Richard III

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Queen Elizabeth, Lord Rivers, Marquess of

Dorset, and Lord Grey


Have patience, madam; there's no doubt his majesty

Will soon recover his accustomed health.


In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse;
brook (v.) 1 endure, tolerate, put up with
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count

Therefore for God's sake entertain good comfort
entertain (v.) 1 receive, admit, let in

And cheer his grace with quick and merry eyes.
cheer (v.) encourage, urge on, galvanize
quick (adj.) 2 lively, animated, vivacious


If he were dead, what would betide on me?
betide (v.) 1 happen (to), befall, come (to)


No other harm but loss of such a lord.


The loss of such a lord includes all harm.


The heavens have blessed you with a goodly son

To be your comforter when he is gone.


Ah, he is young; and his minority

Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester,

A man that loves not me, nor none of you.


Is it concluded that he shall be Protector?
conclude (v.) 1 decide, resolve, settle


It is determined, not concluded yet;
determine (v.) 1 make a decision [about], reach a conclusion [about]

But so it must be, if the King miscarry.
miscarry (v.) 1 come to harm, perish, meet death

Enter Buckingham and Derby


Here come the lords of Buckingham and Derby.


Good time of day unto your royal grace!


God make your majesty joyful, as you have been!


The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Derby,

To your good prayers will scarcely say amen.

Yet, Derby, notwithstanding she's your wife

And loves not me, be you, good lord, assured

I hate not you for her proud arrogance.


I do beseech you, either not believe

The envious slanders of her false accusers;
envious (adj.) malicious, spiteful, vindictive, full of enmity See Topics: Frequency count
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Or, if she be accused on true report,

Bear with her weakness, which I think proceeds

From wayward sickness, and no grounded malice.
grounded (adj.) firmly established, deep-rooted, strongly founded


Saw you the King today, my Lord of Derby?


But now the Duke of Buckingham and I

Are come from visiting his majesty.


What likelihood of his amendment, lords?
amendment (n.) recovery, recuperation, improvement


Madam, good hope; his grace speaks cheerfully.


God grant him health! Did you confer with him?


Ay, madam; he desires to make atonement
atonement (n.) reconciliation, appeasement, harmony

Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,

And between them and my Lord Chamberlain,

And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
warn (v.) 1 summon, send for, officially call


Would all were well! But that will never be.

I fear our happiness is at the highest.

Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Lord Hastings


They do me wrong, and I will not endure it!

Who is it that complains unto the King

That I, forsooth, am stern, and love them not?
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count

By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly

That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.

Because I cannot flatter and look fair,

Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive, and cog,
cog (v.) 1 flatter, fawn, sweet-talk
smooth (v.) 2 adopt a flattering manner, make a plausible show, conciliate

Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
duck (v.) make a brief bow, act in a cringing way

I must be held a rancorous enemy.

Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,

But thus his simple truth must be abused
abuse (v.) 2 misuse, maltreat, treat badly, wrong

By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
Jack (n.) 1 Jack-in-office, ill-mannered fellow, lout, knave


To whom in all this presence speaks your grace?
presence (n.) 1 royal assembly, eminent company


To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.

When have I injured thee? When done thee wrong?

Or thee? Or thee? Or any of your faction?

A plague upon you all! His royal grace –

Whom God preserve better than you would wish! –

Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing while
breathing while (n.) breathing-space, short space of time

But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.
lewd (adj.) 3 ignorant, foolish, ill-mannered


Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.

The King, of his own royal disposition,

And not provoked by any suitor else,
suitor (n.) petitioner, supplicant, entreater

Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred,
aim (v.) guess, conjecture, surmise
belike (adv.) probably, presumably, perhaps, so it seems See Topics: Frequency count

That in your outward action shows itself

Against my children, brothers, and myself,

Makes him to send, that he may learn the ground.
ground (n.) 1 reason, cause, source


I cannot tell; the world is grown so bad

That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch.

Since every Jack became a gentleman

There's many a gentle person made a Jack.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count
Jack (n.) 1 Jack-in-office, ill-mannered fellow, lout, knave


Come, come, we know your meaning, brother Gloucester:

You envy my advancement and my friends'.

God grant we never may have need of you!


Meantime, God grants that I have need of you.

Our brother is imprisoned by your means,

Myself disgraced, and the nobility

Held in contempt, while great promotions

Are daily given to ennoble those

That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble.


By Him that raised me to this careful height
careful (adj.) 1 anxious, concerned, worried

From that contented hap which I enjoyed,
hap (n.) 1 fortune, lot, fate

I never did incense his majesty

Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been

An earnest advocate to plead for him.

My lord, you do me shameful injury

Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
suspect (n.) suspicion, mistrust, doubt


You may deny that you were not the mean
mean (n.) 2 means, agent, cause

Of my Lord Hastings' late imprisonment.


She may, my lord, for –


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,
preferment (n.) advancement, promotion

And then deny her aiding hand therein

And lay those honours on your high desert.
desert, desart (n.) 1 deserving, due recompense, right
lay (v.) 2 attribute, ascribe, impute

What may she not? She may, yea, marry, may she –


What, marry, may she?


What, marry, may she? Marry with a king,

A bachelor and a handsome stripling too!

Iwis your grandam had a worser match.
iwis (adv.) [archaism] assuredly, certainly, truly See Topics: Archaisms


My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne

Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs.
blunt (adj.) 2 plain-spoken, unceremonious, forthright

By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty

Of those gross taunts that oft I have endured.
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

I had rather be a country servant-maid

Than a great queen, with this condition,
condition (n.) 5 state, way of life

To be so baited, scorned, and stormed at;
bait (v.) 1 harass, persecute, torment

Enter old Queen Margaret, behind

Small joy have I in being England's Queen.



And lessened be that small, God I beseech Him!

Thy honour, state, and seat is due to me.
seat (n.) 6 position, place, status


What? Threat you me with telling of the King?
threat (v.) threaten

Tell him, and spare not. Look what I have said
spare (v.) 1 omit, avoid, refrain [from]

I will avouch't in presence of the King;
avouch (v.) 1 declare, assert, affirm

I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower.
adventure (v.) venture, dare, chance, risk

'Tis time to speak, my pains are quite forgot.
pain (n.) effort, endeavour, exertion, labour



Out, devil! I do remember them too well.

Thou kill'dst my husband Henry in the Tower,

And Edward, my poor son, at Tewkesbury.


Ere you were queen, yea, or your husband king,

I was a packhorse in his great affairs;
packhorse (n.) work-horse, drudge, toiler

A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,

A liberal rewarder of his friends.

To royalize his blood I spent mine own.
royalize (v.) make royal, invest with a majestic character
spend (v.) 1 use up, wear out, exhaust, bring to an end



Yea, and much better blood than his or thine.


In all which time you and your husband Grey

Were factious for the house of Lancaster;
factious (adj.) 2 ready to form a faction

And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband

In Margaret's battle at Saint Alban's slain?
battle (n.) 1 army, fighting force, battalion

Let me put in your minds, if you forget,

What you have been ere this, and what you are;

Withal, what I have been, and what I am.



A murderous villain, and so still thou art.


Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick;

Yea, and forswore himself, which Jesu pardon! –
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count



Which God revenge!


– To fight on Edward's party for the crown;

And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up.
meed (n.) 1 reward, prize, recompense
mew up (v.) coop up, confine, shut up

I would to God my heart were flint like Edward's,

Or Edward's soft and pitiful like mine!

I am too childish-foolish for this world.


hie (v.) hasten, hurry, speed See Topics: Frequency count

Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world,

Thou cacodemon! There thy kingdom is.
cacodemon (n.) evil spirit


My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days
busy (adj.) 1 always engaged, active, constantly occupied

Which here you urge to prove us enemies,

We followed then our lord, our sovereign king;

So should we you, if you should be our king.


If I should be? I had rather be a pedlar.

Far be it from my heart, the thought thereof!


As little joy, my lord, as you suppose

You should enjoy, were you this country's king,

As little joy may you suppose in me

That I enjoy, being the Queen thereof.



As little joy enjoys the Queen thereof;

For I am she, and altogether joyless.

I can no longer hold me patient.

She comes forward
pirate (n.) 1 thief, marauder, plunderer

Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out

In sharing that which you have pilled from me!
pill (v.) 1 pillage, plunder, rob

Which of you trembles not that looks on me?

If not, that I am Queen, you bow like subjects,

Yet that, by you deposed, you quake like rebels?

Ah, gentle villain, do not turn away!
gentle (adj.) 3 refined, discriminating, sophisticated


Foul wrinkled witch, what mak'st thou in my sight?


But repetition of what thou hast marred,
repetition (n.) 1 recital, narration, relating

That will I make before I let thee go.


Wert thou not banished on pain of death?


I was; but I do find more pain in banishment

Than death can yield me here by my abode.

A husband and a son thou ow'st to me –

And thou a kingdom – all of you allegiance.

This sorrow that I have, by right is yours,

And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.


The curse my noble father laid on thee

When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]

And with thy scorns drew'st rivers from his eyes,

And then, to dry them, gav'st the Duke a clout
clout (n.) 1 piece of cloth, rag; handkerchief

Steeped in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland –

His curses then, from bitterness of soul

Denounced against thee, are all fallen upon thee;
denounce (v.) declare, proclaim, announce

And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed.


So just is God, to right the innocent.


O, 'twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,

And the most merciless, that e'er was heard of!


Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.
tyrant (n.) 1 pitiless ruffian, cruel villain


No man but prophesied revenge for it.


Northumberland, then present, wept to see it.


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?

Did York's dread curse prevail so much with heaven
dread (adj.) 2 frightening, terrifying, fearful

That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death,

Their kingdom's loss, my woeful banishment,

Should all but answer for that peevish brat?
answer (v.) 10 live up to, correspond to, be equal to
brat (n.) child [not always with contemptuous connotation]
peevish (adj.) 1 silly, foolish; or: headstrong, impulsive

Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?

Why then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!
quick (adj.) 5 vigorous, quick-acting, energetic

Though not by war, by surfeit die your king,
surfeit (n.) 2 sickness brought on by excess

As ours by murder, to make him a king!

Edward thy son, that now is Prince of Wales,

For Edward our son, that was Prince of Wales,

Die in his youth by like untimely violence!
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count
untimely (adj.) premature, coming before its time

Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,

Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!

Long mayst thou live to wail thy children's death

And see another, as I see thee now,

Decked in thy rights as thou art stalled in mine!
stall (v.) 1 install, place, appoint

Long die thy happy days before thy death,

And after many lengthened hours of grief,

Die neither mother, wife, nor England's queen!

Rivers and Dorset, you were standers-by,
stander-by (n.) bystander, onlooker, spectator

And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son

Was stabbed with bloody daggers. God, I pray Him,

That none of you may live his natural age,

But by some unlooked accident cut off!
unlooked (adj.) unexpected, unanticipated, unforeseen


Have done thy charm, thou hateful withered hag!
charm (n.) 2 incantation, chant


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

On thee, the troubler of the poor world's peace!

The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
begnaw (v.) gnaw away, eat away, chew
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv'st,

And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!
deep (adj.) 5 deeply cunning, profound in craft

No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,

Unless it be while some tormenting dream

Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
affright (v.) frighten, terrify, scare

Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog!
abortive (adj.) 1 monstrous, defective, unnatural
elvish-marked (adj.) marked out at birth by evil fairies, displaying spite

Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
seal (v.) 5 mark [as if by a seal], designate

The slave of nature and the son of hell!

Thou slander of thy heavy mother's womb!
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count
slander (n.) 1 dishonour, disgrace, disrepute

Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins!
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Thou rag of honour! Thou detested –








                                                         I call thee not.


I cry thee mercy then; for I did think

That thou hadst called me all these bitter names.


Why, so I did, but looked for no reply.

O, let me make the period to my curse!
period (n.) 2 point of completion, fitting conclusion, consummation


'Tis done by me, and ends in ‘ Margaret.’


Thus have you breathed your curse against yourself.


Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
flourish (n.) 3 ornamentation, decoration, adornment
painted (adj.) 2 unreal, artificial, superficial
vain (adj.) 2 worthless, idle, useless, empty

Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider
bottled (adj.) bottle-shaped, hunched, swollen

Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?

Fool, fool! Thou whet'st a knife to kill thyself.

The time will come that thou shalt wish for me

To help thee curse that poisonous bunch-backed toad.
bunch-backed (adj.) hunch-backed


False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
false-boding (adj.) wrongly prophesying

Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.


Foul shame upon you! You have all moved mine.


Were you well served, you would be taught your duty.


To serve me well, you all should do me duty,
duty (n.) 2 reverence, due respect, proper attitude

Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects.

O, serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty!


Dispute not with her; she is lunatic.


Peace, master Marquess, you are malapert.
malapert (adj.) impudent, saucy, impertinent

Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current.
current (adj.) 1 [as of a coin] authentic, genuine, valid
stamp (n.) 1 impression, mark, imprint

O, that your young nobility could judge

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.


Good counsel, marry! Learn it, learn it, Marquess.


It touches you, my lord, as much as me.
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to


Yea, and much more; but I was born so high.

Our aery buildeth in the cedar's top
aery (n.) brood [of a bird of prey], nestful

And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.


And turns the sun to shade – alas! alas!

Witness my son, now in the shade of death,

Whose bright outshining beams thy cloudy wrath

Hath in eternal darkness folded up.

Your aery buildeth in our aery's nest.
aery (n.) brood [of a bird of prey], nestful

O God, that seest it, do not suffer it!

As it was won with blood, lost be it so!


Peace, peace, for shame, if not for charity.


Urge neither charity nor shame to me.

Uncharitably with me have you dealt,

And shamefully my hopes by you are butchered.

My charity is outrage, life my shame,
outrage (n.) 2 passionate expression, emotional outcry

And in that shame still live my sorrow's rage!
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


Have done, have done.


O princely Buckingham, I'll kiss thy hand

In sign of league and amity with thee.
sign (n.) 2 token, witness, attestation

Now fair befall thee and thy noble house!
fair (n.) 2 fortune, happiness, favour

Thy garments are not spotted with our blood,

Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
compass (n.) 1 range, reach, limit, scope


Nor no one here; for curses never pass

The lips of those that breathe them in the air.


I'll not think but they ascend the sky

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
look when (conj.) whenever, as soon as

His venom tooth will rankle to the death.
rankle (v.) cause a festering wound
venom (adj.) venomous, poisonous, spiteful

Have not to do with him, beware of him.

Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him,

And all their ministers attend on him.
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]


What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?


Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.


What, dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel?
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?
soothe (v.) 1 humour, encourage, indulge

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 subjects to his hate,

And he to yours, and all of you to God's!



My hair doth stand an end to hear her curses.
end, an / on upright, vertical


And so doth mine. I muse why she's at liberty.
muse (v.) 1 wonder, be surprised


I cannot blame her. By God's holy Mother,

She hath had too much wrong, and I repent

My part thereof that I have done to her.


I never did her any, to my knowledge.


Yet you have all the vantage of her wrong.
vantage (n.) 3 advantage, benefit, advancement, profit

– I was too hot to do somebody good
hot (adj.) 2 enthusiastic, ardent, eager, keen

That is too cold in thinking of it now.

Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid;

He is franked up to fatting for his pains –
frank up (v.) shut up in a sty, put in an enclosure

God pardon them that are the cause thereof!


A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion –

To pray for them that have done scathe to us.
scath, scathe (n.) harm, hurt, damage


So do I ever – (aside) being well advised;

For had I cursed now, I had cursed myself.

Enter Catesby


Madam, his majesty doth call for you;

And for your grace; and yours, my gracious lord.


Catesby, I come. Lords, will you go with me?


We wait upon your grace.

Exeunt all but Richard, Duke of Gloucester


I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.

The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
abroach (adv.) afoot, astir, in motion

I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
charge (n.) 6 accusation, censure, blame
lay (v.) 2 attribute, ascribe, impute

Clarence, whom I indeed have laid in darkness,

I do beweep to many simple gulls –
beweep (v.) 1 weep over, wet with tears
gull (n.) 1 dupe, fool, simpleton

Namely, to Derby, Hastings, Buckingham –

And tell them 'tis 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, Dorset, 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

With odd old ends stolen forth of Holy Writ,
end (n.) 5 scrap, fragment, tag, ending
writ (n.) 3 [archaism] gospel, holy writ See Topics: Archaisms

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!
mate (n.) 1 companion, associate, comrade
resolved (adj.) 1 determined, settled, decided
stout (adj.) 1 brave, valiant, resolute

Are you now going to dispatch this thing?
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly


We are, my lord, and come to have the warrant,
warrant (n.) 2 licence, sanction, authorization

That we may be admitted where he is.


Well thought upon; I have it here about me.

He gives the warrant
repair (v.) 1 come, go, make one's way

When you have done, repair to Crosby Place.

But, sirs, be sudden in the execution,

Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead;

For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps

May move your hearts to pity if you mark him.
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count


Tut, tut, my lord! We will not stand to prate;
prate (v.) prattle, chatter, blather See Topics: Frequency count

Talkers are no good doers. Be assured:

We come to use our hands, and not our tongues.


Your eyes drop millstones when fools' eyes fall tears.
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

I like you, lads; about your business straight,
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Go, go, dispatch.


                         We will, my noble lord.

dispatch, despatch (v.) 4 hurry up, be quick

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