Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 4
From King Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard.
Abbreviations. — A.-S. = Anglo-Saxon: M.E. = Middle
English (from the 13th to the 15th century) ; Fr. = French ;
Ger. = German ; Gr. = Greek ; Cf. = compare (Lat. confer) ;
Abbott refers to the excellent Shakespearean Grammar of Dr.
Abbott; Schmidt, to Dr. Schmidt's invaluable Shakespeare Lexicon.
1. Heavily, sadly.
4. Faithful, as opposed to infidel or faithless.
5. Such a night. The a is inserted pleonastically here.
9. Methought. The reading of the folios is methoughts, the s having been incorrectly added to assimilate the termination to that of methinks.
27. Unvalued, invaluable.
37. To yield the ghost, to die. Envious, malignant,
40. Bulk, body.
45. The melancholy flood is the river Styx, which flows
seven times round the infernal regions.
46. Ferryman. Charon, whose task it is to convey in his
boat the shades of the dead across the rivers of the lower
55. Fleeting, inconstant.
71. In me, on me.
80. Instead of the dreams they form but never realize.
94. Guiltless, innocent of, ignorant of.
119. Tell, count. A.-S. tellan, to number, talu, a number,
narrative. Allied words are Dutch taal, speech; Icelandic
tal, speech; German zahl, number.
141. Shamefast, modest. The word is now spelled shame-faced by a singular confusion with face, due to the fact that
shame is commonly indicated by the face.
151. Insinuate, to meddle with.
155. Tall, stout, spirited.
158. Take him = strike him. Costard, a slang expression
for the head.
160. According to Holinshed (Edward IV., p. 346, 1808 ed.),
"finallie the duke was cast into the Tower, and therewith
adiudged for a traitor, and priuilie drowned in a butt of
166-176. The uses of thou and you may be seen very clearly
in this passage. Thou is the customary address from superiors to inferiors, and is expressive, besides, of any excitement or sensibility, of familiar tenderness as well as of anger; of reverence as well as of contempt. Thus the
constant address of Venus to Adonis in Shakespeare's poem is thou; of Adonis to Venus, you.
193. Evidence = the witnesses.
194. Quest, inquest or jury.
197. Convict, convicted.
215. Forswearing, perjury.
220. Unrip means simply to cut open.
220. Dear, used often as a kind of emphatic adjective, the
sense being, in so great a degree.
229. For you the quartos read ye. Ye was originally the
nominative form; you, the accusative. This distinction,
though observed in our version of the Bible, was disregarded
in the usage of Elizabethan writers.
234. Gallant-springing, putting forth the promise of beauty
like buds opening in the Spring.
235. Novice, one new to anything, just entering on life.
236. This is love lor my brother.
238. Provoke, impel.
253. Millstones. To weep millstones was a common proverb = not to weep at all, to remain hard and unfeeling as a stone. Lesson'd, taught. Any noun or adjective, can be converted into a verb by the Elizabethan writers, generally in
an active signification.
255. The reference is to Proverbs, 26:1 : "As snow in
summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for
a fool." The first murderer understands kind in the sense
of natural or foolish.
259. Labor, bring about.
263. Turning as he speaks to the second murderer.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 22 Dec. 2011. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_1_4.html >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 22 Dec. 2011. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_1_4.html >.
"Macbeth, Richard III, were both villains, murderers. Both reached the thrones they occupied by wading through blood.
In this respect they are like Iago. Yet, in their cases, Shakespeare uses but few soliloquies, and these very brief, while Iago constantly, and, in
extenso, soliloquizes. Why this difference? Because between Macbeth and Richard III on the one hand, and Iago on the other, there is a radical
difference. They accomplished their ends by means that were mostly open, undisguised, straightforward. Iago works not openly, but, like the mole, almost wholly underground, secretly. He trusts to
deception to accomplish his purpose." (William Fleming, Shakespeare's Plots. p. 414.)
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