Richard III

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Buckingham

at several doors


How now, how now? What say the citizens?
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count


Now, by the holy Mother of our Lord,

The citizens are mum, say not a word.
mum (adj.) silent, mute, saying nothing


Touched you the bastardy of Edward's children?
touch (v.) 2 refer to, treat of, deal with


I did, with his contract with Lady Lucy

And his contract by deputy in France;

Th' unsatiate greediness of his desire
insatiate, unsatiate (adj.) insatiable, never satisfied, voracious

And his enforcement of the city wives;
enforcement (n.) 2 violation, overcoming

His tyranny for trifles; his own bastardy,
tyranny (n.) cruelty, barbarity, unmerciful violence

As being got, your father then in France,

His resemblance, being not like the Duke.

Withal I did infer your lineaments,
infer (v.) 1 adduce, bring up, put forward
lineament (n.) 1 line, feature, characteristic, attribute

Being the right idea of your father

Both in your form and nobleness of mind;

Laid open all your victories in Scotland,

Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,
discipline (n.) 1 military strategy, tactics, training in the art of war

Your bounty, virtue, fair humility;

Indeed, left nothing fitting for your purpose
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

Untouched, or slightly handled in discourse;
discourse (n.) 1 conversation, talk, chat
slightly (adv.) 1 without much attention, neglectfully

And when mine oratory drew toward end

I bid them that did love their country's good

Cry, ‘ God save Richard, England's royal King!’


And did they so?


No, so God help me, they spake not a word,

But, like dumb statues or breathing stones,
statua (n.) statue

Stared each on other, and looked deadly pale.
deadly (adj.) deathly, death-like

Which when I saw, I reprehended them
reprehend (v.) 1 reprove, censure, rebuke

And asked the Mayor what meant this wilful silence.

His answer was, the people were not used

To be spoke to but by the Recorder.

Then he was urged to tell my tale again:

‘ Thus saith the Duke, thus hath the Duke inferred ’ –
infer (v.) 1 adduce, bring up, put forward

But nothing spoke in warrant from himself.
warrant (n.) 2 licence, sanction, authorization

When he had done, some followers of mine own,

At the lower end of the hall, hurled up their caps,

And some ten voices cried, ‘ God save King Richard!’

And thus I took the vantage of those few:
vantage (n.) 1 right moment, suitable opportunity

‘ Thanks, gentle citizens and friends,’ quoth I.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind
quoth (v.) said See Topics: Frequency count

‘ This general applause and cheerful shout

Argues your wisdoms and your love to Richard ’ –

And even here brake off and came away.


What tongueless blocks were they! Would not they speak?

Will not the Mayor then and his brethren come?


The Mayor is here at hand. Intend some fear;
intend (v.) 1 pretend, convey, purport, profess

Be not you spoke with but by mighty suit;
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

And look you get a prayer-book in your hand

And stand betwixt two churchmen, good my lord,

For on that ground I'll make a holy descant;
descant (n.) melodious accompaniment, tuneful variation
ground (n.) 10 [music] constant bass rhythm underneath a descant, foundation

And be not easily won to our requests.

Play the maid's part: still answer nay, and take it.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


I go; and if you plead as well for them

As I can say nay to thee for myself,

No doubt we'll bring it to a happy issue.
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count


Go, go, up to the leads! The Lord Mayor knocks.
lead (n.) 3 (plural) lead-covered flat roofs

Exit Richard

Enter the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens
attendance (n.) 1 diligent service, dutiful ministration, assiduous attention

Welcome, my lord. I dance attendance here;

I think the Duke will not be spoke withal.

Enter Catesby

Now, Catesby, what says your lord to my request?


He doth entreat your grace, my noble lord,

To visit him tomorrow or next day.

He is within, with two right reverend fathers,

Divinely bent to meditation,
divinely (adv.) piously, spiritually, in a religious manner

And in no worldly suits would he be moved
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

To draw him from his holy exercise.
exercise (n.) 4 religious practice, spiritual observance


Return, good Catesby, to the gracious Duke.

Tell him, myself, the Mayor and Aldermen,

In deep designs, in matter of great moment,
design (n.) 1 undertaking, purpose, enterprise

No less importing than our general good,

Are come to have some conference with his grace.


I'll signify so much unto him straight.
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count



Ah ha, my lord! This prince is not an Edward.

He is not lulling on a lewd love-bed,
day-bed (n.) couch, sofa, divan
lewd (adj.) 4 lascivious, unchaste, lustful
lull (v.) loll, recline, lounge

But on his knees at meditation;

Not dallying with a brace of courtesans,
dally (v.) 3 flirt, be amorous, engage in love-play

But meditating with two deep divines;
deep (adj.) 2 learned, profound, erudite

Not sleeping, to engross his idle body,
engross (v.) 4 fatten, distend, make bloated

But praying, to enrich his watchful soul.
watchful (adj.) wakeful, unsleeping, vigilant

Happy were England would this virtuous prince

Take on his grace the sovereignty thereof;

But sure I fear we shall not win him to it.


Marry, God defend his grace should say us nay!
defend (v.) forbid, prohibit


I fear he will. Here Catesby comes again.

Enter Catesby

Now, Catesby, what says his grace?


                         My lord,

He wonders to what end you have assembled

Such troops of citizens to come to him,

His grace not being warned thereof before.

He fears, my lord, you mean no good to him.


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

When holy and devout religious men

Are at their beads, 'tis hard to draw them thence,
bead (n.) 3 [plural] rosary beads
much (adj.) 3 hard, difficult

So sweet is zealous contemplation.
zealous (adj.) earnest, fervent, ardent

Enter Richard aloft, between two bishops, and



See where his grace stands, 'tween two clergymen.


Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,

To stay him from the fall of vanity;
stay (v.) 8 stop, prevent, end

And see, a book of prayer in his hand –

True ornaments to know a holy man.

Famous Plantagenet, most gracious prince,

Lend favourable ears to our request,

And pardon us the interruption

Of thy devotion and right Christian zeal.


My lord, there needs no such apology.

I do beseech your grace to pardon me,

Who, earnest in the service of my God,

Deferred the visitation of my friends.

But, leaving this, what is your grace's pleasure?


Even that, I hope, which pleaseth God above

And all good men of this ungoverned isle.


I do suspect I have done some offence

That seems disgracious in the city's eye,
disgracious (adj.) disliked, out of favour, displeasing

And that you come to reprehend my ignorance.
reprehend (v.) 1 reprove, censure, rebuke


You have, my lord. Would it might please your grace,

On our entreaties, to amend your fault!


Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian land?


Know then it is your fault that you resign

The supreme seat, the throne majestical,

The sceptred office of your ancestors,
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

Your state of fortune and your due of birth,
state (n.) 2 status, rank, position

The lineal glory of your royal house,

To the corruption of a blemished stock;

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;
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

Her face defaced with scars of infamy,

Her royal stock graft with ignoble plants,
graft (v.) insert, implant, make grow

And almost shouldered in the swallowing gulf
shoulder (v.) thrust unceremoniously aside, push roughly

Of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion.
blind (adj.) 2 dark, black

Which to recure, we heartily solicit
recure (v.) heal, make whole, restore to health

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;
factor (n.) agent, representative, broker

But as successively, from blood to blood,
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship
successively (adv.) by right of succession, through inheritance

Your right of birth, your empery, you own.
empery (n.) 1 absolute dominion, sovereignty

For this, consorted with the citizens,

Your very worshipful and loving friends,

And by their vehement instigation,

In this just cause come I to move your grace.
move (v.) 5 persuade, influence, talk encouragingly to


I cannot tell if to depart in silence

Or bitterly to speak in your reproof

Best fitteth my degree or your condition.
condition (n.) 4 position, social rank, station
degree (n.) 1 rank, station, standing

If not to answer, you might haply think
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count

Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded

To bear the golden yoke of sovereignty

Which fondly you would here impose on me.
fondly (adv.) foolishly, stupidly, madly

If to reprove you for this suit of yours,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

So seasoned with your faithful love to me,

Then, on the other side, I checked my friends.

Therefore – to speak, and to avoid the first,

And then, in speaking, not to incur the last –

Definitively thus I answer you.

Your love deserves my thanks, but my desert
desert, desart (n.) 2 worth, merit, deserving

Unmeritable shuns your high request.
high (adj.) 1 very great, extreme
unmeritable (adj.) unworthy, undeserving, lacking in merit

First, if all obstacles were cut away,

And that my path were even to the crown
even (adj.) 3 smooth, without obstacles

As my ripe revenue and due of birth,
revenue (n.) 2 possession, tenure, custody
ripe (adj.) 4 properly considered, fully thought out

Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,

So mighty and so many my defects,

That I would rather hide me from my greatness,

Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
bark, barque (n.) ship, vessel
brook (v.) 1 endure, tolerate, put up with

Than in my greatness covet to be hid

And in the vapour of my glory smothered.

But, God be thanked, there is no need of me,

And much I need to help you, were there need.

The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,

Which, mellowed by the stealing hours of time,
stealing (adj.) stealthily moving, gliding quietly by

Will well become the seat of majesty
become (v.) 2 grace, honour, dignify See Topics: Frequency count
seat (n.) 1 throne

And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.

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!
defend (v.) forbid, prohibit


My lord, this argues conscience in your grace.

But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,
nice (adj.) 5 trivial, unimportant, slight
respect (n.) 1 consideration, factor, circumstance

All circumstances well considered.

You say that Edward is your brother's son.

So say we too, but not by Edward's wife;

For first he was contract to Lady Lucy –
contract (v.) 4 betrothe, engage

Your mother lives a witness to that vow –

And afterward by substitute betrothed
substitute (n.) subordinate, deputy, underling

To Bona, sister to the King of France.

These both put off, a poor petitioner,

A care-crazed mother to a many sons,

A beauty-waning and distressed widow,
beauty-waning (adj.) of fading looks, of diminishing beauty

Even in the afternoon of her best days,

Made prize and purchase of his wanton eye,
purchase (n.) 2 acquisition, prize, spoil
wanton (adj.) 6 lascivious, lewd, obscene

Seduced the pitch and height of his degree
degree (n.) 1 rank, station, standing
pitch (n.) 2 height, elevation, high aspiration

To base declension and loathed bigamy.
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count
declension (n.) decline, deterioration, downward course

By her, in his unlawful bed, he got

This Edward, whom our manners call the Prince.

More bitterly could I expostulate,

Save that, for reverence to some alive,

I give a sparing limit to my tongue.
sparing (adj.) 1 forbearing, considerate, moderating

Then, good my lord, take to your royal self

This proffered benefit of dignity;
benefit (n.) 4 bounty, benefaction, bestowal of rights [from a feudal lord]
dignity (n.) 2 official position, high office, rule

If not to bless us and the land withal,

Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry
draw forth (v.) bring forward, redeem, recover

From the corruption of abusing times
abusing (adj.) harmful, damaging, injurious

Unto a lineal, true-derived course.


Do, good my lord; your citizens entreat you.


Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffered love.


O, make them joyful, grant their lawful suit!
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count


Alas, why would you heap this care on me?

I am unfit for state and majesty.

I do beseech you take it not amiss,

I cannot nor I will not yield to you.


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

And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,
effeminate (adj.) 2 gentle, tender, compassionate
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind
remorse (n.) 2 pity, compassion, tenderness

Which we have noted in you to your kindred

And egally indeed to all estates –
egally (adv.) equally, evenly, commensurately
estate (n.) 3 degree of rank, place in life, type of person

Yet know, whe'er you accept our suit or no,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

Your brother's son shall never reign our king,

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, Zounds! I'll entreat no more.
entreat, intreat (v.) 1 persuade, prevail upon


O, do not swear, my lord of Buckingham.

Exeunt Buckingham, Lord Mayor,

Aldermen, and citizens


Call him again, sweet prince, accept their suit:

If you deny them, all the land will rue it.


Would you enforce me to a world of cares?

Call them again. I am not made of stone,

But penetrable to your kind entreaties,
entreat, intreat (n.) entreaty, supplication, plea
penetrable (adj.) 1 receptive, susceptible, capable of being affected

Albeit against my conscience and my soul.

Enter Buckingham and the rest

Cousin of Buckingham, and sage grave men,

Since you will buckle fortune on my back,

To bear her burden, whe'er I will or no,

I must have patience to endure the load;
endure (v.) 2 undergo, suffer, put up with

But if black scandal or foul-faced reproach

Attend the sequel of your imposition,
attend (v.) 4 accompany, follow closely, go with

Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me
acquittance (v.) acquit, discharge, exonerate
enforcement (n.) 1 enforcing, propulsion
mere (adj.) 2 sole, personal, particular

From all the impure blots and stains thereof;

For God doth know, and you may partly see,

How far I am from the desire thereof.


God bless your grace! We see it, and will say it.


In saying so you shall but say the truth.


Then I salute you with this royal title –

Long live King Richard, England's worthy king!




Tomorrow may it please you to be crowned?


Even when you please, for you will have it so.


Tomorrow then we will attend your grace,
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]

And so most joyfully we take our leave.


(to the bishops)

Come, let us to our holy work again.

– Farewell, my cousin; farewell, gentle friends.
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind


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