Richard III

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth, with halberds to

guard it; Lady Anne being the mourner, attended by
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]

Tressel and Berkeley


Set down, set down your honourable load –
corse (n.) corpse, dead body See Topics: Frequency count
halberd (n.) 2 person armed with a halberd

If honour may be shrouded in a hearse –
shroud (v.) hide, conceal, shelter

Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
obsequiously (adv.) as a mourner, with proper regard for the dead

Th' untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
untimely (adj.) premature, coming before its time

The bearers set down the hearse
key-cold (adj.) cold as a metal key

Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,

Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster,

Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood,

Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
invocate (v.) invoke, call upon, entreat

To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,

Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son

Stabbed by the selfsame hand that made these wounds!

Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
window (n.) 3 opening, hole; wound

I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
helpless (adj.) unavailing, useless, unprofitable

O, cursed be the hand that made these holes!

Cursed be the heart that had the heart to do it!

Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship

More direful hap betide that hated wretch
betide (v.) 1 happen (to), befall, come (to)
hap (n.) 1 fortune, lot, fate

That makes us wretched by the death of thee

Than I can wish to wolves – spiders, toads,

Or any creeping venomed thing that lives!

If ever he have child, abortive be it,
abortive (adj.) 1 monstrous, defective, unnatural

Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
prodigious (adj.) 2 abnormal, monstrous, unnatural
untimely (adv.) 1 prematurely, too soon, before due time

Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
aspect (n.) 1 [of a human face] look, appearance, expression

May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count

And that be heir to his unhappiness!
unhappiness (n.) 2 evil, wrong-doing, perniciousness

If ever he have wife, let her he made

More miserable by the life of him

Than I am made by my young lord and thee!

Come now, towards Chertsey with your holy load,

Taken from Paul's to be interred there.

The bearers take up the hearse

And still, as you are weary of this weight,

Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry's corse.
corse (n.) corpse, dead body See Topics: Frequency count

Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester


Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.


What black magician conjures up this fiend

To stop devoted charitable deeds?
devoted (adj.) 2 holy, consecrated, dedicated


Villains, set down the corse, or, by Saint Paul,
corse (n.) corpse, dead body See Topics: Frequency count

I'll make a corse of him that disobeys!


My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.


Unmannered dog! Stand thou, when I command!
unmannered (adj.) ill-mannered, rude, insolent

Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise
halberd (n.) 1 long-handled weapon ending in a combination of axe-blade and spearhead See Topics: Weapons

Or, by Saint Paul, I'll strike thee to my foot

And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
spurn (v.) 2 kick, strike, stamp [on], dash

The bearers set down the hearse


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, thou dreadful minister of hell!
avaunt (int.) begone, go away, be off See Topics: Frequency count

Thou hadst but power over his mortal body;

His soul thou canst not have. Therefore, be gone.


Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
curst (adj.) 1 bad-tempered, quarrelsome, shrewish, cross


Foul devil, for God's sake hence, and trouble us not,

For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,

Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
exclaim (n.) exclamation, outcry, protest

If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,

Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
pattern (n.) 1 picture, model, specimen, example

O gentlemen, see, see! Dead Henry's wounds

Open their congealed mouths and bleed afresh!

Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity;

For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood
exhale (v.) 1 cause to flow, draw out, draw up

From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells.

Thy deeds inhuman and unnatural

Provokes this deluge most unnatural.

O God, which this blood mad'st, revenge his death!

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 hell-governed arm hath butchered!


Lady, you know no rules of charity,
rule (n.) 1 principle, order, regulation

Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.


Villain, thou know'st nor law of God nor man:

No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.


But I know none, and therefore am no beast.


O wonderful, when devils tell the truth!


More wonderful, when angels are so angry.

Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,

Of these supposed crimes to give me leave

By circumstance but to acquit myself.
circumstance (n.) 3 special argument, detailed explanation


Vouchsafe, diffused infection of a man,
diffused (adj.) 1 disorderly, mixed-up, jumbled

For these known evils, but to give me leave

By circumstance to accuse thy cursed self.
circumstance (n.) 3 special argument, detailed explanation


Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have

Some patient leisure to excuse myself.


Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make

No excuse current but to hang thyself.
current (adj.) 1 [as of a coin] authentic, genuine, valid


By such despair I should accuse myself.


And by despairing shouldst thou stand excused

For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
worthy (adj.) 2 deserved, justified, warranted

Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.


Say that I slew them not?


                         Then say they were not slain.

But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.


I did not kill your husband.


                         Why, then he is alive.


Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward's hands.


In thy foul throat thou li'st! Queen Margaret saw

Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
falchion (n.) curved broadsword See Topics: Weapons
smoking (adj.) steaming hot, sending up spray

The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
bend (v.) 1 aim, direct, level, turn

But that thy brothers beat aside the point.


I was provoked by her slanderous tongue

That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.


Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind

That never dream'st on aught but butcheries.
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count

Didst thou not kill this King?


                         I grant ye – yea.


Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then God grant me too

Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!

O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous!
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind


The better for the King of Heaven that hath him.


He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.


Let him thank me that holp to send him thither;

For he was fitter for that place than earth.


And thou unfit for any place, but hell.


Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.


Some dungeon.


                         Your bedchamber.


Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
ill (n.) 2 trouble, affliction, misfortune


So will it, madam, till I lie with you.


I hope so.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


                         I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,

To leave this keen encounter of our wits
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)

And fall somewhat into a slower method,

Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
timeless (adj.) untimely, premature, ill-timed

Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,

As blameful as the executioner?


Thou wast the cause and most accursed effect.


Your beauty was the cause of that effect –

Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep

To undertake the death of all the world,

So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.


If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,

These nails should rent that beauty from my cheeks.
rent (v.) rend, tear, pull to pieces


These eyes could not endure that beauty's wrack;
wrack (n.) 1 destruction, ruin

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.


Black night o'ershade thy day, and death thy life!


Curse not thyself, fair creature – thou art both.


I would I were, to be revenged on thee.


It is a quarrel most unnatural

To be revenged on him that loveth thee.


It is a quarrel just and reasonable

To be revenged on him that killed my husband.


He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband

Did it to help thee to a better husband.


His better doth not breathe upon the earth.


He lives, that loves thee better than he could.


Name him.




                                                         Why that was he.


The selfsame name, but one of better nature.


Where is he?



She spits at him

                                                         Why dost thou spit at me?


Would it were mortal poison for thy sake!


Never came poison from so sweet a place.


Never hung poison on a fouler toad.

Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.


Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.


Would they were basilisks to strike thee dead!
basilisk (n.) 1 mythical serpent which killed with its look


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,

Shamed their aspects with store of childish drops.
aspect (n.) 1 [of a human face] look, appearance, expression

These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear –
remorseful (adj.) 1 conscience-stricken, guilty, full of sorrow

No, when my father York and Edward wept

To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made

When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;

Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,

Told the sad story of my father's death
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy

And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,

That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks

Like trees bedashed with rain – in that sad time
bedashed (adj.) dashed about, bespattered, splashed about

My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;

And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,
exhale (v.) 1 cause to flow, draw out, draw up

Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.

I never sued to friend nor enemy;

My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word;
smoothing (adj.) flattering, plausible, ingratiating

But, now thy beauty is proposed my fee,
fee (n.) 2 payment, reward, recompense

My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.

She looks scornfully at him

Teach not thy lips 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,

Which if thou please to hide in this true breast

And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,

I lay it naked to the deadly stroke

And humbly beg the death upon my knee.

He lays his breast open. She offers at it with his sword
offer (v.) 1 attempt, start, try, make a move

Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry –

But 'twas thy beauty that provoked me.

Nay now, dispatch; 'twas I that stabbed young Edward –
dispatch, despatch (v.) 3 kill, put to death, make away with, finish off

But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.

She falls the sword
fall (v.) 1 drop, descend, let fall

Take up the sword again, or take up me.


Arise, dissembler; though I wish thy death
dissembler (n.) hypocrite, deceiver, charlatan

I will not be thy executioner.


Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.


I have already.


                         That was in thy rage.

Speak it again, and even with the word

This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,

Shall for thy love kill a far truer love;

To both their deaths thou shalt be accessory.


I would I knew thy heart.


'Tis figured in my tongue.


I fear me both are false.
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count


Then never man was true.


Well, well, put up your sword.


Say then my peace is made.


That shall you know hereafter.


But shall I live in hope?


All men, I hope, live so.


Vouchsafe to wear this ring.


To take is not to give.

She puts on the ring


Look how this ring encompasseth thy finger,

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
servant (n.) 1 devotee, one who gives dedicated service, lover

But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,

Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.


What is it?


That it may please thee leave these sad designs
design (n.) 1 undertaking, purpose, enterprise
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy

To him that hath more cause to be a mourner,

And presently repair to Crosby House;
presently (adv.) 2 after a short time, soon, before long
repair (v.) 1 come, go, make one's way

Where, after I have solemnly interred
solemnly (adv.) ceremoniously, with ritual celebration

At Chertsey monastery this noble king

And wet his grave with my repentant tears,

I will with all expedient duty see you.
expedient (adj.) speedy, rapid, expeditious

For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you,
divers (adj.) different, various, several

Grant me this boon.


With all my heart; and much it joys me too
joy (v.) 2 add joy to, enjoy, gladden, brighten

To see you are become so penitent.

Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.


Bid me farewell.


                         'Tis more than you deserve;

But since you teach me how to flatter you,

Imagine I have said farewell already.

Exeunt Tressel and Berkeley, with Anne


Sirs, take up the corse.
corse (n.) corpse, dead body See Topics: Frequency count


                         Towards Chertsey, noble lord?


No, to Whitefriars – there attend my coming.
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count

Exeunt bearers and guard with corse

Was ever woman in this humour wooed?
humour (n.) 3 style, method, way, fashion

Was ever woman in this humour won?

I'll have her, but I will not keep her long.

What? I that killed her husband and his father

To take her in her heart's extremest hate,

With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,

The bleeding witness of my hatred by,

Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
bar (n.) 3 objection, impediment

And I no friends to back my suit at all
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

But the plain devil and dissembling looks?
dissembling (adj.) deceitful, hypocritical, false

And yet to win her! All the world to nothing!


Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent

Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,

Stabbed in my angry mood at Tewkesbury?

A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,

Framed in the prodigality of nature,
frame (v.) 1 fashion, make, form, create

Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,
royal (adj.) 1 like a king, majestic

The spacious world cannot again afford;

And will she yet abase her eyes on me,
abase (v.) lower, cast down

That cropped the golden prime of this sweet prince
crop (v.) 1 cut down, remove, hack off

And made her widow to a woeful bed?

On me, whose all not equals Edward's moiety?
moiety (n.) 2 half, equal share

On me, that halts and am misshapen thus?
halt (v.) limp, proceed lamely

My dukedom to a beggarly denier
denier (n.) tenth of a penny [trivial sum, paltry amount] See Topics: Money

I do mistake my person all this while!

Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,

Myself to be a marvellous proper man.
marvellous (adv.) very, extremely, exceedingly See Topics: Frequency count
proper (adj.) 1 good-looking, handsome, comely

I'll be at charges for a looking-glass
charge (n.) 7 expense, cost, outlay

And entertain a score or two of tailors
entertain (v.) 5 hire, employ, maintain, take into service

To study fashions to adorn my body;
study (v.) 1 deliberate, meditate, reflect [on]

Since I am crept in favour with myself

Will maintain it with some little cost.

But first I'll turn yon fellow in his grave,

And then return lamenting to my love.

Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count

That I may see my shadow as I pass.


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