attention to our plans. They leave the stage.]

Act 3, Scene 2

London. Before Lord Hastings' house.
Enter a messenger.

MESSENGER:  [Knocking.]  My lord! my lord!   
HASTINGS:  [Within.]  Who knocks?   
MESSENGER:  One from the Lord Stanley.            5
HASTINGS:  [Within.]  What is ’t o’clock?   
MESSENGER:  Upon the stroke of four.   
HASTINGS:  Cannot my Lord Stanley sleep these tedious nights?   
MESSENGER:  So it appears by that I have to say.  [So it appears because of what I have to tell you.]           10
First, he commends him to your noble self.   
HASTINGS:  What then?   
MESSENGER:  Then certifies your lordship, that this night   
He dreamt the boar had razed off his helm [dreamt that Gloucester decapitated him]: 
Besides, he says there are two councils held;            15
And that may be determin’d at the one   
Which may make you and him to rue at the other. 
[Besides . . . the other: In addition, Lord Stanley says two important meetings will be held tomorrow. At one of them, a decision will be reached that will make you and Stanley lament what happened.] 
Therefore he sends to know your lordship’s pleasure,   
If you will presently take horse with him,   
And with all speed post with him towards the north,            20
To shun the danger that his soul divines.   
[Therefore . . . divines: Therefore, he wants to know whether your lordship will ride with him with all due speed toward the north to avoid the danger he believes will be aimed at you and him.]
HASTINGS:  Go, fellow, go, return unto thy lord;   
Bid him not fear the separated councils:   
His honour and myself are at the one,   
And at the other is my good friend Catesby;            25
Where nothing can proceed that toucheth us   
Whereof I shall not have intelligence.   
[Bid him . . . intelligence: Tell him not to worry about the councils. He and I will attend one of them, and my good friend Catesby will be at the other. Thus, I will know about everything that takes place in both councils.]
Tell him his fears are shallow, wanting instance [lacking proof or evidence]:   
And for his dreams, I wonder he ’s so fond   
To trust the mockery of unquiet slumbers.            30
To fly the boar before the boar pursues,   
Were to incense the boar to follow us   
And make pursuit where he did mean no chase.   
[To fly . . . chase: To flee the boar before the boar chases us would be to provoke the boar to the chase.]
Go, bid thy master rise and come to me;   
And we will both [go] together to the Tower,            35
Where, he shall see, the boar will use us kindly.   
MESSENGER:  I’ll go, my lord, and tell him what you say.  [Exit.   
CATESBY:  Many good morrows to my noble lord!   
HASTINGS:  Good morrow, Catesby; you are early stirring.            40
What news, what news, in this our tottering state?   
CATESBY:  It is a reeling world, indeed, my lord;   
And I believe will never stand upright   
Till Richard wear the garland of the realm.   
HASTINGS:  How! wear the garland! dost thou mean the crown?            45
CATESBY:  Ay, my good lord.   
HASTINGS:  I’ll have this crown [head] of mine cut from my shoulders   
Before I’ll see the crown so foul misplac’d.   
But canst thou guess that he doth aim at it?   
CATESBY:  Ay, on my life; and hopes to find you forward            50
Upon his party for the gain thereof:   
[forward upon: Supporting]
And thereupon he sends you this good news,   
That this same very day your enemies,   
The kindred of the queen, must die at Pomfret.   
HASTINGS:  Indeed, I am no mourner for that news,            55
Because they have been still my adversaries;   
But that I’ll give my voice on Richard’s side,   
To bar my master’s [the late king's] heirs in true descent,   
God knows I will not do it, to the death.   
CATESBY:  God keep your lordship in that gracious mind!            60
HASTINGS:  But I shall laugh at this a twelvemonth hence [a year from now],   
That they which brought me in my master’s hate,
[That they who made Edward IV hate me]  
I live to look upon their tragedy.   
Well, Catesby, ere [before] a fortnight make me older,   
I’ll send some [some people] packing that yet think not on ’t [that aren't expecting my action].            65
CATESBY:  ’Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,   
When men are unprepar’d and look not for it.   
HASTINGS:  O monstrous, monstrous! and so falls it out   
With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey; and so ’twill do   
With some men else, who think themselves as safe            70
As thou and I; who, as thou know’st, are dear   
To princely Richard and to Buckingham.   
[As thou  . . . Buckingham: We, as you know, are dear to princely Richard and to Buckingham.]
CATESBY:  The princes both make high account of you;   
[Aside.]  For they account his head upon the bridge.
[For they . . . bridge: Whispering to the audience, Catesby says that Richard and Buckingham will indeed make "high account" of Hastings—by decapitating him and placing his head at the top of a pole on London Bridge as a warning to others not to be disloyal to Richard (Gloucester) when he controls the government.]  
HASTINGS:  I know they do, and I have well deserv’d it.            75

Come on, come on; where is your boar-spear, man?   
Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?   
STANLEY:   My lord, good morrow; good morrow Catesby:   
You may jest on, but by the holy rood [by the holy cross],            80
I do not like these several [separate] councils, I.   
HASTINGS:  My lord, I hold my life as dear as you do yours;   
And never, in my days, I do protest,   
Was it so precious to me as ’tis now.   
Think you, but that I know our state secure,            85
I would be so triumphant as I am?   
[Think . . . am: If our state were not secure, do you think I would be in such a good mood?]
STANLEY:   The lords at Pomfret [the lords imprisoned at Pomfret], when they rode from London,   
Were jocund and suppos’d their state was sure,   
And they indeed had no cause to mistrust;   
But yet you see how soon the day o’ercast [how soon their sunny day became dark and overcast].            90
This sudden stab of rancour I misdoubt;   
[This . . . misdoubt: This sudden stab of hatred that imprisoned the men worries me.]
Pray God, I say, I prove a needless coward!   
[Pray . . . coward: I pray to God that my worries are needless and without foundation.]
What, shall we toward the Tower? the day is spent.   
HASTINGS:  Come, come, have with you. Wot you what, my lord?   
To-day the lords you talk of are beheaded.            95
[Wot . . . beheaded: Do you know, my lord, that the lords you speak of are about to lose their heads?]
STANLEY:   They, for their truth, might better wear their heads,   
Than some that have accus’d them wear their hats.   
[They, for . . . hats: Truth to tell, they have more right to wear their heads than some of their accusers do to wear the hats that signify the offices they hold.]
But come, my lord, let’s away.   
Enter a pursuivant [low-ranking herald].
HASTINGS:  Go on before; I’ll talk with this good fellow.  [Exeunt STANLEY and CATESBY.            100
[Exeunt: Stanley and Catesby leave the stage.]
How now, sirrah! how goes the world with thee?   
PURSUIVANT:  The better that your lordship please to ask.   
[The better . . . ask: It goes well. I thank your lordship for asking me.]
HASTINGS:  I tell thee, man, ’tis better with me now   
Than when I met thee last where now we meet:   
Then was I going prisoner to the Tower,            105
By the suggestion of the queen’s allies;   
But now, I tell thee,—keep it to thyself,—   
This day those enemies are put to death,   
And I in better state than e’er I was.   
PURSUIVANT:  God hold it to your honour’s good content! [May God keep you content.]           110
HASTINGS:  Gramercy [thank you], fellow: there, drink that for me.  [Throws him his purse.   
PURSUIVANT:  God save your lordship.  [Exit.   
Enter a priest.
PRIEST:  Well met, my lord; I am glad to see your honour.   
[Well . . . honour: You're here, my lord Hastings? Well, I'm glad to see you.]
HASTINGS:  I thank thee, good Sir John, with all my heart.            115
[Sir John: Sir was one of the titles by which a priest was addressed.]
I am in your debt for your last exercise [homily; talk; sermon];   
Come the next Sabbath, and I will content you.   
[Come . . . you: Next Sunday, I will pay you.]
BUCKINGHAM:  What, talking with a priest, lord chamberlain?   
Your friends at Pomfret, they do need the priest [so they can confess their sins]:            120
Your honour hath no shriving work in hand.   
[Your . . . hand: But your honor has no need to confess your sins.]
HASTINGS:  Good faith, and when I met this holy man,   
The men you talk of came into my mind.   
What, go you toward the Tower?   
BUCKINGHAM:  I do, my lord; but long I shall not stay:            125
I shall return before your lordship thence.
[I shall . . . thence: I shall return from there before you do.]  
HASTINGS:  Nay, like enough [yes, that's true], for I stay dinner there.   
BUCKINGHAM:  [Aside.]  And supper too, although thou know’st it not.   
Come, will you go?   
HASTINGS:  I’ll wait upon your lordship.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 3, Scene 3

Pomfret. Before the castle.

Enter RATCLIFF, with halberds, carrying RIVERS, GREY, and VAUGHAN to death.
[halberd: Weapon having a long shaft topped with a spike mounted on an ax blade. Here, halberds refers to men bearing halberds.]
RIVERS:  Sir Richard Ratcliff, let me tell thee this:   
To-day shalt thou behold a subject die   
For truth, for duty, and for loyalty.            5
GREY:  God bless the prince from all the pack of you!   
A knot you are of damned blood-suckers.[You are a group of damned bloodsuckers.]
Vaugh.  You live that shall cry woe for this hereafter. [You'll be sorry for what you are doing.] 
RATCLIFF:  Dispatch; the limit of your lives is out.   
[Dispatch . . . out: Speak your piece quickly. In a moment, you will die.]
RIVERS:  O Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison!            10
Fatal and ominous to noble peers!   
Within the guilty closure of thy walls   
Richard the Second here was hack’d to death;   
And, for more slander to thy dismal seat [to this dismal place],   
We give thee up our guiltless blood to drink.            15
GREY:  Now Margaret’s curse is fall’n upon our heads,   
When she exclaim’d on [scorned] Hastings, you, and I,   
For standing by when Richard stabb’d her son.   
RIVERS:  Then curs’d she Richard, then curs’d she Buckingham,   
Then curs’d she Hastings: O! remember, God,            20
To hear her prayer for them, as now for us;   
And for my sister and her princely sons,   
Be satisfied, dear God, with our true blood,   
Which, as thou know’st, unjustly must be spilt.   
[O! remember . . . spilt: O! remember, God, to act on her curse against those three, but please spare my sister and her princely sons. I hope our innocent blood is enough to satisfy you.]
RATCLIFF:  Make haste; the hour of death is expiate [is here].            25
RIVERS:  Come, Grey, come, Vaughan; let us here embrace:   
And take our leave until we meet in heaven.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: All actors leave the stage.]

Act 3, Scene 4

London. The Tower.

Enter BUCKINGHAM, STANLEY, HASTINGS, the BISHOP OF ELY, RATCLIFF, LOVEL. Others sit at a table.  Officers of the Council attend.
HASTINGS:  My lords, at once: the cause [reason] why we are met   
Is to determine of [to schedule] the coronation:   
In God’s name, speak, when is the royal day?            5
BUCKINGHAM:  Are all things ready for that royal time?   
STANLEY:   It is; and wants but nomination. [Everything is ready; we just have to name the day.]  
ELY:  To-morrow then I judge [I judge would be] a happy day.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Who knows the Lord Protector’s [Gloucester's] mind herein?   
Who is most inward with [who is closest to] the noble duke?            10
ELY:  Your Grace, we think, [you yourself, we think,] should soonest know his mind.   
BUCKINGHAM:  We know each other’s faces; for our hearts,   
He knows no more of mine than I of yours;   
Nor I of his, my lord, than you of mine. 
Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.            15
[We know . . . in love: We know our faces, but we don't know what's in our hearts. I don't know what's in his heart any more than he knows what's in mine. Lord Hastings, you and he are close friends.]
HASTINGS:  I thank his Grace, I know he loves me well;   
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;            20
And in the duke’s behalf I’ll give my voice,   
Which, I presume, he’ll take in gentle part.   
ELY:  In happy time, here comes the duke himself.   
GLOUCESTER:  My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow.            25
I have been long a sleeper; but, I trust,   
My absence doth neglect no great design,   
Which by my presence might have been concluded.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Had you not come upon your cue, my lord,   
William Lord Hastings had pronounc’d your part,            30
I mean, your voice, for crowning of the king.   
GLOUCESTER:  Than my Lord Hastings no man might be bolder:   
His lordship knows me well, and loves me well.   
My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn [section of Greater London],   
I saw good strawberries in your garden there;            35
I do beseech you send for some of them.   
ELY:  Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.  [Exit.   
GLOUCESTER:  Cousin of Buckingham, a word with you.  [Takes him aside.   
Catesby hath sounded Hastings [has asked for Hastings' opinion] in our business [about our plot],   
And finds the testy gentleman so hot,            40
That he will lose his head ere give consent
His master’s child, as worshipfully he terms it,   
Shall lose the royalty of England’s throne.   
[That he . . . throne: That he will lose his head before he agrees that Prince Edward should lose the throne]
BUCKINGHAM:  Withdraw yourself a while; I’ll go with you.  [Exeunt GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM.   
[Gloucester and Buckingham leave the stage.]
STANLEY:   We have not yet set down this day of triumph.            45
To-morrow, in my judgment, is too sudden;   
For I myself am not so well provided   
As else I would be, were the day prolong’d.   
[For I . . . prolonged: For I myself am not as prepared as I would be if the day of the coronation were postponed until after tomorrow.]
ELY:  Where is my lord, the Duke of Gloucester?            50
I have sent for these strawberries.   
HASTINGS:  His Grace looks cheerfully and smooth this morning:   
There’s some conceit or other likes him well,   
When that he bids good morrow with such spirit. 
[His Grace . . . spirit: Gloucester is in a good mood this morning. He must have some idea or plan that pleases him, as indicated by the way he greeted everyone with such spirit.] 
I think there’s never a man in Christendom            55
Can lesser hide his hate or love than he;   
For by his face straight shall you know his heart.   
STANLEY:   What of his heart perceiv’d you in his face   
By any livelihood he show’d to-day?   
HASTINGS:  Marry, that with no man here he is offended;            60
For, were he, he had shown [he would have shown] it in his looks.   
GLOUCESTER:  I 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?   
HASTINGS:  The tender love I bear your Grace, my lord,   
Makes me most forward in this princely presence   
To doom th’ offenders, whosoe’er they be:   
I say, my lord, they have deserved death.            70
GLOUCESTER:  Then be your eyes the witness of their evil.   
Look 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.   
HASTINGS:  If they have done this thing, my noble lord,—   
GLOUCESTER:  If! thou protector of this damned strumpet,   
Talk’st thou to 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 [until I see him executed].   
Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done:   
The rest, that love me, rise, and follow me.  [Exeunt all but HASTINGS, RATCLIFF, and LOVEL.   
[Everyone leaves the stage except Hastings, Ratcliff, and Lovel.]
HASTINGS:  Woe, 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 [did dream that Gloucester had him beheaded];
And I did scorn it [this dream], and disdain’d to fly [escape].   
Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,
[foot-cloth horse: Horse outfitted with a ceremonial cloth hanging to the ground on both sides]
And startled when he looked upon the Tower,   
As loath [as if he did not want] to bear me to the slaughter-house.            90
O! now I need the priest that spake to me:   
I now repent [regret that] I told the pursuivant,   
As too triumphing [in a boastful way], how mine enemies   
To-day 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.   
RATCLIFF:  Come, come, dispatch [be quick]; the duke would be at dinner:   
Make a short shrift [a short confession to the priest], Gloucester longs to see your head.   
HASTINGS:  O momentary grace of mortal man,            100
Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!   
[O momentary . . . God: O, it's too bad that mortal man seeks the momentary glory of this world rather than the grace he needs from God to attain eternal glory.]
Who builds his hope 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
[Who builds . . . deep: Whoever builds his life on mere air rather than on God lives like a drunken sailor standing on a mast. With any sudden movement of the ship, he will fall into deep water.]
Lov.  Come, come, dispatch; ’tis bootless to exclaim ['tis useless to exclaim and complain].   
HASTINGS:  O bloody Richard! miserable England!   
I prophesy the fearfull’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 who shortly shall be dead.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 3, Scene 5

London. The Tower walls.
Enter GLOUCESTER and BUCKINGHAM, in rotten armour, marvellous ill-favoured.
GLOUCESTER:  Come, cousin, canst thou quake, and change thy colour,   
Murder thy breath in middle of a word,   
And then again begin, and stop again,            5
As if thou wert distraught and mad with terror?   
[canst . . . terror: Can't you pretend to look pale and shaken? Can't you stop speaking in the middle of a word, then resume speaking, then stop again—as if you were distraught and mad with terror?]
BUCKINGHAM: Tut! 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            10
Are at my service, like enforced smiles;   
And both are ready in their offices,   
At any time, to grace my stratagems.   
But what! is Catesby gone?   
GLOUCESTER:  He is; and, see, he brings the mayor along.            15
Enter the Lord Mayor and CATESBY.
BUCKINGHAM:  Lord Mayor,—   
GLOUCESTER:  Look to the drawbridge there!   
BUCKINGHAM:  Hark! a drum.   
GLOUCESTER:  Catesby, o’erlook [look over] the walls [to see whether anything is happening outside].            20
BUCKINGHAM:  Lord Mayor, the reason we have sent,—   
GLOUCESTER:  Look back, defend thee; here are enemies.   
BUCKINGHAM:  God and our innocency defend and guard us!   
Enter LOVEL and RATCLIFF, with HASTINGS’ head.
GLOUCESTER:  Be patient, they are friends, Ratcliff and Lovel.            25
Lov.  Here is the head of that ignoble traitor,   
The dangerous and unsuspected Hastings.   
GLOUCESTER:  So dear I lov’d the man, that I must weep.   
I took him for the plainest harmless creature   
That breath’d upon the earth, a Christian;            30
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,   
I mean his conversation with Shore’s wife,            35
He liv’d from all attainder of suspect.
[He liv'd . . . suspect: He lived without ever being suspected of disloyalty.]
BUCKINGHAM:  Well, well, he was the covert’st shelter’d [the most secret, hidden traitor]  
That ever liv’d.   
Would you imagine, or almost believe,—   
Were ’t not that by great preservation            40
We live to tell it, that the subtle traitor   
This day had plotted, in the council-house,   
To murder me and my good Lord of Gloucester?   
MAYOR:  Had he done so?   
GLOUCESTER:  What! think you we are Turks or infidels?            45
Or that we would, against the form of law,   
Proceed thus rashly in the villain’s death,   
But that the extreme peril of the case,   
The peace of England and our person’s safety,   
Enforc’d us to this execution?            50
MAYOR:  Now, fair [good fortune] befall you! he deserv’d his death;   
And your good Graces 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.            55
BUCKINGHAM:  Yet had we not determin’d he should die,   
Until your lordship came to see his end;   
Which now the loving haste of these our friends,   
Something against our meaning, hath prevented: 
[Yet had . . . prevented: We had determined that he should remain alive until you, Lord Mayor, arrived to observe the execution. However, these friends of ours, Lovel and Ratcliff, hastily proceeded with the execution in the belief that they were protecting us.]
Because, my lord, we would have had you heard            60
The traitor speak, and timorously [timidly] confess   
The manner and the purpose of his treason [the details of his plan to murder us]
That you might well have signified the same   
Unto the citizens, who haply may   
Misconster us in him, and wail his death.            65
[who haply . . . death: Who now may accidentally misunderstand our intentions in executing him and, thus, lament his death.]
MAYOR:  But, my good lord, your Grace’s word shall serve,   
As well as I had seen and heard him speak:   
And do not doubt, right noble princes both,   
But I’ll acquaint our duteous citizens   
With all your just proceedings in this cause.            70
[By, my . . . cause: But, my good lord, I will inform the citizens of what happened here as if I had been present to listen to Hastings speak and witness his execution.]
GLOUCESTER:  And to that end we wish’d your lordship here,   
To avoid the censures of the carping world.   
BUCKINGHAM:  But since you come too late of our intent,   
Yet witness what you hear we did intend:   
And so, my good Lord Mayor, we bid farewell.  [Exit Lord Mayor.            75
GLOUCESTER:  Go, after, after, cousin Buckingham.   
The mayor towards Guildhall hies him in all post:   
There, at your meetest vantage of the time,  
Infer the bastardy of Edward’s children:   
Tell them how Edward put to death a citizen,            80
Only for saying he would make his son   
Heir to the crown; meaning indeed his house,   
Which by the sign thereof was termed so.   
[Go, after . . . termed so: Follow him, Buckingham. He's going to the Guildhall in London. There, when the time is right, tell the people gathered there that Edward's children were born as bastards. Next, say Edward had a citizen executed just for saying that he would make his son an heir to the crown. Then tell them that what the citizen meant was that he would make his son the heir of his inn, which is called the Crown.]
Moreover, urge his hateful luxury   
And bestial appetite in change of lust;            85
Which stretch’d unto their servants, daughters, wives,   
Even where his raging eye or savage heart   
Without control lusted to make a prey.   
[Moreover, urge . . . prey: Moreover, spread a story saying that Edward had a huge appetite for lust and preyed on his servants, daughters, and wives—in fact, on anyone that his raging eye and savage heart settled upon.]
Nay, for a need, thus far come near my person:   
Tell them, when that my mother went with child            90
Of that insatiate Edward, noble York   
My princely father then had wars in France;   
And, by true computation of the time,   
Found that the issue was not his begot;   
Which well appeared in his lineaments,            95
Being nothing like the noble duke my father.  
Yet touch this sparingly, as ’twere far off;   
Because, my lord, you know my mother lives.  
[Nay,  for . . . If necessary tell them that when my mother got pregnant with Edward, my father was at war in France and, therefore, could not have been Edward's father. Besides, Edward didn't look anything like my father. But don't dwell on this point. After all, my mother is still alive.]
BUCKINGHAM:  Doubt not, my lord, I’ll play the orator   
As if the golden fee [the king's crown]  for which I plead            100
Were for myself: and so, my lord, adieu [good-bye in French].   
GLOUCESTER:  If you thrive well [if all goes well], bring them to Baynard’s Castle [a London residence of Richard];   
Where you shall find me well accompanied   
With reverend fathers and well-learned bishops.   
BUCKINGHAM:  I go; and towards three or four o’clock            105
Look for the news that the Guildhall affords.  [Exit.   
GLOUCESTER:  Go, Lovel, with all speed to Doctor Shaw;   
[To CATESBY.]  Go thou to Friar Penker; bid them both   
Meet me within this hour at Baynard’s Castle.  [Exeunt LOVEL and CATESBY.
[Exeunt: The specified characters leave the stage.]   
Now will I in, to take some privy order,            110
To draw the brats of Clarence out of sight;   
And to give notice that no manner person   
Have any time recourse unto the princes.  [Exit.
[Now will . . . princes: Now will I enter the Tower and issue an order to keep the children of Clarence out of sight. I will also give notice that no one is permitted to see the young princes.]

Act 3, Scene 6

London. A street.
Enter a Scrivener.
[Scrivener: One who copies documents such as contracts and proclamations.]
SCRIVENER:  Here is the indictment of the good Lord Hastings;   
Which in a set hand fairly is engross’d,   
That it may be to-day read o’er in Paul’s:            5
[Here is . . . Paul's: Here is the document that accuses Lord Hastings of wrongdoing. I copied it so that it will be easy to read today at St. Paul's Cathedral.]
And mark how well the sequel hangs together.   
Eleven hours I have spent to write it over,   
For yesternight by Catesby was it sent me. 
The precedent was full as long a-doing;   
[And mark . . . sent me: Notice how well the information is organized. It took me eleven hours to copy the document after Catesby sent it to me. The original document took just as long to write out.]
And yet within these five hours Hastings liv’d,            10
Untainted, unexamin’d, free, at liberty.   
Here’s a good world the while! Who is so gross   
That cannot see this palpable device?   
Yet who so bold but says he sees it not?   
Bad is the world; and all will come to naught,            15
When such ill dealing must be seen in thought.  [Exit.
[And yet . . . thought: Only five hours ago, Hastings was alive and free, and under no suspicion of wrongdoing. What a world we live in! Who is so dumb that he accepts the charges against Hastings as true? But who is so bold to speak up and say the charges are false? The world is a bad place when a person can't say what he is thinking.]

Act 3, Scene 7

London. The court of Baynard's Castle.

GLOUCESTER:  How now, how now! what say the citizens?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Now, by the holy mother of our Lord,   
The citizens are mum, say not a word.            5
GLOUCESTER:  Touch’d you the bastardy of Edward’s children? 
[Touch'd . . . children: Did you say that Edward's children are not legitimate heirs to the throne?] 
BUCKINGHAM:  I did; with his contract with Lady Lucy,   
And his contract by deputy in France;   
[I did . . . France: I did say so. I told them about his involvement with Lady Elizabeth Lucy. (Lady Lucy was Edward IV's mistress and was believed to have given birth to several of his children.) I also told them about his contract to marry the sister of the French king. (Edward was contracted to marry Lady Bona, the sister of King Lewis of France. But he broke the contract and instead married Elizabeth Grey (his first wife).
The insatiate greediness of his desires,   
And his enforcement of the city wives;            10
His tyranny for trifles; his own bastardy,   
As being got, your father then in France,   
And his resemblance, being not like the duke: 
[The insatiate . . . duke: I also told the people about his lustful activities, in particular the way he took by force the wives of Londoners; about his cruel punishment of people for minor offenses; about his own illegitimacy as heir to the throne; and about the fact that he did not look like his father.] 
Withal I did infer your lineaments,   
Being the right idea of your father,            15
Both in your form and nobleness of mind;   
Laid open all your victories in Scotland,   
Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,   
Your bounty, virtue, fair humility;   
[Withal . . . humility: After saying all these things, I told the people that you, on the other hand, were just like your father in looks and nobility of mind. I pointed out your ability as a military leader, noting your victories in Scotland and your discipline as a warrior. In addition, I told them of your wisdom in peacetime, your generosity, your virtue, your humility.] 
Indeed, left nothing fitting for your purpose            20
Untouch’d or slightly handled in discourse; 
[Indeed . . . discourse: Indeed, I left nothing out that would cast you in a good light with the people.] 
And when my oratory drew toward end,   
I bade them that did love their country’s good   
Cry ‘God save Richard, England’s royal king!’   
GLOUCESTER:  And did they so?            25
BUCKINGHAM:  No, so God help me, they spake [spoke] not a word;   
But, like dumb statuas [statues] or breathing stones,   
Stared each on other, and look’d deadly pale.   
Which when I saw, I reprehended them;   
And ask’d the mayor what meant this wilful silence:            30
His answer was, the people were not wont   
To be spoke to but [except] by the Recorder [a legal official of the city's government].
Then he was urg’d to tell my tale again:   
‘Thus saith the duke, thus hath the duke inferr’d;’   
But nothing spoke in warrant from himself.            35
[Then he . . . himself: Then I told the Recorder to repeat my information for the people. He was to say, "The Duke of Buckingham said this, thus has the duke inferred"—something like that. But he was not to give his own opinion.]
When he had done, some followers of mine own,   
At lower end of the hall, hurl’d up their caps,   
And some ten voices cried, ‘God save King Richard!’   
And thus I took the vantage of those few,    
‘Thanks, gentle citizens and friends,’ quoth I;            40
[And thus . . . quoth I: I took advantage of this moment and said, "Thanks, gentle citizens and friends." I went on to say the following:]
‘This general applause and cheerful shout   
Argues your wisdom and your love to Richard:’   
And even here brake off, and came away. [And at this point, I stopped talking and left.]   
GLOUCESTER:  What tongueless blocks were they! would they not speak?   
Will not the mayor then and his brethren [his fellow citizens] come?            45
BUCKINGHAM:  The mayor is here at hand. Intend some fear [pretend to be fearful];   
Be not you spoke with but by mighty suit [don't speak unless someone pleads with you to do so]:   
And look you get a prayer-book in your hand,   
And stand between two churchmen, good my lord [my good lord]:   
For on that ground I’ll make a holy descant:            50
And be not easily won to our requests;  
[For on . . . requests: At that point I'll step in and argue that you should be England's next king. But don't be too quick to accept that proposal when people support it. Pretend that you don't think you should sit on the throne.]
Play the maid’s part, still answer nay, and take it.   
GLOUCESTER:  I go; and if you plead as well for them   
As I can say nay to thee for myself,   
No doubt we bring it to a happy issue.            55
[I go . . . issue: I'm leaving. If you plead my case to them as well as I can "answer nay" (line 52), we'll have a happy ending.]
BUCKINGHAM:  Go, go, up to the leads [rooftop]! the Lord Mayor knocks.  [Exit GLOUCESTER.   

Enter the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and citizens.
Welcome, my lord: I dance attendance here;   
I think the duke will not be spoke withal.   
[I dance . . . withal: I'm biding my time here as I await the arrival of the Duke of Gloucester (Richard). I'm beginning to wonder whether he intends to speak here at all. (Buckingham is carrying out the plan, here pretending to give the impression that Gloucester does not covet the throne.)]
Enter, from the Castle, CATESBY.            60

Now, Catesby! what says your lord to my request?   
CATESBY:  He doth entreat your Grace, my noble lord,   
To visit him to-morrow or next day.   
He is within, with two right reverend fathers,   
Divinely bent to meditation;            65
And in no worldly suit would he be mov’d,   
To draw him from his holy exercise.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Return, good Catesby, to the gracious duke:   
Tell him, myself, the mayor and aldermen,   
In deep designs in matter of great moment,            70
No less importing than our general good,   
Are come to have some conference with his Grace.   
[In deep . . . his Grace: Tell him that the mayor, the aldermen, and I are here to confer with him on a matter of great importance to the general welfare of the state and the people.]
CATESBY:  I’ll signify so much unto him straight.  [Exit.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Ah, ha, my lord, this prince is not an Edward!   
He is not lolling on a lewd day-bed,            75
[He is . . . day-bed: He's not spending his time on lustful pursuits.]
But on his knees at meditation;   
Not dallying with a brace of courtezans [not dallying with a pair of prostitutes or mistresses],   
But meditating with two deep divines [holy men];   
Not sleeping, to engross [fatten] his idle body,   
But praying, to enrich his watchful soul.            80
Happy were England, would this virtuous prince   
Take on his Grace the sovereignty thereof:   
But sore [too bad], I fear, we shall not win him to it.   
MAYOR:  Marry, God defend his Grace should say us nay!  [By the Virgin Mary, I hope God prevents Gloucester from saying no to us.] 
BUCKINGHAM:  I fear he will. Here Catesby comes again.            85
Re-enter CATESBY.
Now, Catesby, what says his Grace?   
CATESBY:  He wonders to what end you have assembled   
Such troops of citizens to come to him,   
His Grace not being warn’d thereof before:            90
My lord, he fears you mean no good to him.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Sorry I am my noble cousin should   
Suspect me that I mean no good to him.   
By heaven, we come to him in perfect love;   
And so once more return, and tell his Grace.  [Exit CATESBY.            95
When holy and devout religious men   
Are at their beads [rosary beads], ’tis much to draw them thence;   
So sweet is zealous contemplation.   
Enter GLOUCESTER, in a gallery above, between two Bishops. CATESBY returns.
MAYOR:  See, where his Grace stands ’tween two clergymen!            100
BUCKINGHAM:  Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,   
To stay him from the fall of vanity;   
And, see, a book of prayer in his hand;   
True ornament to know a holy man.   
Famous Plantagenet, most gracious prince,            105
Lend favourable ear to our requests,   
And pardon us the interruption   
Of thy devotion, and right Christian zeal.   
GLOUCESTER:  My lord, there needs no such apology;   
I do beseech your Grace to pardon me,            110
Who, earnest in the service of my God,   
Deferr’d the visitation of my friends.   
But, leaving this, what is your Grace’s pleasure?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Even that, I hope, which pleaseth God above,   
And all good men of this ungovern’d isle.            115
GLOUCESTER:  I do suspect I have done some offence   
That seems disgracious [disgraceful] in the city’s eye;   
And that you come to reprehend my ignorance.   
BUCKINGHAM:  You have, my lord: would it might please your Grace,   
On our entreaties to amend your fault!            120
GLOUCESTER:  Else wherefore [otherwise why] breathe I in a Christian land?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Know then, it is your fault that you resign   
The supreme seat, the throne majestical,   
The sceptred office of your ancestors,   
Your state of fortune and your due of birth,            125
The lineal glory of your royal house,   
To the corruption of a blemish’d stock [illegitimate heirs];   
Whiles, in the mildness of your sleepy thoughts,—   
Which here we waken to our country’s good,—   
This noble isle doth want her proper limbs [her legitimate ruler];            130
Her face defac’d with scars of infamy,   
Her royal stock graft with ignoble plants,   
And almost shoulder’d in the swallowing gulf   
Of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion.   
Which to recure we heartily solicit            135
Your gracious self to take on you the charge   
And kingly government of this your land;   
Not as protector, steward, substitute,   
Or lowly factor for another’s gain;   
But as successively from blood to blood,            140
Your right of birth, your empery [sovereignty; divine right], your own.   
For this [this purpose], consorted [in which we have consulted] with the citizens,   
Your very worshipful and loving friends,   
And by their vehement instigation,   
In this just cause come I to move your Grace [persuade your grace to accept the throne].            145
GLOUCESTER:  I cannot tell, if to depart in silence   
Or bitterly to speak in your reproof [or bitterly to rebuke you],   
Best fitteth my degree or your condition: [better suits a person of my rank or a person who proposes what you do:]   
If not to answer, you might haply [perhaps] think   
Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded            150
To bear the golden yoke of sov’reignty,   
Which fondly you would here impose on me;  
[If not . . . on me: If I don't answer, you might think I'm yielding to you so you can impose on me the heavy burden of being king.]
If to reprove you for this suit of yours,   
So season’d with your faithful love to me,   
Then, on the other side, I check’d my friends.            155
[If to . . . friends: If I reprimand you for making your proposal, which I know is seasoned with your love for me, then it will appear as if I am rebuking my friends.]
Therefore, to speak, and to avoid the first,   
And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,   
[Therefore . . . last: Therefore, I have decided to speak in order to avoid giving the impression that I want to be king. But, in speaking, I will not reprimand anyone.]
Definitively thus I answer you.   
Your love deserves my thanks; but my desert   
Unmeritable shuns your high request.            160
[but my . . . request: But I don't deserve to become king.]
First, if all obstacles were cut away,   
And that my path were even to the crown,   
As the ripe revenue and due of birth [as the just reward of being born as an heir to the throne],   
Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,   
So mighty and so many my defects,            165
That I would rather hide me from my greatness, 
Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
Than in my greatness covet to be hid,   
And in the vapour of my glory smother’d.   
[Yet so . . . smother'd: Yet so unworthy am I, so riddled with defects, that I would rather hide from greatness—like a boat that avoids the glory of conquering mighty seas—than accept greatness and then try to hide. I would be smothered in the vapor of my glory.]
But, God be thank’d, there is no need of me;            170
And much I need to help you, were there need;   
[And much . . . need: And I would need so much assistance in carrying out the affairs of state on your behalf, I really wouldn't be of much use to you.]
The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,   
Which, mellow’d by the stealing hours of time,   
Will well become the seat of majesty,   
And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.            175
[The royal tree . . . reign: The royal tree has produced many candidates who, with time, would be worthy of the crown. The person chosen, no doubt, would make us happy by the way he governed.]
On him I lay that you would lay on me,   
The right and fortune of his happy stars;   
Which God defend that I should wring from him!   
[On him . . . from him: On that person, I lay the right to be king. God forbid that I should take from him that right.]
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord, this argues conscience in your Grace;   
But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,            180
All circumstances well considered.   
[My lord . . . considered: My lord, what you have said reveals that you have a conscience. But your objections to accepting the crown are trivial, all things considered.]
You say that Edward is your brother’s son:   
So say we too, but not by Edward’s wife;   
For first was he contract [contracted] to Lady Lucy,   
Your mother lives a witness to his vow [as your mother can attest],            185
And afterward by substitute betroth’d   
To Bona, sister to the King of France.   
These both put by, a poor petitioner,   
A care-craz’d mother to a many sons,   
A beauty-waning and distressed widow,            190
Even in the afternoon of her best days,   
Made prize and purchase of his wanton eye,   
Seduc’d the pitch and height of his degree   
To base declension and loath’d bigamy:   
By her, in his unlawful bed, he got            195
This Edward, whom our manners call the prince.   
[These both . . . call the prince: Edward rejected Lady Lucy and Lady Bona. Then a mother of many sons—a widow in the fading glory of her beauty—seduced him and became pregnant. She gave birth to Edward, the boy we politely call a prince but who is really a bastard and thus ineligible for the throne.]
More bitterly could I expostulate [could I talk about lurid details],   
Save that, for reverence to some alive,   
I give a sparing limit to my tongue.   
Then, good my lord, take to your royal self            200
This proffer’d benefit of dignity;   
If not to bless us and the land withal,   
Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry   
From the corruption of abusing times,   
Unto a lineal true-derived course.            205
[Then, good my . . . course: Then, my good lord, accept our invitation for you to become king—if not to bless us and the country, then to set the record straight on the purity of the blood of the noble ancestry that eventually produced you.]
MAYOR:  Do, good my lord; your citizens entreat you.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffer’d love.   
CATESBY:  O! make them joyful: grant their lawful suit:   
GLOUCESTER:  Alas! why would you heap those cares on me?   
I am unfit for state and majesty:            210
I do beseech you, take it not amiss,   
I cannot nor I will not yield to you.   
BUCKINGHAM:  If you refuse it, as, in love and zeal,   
Loath to depose the child, your brother’s son;
As well we know your tenderness of heart            215
And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,   
Which we have noted in you to your kindred,   
And egally, indeed, to all estates,   
Yet whether you accept our suit or no,   
Your brother’s son shall never reign our king;            220
[If you refuse . . . reign our king: If you refuse the crown because you don't want to depose your brother's child, we will understand that you did so because of your tenderness of heart and your kind and gentle disposition. But regardless of your decision, you should know that we will never accept Edward's son as the king of England.]
But we will plant some other in the throne,   
To the disgrace and downfall of your house:   
And in this resolution here we leave you.   
Come, citizens, we will entreat no more.  [Exit BUCKINGHAM and Citizens.   
CATESBY:  Call them again, sweet prince; accept their suit:            225
If you deny them, all the land will rue it.   
GLOUCESTER:  Will you enforce me to [force me into] a world of cares?   
Call them again: I am not made of stone,   
But penetrable to your kind entreats,  [Exit CATESBY.   
Albeit against my conscience and my soul.            230
Re-enter BUCKINGHAM and the rest.
Cousin of Buckingham, and sage, grave men, [and wise, grave men] 
Since you will buckle fortune on my back,   
To bear her burden, whe’r I will or no [whether I want to or not],   
I must have patience to endure the load:            235
But if black scandal or foul-fac’d reproach   
Attend the sequel of your imposition,   
Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me   
From all the impure blots and stains thereof;   
[But if . . . thereof: But if scandal and reproach dog me after I accept the crown, the fact that you forced it on me shall wipe away any impure blots and stains resulting from your action.]
For God doth know, and you may partly see,            240
How far I am from the desire of this [from the desire to be king].   
MAYOR:  God bless your Grace! we see it, and will say it.   
GLOUCESTER:  In saying so, you shall but say the truth.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Then I salute you with this royal title:   
Long live King Richard, England’s worthy king!            245
ALL:  Amen.   
BUCKINGHAM:  To-morrow may it please you to be crown’d?   
GLOUCESTER:  Even when you please, for you will have it so.   
BUCKINGHAM:  To-morrow then we will attend your Grace:   
And so most joyfully we take our leave.            250
GLOUCESTER:  [To the Bishops.]  Come, let us to our holy work again.   
Farewell, my cousin;—farewell, gentle friends.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 4, Scene 1

London. Before the Tower.
DUCHESS OF YORK: Who meets us here? my niece Plantagenet,   
Led in the hand of her kind aunt of Gloucester?
[Who meets . . . Gloucester: Who's meeting us here? Why, it appears to be my niece, Lady Margaret Plantagenet, led by her kind aunt, the Duchess of Gloucester.  
Now, for my life, she’s [Lady Margaret is] wand’ring to the Tower,            5
On pure heart’s love, to greet the tender princes.   
Daughter, well met [Margaret, I'm so happy to see you].   
ANNE: God give your Graces [Duchess of York and Queen Elizabeth] both   
A happy and a joyful time of day!   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  As much to you, good sister! whither away! [where are you going?]            10
ANNE:  No further than the Tower; and, as I guess,   
Upon the like devotion as yourselves,   
To gratulate [pay homage to] the gentle princes there.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Kind sister, thanks: we’ll enter all together:—   
Enter BRAKENBURY.            15

And, in good time, here the lieutenant comes.   
Master lieutenant, pray you, by your leave,   
How doth the prince, and my young son of York?   
BRAKENBURY:  Right well, dear madam. By your patience,   
I may not suffer you to visit them:            20
The king hath strictly charg’d the contrary.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  The king! who’s that?   
BRAKENBURY: I mean the Lord Protector [Richard].   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  The Lord protect him from that kingly title!   
Hath he set bounds between their love and me?            25
I am their mother; who shall bar me from them?   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  I am their father’s mother; I will see them.   
ANNE:  Their aunt I am in law, in love their mother:   
Then bring me to their sights; I’ll bear thy blame,   
And take thy office from thee, on my peril.            30
BRAKENBURY:  No, madam, no, I may not leave it so:   
I am bound by oath, and therefore pardon me.  [Exit.   
STANLEY:   Let me but meet you, ladies, one hour hence,   
And I’ll salute your Grace of York as mother,            35
And reverend looker-on of two fair queens.   
[Let me . . . queens: Let me meet you (Duchess of York) an hour from now, and I'll salute you as the mother of two beautiful queens.]
[To the DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER.]  Come, madam, you must [must go] straight to Westminster,   
There to be crowned Richard’s royal queen.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Ah! cut my lace asunder [cut the stays of my corset],   
That my pent heart may have some scope to beat,            40
Or else I swoon with this dead-killing news.   
ANNE:  Despiteful tidings! O! unpleasing news!   
DORSET:  Be of good cheer: mother, how fares your Grace?   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  O, Dorset! speak not to me, get thee gone;   
Death and destruction dog thee at the heels:            45
Thy mother’s name is ominous to children.   
If thou wilt outstrip death, go cross the seas,   
And live with Richmond, from [away from] the reach of hell:   
Go, hie thee, hie thee, from this slaughter-house,   
Lest thou increase the number of the dead,            50
And make me die the thrall [slave] of Margaret’s curse,   
Nor mother, wife, nor England’s counted queen.   
STANLEY:   Full of wise care is this your counsel, madam.   
[To DORSET.]  Take all the swift advantage of the hours;   
You shall have letters from me to my son            55
In your behalf, to meet you on the way:   
Be not ta’en [taken] tardy by unwise delay.   
DUCHESS:  O ill-dispersing wind of misery!   
O! my accursed womb, the bed of death,   
A cockatrice hast thou hatch’d to the world,            60
[cockatrice: In myth and legend, a serpent that could kill with its breath or a glance of its eyes]
Whose unavoided eye is murderous!   
STANLEY:   Come, madam, come; I in all haste was sent.   
ANNE:  And I with all unwillingness will go.   
O! would to God that the inclusive verge [crown]  
Of golden metal that must round my brow            65
Were red-hot steel to sear me to the brain.   
Anointed let me be with deadly venom;   
And die, ere [before] men can say ‘God save the queen!’   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Go, go, poor soul, I envy not thy glory;   
To feed my humour [to make me feel better], wish thyself no harm.            70
ANNE:  No! why? When he that is my husband now   
Came to me, as I follow’d Henry’s corse [corpse];   
When scarce the blood was well wash’d from his hands,   
Which issu’d from my other angel husband,   
And that dead saint which then I weeping follow’d;            75
O! when I say, I look’d on Richard’s face,   
This was my wish, ‘Be thou,’ quoth I, ‘accurs’d,   
For making me so young, so old a widow!   
And, when thou wedd’st, let sorrow haunt thy bed;   
And be thy wife—if any be so mad—            80
More miserable by the life of thee   
Than thou hast made me by my dear lord’s death!’   
Lo! ere [before] I can repeat this curse again,   
Within so small a time, my woman’s heart   
Grossly grew captive to his honey words,            85
And prov’d the subject of mine own soul’s curse:   
Which hitherto hath held mine eyes from rest;   
For never yet one hour in his bed   
Did I enjoy the golden dew of sleep,   
But with his timorous dreams was still awak’d.            90
Besides, he hates me for my father Warwick,   
And will, no doubt, shortly be rid of me.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Poor heart, adieu [good-bye in French]! I pity thy complaining.   
ANNE:  No more than with my soul I mourn for yours.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Farewell! thou woeful welcomer of glory!            95
ANNE:  Adieu, poor soul, that tak’st thy leave of it!   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  [To DORSET.]  Go thou to Richmond, and good fortune guide thee!   
[To ANNE.]  Go thou to Richard, and good angels tend thee!   
[To Q. ELIZABETH.]  Go thou to sanctuary, and good thoughts possess thee!   
I to my grave, where peace and rest lie with me!            100
Eighty odd years of sorrow have I seen,   
And each hour’s joy wrack’d [ruined; wrecked] with a week of teen [misery; discomfort; grief].   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Stay yet, look back with me unto the Tower.   
Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes   
Whom envy hath immur’d [contained] within your walls,            105
Rough cradle for such little pretty ones!   
Rude ragged nurse, old sullen playfellow   
For tender princes, use my babies well.   
So foolish sorrow bids your stones farewell.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 4, Scene 2

London. A room of state in the palace.
Sennet [Sounding of trumpets].  RICHARD, in pomp, crowned: BUCKINGHAM, CATESBY, a page, and others.
KING RICHARD:  Stand all apart. Cousin of Buckingham.   
BUCKINGHAM:  My gracious sovereign!   
KING RICHARD:  Give me thy hand.  [He ascends the throne.]  Thus high, by thy advice,            5
And thy assistance, is King Richard seated:   
But shall we wear these glories for a day?   
Or shall they last, and we rejoice in them?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Still live they, and for ever let them last!   
KING RICHARD:  Ah! Buckingham, now do I play the touch [now I am going to test you],            10
To try if thou be current gold indeed [to see whether you are as valuable to me as you seem]:   
Young Edward lives: think now what I would speak.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Say on, my loving lord.   
KING RICHARD:  Why, Buckingham, I say, I would be king.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Why, so you are, my thrice-renowned liege.            15
KING RICHARD:  Ha! am I king? ’Tis so: but Edward [young prince Edward] lives.   
BUCKINGHAM:  True, noble prince.   
KING RICHARD: O bitter consequence,   
That Edward still should live! ‘True, noble prince!’ [that Edward should still be alive and be deemed by some as the true heir to the throne]   
Cousin, thou wast not wont to be so dull [Buckingham, I'm having trouble getting through to you]:            20
Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead [I wish young Edward and his brother were dead];   
And I would have it suddenly perform’d.   
What sayst thou now? speak suddenly, be brief.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Your Grace may do your pleasure.   
KING RICHARD:  Tut, tut! thou art all ice, thy kindness freezes: [Tut, tut! Your voice and manner are cold and unfriendly.]            25
Say, have I thy consent that they shall die?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Give me some little breath, some pause, dear lord,   
Before I positively speak in this:   
I will resolve you herein presently.  [Exit.   
CATESBY:  [Aside to another.]  The king is angry: see, he gnaws his lip.            30
KING RICHARD:  [Descends from his throne. Aside.]  I will converse with iron-witted fools   
And unrespective boys: none are for me   
That look into me with considerate eyes.   
High-reaching Buckingham grows circumspect.   
[I will converse . . . circumspect: Right now, I want to talk only with really stupid fools and to boys who don't pay much attention to what's going on. I don't want to look into the eyes of someone who is anazlying me. Ambitious Buckingham is becoming too wary and too cautious for me.] 
Boy!            35
PAGE:  My lord!   
KING RICHARD:  Know’st thou not any whom corrupting gold   
Will tempt unto a close exploit of death?   
[Know'st thou . . . death: Do you know anyone who would commit murder for money?]
PAGE:  I know a discontented gentleman,   
Whose humble means match not his haughty spirit:            40
Gold were as good as twenty orators,   
And will, no doubt, tempt him to anything.   
[I know . . . to anything: I know an unhappy man with great pride but little money. Gold is better than twenty orators to tempt him to do anything at all. ]
KING RICHARD:  What is his name?   
PAGE:  His name, my lord, is Tyrrell.   
KING RICHARD:  I partly know the man: go, call him hither [to this place].  [Exit Page.            45
The deep-revolving [the deep-thinking] witty Buckingham   
No more shall be the neighbour to my counsel [no more shall be my confidant].   
Hath he so long held out with me untir’d,   
And stops he now for breath? well, be it so. 
[Hath he . . . breath: For a long time, he has conspired with me to carry out my plans. But why does he all of a sudden need to pause and catch his breath?
Enter STANLEY.             50

How now, Lord Stanley! what’s the news?   
STANLEY:   Know, my loving lord,   
The Marquess Dorset, as I hear, is fled   
To Richmond [the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor], in the parts where he abides.   
KING RICHARD: Come hither, Catesby: rumour it abroad [spread a rumor],            55
That Anne my wife is very grievous sick;   
I will take order for her keeping close. [I will see that she stays close, away from public view.]  
Inquire me out some mean [base; lowly] poor gentleman,   
Whom I will marry straight to Clarence’ daughter:   
The boy is foolish [mentally deficient], and I fear not him.            60
Look, how thou dream’st! I say again, give out   
That Anne my queen is sick, and like to die:
About it; for it stands me much upon,   
To stop all hopes whose growth may damage me.  [Exit CATESBY.   
[Look . . . die: You look as if you're daydreaming. Pay attention to my instructions. As I said, spread a rumor that Anne is sick and likely to die. Now go about your task. I have to make sure that no one entertains plans to damage me.]
[Richard speaks lines 65-70 to himself.]
I must be married to my brother’s daughter [daughter of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth],            65
Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass.   
Murder her brothers, and then marry her!   
Uncertain way of gain! But I am in   
So far in blood, that sin will pluck on sin:   
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye.            70
[Murder . . . this eye: If I murder her brothers and then marry her, I'm taking a big chance. But so what. I already have so much blood on my hands that one more sin won't matter. Besides, I have no pity for anyone who stands in my way.]
Re-enter Page, with TYRRELL.
Is thy name Tyrrell?   
TYRRELL:  James Tyrrell, and your most obedient subject.   
KING RICHARD:  Art thou, indeed?   
TYRRELL: Prove me, my gracious lord.            75
KING RICHARD:  Dar’st thou resolve to kill a friend of mine?   
TYRRELL:  Please you; but I had rather kill two enemies.   
KING RICHARD:  Why, then thou hast it: two deep enemies,   
Foes to my rest, and my sweet sleep’s disturbers,   
Are they that I would have thee deal upon.            80
Tyrrell, I mean those bastards [the young princes] in the Tower.   
TYRRELL:  Let me have open means to come to them,   
And soon I’ll rid you from the fear of them.   
KING RICHARD:  Thou sing’st sweet music. Hark, come hither [here], Tyrrell:   
Go, by this token: rise, and lend thine ear [Go. Show this token at the Tower and you will be admitted. Now rise and lend your ear.] [Whispers.            85
There is no more but so: say it is done,   
And I will love thee, and prefer thee for it.   
TYRRELL:  I will dispatch [do] it straight [immediately] .  [Exit.   
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord, I have consider’d in my mind            90
The late demand that you did sound me in.   
KING RICHARD:  Well, let that rest. Dorset is fled to Richmond.   
BUCKINGHAM:  I heard the news, my lord.   
KING RICHARD:  Stanley, he is your wife’s son: well, look to it.   
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord, I claim the gift, my due by promise,            95
For which your honour and your faith is pawn’d [which you pledged to me on your honor];   
The earldom of Hereford and the moveables   
Which you have promised I shall possess.   
KING RICHARD:  Stanley, look to your wife: if she convey   
[look to: Observe.]
Letters to Richmond, you shall answer it [you shall be held accountable].            100
BUCKINGHAM:  What says your highness to my just request?   
KING RICHARD:  I do remember me, Henry the Sixth   
Did prophesy that Richmond should be king,   
When Richmond was a little peevish boy.   
A king! perhaps—            105
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord!   
KING RICHARD:  How chance the prophet could not at that time   
Have told me, I being by, that I should kill him?   
[How chance . . . kill him: Why was it that the prophet did not at that time tell me that I should kill him?]
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord, your promise for the earldom,—   
KING RICHARD:  Richmond! When last I was at Exeter,            110
The mayor in courtesy show’d me the castle,   
And call’d it Rougemont : at which name I started,   
Because a bard of Ireland told me once   
I should not live long after I saw Richmond.   
[Rougemont: Though spelled differently than Richmond was, Rougement was pronounced with a sound similar to that of Richmond.]
BUCKINGHAM:  My lord!            115
KING RICHARD:  Ay, what’s o’clock?   
BUCKINGHAM:  I am thus bold to put your Grace in mind   
Of what you promis’d me.   
KING RICHARD:  Well, but what is ’t o’clock?   
BUCKINGHAM:  Upon the stroke of ten.            120
KING RICHARD:  Well, let it strike.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Why let it strike?   
KING RICHARD:  Because that, like a Jack, thou keep’st the stroke   
Betwixt thy begging and my meditation.
I am not in the giving vein to-day.            125
[Because . . . meditation: Because, like the fellow who strikes the bell, you keep interrupting me with your begging while I'm thinking. Well, I'm in no mood right now to give things away.]  
BUCKINGHAM:  Why, then resolve me whe’r [whether] you will, or no.   
KING RICHARD:  Thou troublest me: I am not in the vein.  [Exeunt KING RICHARD and Train.   
[King Richard and his attendants leave.]
BUCKINGHAM:  And is it thus? repays he my deep service   
With such contempt? made I him king for this?   
O, let me think on Hastings, and be gone            130
To Brecknock [Brecknock Castle in Wales, Buckingham's residence], while my fearful head is on.  [Exit.

Act 4, Scene 3

London. A room of state in the palace.
TYRRELL:  The tyrannous and bloody act [the murder of the princes] is done;   
The most arch deed of piteous massacre   
That ever yet this land was guilty of.            5
Dighton and Forrest, whom I did suborn   
To do this piece of ruthless butchery,   
Albeit they were flesh’d villains, bloody dogs,   
Melting with tenderness and mild compassion,   
Wept like to children in their death’s sad story.            10
[Dighton . . . sad story: Dighton and Forrest, the men I hired to do this piece of ruthless butchery, cried like children afterward even though they were complete villains and bloody dogs.]
‘Oh! thus,’ quoth Dighton, ‘lay the gentle babes:’   
‘Thus, thus,’ quoth Forrest, ‘girdling one another   
Within their alabaster innocent arms:   
Their lips were four red roses on a stalk,   
Which in their summer beauty kiss’d each other.            15
A book of prayers on their pillow lay;   
Which once,’ quoth Forrest, ‘almost chang’d my mind;   
But, O, the devil’—there the villain stopp’d;   
When Dighton thus told on: ‘We smothered   
The most replenished sweet work of nature,            20
That from the prime creation e’er she fram’d.’   
Hence both are gone with conscience and remorse;   
They could not speak; and so I left them both,   
To bear this tidings to the bloody king:   
And here he comes.            25
All health, my sovereign lord!   
KING RICHARD:  Kind Tyrrell, am I happy in thy news?   
TYRRELL:  If to have done the thing you gave in charge   
Beget your happiness, be happy then,            30
For it is done.   
KING RICHARD: But didst thou see them dead?   
Tyr  I did, my lord.   
KING RICHARD:  And buried, gentle Tyrrell?   
TYRRELL:  The chaplain of the Tower hath buried them;            35
But how or in what place I do not know.   
KING RICHARD:  Come to me, Tyrrell, soon at aftersupper,   
When thou shalt tell the process of their death [tell how they died].   
Meantime, but think how I may do thee good,   
And be inheritor of thy desire.            40
Farewell till then.   
TYRRELL:  I humbly take my leave.  [Exit.   
KING RICHARD:  The son of Clarence have I pent up close;   
His daughter meanly have I match’d in marriage; I have matched his daughter in marriage to a lowly man;  
The sons of Edward sleep in Abraham’s bosom,            45
And Anne my wife hath bid the world good night.   
Now, for I know the Breton Richmond aims   
[Breton: Resident or native of Brittany, France]
At young Elizabeth, my brother’s daughter,   
And, by that knot, looks proudly on the crown,   
To her go I, a jolly thriving wooer.            50
CATESBY:  My lord!   
KING RICHARD:  Good or bad news, that thou com’st in so bluntly?   
CATESBY:  Bad news, my lord: Morton is fled to Richmond;   
And Buckingham, back’d with the hardy Welshmen,            55
Is in the field, and still his power increaseth.   
KING RICHARD:  Ely with Richmond troubles me more near   
Than Buckingham and his rash-levied strength [hastily mustered troops].   
Come; I have learn’d that fearful commenting
Is leaden servitor to dull delay:            60
Delay leads impotent and snail-pac’d beggary:   
[Come . . .  beggary: Come, I have learned that too much talk serves only to delay a decision, and impotent delay leads to defeat.]
Then fiery expedition be my wing,   
Jove’s Mercury, and herald for a king!   
[Then . . . king: Then I'll act swiftly, with Mercury serving as my messenger.]
[Mercury: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the messenger god. His Greek name was Hermes.]
[Jove: In ancient mythology, the alternate name for Jupiter, the Roman name for the king of gods. His Greek name was Zeus.]
Go, muster men: my counsel is my shield;   
We must be brief when traitors brave the field.  [Exeunt.            65
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 4, Scene 4

London. Before the palace.
QUEEN MARGARET:  So, now prosperity begins to mellow   
And drop into the rotten mouth of death.   
Here in these confines slily have I lurk’d            5
To watch the waning [decline] of mine enemies.   
A dire induction am I witness to,   
And will to France, hoping the consequence   
Will prove as bitter, black, and tragical.   
Withdraw thee, wretched Margaret: who comes here?            10
[IA dire . . . here: I have witnessed the beginning of dire events and will go to France in hopes that the consequences of these events will prove bitter, black, and tragic. Who's coming? I must get out of sight.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Ah! my poor princes! ah, my tender babes,   
My unblown [not bloomed] flowers, new-appearing sweets,   
If yet your gentle souls fly in the air   
And be not fix’d in doom perpetual,            15
Hover about me with your airy wings,   
And hear your mother’s lamentation.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Hover about her; say, that right for right   
Hath dimm’d your infant morn to aged night.
[Hover . . . Hover around her and tell her that she deserves the sorrowful night that shrouds her dead sons.]  
DUCHESS OF YORK: So many miseries have craz’d my voice,            20
That my woe-wearied tongue is still and mute.   
Edward Plantagenet, why art thou dead?   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Plantagenet doth quit [kill] Plantagenet;   
Edward for Edward pays a dying debt. [One Edward died to pay for the death of another Edward.]   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Wilt thou, O God! fly from such gentle lambs,            25
And throw them in the entrails of the wolf?   
When didst thou sleep when such a deed was done?   
QUEEN MARGARET: [Aside.] When holy Harry [Henry VI] died, and my sweet son [Edward IV].   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Dead life, blind sight, poor mortal living ghost,   
Woe’s scene, world’s shame, grave’s due by life usurp’d,            30
Brief abstract and record of tedious days,   
Rest thy unrest on England’s lawful earth,  [Sitting down.   
Unlawfully made drunk with innocent blood!   
[Dead life . . . blood: I am alive but should be dead. My eyesight and my insight are growing dark. I am nothing but a living ghost, a scene of woe. I am the shame of the world because I have stayed alive when the grave beckons to me. Let the inscription on my tombstone stand as a brief record of my tedious days. I wish to put my unrest to rest in England's earth, which is stained with innocent blood.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH: [Sitting down next to the duchess.]  Ah! that thou wouldst as soon afford a grave   
As thou canst yield a melancholy seat;            35
[Ah! that . . . seat: I wish that I could as easily have a grave to be buried in as I do a seat to sit on.]
Then would I hide my bones, not rest them here.   
Ah! who hath any cause to mourn but I? 
QUEEN MARGARET:  If ancient sorrow be most reverend,   
Give mine the benefit of seniory,   
And let my griefs frown on the upper hand,            40
If sorrow can admit society.  [Sitting down with them.   
Tell o’er your woes again by viewing mine:
[If ancient . . . society: If the oldest sorrows are the ones that are most revered, then I have the seniority here. So let my sorrow be predominant in our company, if sorrow can admit you. Compare your woes with mine.]  
I had an Edward, till a Richard kill’d him;   
I had a Harry, till a Richard kill’d him:   
Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill’d him;            45
Thou hadst a [young] Richard, till a Richard kill’d him.   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  I had a Richard too, and thou didst kill him;   
I had a Rutland too, thou holp’st [helped] to kill him.   
QUEEN MARGARET:  Thou hadst a Clarence too, and Richard kill’d him.   
From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept            50
A hell-hound that doth hunt us all to death:   
That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes,   
To worry lambs, and lap their gentle blood,   
That foul defacer of God’s handiwork,   
That excellent grand-tyrant of the earth,            55
That reigns in galled [sore] eyes of weeping souls ,   
Thy womb let loose, to chase us to our graves.   
O! upright, just, and true-disposing God,   
How do I thank thee that this carnal cur   
Preys on the issue [children] of his mother’s body,            60
And makes her pew-fellow with others’ moan [and makes her the partner of so many other grieving persons].   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  O! Harry’s wife, triumph not in my woes:   
God witness with me, I have wept for thine.   
[O! Harry's  . . . thine: O, widow of Henry IV, don't  triumph in my sorrow. As God is my witness, I have wept for you in your trials.]
QUEEN MARGARET:  Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge,   
And now I cloy [fill] me with beholding it.            65
Thy Edward he is dead, that kill’d my Edward;   
Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;   
Young York he is but boot, because both they   
Match not the high perfection of my loss:   
[Thy Edward . . . loss: Your son (Edward IV) killed my son (Edward, Prince of Wales). Your other Edward (the son of Edward IV and the grandson of the duchess) is also dead. But it took your two Edwards to make up for the death of my Edward (son of Henry VI, who was the husband of Margaret).]
Thy Clarence he is dead that stabb’d my Edward;            70
[Thy Clarence . . . Edward: Your son Clarence, who stabbed my son Edward, is dead too.]
And the beholders of this tragic play,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,   
Untimely smother’d in their dusky graves.   
[And the . . . graves: And the witnesses of these tragic events—Rivers, Vaughan, Richard Grey, and that adulterer Hastings—are all lying in their graves.]  
Richard yet lives, hell’s black intelligencer
Only reserv’d their factor, to buy souls            75
And send them thither; but at hand, at hand,  
Ensues his piteous and unpitied end:   
[Richard . . . end: But Richard still lives to carry out his mission as an evil spy for hell. He is an agent of the devil himself who plans to kill again to send more souls to the beyond. But soon—yes, very soon—he will die, and no one will pity him.]
Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray,   
To have him suddenly convey’d from hence.   
[Earth . . . hence: The earth opens up to reveal the fires and fiends of hell that await his end. Even saints are praying for him to die so that his soul will be taken to hell.]
Cancel his bond of life, dear God! I pray,            80
That I may live to say, The dog is dead.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  O! thou didst prophesy the time would come   
That I should wish for thee to help me curse   
That bottled spider, that foul bunchback’d toad.  
QUEEN MARGARET:  I call’d thee then vain flourish of my fortune;            85
I call’d thee then poor shadow, painted queen;   
The presentation of but what I was;   
The flattering index of a direful pageant;   
One heav’d a-high to be hurl’d down below;   
A mother only mock’d with two fair babes;            90
A dream of what thou wert, a breath, a bubble,   
A sign of dignity, a garish flag,   
To be the aim of every dangerous shot;   
A queen in jest, only to fill the scene.   
[I call'd thee . . . fill the scene: I called you at that time a worthless imitation, a mere shadow, of what I was. You were a queen who was painted and presented as an image of myself. You were attractive, but you were only an index of direful events to come. After being elevated to a high position, you were hurled back down. You were a mother with high but vain hopes for her two beautiful children. And you were a waving flag that was the target of every dangerous shot. You were a queen in jest, a figurehead.]
Where is thy husband now? where be thy brothers?            95
Where are thy children? wherein dost thou joy?   
Who sues [pleads for a favor] and kneels and cries God save the queen?   
Where be the bending [bowing] peers that flatter’d thee?   
Where be the thronging troops [crowds] that follow’d thee?   
Decline [consider] all this, and see what now thou art:            100
For happy wife, a most distressed widow;   
For joyful mother, one that wails the name;   
For one being su’d to, one that humbly sues;   
For queen, a very caitiff [wretch] crown’d with care;   
For one that scorn’d at me, now scorn’d of me;            105
For one being fear’d of all, now fearing one;   
For one commanding all, obey’d of none.   
Thus hath the course of justice whirl’d about,   
And left thee but a very prey to time;   
Having no more but thought of what thou wert,            110
To torture thee the more, being what thou art.   
Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not   
Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?   
Now thy proud neck bears half my burden’d yoke;   
[Now they . . . yoke: Margaret compares herself and Elizabeth to a team of beasts of burden, such as oxen, which wear a yoke hitched to a plow or wagon.]
From which even here, I slip my wearied head,            115
And leave the burden of it all on thee.   
Farewell, York’s wife, and queen of sad mischance:   
These English woes shall make me smile in France.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  O thou, well skill’d in curses, stay awhile,   
And teach me how to curse mine enemies.            120
QUEEN MARGARET:  Forbear to sleep the night, and fast the day;   
Compare dead happiness with living woe; [compare the calm sleep of death to your living woe;]   
Think that thy babes were fairer than they were,   
And he that slew them fouler than he is:   
Bettering thy loss [making your losses seem to grow larger] makes the bad causer worse:            125
Revolving this [doing these things over and over] will teach thee how to curse.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  My words are dull; O! quicken them with thine! 
[My words . . . thine: My words are like a dull knife. Help me sharpen them.] 
QUEEN MARGARET:  Thy woes will make them sharp, and pierce like mine.  [Exit.   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Why should calamity be full of words?   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Windy attorneys to their client woes,            130
Airy succeeders of intestate joys,   
Poor breathing orators of miseries! 
[Why should . . . miseries: Words are like long-winded attorneys who give useless advice to woeful clients. They are like children who get nothing because a parent died without a will. In short, words only add to a person's miseries.]  
Let them have scope: though what they do impart   
Help nothing else, yet do they ease the heart.   
[Let them . . . heart: But speak with them anyway.  If nothing else, they will help to ease the heartache.]
DUCHESS OF YORK:  If so, then be not tongue-tied: go with me,            135
And in the breath of bitter words let’s smother   
My damned son, that thy two sweet sons smother’d.  [A trumpet heard.   
The trumpet sounds: be copious in exclaims [be generous with your exclaims of rebuke].   
Enter KING RICHARD, and his train, marching.
KING RICHARD:  Who intercepts me in my expedition?            140
DUCHESS OF YORK:  O! she that might have intercepted thee,   
By strangling thee in her accursed womb,   
From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done!   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Hid’st thou that forehead with a golden crown,   
Where should be branded, if that right were right,            145
The slaughter of the prince that ow’d [owned] that crown,   
And the dire death of my poor sons and brothers?   
Tell me, thou villain slave, where are my children?   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Thou toad, thou toad, where is thy brother Clarence   
And little Ned Plantagenet, his son?            150
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Where is the gentle Rivers, Vaughan, Grey?   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Where is kind Hastings?   
KING RICHARD:  A flourish, trumpets! strike alarum, drums!   
Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women   
Rail on [let the trumpets and drums play for] the Lord’s anointed. Strike, I say!  [Flourish.  Alarums.            155
Either be patient, and entreat me fair,   
Or with the clamorous report of war   
Thus will I drown your exclamations.   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Art thou my son?   
KING RICHARD:  Ay; I thank God, my father, and yourself.            160
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Then patiently hear my impatience.   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Madam, I have a touch of your condition,   
That cannot brook the accent of reproof.
[Madam . . . reproof: Madam, I am like you in that I can't stand being rebuked.]  
DUCHESS OF YORK:  O, let me speak!   
KING RICHARD: Do, then; but I’ll not hear.            165
DUCHESS OF YORK:  I will be mild and gentle in my words.   
KING RICHARD:  And brief, good mother; for I am in haste.   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Art thou so hasty? I have stay’d for thee,   
God knows, in torment and in agony.   
KING RICHARD:  And came I not at last to comfort you?            170
DUCHESS OF YORK:  No, by the holy rood [crucifix], thou know’st it well,   
Thou cam’st on earth to make the earth my hell.   
A grievous burden was thy birth to me;   
Tetchy [testy; peevish] and wayward was thy infancy;   
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild and furious;            175
Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;   
Thy age confirm’d [as you grew older, you were], proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,  
More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred:   
What comfortable hour canst thou name   
That ever grac’d me in thy company?            180
KING RICHARD:  Faith, none, but Humphrey Hour, that call’d your Grace   
To breakfast once forth of my company.  
[Humphrey Hour: Unclear reference that has never been satisfactorily explained. It may be connected in some way to Humphrey of Lancaster, the first Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447).
If I be so disgracious [disgraceful] in your eye,   
Let me march on, and not offend you, madam.   
Strike up the drum!            185
DUCHESS OF YORK:  I prithee [I beg you], hear me speak.   
KING RICHARD:  You speak too bitterly.   
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Hear me a word;   
For I shall never speak to thee again.   
KING RICHARD:  So!                    190
DUCHESS OF YORK:  Either thou wilt die by God’s just ordinance,   
Ere from this war thou turn a conqueror;   
[Ere . . . conqueror: Before you can win this war]
Or I with grief and extreme age shall perish   
And never look upon thy face again.   
Therefore take with thee my most grievous curse,            195
Which, in the day of battle, tire thee more   
Than all the complete armour that thou wear’st!   
My prayers on the adverse party fight;
[My prayers . . . fight: May my prayers fight on the side of your enemy]   
And there the little souls of Edward’s children   
Whisper the spirits of thine enemies            200
And promise them success and victory.   
Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end;   
Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.  [Exit.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Though far more cause, yet much less spirit to curse   
Abides in me: I say amen to her.  [Going.            205
KING RICHARD:  Stay, madam; I must talk a word with you.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  I have no more sons of the royal blood   
For thee to slaughter: for my daughters, Richard,   
They shall be praying nuns, not weeping queens;   
And therefore level not to hit their lives.            210
KING RICHARD:  You have a daughter call’d Elizabeth,   
Virtuous and fair, royal and gracious:.
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  And must she die for this [these virtues]? O! let her live,   
And I’ll corrupt her manners, stain her beauty;   
Slander myself as false to Edward’s bed;            215
Throw over her the veil of infamy:   
So she may live unscarr’d of bleeding slaughter,   
I will confess she was not Edward’s daughter.   
KING RICHARD:  Wrong not her birth [her birth is not wrong]; she is of royal blood.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  To save her life, I’ll say she is not so.            220
KING RICHARD:  Her life is safest only in her birth.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  And only in that safety died her brothers.   
KING RICHARD:  Lo! at their births good stars were opposite! [They were born under stars of ill omen.]  
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  No, to their lives ill friends were contrary. [No, bad friends caused their deaths.]
KING RICHARD:  All unavoided is the doom of destiny. [One cannot avoid the doom of destiny.]           225
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  True, when avoided grace makes destiny.
My babes were destin’d to a fairer death,   
If grace had bless’d thee with a fairer life.   
[True . . . life: True, when one avoids the grace of God, destiny dooms him. My children would have been destined for a later, happy death if you had implored God to bless you with a good life.]   
KING RICHARD:  You speak as if that I had slain my cousins.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Cousins, indeed; and by their uncle cozen’d [cheated]            230
Of comfort, kingdom, kindred, freedom, life.   
Whose hands soever lanc’d their tender hearts   
Thy head, all indirectly, gave direction:   
No doubt the murderous knife was dull and blunt   
Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart,            235
To revel in the entrails of my lambs.   
But that still use of grief makes wild grief tame, 
My tongue should to thy ears not name my boys   
Till that my nails were anchor’d in thine eyes;   
[But that . . .  eyes: Because continually expressing wild grief eventually tames it, I should not mention my boys to you until I anchor my fingernails in your eyes.]
And I, in such a desperate bay of death,            240
Like a poor bark, of sails and tackling reft,   
Rush all to pieces on thy rocky bosom.
[And I . . . bosom: And I am like a poor boat without sails, ropes, or pulleys that founders in a desperate bay of death and breaks up when it crashes into your rocky bosom.] 
KING RICHARD:  Madam, so thrive I in my enterprise   
And dangerous success of bloody wars,   
As I intend more good to you and yours            245
Than ever you or yours by me were harm’d.   
[Madam . . . harm'd: Madam, if I succeed at war, more good will come your way than any harm that I caused.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  What good is cover’d with the face of heaven,   
To be discover’d, that can do me good?   
[What good . . . do me good: What good is there that can benefit me? Even a good that wears the face of heaven could do nothing for me in my state.]
KING RICHARD:  The advancement of your children, gentle lady.   
Q Eliz.  Up to some scaffold, there to lose their heads?            250
KING RICHARD:  No, to the dignity and height of fortune,   
The high imperial type of this earth’s glory.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Flatter my sorrow with report of it:   
Tell me what state, what dignity, what honour,   
Canst thou demise to any child of mine?            255
[Flatter . . . mine: All right, then, ease my sorrow by telling me what state, dignity, or honor you can transfer to any child of mine?]
KING RICHARD:  Even all I have; ay, and myself and all,   
Will I withal endow a child of thine;   
So in the Lethe of thy angry soul   
Thou drown the sad remembrance of those wrongs   
Which thou supposest I have done to thee.            260
[Even all . . . thee: I'll give your child all I have, including myself, if you will forget about all the wrongs that you think I have committed against you.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Be brief, lest that the process of thy kindness   
Last longer telling than thy kindness’ date.   
[Be brief . . . date: Be brief, lest the process of telling me about your kindness lasts longer than your kindness.]
KING RICHARD:  Then know, that from my soul I love thy daughter.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  My daughter’s mother thinks it with her soul.   
KING RICHARD:  What do you think?            265
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  That thou dost love my daughter from thy soul:   
So from thy soul’s love didst thou love her brothers;   
And from my heart’s love I do thank thee for it.
[That thou . . . for it: That you love my daughter in the same way that you loved her brothers, whom you killed. So thanks a lot.]   
KING RICHARD:  Be not too hasty to confound my meaning:   
I mean, that with my soul I love thy daughter,            270
And do intend to make her Queen of England.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Well then, who dost thou mean shall be her king?   
KING RICHARD:  Even he that makes her queen: who else should be?   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  What! thou?   
KING RICHARD:  Even so: what think you of it?            275
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  How canst thou woo her?   
KING RICHARD:  That I would learn of you,   
As one being best acquainted with her humour [personality; moods].   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  And wilt thou learn of me?   
KING RICHARD:  Madam, with all my heart.            280
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Send to her, by the man that slew her brothers,   
A pair of bleeding hearts; thereon engrave   
Edward and York; then haply [perhaps] will she weep:   
[Send to . . . weep: Send her a pair of bleeding hearts, one engraved with Edward and the other engraved with York. Inform her that you were the one who killed Edward and York. Then perhaps she will weep for her brothers.]
Therefore present to her, as sometime [sometimes] Margaret   
Did to thy father, steep’d in Rutland’s blood,            285
A handkerchief, which, say to her, did drain   
The purple sap from her sweet brother’s body,   
And bid her wipe her weeping eyes withal [with it].   
If this inducement move her not to love,   
Send her a letter of thy noble deeds;            290
Tell her thou mad’st away [killed] her uncle Clarence,   
Her uncle Rivers; ay, and for her sake,   
Mad’st quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne.
[mad'st . . . Anne: Quickly sent her good aunt Anne to an early grave.]   
KING RICHARD:  You mock me, madam; this is not the way   
To win your daughter.            295
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  There is no other way   
Unless thou couldst put on some other shape,   
And not be Richard that hath done all this.   
KING RICHARD:  Say, that I did all this for love of her?   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Nay, then indeed, she cannot choose but hate thee,            300
Having bought love with such a bloody spoil [with such bloody deeds].
KING RICHARD:  Look, what is done cannot be now amended:   
Men shall deal unadvisedly [act without thinking] sometimes,   
Which after-hours give leisure to repent. [Which later they repent.]   
If I did take the kingdom from your sons,            305
To make amends I’ll give it to your daughter.   
If I have kill’d the issue [children] of your womb,   
To quicken your increase, I will beget   
Mine issue of your blood upon your daughter: 
[I will beget . . . daughter: I will father children of your bloodline with your daughter.] 
A grandam’s name is little less in love            310
Than is the doting title of a mother;   
[A grandam's . . . mother: For you, being a grandmother would be just about the same as being a mother.]
They are as children but one step below [the grandchildren would be only one step below being your children],   
Even of your mettle, of your very blood [but they would be made of what you are, made of your very blood];   
Of all one pain, save for a night of groans   
Endur’d of her for whom you bid like sorrow.            315
[Of all . . . sorrow: They would cause you no more or no less pain to deal with except for that one night when the mother groans in giving birth.]
Your children were vexation to your youth,   
But mine shall be a comfort to your age.   
The loss you have is but a son being king,   
And by that loss your daughter is made queen.   
[The loss . . .queen: You've lost the joy of seeing a son reigning as king, but you would gain the joy of seeing a daughter made queen.]
I cannot make you what amends I would,            320
Therefore accept such kindness as I can.   
[I cannot . . . can: I cannot restore your losses, so accept the kinkness that I offer.]
Dorset your son, that with a fearful soul   
Leads discontented steps in foreign soil,   
This fair alliance quickly shall call home   
To high promotions and great dignity:            325
[Dorest . . . dignity: Your son Dorset, fearing for his life, fled to France and joined an army massing to attack me. But the marriage of me to your daughter would mean that he could return to England without fear to receive high promotions and lead a dignified life.]
The king that calls your beauteous daughter wife,   
Familiarly shall call thy Dorset brother;   
Again shall you be mother to a king,   
And all the ruins of distressful times   
Repair’d with double riches of content.            330
What! we have many goodly days to see:
[we have . . . see: We would have many good days awaiting us.]  
The liquid drops of tears that you have shed   
Shall come again, transform’d to orient pearl,   
Advantaging their loan with interest   
Of ten times double gain of happiness.            335
[The liquid . . . happiness: The tears you shed will be transformed into pearls, paying you back generously with interest and happiness for the pain you suffered.]
Go then, my mother; to thy daughter go:   
Make bold her bashful years with your experience;   
Prepare her ears to hear a wooer’s tale;   
Put in her tender heart the aspiring flame   
Of golden sovereignty; acquaint the princess            340
With the sweet silent hours of marriage joys:   
And when this arm of mine hath chastised   
The petty rebel, dull-brain’d Buckingham,   
Bound with triumphant garlands will I come,   
And lead thy daughter to a conqueror’s bed;            345
To whom I will retail [tell about] my conquest won,   
And she shall be sole victress, Caesar’s Caesar.   
[And . . . Caesar: And she shall be the only victor over me. She will be a Caesar and I her subject.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  What were I best to say? her father’s brother   
Would be her lord? Or shall I say, her uncle? 
[What . . . uncle: What should I say to her—that her father's brother wants to be her husband? Or should I say her uncle wants that privilege? Or should I refer to you as the man who killed her brothers and uncles?] 
Or, he that slew her brothers and her uncles?            350
Under what title shall I woo for thee,   
That God, the law, my honour, and her love   
Can make seem pleasing to her tender years?   
[Under what . . . years? How should I refer to you when I present to her your request to marry her? What title would satisfy God, the law, and my honor while pleasing her in her tender years and making you worthy of her love?]
KING RICHARD:  Infer fair England’s peace by this alliance. [Tell her that the preservation of peace depends on her agreeing to marry me.]  
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Which she shall purchase with still lasting war.            355
KING RICHARD:  Tell her, the king, that may command, entreats. [Tell her that the king, who has the power to command people to do his will, is simply requesting her hand in marriage.]  
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  That at her hands which the king’s King forbids.
[That . . . forbids: You would be asking her to do what the king's King, God, forbids.]  
KING RICHARD:  Say, she shall be a high and mighty queen.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  To wail the title, as her mother doth.   
KING RICHARD:  Say, I will love her everlastingly.            360
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  But how long shall that title ‘ever’ last?   
KING RICHARD:  Sweetly in force unto her fair life’s end.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  But how long fairly shall her sweet life last?   
KING RICHARD:  As long as heaven and nature lengthens it.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  As long as hell and Richard likes of it.            365
KING RICHARD:  Say, I, her sovereign, am her subject low.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  But she, your subject, loathes such sovereignty.   
KING RICHARD:  Be eloquent in my behalf to her.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  An honest tale speeds best being plainly told.   
KING RICHARD:  Then plainly to her tell my loving tale.            370
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Plain and not honest is too harsh a style.   
KING RICHARD:  Your reasons are too shallow and too quick.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  O, no! my reasons are too deep and dead;   
Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their graves.   
KING RICHARD:  Harp not on that string, madam; that is past.            375
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Harp on it still shall I till heart-strings break.   
KING RICHARD:  Now, by my George, my garter, and my crown,—  
[Now . . . crown: Allusion to the Order of the Garter, founded in 1344 according to one account and 1348 according to another. The order consisted of a confraternity of knights honored for their chivalry. It was dedicated to St. George, the patron saint of England.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Profan’d, dishonour’d, and the third usurp’d [and the third, the crown, taken by force].   
KING RICHARD:  I swear,—   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  By nothing; for this is no oath.            380
Thy George, profan’d, hath lost his holy honour;   
Thy garter, blemish’d, pawn’d his knightly virtue;   
Thy crown, usurp’d, disgrac’d his kingly glory.   
If something thou wouldst swear to be believ’d,   
Swear, then, by something that thou hast not wrong’d.            385
KING RICHARD:  Now, by the world,—   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  ’Tis full of thy foul wrongs.   
KING RICHARD:  My father’s death,—   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Thy life hath that dishonour’d.   
KING RICHARD:  Then, by myself,—            390
QUEEN ELIZABETH: Thyself is self-misus’d.   
KING RICHARD:  Why, then, by God,—   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  God’s wrong is most of all. [It will not help to swear by God.]   
If thou hadst fear’d to break an oath by him [an oath you made to him],   
The unity [pact] the king my husband made            395
Had not been broken, nor my brothers died:   
If thou hadst fear’d to break an oath by him [an oath you made to him],   
The imperial metal, circling now thy head,   
Had grac’d the tender temples of my child,   
And both the princes had been breathing here,            400
Which now, too tender bed-fellows for dust,   
Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms.   
What canst thou swear by now?   
KING RICHARD:  The time to come.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  That thou hast wronged in the time o’erpast;            405
For I myself have many tears to wash   
Hereafter time for time past wrong’d by thee. 
[That thou . . . by thee: You have wronged the time to come in the time that has passed, for I have many tears to wash in the future for what you did in the past.] 
The children live, whose parents thou hast slaughter’d,   
Ungovern’d youth, to wail it in their age: [unsupervised children, who will cry now for their parents and will continue to cry for them later] 
The parents live, whose children thou hast butcher’d,            410
Old barren plants, to wail it with their age [to wail as they continue to grow older].   
Swear not by time to come; for that thou hast   
Misus’d ere us’d, by times ill-us’d o’erpast.
[for that  . . . o'erpast: For you have already misused the future—with your past actions—before the future has had time to arrive.]
KING RICHARD:  As I intend to prosper, and repent,   
So thrive I in my dangerous affairs            415
Of hostile arms! myself myself confound!
Heaven and fortune bar me happy hours!   
Day, yield me not thy light; nor, night, thy rest!   
Be opposite all planets of good luck   
To my proceeding, if, with pure heart’s love,            420
Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts,   
I tender not thy beauteous princely daughter!   
[As I intend . . . daughter: May I fail at war if I am lying about repenting my sins and prospering in a good life. And if I am lying about loving your daughter with a pure heart, immaculate devotion, and holy thoughts, may I also confound myself—that is, cause myself to fall to ruin—so that heaven and fortune deny me happy hours, day turns to night, night gives me no rest, and the influence of the planets brings me bad luck.]
In her consists my happiness and thine;   
Without her, follows to myself, and thee,   
Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,            425
Death, desolation, ruin, and decay:   
[Without her . . . decay: If I cannot have her, tragedy will befall me, you, your daughter, the land, and many a Christian soul. There will be death, desolation, ruin, and decay.]
It cannot be avoided but by this [these terrible developments can  be avoided only if I marry your daughter];  
It will not be avoided but by this.   
Therefore, dear mother,—I must call you so,—   
Be the attorney of my love to her:            430
Plead what I will be, not what I have been;   
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve:   
Urge the necessity and state of times,   
And be not peevish-fond in great designs.   
[Plead . . . designs: Tell her what I will be, not what I have been. Don't tell her about what I deserve for my past actions; tell her about what I will deserve. Tell her how important it is to marry me in these troubled times. And don't be ill-tempered in these important matters.]
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Shall I be tempted of the devil thus?            435
KING RICHARD:  Ay, if the devil tempt thee to do good.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Shall I forget myself to be myself? [Should I forget my horror at your evildoing in order to give myself a new beginning?]  
KING RICHARD:  Ay, if your self’s remembrance wrong yourself. [Yes, if remembering causes you pain.]   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Yet thou didst kill my children.   
KING RICHARD:  But in your daughter’s womb I bury them:            440
Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed   
Selves of themselves, to your recomforture. 
[they shall . . . recomforture: They shall breed new versions of themselves to please you and give you comfort.] 
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  Shall I go win my daughter to thy will?   
KING RICHARD:  And be a happy mother by the deed.   
QUEEN ELIZABETH:  I go. Write to me very shortly,            445
And you shall understand from me her mind.   
KING RICHARD:  Bear her my true love’s kiss; and so farewell.  [Kissing her.  Exit QUEEN ELIZABETH.   
Relenting fool, and shallow changing woman!   
[Relenting . . . woman: Speaking to himself, Richard says she's a fool for giving in to him. But, of course, he's glad that she did.]
Enter RATCLIFF; CATESBY following.
How now! what news?            450
RATCLIFF:  Most mighty sovereign, on the western coast   
Rideth a puissant [powerful] navy; to the shores   
Throng many doubtful hollow-hearted friends,   
Unarm’d, and unresolv’d to beat them back.   
’Tis thought that Richmond is their admiral;            455
And there they hull, expecting but the aid   
Of Buckingham to welcome them ashore. 
[And there . . .ashore: And there the naval forces wait for Buckingham to welcome them ashore.] 
KING RICHARD:  Some light-foot friend post to the Duke of Norfolk:
[Some . . . Norfolk: I need someone who can travel fast to deliver a message to the Duke of Norfolk. (Norfolk was a supporter of Richard.)]   
Ratcliff, thyself, or Catesby; where is he?   
CATESBY:  Here, my good lord.            460
KING RICHARD: Catesby, fly to the duke.   
CATESBY:  I will, my lord, with all convenient haste.   
KING RICHARD:  Ratcliff, come hither. Post to Salisbury:   
When thou com’st thither,—[To CATESBY.]  Dull, unmindful villain,   
Why stay’st thou here, and go’st not to the duke?            465
[Ratcliff . . . the duke: Richard tells Ratcliff to carry a message to Salisbury but stops after dictating four words because he sees Catesby daydreaming instead of leaving with his message. He calls Catesby a "dull, unmindful villain" and asks why he hasn't left with the message for the Duke of Salisbury.]
CATESBY:  First, mighty liege [lord], tell me your highness’ pleasure,   
What from your Grace I shall deliver to him.   
KING RICHARD:  O! true, good Catesby: bid him levy straight [muster immediately]  
The greatest strength and power [the greatest army] he can make,   
And meet me suddenly at Salisbury.            470
CATESBY:  I go.  [Exit.   
RATCLIFF:  What, may it please you, shall I do at Salisbury?   
KING RICHARD:  Why, what wouldst thou do there before I go?   
RATCLIFF:  Your highness told me I should post [carry a message] before.   
Enter STANLEY.            475

KING RICHARD:  My mind is chang’d. Stanley, what news with you?   
STANLEY:   None good, my liege, to please you with the hearing;   
Nor none so bad but well may be reported.   
KING RICHARD:  Hoyday [hey!], a riddle! neither good nor bad!   
What need’st thou run so many miles about,            480
When thou mayst tell thy tale the nearest way?   
Once more, what news?   
STANLEY:   Richmond is on the seas.   
KING RICHARD:  There let him sink, and be the seas on him!   
White-liver’d [cowardly] runagate [renegade; deserter; traitor]! what doth he there?            485
STANLEY:   I know not, mighty sovereign, but by guess.   
KING RICHARD:  Well, as you guess?   
STANLEY:   Stirr’d up by Dorset, Buckingham, and Morton,   
He makes for England, here to claim the crown.   
KING RICHARD:  Is the chair empty? is the sword unsway’d? [Is my sword timid?]            490
Is the king dead? the empire unpossess’d?   
What heir of York is there alive but we [but me]?   
And who is England’s king but great York’s heir [but me]?   
Then, tell me, what makes he upon the seas?   
STANLEY:   Unless for that [for the reason I gave before], my liege, I cannot guess.            495
KING RICHARD:  Unless for that he comes to be your liege,   
You cannot guess wherefore the Welshman [Richmond] comes.   
Thou wilt revolt and fly to him I fear.   
STANLEY:   No, my good lord; therefore mistrust me not.   
KING RICHARD:  Where is thy power [army] then to beat him back?            500
Where be thy tenants and thy followers?   
Are they not now upon the western shore,   
Safe-conducting the rebels from their ships [helping the rebels]?   
STANLEY:   No, my good lord, my friends are in the north.   
KING RICHARD:  Cold friends to me: what do they in the north            505
When they should serve their sovereign in the west?   
STANLEY:   They have not been commanded, mighty king:   
Pleaseth your majesty to give me leave,   
I’ll muster up my friends, and meet your Grace,   
Where and what time your majesty shall please.            510
KING RICHARD:  Ay, ay, thou wouldst be gone to join with Richmond:   
But I’ll not trust thee.   
STANLEY:   Most mighty sovereign,   
You have no cause to hold my friendship doubtful.   
I never was nor never will be false.            515
KING RICHARD:  Go then and muster men: but leave behind   
Your son, George Stanley: look your heart be firm,   
Or else his head’s assurance is but frail. [Or else he will be executed.]  
STANLEY:   So deal with him as I prove true to you. [He will be in no danger, because I will be loyal and trustworthy.] [Exit.   
Enter a Messenger.             520

MESSENGER:  My gracious sovereign, now in Devonshire,   
As I by friends am well advertised,   
Sir Edward Courtney, and the haughty prelate,   
Bishop of Exeter, his brother there,   
With many more confederates are in arms.            525
[My gracious . . . arms: My gracious king, I am informed by friends that Sir Edward Courtney and his brother, the proud Bishop of Exeter, are now in Devonshire with an army.]
Enter a second Messenger.
SECOND MESSENGER:  In Kent, my liege, the Guildfords are in arms;   
And every hour more competitors [troops]   
Flock to the rebels, and their power [army] grows strong.   
Enter a third Messenger.            530

THIRD MESSENGER:  My lord, the army of great Buckingham—   
KING RICHARD:  Out on ye, owls! nothing but songs of death?  [He strikes him.   
There, take thou that, till thou bring better news.   
THIRD MESSENGER:  The news I have to tell your majesty   
Is, that by sudden floods and fall of waters,            535
Buckingham’s army is dispers’d and scatter’d;   
And he himself wander’d away alone,   
No man knows whither [where].   
KING RICHARD:  I cry thee mercy:   
There is my purse, to cure that blow of thine.            540
Hath any well-advised friend proclaim’d   
Reward to him that brings the traitor in?   
THIRD MESSENGER:  Such proclamation hath been made, my liege.   

Enter a fourth Messenger.
FOURTH MESSENGER:  Sir Thomas Lovel, and Lord Marquess Dorset,            545
’Tis said, my liege [lord], in Yorkshire are in arms:   
But this good comfort bring I to your highness,   
The Breton navy is dispers’d by tempest.   
Richmond, in Dorsetshire, sent out a boat   
Unto the shore to ask those on the banks            550
If they were his assistants, yea or no;   
Who [they] answer’d him, they came from Buckingham   
Upon his party: he [Richmond], mistrusting them,   
Hois’d [hoisted] sail, and made away for Brittany.   
KING RICHARD:  March on, march on, since we are up in arms;            555
If not to fight with foreign enemies,   
Yet to beat down these rebels here at home.   
Re-enter CATESBY.
CATESBY:  My liege, the Duke of Buckingham is taken,   
That is the best news: that the Earl of Richmond            560
Is with a mighty power landed at Milford   
Is colder news, but yet they must be told.   
KING RICHARD:  Away towards Salisbury! while we reason here,   
A royal battle might be won and lost.   
Some one take order Buckingham be brought            565
To Salisbury; the rest march on with me.  [Exeunt.   

Act 4, Scene 5

London. A room in Lord Stanley's house.
STANLEY:   Sir Christopher, tell Richmond this from me:   
That in the sty of this most bloody boar   
My son George Stanley is frank’d up in hold:            5
If I revolt, off goes young George’s head;   
The fear of that holds off my present aid.   
[Sir Christopher . . . present aid: Sir Christopher, tell Richmond that my son, George Stanley, is being held by Richard. If I revolt, Richard will execute George. The fear of that development prevents me from aiding Richmond.]
So, get thee gone: commend me to thy lord.   
Withal, say that the queen hath heartily consented   
He should espouse [marry] Elizabeth her daughter.            10
But, tell me, where is princely Richmond now?   
CHRISTOPHER:  At Pembroke [in Wales], or at Ha’rford-west [Haverfordwest], in Wales.   
STANLEY:   What men of name resort to him?   
CHRISTOPHER:  Sir Walter Herbert, a renowned soldier,   
Sir Gilbert Talbot, Sir William Stanley,            15
Oxford, redoubted [the powerful] Pembroke, Sir James Blunt,   
And Rice ap [son of] Thomas, with a valiant crew;   
And many other of great name and worth:   
And towards London do they bend their power,   
If by the way they be not fought withal.            20
[If by . . . withal: Unless they run into resistance along the way]
STANLEY:  Well, hie thee to thy lord; I kiss his hand:
Tell him the queen hath heartily consented
He shall espouse Elizabeth her daughter.  
My letter will resolve him of my mind.   
[Well, hie . . . Well, go swiftly to your lord and give him my kind regards.Tell him the queen has agreed to allow Richard to marry her daughter, Elizabeth. My letter will explain my thinking on this matter.]
Farewell.  [Exeunt.
Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 5, Scene 1

Salisbury. An open place.
Enter the Sheriff and Guard, with BUCKINGHAM, led to execution.
BUCKINGHAM:  Will not King Richard let me speak with him?   
SHERIFF:  No, my good lord; therefore be patient.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Hastings, and Edward’s children, Grey and Rivers,            5
Holy King Henry, and thy fair son Edward,   
Vaughan, and all that have miscarried   
By underhand corrupted foul injustice,   
If that your moody discontented souls   
Do through the clouds behold this present hour,            10
Even for revenge mock my destruction!
[all that have . . . destruction: To all those killed by underhanded, corrupted foul injustice: if your moody, discontented souls are looking down through the clouds at me at this present hour, mock my destruction to gain revenge!]
This is All-Souls’ day, fellows, is it not?   
SHERIFF:  It is, my lord.   
BUCKINGHAM:  Why, then All-Souls’ day is my body’s doomsday.   
This is the day that, in King Edward’s time,            15
I wish’d might fall on me, when I was found   
False to his children or his wife’s allies;   
This is the day wherein I wish’d to fall   
By the false faith of him whom most I trusted;   
This, this All-Souls’ day to my fearful soul            20
Is the determin’d respite of [is the determined day of punishment for] my wrongs.   
That high All-Seer [God] which I dallied with   
Hath turn’d my feigned [pretended] prayer on my head,   
And given in earnest what I begg’d in jest.   
Thus doth he force the swords of wicked men            25
To turn their own points on their masters’ bosoms:   
Thus Margaret’s curse falls heavy on my neck:   
‘When he,’ quoth she, ‘shall split thy heart with sorrow,
Remember Margaret was a prophetess.’   
Come, lead me, officers, to the block of shame:            30
Wrong hath but wrong, and blame the due of blame.  [Exeunt.   
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 5, Scene 2

A plain near Tamworth.
[Tamworth: Town about one hundred miles northwest of London]
Enter with drum and colours, RICHMOND, OXFORD, SIR JAMES BLUNT, SIR WALTER HERBERT, and others, with forces, marching.
RICHMOND:  Fellows in arms, and my most loving friends,    
Bruis’d underneath the yoke of tyranny,    
Thus far into the bowels of the land            5
Have we march’d on without impediment:    
And here receive we from our father Stanley    
Lines of fair comfort and encouragement.
[Fellows . . . encouragement: Friends and fellows in arms, we have suffered beneath Richard's tyranny. But so far we have marched without encountering obstacles. And here we receive from Lord Stanley words of fair comfort and encouragement.] 
The wretched, bloody, and usurping boar,    
That spoil’d your summer fields and fruitful vines,            10
Swills your warm blood like wash, and makes his trough    
In your embowell’d bosoms, this foul swine    
Is now even in the centre of this isle,    
Near to the town of Leicester, as we learn: 
[The wretched . . . isle: Like a hog that does what it pleases, Richard ravages your summer fields and vines, drinks your warm blood, and uses your disemboweled stomachs as his trough. But now this foul swine is in the center of the island, near the town of Leicester, as we have learned.]
From Tamworth thither is but one day’s march. [He's only a day's march away.]           15
In God’s name, cheerly on [let's cheerily march on], courageous friends,    
To reap the harvest of perpetual peace    
By this one bloody trial of sharp war.    
OXFORD:  Every man’s conscience is a thousand men [soldiers],    
To fight against this guilty homicide [murderer].            20
Herb.  I doubt not but his friends will turn to us.    
Blunt.  He hath no friends but what are friends for fear [He has no friends except those that are afraid to be his enemies],    
Which in his dearest need will fly from him.    
RICHMOND:  All for our vantage [Everything's to our advantage]: then, in God’s name, march:    
True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings;            25
Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures [and common men] kings.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 5, Scene 3

Bosworth Field.
Enter KING RICHARD and forces; the DUKE OF NORFOLK, EARL OF SURREY, and others.
KING RICHARD:  Here pitch our tent, even here in Bosworth field.   
My Lord of Surrey, why look you so sad?   
SURREY:  My heart is ten times lighter than my looks.            5
KING RICHARD:  My Lord of Norfolk,—   
NORFOLK:  Here, most gracious liege.   
KING RICHARD:  Norfolk, we must have knocks; ha! must we not?   
[Norfolk . . . not: Norfolk, we're about to enter combat and get a few knocks, aren't we?]
NORFOLK:  We must both give and take, my loving lord.   
KING RICHARD:  Up with my tent! here will I lie to-night;  [Soldiers begin to set up the KING’S tent.            10
But where to-morrow? Well, all’s one for that. [Well, it makes no difference.]   
Who hath descried [estimated] the number of the traitors?   
NORFOLK:  Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.   
KING RICHARD:  Why, our battalia [force] trebles that account;   
Besides, the king’s name is a tower of strength,            15
Which they upon the adverse faction want.   
Up with the tent! Come, noble gentlemen,   
Let us survey the vantage of the ground [the lay of the land];   
Call for some men of sound direction:   
Let’s lack no discipline, make no delay;            20
For, lords, to-morrow is a busy day.  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]   
Enter on the other side of the field, RICHMOND, SIR WILLIAM BRANDON, OXFORD, and other officers.  Some of the soldiers pitch RICHMOND’S tent.
RICHMOND:  The weary sun hath made a golden set,   
And, by the bright track of his fiery car,   
[fiery car: Allusion to Phoebus Apollo, the sun god in Greek mythology, who each day drove his blazing chariot (the sun) across the sky.]
Gives token of a goodly day to-morrow.            25
Sir William Brandon, you shall bear my standard [flag].   
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,  
[Limit . . . charge: Assign each leader to his troops]
And part [divide] in just proportion [appropriate proportions] our small power [army].            30
My Lord of Oxford, you, Sir William Brandon,   
And you, Sir Walter Herbert, stay with me.   
The Earl of Pembroke keeps [will stay with] his regiment:   
Good Captain Blunt, bear my good-night to him,   
And by the second hour in the morning            35
Desire the earl to see me in my tent.   
Yet one thing more, good captain, do for me;   
Where is Lord Stanley quarter’d, do you know?   
Blunt.  Unless I have mista’en his colours much,—   
Which, well I am assur’d, I have not done,—            40
His regiment lies half a mile at least   
South from the mighty power [army] of the king.   
RICHMOND:  If without peril it be possible,   
Good Captain Blunt, bear my good-night to him,   
And give him from me this most needful note.            45
Blunt.  Upon my life, my lord, I’ll undertake it;   
And so, God give you quiet rest to-night!   
RICHMOND:  Good-night, good Captain Blunt. Come, gentlemen,   
Let us consult upon to-morrow’s business;   
In to my tent, the air is raw and cold.  [They withdraw into the tent.            50
KING RICHARD:  What is ’t o’clock?   
CATESBY:  It’s supper-time, my lord;   
It’s nine o’clock.   
KING RICHARD:  I will not sup to-night.            55
Give me some ink and paper.   
What, is my beaver easier than it was, [is my helmet visor easier to raise and lower]  
And all my armour laid into my tent?   
CATESBY:  It is, my liege [lord]; and all things are in readiness.   
KING RICHARD:  Good Norfolk, hie thee to thy charge [go to your troops];            60
Use careful watch; choose trusty sentinels.   
NORFOLK:  I go, my lord.   
KING RICHARD:  Stir with the lark [rise early] to-morrow, gentle Norfolk.   
NORFOLK:  I warrant you, my lord.  [Exit.   
KING RICHARD:  Ratcliff!            65
RATCLIFF:  My lord?   
KING RICHARD:  Send out a pursuivant [herald; messenger] at arms   
To Stanley’s regiment; bid him bring his power [troops]   
Before sun-rising, lest his son George fall   
Into the blind cave of eternal night.            70
[lest . . . night: Lest his son George be killed]
Fill me a bowl of wine. Give me a watch. [Give me a guard to stand watch.]   
Saddle white Surrey for the field to-morrow.   
Look that my staves [lances] be sound, and not too heavy.   
RATCLIFF:  My lord!            75
KING RICHARD:  Saw’st thou the melancholy Lord Northumberland?   
RATCLIFF:  Thomas the Earl of Surrey, and himself,   
Much about cock-shut time, from troop to troop   
Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers. 
[Thomas . . . soldiers: I saw him with Thomas, the Earl of Surrey, at sundown. They were cheering up their soldieers, going from troop to troop.]  
KING RICHARD:  So, I am satisfied. Give me a bowl of wine:            80
I have not that alacrity of spirit,   
Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have [that I once had].  
Set it [the bowl of wine] down. Is ink and paper ready?   
RATCLIFF:  It is, my lord.   
KING RICHARD:  Bid my guard watch; leave me.            85
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, &c.
STANLEY:   Fortune and victory sit on thy helm [helmet]!            90
RICHMOND:  All comfort that the dark night can afford   
Be to thy person, noble father-in-law!   
Tell me, how fares our [my] loving mother?   
STANLEY:   I, by attorney, bless thee from thy mother [I, as a stand-in for your mother, bless you],   
Who prays continually for Richmond’s good:            95
So much for that. The silent hours steal on,   
And flaky darkness breaks within the east. 
[flaky darkness: Darkness with patches of dawning light] 
In brief, for so the season bids us be [I'll be brief, since time is precious],
Prepare thy battle early in the morning,   
And put thy fortune to the arbitrement            100
Of bloody strokes and mortal-staring war.   
[And put . . . war: Your future depends on the effectiveness of our bloody strokes in deadly combat.]
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:
[I, as I . . . arms: I will do the best I can to help you in this precarious clash of arms.]  
But on thy side I may not be too forward,            105
Lest, being seen, thy brother, tender George,   
Be executed in his father’s sight.   
[But on . . . sight: But in fighting on your side, I'll have to keep from being noticed by enemy troops. If they see me, my son—your stepbrother George—will be executed.]
Farewell: the leisure and the fearful time   
Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love   
And ample interchange of sweet discourse,            110
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!   
[Farewell . . . love: Farewell. I'd like to exchange pledges of friendship with you and have a leisurely conversation—especially since we have been separated for so long—but the demands of the moment won't allow me to. Once more, good-bye: be brave and do well.] 
RICHMOND:  Good lords, conduct him to his regiment.   
I’ll strive, with troubled thoughts, to take a nap,            115
Lest leaden slumber peise [weigh] me down to-morrow,   
When I should mount [mount my horse] with wings of victory.   
Once more, good-night, kind lords and gentlemen.  [Exeunt all but RICHMOND.   
O! thou [God], whose captain I account myself,   
Look on my forces with a gracious eye;            120
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 thy victory!            125
To thee I do commend my watchful soul,   
Ere [before] 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:  [To KING RICHARD.]  Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!            130
Think how thou stab’dst me in my prime of youth   
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 [child], Richmond, comforts thee.            135
The Ghost of KING HENRY THE SIXTH rises.

GHOST:  [To KING RICHARD.]  When I was mortal, my anointed body   
By thee was punched full of deadly holes:   
Think on the Tower and me; despair and die!   
Henry the Sixth bids thee despair and die.            140
[To RICHMOND.]  Virtuous and holy, be thou conqueror!   
Harry [Henry], that prophesied thou shouldst be the king,   
Doth comfort thee in thy sleep: live thou and flourish!   
The Ghost of CLARENCE rises.
GHOST:  [To KING RICHARD.]  Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!            145
I, that was wash’d to death with fulsome [sickening] wine,   
Poor Clarence, by thy guile [trickery] betray’d to death!   
To-morrow in the battle think on me,   
And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!   
[To RICHMOND.]  Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster,            150
The wronged heirs of York do pray for thee:   
Good angels guard thy battle! live, and flourish!   
The Ghosts of RIVERS, GREY, and VAUGHAN rise.
GHOST OF  RIVERS:  [To KING RICHARD.]  Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!   
Rivers, that died at Pomfret! despair, and die!            155
GHOST OF GREY:  [To KING RICHARD.]  Think upon Grey, and let thy soul despair.   
GHOST OF of  VAUGHAN:  [To KING RICHARD.]  Think upon Vaughan, and with guilty fear   
Let fall thy pointless lance: despair, and die!—   
ALL THREE:  [To RICHMOND.]  Awake! and think our wrongs in Richard’s bosom   
Will conquer him: awake, and win the day!            160
The Ghost of HASTINGS rises.
GHOST:  [To KING RICHARD.]  Bloody and guilty, guiltily awake;   
And in a bloody battle end thy days!   
Think on Lord Hastings, so despair, and die!—   
[To RICHMOND.]  Quiet, untroubled soul, awake, awake!            165
Arm, fight, and conquer, for fair England’s sake!   
The Ghost of the two young PRINCES rise.
GHOSTS: [To KING RICHARD.]  Dream on thy cousins smother’d in the Tower:   
Let us be lead within thy bosom, Richard,   
And weigh thee down to ruin, shame, and death!            170
Thy nephews’ souls bid thee despair, and die!   
[To RICHMOND.]  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.            175
The Ghost of LADY ANNE rises.
GHOST:  [To KING RICHARD.]  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,            180
And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!   
[To RICHMOND.]  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.            185

GHOST:  [To KING RICHARD.]  The first was I that help’d thee to the crown;   
The last was I that felt thy tyranny.   
O! in the battle think on Buckingham,   
And die in terror of thy guiltiness!   
Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death:            190
Fainting, despair; despairing, yield thy breath!   
[To RICHMOND.]  I died for hope ere [before] I could lend thee aid:   
But cheer thy heart, and be thou not dismay’d:   
God and good angels fight on Richmond’s side;   
And Richard falls in height of all his pride.  [The Ghosts vanish.  KING RICHARD starts out of his dream.            195
KING RICHARD:  Give me another horse! bind up my wounds!   
Have mercy, Jesu! Soft! I did but dream.
[Soft . . . dream: But wait a minute. It was only a dream.]  
O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!   
The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.   
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.            200
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?            205
Alack [alas]! I love myself. Wherefore? [why?] for any good   
That I myself have done unto myself?   
O! no: alas! I rather hate myself   
For hateful deeds committed by myself.   
I am a villain. Yet I lie; I am not [I am not a villain].            210
Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.   
My conscience hath a thousand several [separate] tongues,   
And every tongue brings in a several tale,   
And every tale condemns me for a villain.   
Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degree:            215
Murder, stern murder, in the dir’st [direst] degree;   
All several sins, all us’d in each degree,   
Throng to the bar, crying all, ‘Guilty! guilty!’   
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;   
And if I die, no soul will pity me:            220
Nay, wherefore [why] 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 [threaten]  
To-morrow’s vengeance on the head of Richard.            225
RATCLIFF:  My lord!   
KING RICHARD:  ’Zounds! who’s there?   
['Zounds:  Corruption of by His wounds, meaning the wounds of the crucified Christ. 'Zounds [pronounced ZOONS] is an interjection.]
RATCLIFF:  Ratcliff, my lord; ’tis I. The early village cock [rooster]   
Hath twice done salutation [has twice crowed] to the morn;            230
Your friends are up, and buckle on their armour.   
KING RICHARD:  O Ratcliff! I have dream’d a fearful dream.   
What thinkest thou, will our friends prove all true?   
RATCLIFF:  No doubt, my lord.   
KING RICHARD:  O Ratcliff! I fear, I fear,—            235
RATCLIFF:  Nay, good my lord, be not afraid of shadows.   
KING RICHARD:  By 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 [suits of armor], and led by shallow Richmond.            240
It is not yet near day. Come, go with me;   
Under our tents I’ll play the eaves-dropper,   
To hear if any mean to shrink from me.  [Exeunt. 
[Exeunt: Ratcliff and Richard leave the stage.] 
RICHMOND wakes.  Enter OXFORD and Others.
LORDS:  Good morrow, Richmond!            245
RICHMOND:  Cry mercy, lords, and watchful gentlemen,   
That you have ta’en [taken] a tardy sluggard here.  
[Cry . . . sluggard here: I'm sorry that I overslept.]
LORDS:  How have you slept, my lord?   
RICHMOND:  The sweetest sleep, the fairest-boding dreams   
That ever enter’d in a drowsy head,            250
Have I since your departure had, my lords,  
Methought their souls, whose bodies Richard murder’d,   
Came to my tent and cried on victory:   
I promise you, my heart is very jocund [joyful; happy]  
In the remembrance of so fair a dream.            255
How far into the morning is it, lords?   
LORDS:  Upon the stroke of four.   
RICHMOND:  Why, then ’tis time to arm and give direction.   
His oration [Richmond's speech]  to his soldiers.
More than I have said, loving countrymen,            260
The leisure and enforcement of the time   
Forbids to dwell on: yet remember this,   
[More than . . . remember this: There's not enough time for me to say much to you, but remember this:]
God and our good cause fight upon our side;   
The prayers of holy saints and wronged souls,   
Like high-rear’d bulwarks, stand before our faces;            265
Richard except [except for Richard], those whom we fight against   
Had [would] rather have us win than him they follow.   
For what is he they follow? truly, gentlemen,   
A bloody tyrant and a homicide [murderer];   
One rais’d in blood, and one in blood establish’d;            270
One that made means to come by what he hath,   
And slaughter’d those that were the means to help him;   
A base foul stone, made precious by the foil   
Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;   
[A base . . . set: He is only a foul stone, made to look precious by England's golden throne, where he falsely sits.]
One that hath ever been God’s enemy.            275
Then, if you fight against God’s enemy,   
God will in justice, ward [protect; guard] you as his soldiers;   
If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,   
You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;   
[If you sweat . . . slain: If you work hard to bring a tyrant down, you will sleep in peace after he is slain.]
If you do fight against your country’s foes,            280
Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire [your country's wealth will pay you for your pains];   
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,   
Your children’s children quit it [be at peace] in your age.            285
Then, in the name of God and all these rights,   
Advance your standards [flags], draw your willing swords.   
For me, the ransom of my bold attempt   
Shall be this cold corse on the earth’s cold face;
[For me . . . face: The only ransom I will pay if my bold attempt fails is my cold corpse lying on the battlefield.]  
But if I thrive, the gain of my attempt            290
The least of you shall share his part thereof.  
[But if . . . thereof: But if I succeed, even the least of you will share in the gains.]
Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully;   
God and Saint George! Richmond and victory!  [Exeunt.
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]   
Re-enter KING RICHARD, RATCLIFF, attendants, and forces.
KING RICHARD:  What said Northumberland as touching Richmond?            295
[as touching: About.]
RATCLIFF:  That he was never trained up in arms.   
KING RICHARD:  He said the truth: and what said Surrey then?   
RATCLIFF:  He smil’d, and said, ‘The better for our purpose.’   
KING RICHARD:  He was i’ the right; and so, indeed, it is.  [Clock strikes.   
Tell the clock there. Give me a calendar.            300
Who saw the sun to-day?   
RATCLIFF:  Not I, my lord.   
KING RICHARD:  Then 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.            305
RATCLIFF:  My lord?   
KING RICHARD:  The sun will not be seen to-day;   
The sky doth frown and lower upon our army.   
I would these dewy tears were from the ground.            310
Not shine to-day! Why, what is that to me   
More than to Richmond? for the self-same heaven   
That frowns on me looks sadly upon him.   
NORFOLK:  Arm, arm, my lord! the foe vaunts [advances boastfully] in the field.            315
KING RICHARD:  Come, bustle, bustle; caparison my horse.   
[caparison my horse: Put a caparison on my horse. A caparison was a richly ornamented covering for a warhorse.]
Call up Lord Stanley, bid him bring his power [army]:   
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            320
Consisting equally of horse and foot [of horsemen and foot soldiers];   
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            325
In the main battle, whose puissance on either side   
Shall be well winged with our chiefest horse. 
[we will follow . . . horse: Thus our strength on either side will be augmented by the horsemen.] 
This, and Saint George to boot! What think’st thou, Norfolk?   
NORFOLK:  A good direction, war-like sovereign.   
This found I on my tent this morning.  [Giving a scroll.            330
KING RICHARD: [Reads.] "Jockey of Norfolk, be not too bold,
[Jockey: In England at the time of Richard, another name for John or Jack, a generic term used for fellow or boy, as in "Hey, boy."]
For Dickon [Dick, referring to Richard] thy master is bought and sold."   
A thing devised by the enemy.   
Go, gentlemen; every man to his charge:   
Let not our babbling dreams affright [frighten] our souls;            335
Conscience is but a word that cowards use,   
Devis’d 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-mell [rushing headlong];   
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.            340
His oration to his Army.
What shall I say more than I have inferr’d?   
Remember whom you are to cope withal [to fight]:   
A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and run-aways,   
A scum of Bretons and base lackey peasants,            345
Whom their o’er-cloyed [heavily populated] country vomits forth   
To desperate adventures and assur’d destruction.   
You sleeping safe, they bring you to unrest; [you have been sleeping safely, but they awaken you to unrest;]  
You having lands, and bless’d with beauteous wives,   
They would restrain [take] the one, distain [rape] the other.            350
And who doth lead them but a paltry fellow,   
Long kept in Britaine [Brittany, France] at our [his] mother’s cost?   
A milksop, one that never in his life   
Felt so much cold as over shoes in snow [as in his shoes in show]?   
Let’s whip these stragglers o’er the sea again [let's whip these stragglers back over the sea];            355
Lash hence these overweening rags of France [send these haughty Frenchmen on their way],   
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: 
[These tired, famish'd, do-nothing men would have hanged themselves if they had not been sustained by the dream of going to war against us.]  
If we be conquer’d, let men conquer us,            360
And not these bastard Bretons; whom our fathers   
Have in their own land beaten, bobb’d, and thump’d,   
And, on record, left them the heirs of shame.   
Shall these enjoy our lands? lie with our wives?   
Ravish our daughters?  [Drum afar off.            365
Hark! I hear their drum.   
Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yeomen!   
Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!   
Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood;   
Amaze the welkin [vault of heaven] with your broken staves [with the broken shafts of your lances]!            370
Enter a Messenger.
What says Lord Stanley? will he bring his power [army]?   
MESSENGER:  My lord, he doth deny to come.   
KING RICHARD:  Off with his son George’s head!   
NORFOLK:  My lord, the enemy is pass’d [has passed] the marsh:            375
After the battle let George Stanley die.   
KING RICHARD:  A 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 [boldness] of fiery dragons!            380
Upon them! Victory sits upon our helms.  [Exeunt.   
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

Act 5, Scene 4

Another part of the field.
Alarum: Excursions.  Enter NORFOLK and forces; to him CATESBY.
[Alarum: Trumpet blasts that call soldiers to the fight.]
[Excursions: Troop movements.]
CATESBY:  Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk! rescue, rescue!   
The king enacts more wonders than a man,   
Daring an opposite to every danger [daring to fight every enemy]:            5
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,   
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.   
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!   

Alarums. Enter RICHARD.

KING RICHARD:  A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!            10
CATESBY:  Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.   
KING RICHARD:  Slave! I have set my life upon a cast,   
And I will stand the hazard of the die.   
[I have . . . die: I have set my life upon a throw of the dice, and I accept the result, good or bad.]
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;   
Five have I slain to-day, instead of him.—            15
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!  [Exeunt.   

Act 5, Scene 5

Another part of the field.
Alarums.  Enter from opposite sides KING RICHARD and RICHMOND, and exeunt fighting.  Retreat and flourish.  Then re-enter RICHMOND, STANLEY, bearing the crown, with divers [various] other Lords, and Forces.
RICHMOND:  God and your arms be prais’d, victorious friends;   
The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead.   
STANLEY:   Courageous Richmond, well hast thou acquit thee [you have fought well]!            20
Lo! here, this long-usurped royalty [crown]   
From the dead temples of this bloody wretch   
Have I pluck’d off, to grace thy brows withal:   
Wear it, enjoy it, and make much of it.   
RICHMOND:  Great God of heaven, say amen to all!            25
But, tell me, is young George Stanley living?   
STANLEY:   He is, my lord, and safe in Leicester town;   
Whither [to which], if you please, we may withdraw us [our forces].   
RICHMOND:  What men of name are slain on either side?   
STANLEY:   John Duke of Norfolk, Walter Lord Ferrers,            30
Sir Robert Brakenbury, and Sir William Brandon.   
RICHMOND:  Inter their bodies as becomes their births:   
Proclaim a pardon to the soldiers fled   
That in submission will return to us;   
And then, as we have ta’en the sacrament [received the Holy Eucharist],            35
We will unite the white rose and the red [unite the House of York and the House of Lancaster]:    
Smile, heaven, upon this fair conjunction,   
That long hath frown’d upon their enmity!
[Smile . . . enmity: Smile, heaven, upon the union of these two houses that you long frowned on because they hated each other.]   
What traitor hears me, and says not amen?   
England hath long been mad, and scarr’d herself;            40
The brother blindly shed the brother’s blood,   
The father rashly slaughter’d his own son,   
The son, compell’d, been butcher to the sire [the son had been forced to butcher his father]:  
All this divided York and Lancaster,   
Divided in their dire division,            45
O! now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,   
The true succeeders of each royal house,   
By God’s fair ordinance conjoin together [become husband and wife];   
And let their heirs—God, if thy will be so,—   
Enrich the time to come with smooth-fac’d peace,            50
With smiling plenty, and fair prosperous days!   
Abate the edge of [hold back the swords of] traitors, gracious Lord,   
That would reduce [ignite] these bloody days again,   
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!   
Let them [evildoers] not live to taste this land’s increase,            55
That would with treason wound this fair land’s peace!   
Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:   
That she may long live here, God say amen!  [Exeunt.   
[Exeunt: Everyone leaves the stage.]

About the Author

Michael J. Cummings, a native of Williamsport, Pa., was a public-school teacher, journalist, freelance writer, author, and college instructor before retiring and devoting his time to writing. He graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and undertook additional studies at Elmira (N.Y) College and Lycoming College in Williamsport. He also underwent training at the American Press Institute. Mr. Cummings is the author of five print books, eleven e-books, and more than 2,500 newspaper and magazine articles. Among those he interviewed over the years were actors Peter Ustinov and Dennis Weaver, Merrill-Lynch chairman William Schreyer, Indy race-car champion Rick Mears, and George W. Bush (while he was running for vice president on Ronald Reagan's ticket). Mr. Cummings continues to reside in his hometown.