Explanatory Notes for Act 4, 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. Mellow, ripen.
3. Confines, districts.
5. Induction, beginning.
6. Consequence, the sequel.
15. Right for right, measure for measure, a just punishment for an offense against justice.
20. Quit, pay or compensate for.
21. A dying debt, a debt of death.
26-29. These lines the duchess addresses to herself.
36. Seniory, priority from age.
37. Let my griefs exceed yours.
40. Edward, her son, young Prince Edward, murdered after
the battle of Tewksbury.
41. Henry, Henry VI, her husband.
42-43. These lines are addressed to Queen Elizabeth. Edward and Richard Duke of York were the two murdered
44. Richard, Duke of York, father of Edward IV, Clarence, and Richard III.
45. Rutland. See I. ii. 162, and note.
53. Galled, sore with weeping.
56. Carnal, flesh-devouring.
58. Pew-fellow, companion, literally one who sits in the same pew at church.
63. Thy Edward — Edward IV. My Edward, Prince Edward, wno was killed at Tewksbury.
64. Thy other Edward, the young prince, Edward V.
65. York, the young murdered Duke of York, brother of the prince, Edward V. But boot, but something thrown into the bargain. Boot literally means addition. A.-S. bot,
profit, ultimately from the same root as better. It is still preserved in the adjective bootless. The phrase to boot means in addition.
71. Intelligencer, agent or go-between.
72. Their, the plural for the singular.
75. Lines with four accents are sometimes found as here, where several short clauses or epithets are connected
together in one line, and pronounced slowly.
77. Cf. Macbeth, III. ii. 49:
"Cancel and tear in pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale."
84. Presentation, the mere semblance.
85. Flattering, deluding with vain hopes. Index, the prelude, or introduction to. Pageant, a show or spectacle.
86. A-high, on high. The adjective being here considered as a noun, is preceded by a, which represents the A.-S. on, on, as in a-bed, among, etc.
89. Garish, gaudy, showy.
97. Decline, run through from first to last, as one would a list of grammatical inflections.
98-104. For, instead of.
101. Caitiff, a wretch. Old Fr. caitif (modem Fr. chetif,) from Lat. captivus, from, capio, capere, to take.
108. To torture, the innnitive expressing purpose. The more: the here is not the article, but the old demonstrative — by that the more. See note to II. iii. 4. Being what thou art. Supply thou in the nominative absolute before being.
111. My burden'd yoke, the yoke which is a burden to me.
127. Windy attorneys, etc (words) windy representatives
or substitutes for silent woes.
128. Airy succeeders of joys that have perished and left
135. Be copious in exclaims, be plentiful in your reproaches.
151. Entreat me fair, use me well.
157. A touch of your condition, a dash of your temper.
168. Tetchy, irritable.
170. Thy prime of manhood, thy early manhood.
171. Thy age confirm'd, thy full manhood.
172. Kind, that is, in appearance.
180. Humphrey Hour. This passage, as Schmidt observes, has not yet been satisfactorily explained. The phrase to dine with Duke Humphrey was a common expression for going without one's dinner, and originated, according to Nares, in the following manner: Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, though really buried at St. Albans, was supposed to
have a monument in old St. Paul's, from which one part of the church was termed Duke Humphrey's Walk. In this,
as the church was then a place of the most public resort, they who had no means or procuring a dinner frequently
loitered about, probably in hopes of meeting with an invitation, but under pretense of looking at the monuments.
Hunter says that, as Humphrey was Duke of Gloucester, Richard intends some reference to the hour of his own birth,
when his mother was, as it were, delivered from fasting with the duke. Forth of, away from.
193-198. In these lines, tire (193), necessarily subjunctive, impresses on the reader that the co-ordinate verbs flight (195),
whisper (167), and promise (198), are also subjunctive. This
aptative use of the subjunctive, dispensing with let, may etc,
gives great vigor to the Shakespearean line (Abbott sect. 365).
207. Level, aim.
222. Unavoided, unavoidable.
227. Cozen'd, cheated. The play upon the words is explained by the etymology. To cozen is to act as cousin or kinsman, to sponge upon, to beguile.
234. Still, constant.
238. Tackling, cordage. Reft, bereft.
241. Success, issue, result.
248. Type, image.
262. Demise, bequeath.
254. Withal, follows its object, but is (on account of the all at the end of the previous verse) not placed at the end of this sentence.
255. Lethe, the river in the lower world from which the
shades drank, and thus obtained forgetfullness of the past.
259. Telling, a-telling, or in telling. Date, time of duration.
263-266. From, away from, apart ftom.
207. Shall deal, cannot help dealing.
208. The original relative was that. Who and what were interrogatives, the former being the form for the masculine
and feminine alike, the latter for the neuter. Which (A.-S. hwile, hwele, short for hwi-lic, literally why-like; hwi being
the instrumental case of hwa, who, and lic the adjective
like) was also used interrogatively. Which,who and whom occur as relatives as early as the end of the twelfth century, but who as a relative is not found, according to Dr. Morris, before the fourteenth century. Dr. Abbott notes that if "Wicliffe's version of the New Testament be compared with
the versions of the sixteenth century and with that of 1611,
that in the former will be found replaced by which and
who in the latter, who being especially common in the latest,
the Authorized version.
304. Mettle, disposition.
322. Orient, shining: properly Eastern, as pearls came first from the East.
323. Advantaging, making up for.
345. That, object of entreats.
364. The puns deprive the conversation of all appearance
of genuine feeling.
366. The George and Garter were insignia of the Order of the Garter [see picture above], but the former was not added until the time of Henry VII. The George is a figure of St. George, the patron saint of England, in the act of killing the dragon. The Garter is worn on the left leg, and is inscnbed with the motto, Honi soit qui mal y pense.
369. His, its. His is much more common in Shakespeare than its which, indeed, was just coming into use in the great dramatist's time. He uses it only about ten times. Its does not occur in the Bible of 1611 (which has it where modern editions have its in Leviticus 25 : 5), nor in Spenser, is found only thrice in Milton's verse, and is not common until the time of Dryden.
392. Youth, in apposition with children.
405. Tender, regard not.
417. Peevish-fond, childishly foolish.
429. Elizabeth was not won over in a single interview, but she did consent that her daughter might marry Richard.
Some think, however, that she feigned acquiescence and so outwitted Richard. Her daughter's hand was already
pledged to Richmond, and the mother knew the whole plot for seating Richmond on the throne.
432. Puissant, powerful.
438. Hull, float without use of sails.
464. Richard's inconsistent orders reveal the agitation of
482. White-liver'd runagate, cowardly vagabond. The liver was considered to be the seat of courage. Runagate is a corruption of M.E. renegat a renegade, apostate, through Fr. from Lat. renegatus, renegare; re, again, and negare to deny. The corruption in the form of the word was due to a mistaken identity on the analogy of run-a-way with runne a gate — run
on the road, be a vagabond. (Skeat.)
467. Chair, the throne. Sword, the sword of state.
474. Welshman. Richmond was the grandson of Owen
498. This is found in Hall. The Courtneys, however, were not brothers, but cousins.
502. Competitors, confederates. Every, a trisyllable.
506. The owl's cry was supposed to be a portent of death.
516. Sir Thomas Lovel was afterwards Treasurer of the Household to Henry VII.
531. Richmond landed at Milford, August 7, 1486.
534. Royal battle, a battle on which a kingdom depends.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark & Maynard, 1886. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/richardiii_4_4.html >.
Many scholars believe that the history plays contain Shakespeare's own political philosophy regarding the role and nature of a truly great monarch. Others contend that "writing the philosophy of history was not Shakespeare's business." But all will agree that Shakespeare could dramatize English history like no other. The following quiz will test your knowledge of Shakespeare's histories. It is a challenge, but detailed answers are provided. Good luck! To the quiz...