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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act V. Scene III.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Third

Bosworth Field.

Enter KING RICHARD and Forces; the DUKE OF NORFOLK, EARL OF SURREY, and Others.

K. Rich.Here pitch our tent, even here in Bosworth field.

My Lord of Surrey, why look you so sad?

Sur.My heart is ten times lighter than my looks.

K. Rich.My Lord of Norfolk,—

Nor.Here, most gracious liege.

K. Rich.Norfolk, we must have knocks; ha! must we not?

Nor.We must both give and take, my loving lord.

K. Rich.Up with my tent! here will I lie to-night;[Soldiers begin to set up the KING’S tent.

But where to-morrow? Well, all’s one for that.

Who hath descried the number of the traitors?

Nor.Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.

K. Rich.Why, our battalia trebles that account;

Besides, the king’s name is a tower of strength,

Which they upon the adverse faction want.

Up with the tent! Come, noble gentlemen,

Let us survey the vantage of the ground;

Call for some men of sound direction:

Let’s lack no discipline, make no delay;

For, lords, to-morrow is a busy day.[Exeunt.

Enter on the other side of the field, RICHMOND, SIR WILLIAM BRANDON, OXFORD, and other Officers.Some of the Soldiers pitch RICHMOND’S tent.

Richm.The weary sun hath made a golden set,

And, by the bright track of his fiery car,

Gives token of a goodly day to-morrow.

Sir William Brandon, you shall bear my standard.

Give me some ink and paper in my tent:

I’ll draw the form and model of our battle,

Limit each leader to his several charge,

And part in just proportion our small power.

My Lord of Oxford, you, Sir William Brandon,

And you, Sir Walter Herbert, stay with me.

The Earl of Pembroke keeps his regiment:

Good Captain Blunt, bear my good-night to him,

And by the second hour in the morning

Desire the earl to see me in my tent.

Yet one thing more, good captain, do for me;

Where is Lord Stanley quarter’d, do you know?

Blunt.Unless I have mista’en his colours much,—

Which, well I am assur’d, I have not done,—

His regiment lies half a mile at least

South from the mighty power of the king.

Richm.If without peril it be possible,

Good Captain Blunt, bear my good-night to him,

And give him from me this most needful note.

Blunt.Upon my life, my lord, I’ll undertake it;

And so, God give you quiet rest to-night!

Richm.Good-night, good Captain Blunt. Come, gentlemen,

Let us consult upon to-morrow’s business;

In to my tent, the air is raw and cold.[They withdraw into the tent.


K. Rich.What is ’t o’clock?

Cate.It’s supper-time, my lord;

It’s nine o’clock.

K. Rich.I will not sup to-night.

Give me some ink and paper.

What, is my beaver easier than it was,

And all my armour laid into my tent?

Cate.It is, my liege; and all things are in readiness.

K. Rich.Good Norfolk, hie thee to thy charge;

Use careful watch; choose trusty sentinels.

Nor.I go, my lord.

K. Rich.Stir with the lark to-morrow, gentle Norfolk.

Nor.I warrant you, my lord.[Exit.

K. Rich.Ratcliff!

Rat.My lord?

K. Rich.Send out a pursuivant at arms

To Stanley’s regiment; bid him bring his power

Before sun-rising, lest his son George fall

Into the blind cave of eternal night.

Fill me a bowl of wine. Give me a watch.

Saddle white Surrey for the field to-morrow.

Look that my staves be sound, and not too heavy.


Rat.My lord!

K. Rich.Saw’st thou the melancholy Lord Northumberland?

Rat.Thomas the Earl of Surrey, and himself,

Much about cock-shut time, from troop to troop

Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers.

K. Rich.So, I am satisfied. Give me a bowl of wine:

I have not that alacrity of spirit,

Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have.

Set it down. Is ink and paper ready?

Rat.It is, my lord.

K. Rich.Bid my guard watch; leave me.

Ratcliff, about the mid of night come to my tent

And help to arm me. Leave me, I say.[KING RICHARD retires into his tent.Exeunt RATCLIFF and CATESBY.

RICHMOND’S tent opens, and discovers him and his Officers, &c.


Stan.Fortune and victory sit on thy helm!

Richm.All comfort that the dark night can afford

Be to thy person, noble father-in-law!

Tell me, how fares our loving mother?

Stan.I, by attorney, bless thee from thy mother,

Who prays continually for Richmond’s good:

So much for that. The silent hours steal on,

And flaky darkness breaks within the east.

In brief, for so the season bids us be,

Prepare thy battle early in the morning,

And put thy fortune to the arbitrement

Of bloody strokes and mortal-staring war.

I, as I may,—that which I would I cannot,—

With best advantage will deceive the time,

And aid thee in this doubtful shock of arms:

But on thy side I may not be too forward,

Lest, being seen, thy brother, tender George,

Be executed in his father’s sight.

Farewell: the leisure and the fearful time

Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love

And ample interchange of sweet discourse,

Which so long sunder’d friends should dwell upon:

God give us leisure for these rites of love!

Once more, adieu: be valiant, and speed well!

Richm.Good lords, conduct him to his regiment.

I’ll strive, with troubled thoughts, to take a nap,

Lest leaden slumber peise me down to-morrow,

When I should mount with wings of victory.

Once more, good-night, kind lords and gentlemen.[Exeunt all but RICHMOND.

O! thou, whose captain I account myself,

Look on my forces with a gracious eye;

Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,

That they may crush down with a heavy fall

The usurping helmets of our adversaries!

Make us thy ministers of chastisement,

That we may praise thee in thy victory!

To thee I do commend my watchful soul,

Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes:

Sleeping and waking, O! defend me still![Sleeps.

The Ghost of PRINCE EDWARD, Son to Henry the Sixth, rises between the two tents.

Ghost.[To KING RICHARD.]Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!

Think how thou stab’dst me in my prime of youth

At Tewksbury: despair, therefore, and die!

Be cheerful, Richmond; for the wronged souls

Of butcher’d princes fight in thy behalf:

King Henry’s issue, Richmond, comforts thee.

The Ghost of KING HENRY THE SIXTH rises.

Ghost.[To KING RICHARD.]When I was mortal, my anointed body

By thee was punched full of deadly holes:

Think on the Tower and me; despair and die!

Henry the Sixth bids thee despair and die.

[To RICHMOND.]Virtuous and holy, be thou conqueror!

Harry, that prophesied thou shouldst be the king,

Doth comfort thee in thy sleep: live thou and flourish!

The Ghost of CLARENCE rises.

Ghost.[To KING RICHARD.]Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!

I, that was wash’d to death with fulsome wine,

Poor Clarence, by thy guile betray’d to death!

To-morrow in the battle think on me,

And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!

[To RICHMOND.]Thou offspring of the house of Lancaster,

The wronged heirs of York do pray for thee:

Good angels guard thy battle! live, and flourish!

The Ghosts of RIVERS, GREY, and VAUGHAN rise.

Ghost ofRIVERS.[To KING RICHARD.]Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow!

Rivers, that died at Pomfret! despair, and die!

Ghost ofGREY.[To KING RICHARD.]Think upon Grey, and let thy soul despair.

Ghost ofVAUGHAN.[To KING RICHARD.]Think upon Vaughan, and with guilty fear

Let fall thy pointless lance: despair, and die!—

All Three.[To RICHMOND.]Awake! and think our wrongs in Richard’s bosom

Will conquer him: awake, and win the day!

The Ghost of HASTINGS rises.

Ghost.[To KING RICHARD.]Bloody and guilty, guiltily awake;

And in a bloody battle end thy days!

Think on Lord Hastings, so despair, and die!—

[To RICHMOND.]Quiet, untroubled soul, awake, awake!

Arm, fight, and conquer, for fair England’s sake!

The Ghost of the two young PRINCES rise.

Ghosts.[To KING RICHARD.]Dream on thy cousins smother’d in the Tower:

Let us be lead within thy bosom, Richard,

And weigh thee down to ruin, shame, and death!

Thy nephews’ souls bid thee despair, and die!

[To RICHMOND.]Sleep, Richmond, sleep in peace, and wake in joy;

Good angels guard thee from the boar’s annoy!

Live, and beget a happy race of kings!

Edward’s unhappy sons do bid thee flourish.

The Ghost of LADY ANNE rises.

Ghost.[To KING RICHARD.]Richard, thy wife, that wretched Anne thy wife,

That never slept a quiet hour with thee,

Now fills thy sleep with perturbations:

To-morrow in the battle think on me,

And fall thy edgeless sword: despair, and die!

[To RICHMOND.]Thou quiet soul, sleep thou a quiet sleep;

Dream of success and happy victory!

Thy adversary’s wife doth pray for thee.

The Ghost of BUCKINGHAM rises.

Ghost.[To KING RICHARD.]The first was I that help’d thee to the crown;

The last was I that felt thy tyranny.

O! in the battle think on Buckingham,

And die in terror of thy guiltiness!

Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death:

Fainting, despair; despairing, yield thy breath!

[To RICHMOND.]I died for hope ere I could lend thee aid:

But cheer thy heart, and be thou not dismay’d:

God and good angels fight on Richmond’s side;

And Richard falls in height of all his pride.[The Ghosts vanish.KING RICHARD starts out of his dream.

K. Rich.Give me another horse! bind up my wounds!

Have mercy, Jesu! Soft! I did but dream.

O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!

The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.

Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.

What! do I fear myself? there’s none else by:

Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.

Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am:

Then fly: what! from myself? Great reason why:

Lest I revenge. What! myself upon myself?

Alack! I love myself. Wherefore? for any good

That I myself have done unto myself?

O! no: alas! I rather hate myself

For hateful deeds committed by myself.

I am a villain. Yet I lie; I am not.

Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.

My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,

And every tongue brings in a several tale,

And every tale condemns me for a villain.

Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degree:

Murder, stern murder, in the dir’st degree;

All several sins, all us’d in each degree,

Throng to the bar, crying all, ‘Guilty! guilty!’

I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;

And if I die, no soul will pity me:

Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself

Find in myself no pity to myself?

Methought the souls of all that I had murder’d

Came to my tent; and every one did threat

To-morrow’s vengeance on the head of Richard.


Rat.My lord!

K. Rich.’Zounds! who’s there?

Rat.Ratcliff, my lord; ’tis I. The early village cock

Hath twice done salutation to the morn;

Your friends are up, and buckle on their armour.

K. Rich.O Ratcliff! I have dream’d a fearful dream.

What thinkest thou, will our friends prove all true?

Rat.No doubt, my lord.

K. Rich.O Ratcliff! I fear, I fear,—

Rat.Nay, good my lord, be not afraid of shadows.

K. Rich.By the apostle Paul, shadows to-night

Have struck more terror to the soul of Richard

Than can the substance of ten thousand soldiers

Armed in proof, and led by shallow Richmond.

It is not yet near day. Come, go with me;

Under our tents I’ll play the eaves-dropper,

To hear if any mean to shrink from me.[Exeunt.

RICHMOND wakes.Enter OXFORD and Others.

Lords.Good morrow, Richmond!

Richm.Cry mercy, lords, and watchful gentlemen,

That you have ta’en a tardy sluggard here.

Lords.How have you slept, my lord?

Richm.The sweetest sleep, the fairest-boding dreams

That ever enter’d in a drowsy head,

Have I since your departure had, my lords.

Methought their souls, whose bodies Richard murder’d,

Came to my tent and cried on victory:

I promise you, my heart is very jocund

In the remembrance of so fair a dream.

How far into the morning is it, lords?

Lords.Upon the stroke of four.

Richm.Why, then ’tis time to arm and give direction.

His oration to his Soldiers.

More than I have said, loving countrymen,

The leisure and enforcement of the time

Forbids to dwell on: yet remember this,

God and our good cause fight upon our side;

The prayers of holy saints and wronged souls,

Like high-rear’d bulwarks, stand before our faces;

Richard except, those whom we fight against

Had rather have us win than him they follow.

For what is he they follow? truly, gentlemen,

A bloody tyrant and a homicide;

One rais’d in blood, and one in blood establish’d;

One that made means to come by what he hath,

And slaughter’d those that were the means to help him;

A base foul stone, made precious by the foil

Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;

One that hath ever been God’s enemy.

Then, if you fight against God’s enemy,

God will in justice, ward you as his soldiers;

If you do sweat to put a tyrant down,

You sleep in peace, the tyrant being slain;

If you do fight against your country’s foes,

Your country’s fat shall pay your pains the hire;

If you do fight in safeguard of your wives,

Your wives shall welcome home the conquerors;

If you do free your children from the sword,

Your children’s children quit it in your age.

Then, in the name of God and all these rights,

Advance your standards, draw your willing swords.

For me, the ransom of my bold attempt

Shall be this cold corse on the earth’s cold face;

But if I thrive, the gain of my attempt

The least of you shall share his part thereof.

Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully;

God and Saint George! Richmond and victory![Exeunt.

Re-enter KING RICHARD, RATCLIFF, Attendants, and Forces.

K. Rich.What said Northumberland as touching Richmond?

Rat.That he was never trained up in arms.

K. Rich.He said the truth: and what said Surrey then?

Rat.He smil’d, and said, ‘The better for our purpose.’

K. Rich.He was i’ the right; and so, indeed, it is.[Clock strikes.

Tell the clock there. Give me a calendar.

Who saw the sun to-day?

Rat.Not I, my lord.

K. Rich.Then he disdains to shine; for by the book

He should have brav’d the east an hour ago:

A black day will it be to somebody.


Rat.My lord?

K. Rich.The sun will not be seen to-day;

The sky doth frown and lower upon our army.

I would these dewy tears were from the ground.

Not shine to-day! Why, what is that to me

More than to Richmond? for the self-same heaven

That frowns on me looks sadly upon him.


Nor.Arm, arm, my lord! the foe vaunts in the field.

K. Rich.Come, bustle, bustle; caparison my horse.

Call up Lord Stanley, bid him bring his power:

I will lead forth my soldiers to the plain,

And thus my battle shall be ordered:

My foreward shall be drawn out all in length

Consisting equally of horse and foot;

Our archers shall be placed in the midst:

John Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Earl of Surrey,

Shall have the leading of this foot and horse.

They thus directed, we will follow

In the main battle, whose puissance on either side

Shall be well winged with our chiefest horse.

This, and Saint George to boot! What think’st thou, Norfolk?

Nor.A good direction, war-like sovereign.

This found I on my tent this morning.[Giving a scroll.

K. Rich.Jockey of Norfolk, be not too bold,

For Dickon thy master is bought and sold.

A thing devised by the enemy.

Go, gentlemen; every man to his charge:

Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls;

Conscience is but a word that cowards use,

Devis’d at first to keep the strong in awe:

Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law.

March on, join bravely, let us to ’t pell-mell;

If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell.

His oration to his Army.

What shall I say more than I have inferr’d?

Remember whom you are to cope withal:

A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and run-aways,

A scum of Bretons and base lackey peasants,

Whom their o’er-cloyed country vomits forth

To desperate adventures and assur’d destruction.

You sleeping safe, they bring you to unrest;

You having lands, and bless’d with beauteous wives,

They would restrain the one, distain the other.

And who doth lead them but a paltry fellow,

Long kept in Britaine at our mother’s cost?

A milksop, one that never in his life

Felt so much cold as over shoes in snow?

Let’s whip these stragglers o’er the sea again;

Lash hence these overweening rags of France,

These famish’d beggars, weary of their lives;

Who, but for dreaming on this fond exploit,

For want of means, poor rats, had hang’d themselves:

If we be conquer’d, let men conquer us,

And not these bastard Bretons; whom our fathers

Have in their own land beaten, bobb’d, and thump’d,

And, on record, left them the heirs of shame.

Shall these enjoy our lands? lie with our wives?

Ravish our daughters?[Drum afar off.

Hark! I hear their drum.

Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yeomen!

Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!

Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood;

Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!

Enter a Messenger.

What says Lord Stanley? will he bring his power?

Mess.My lord, he doth deny to come.

K. Rich.Off with his son George’s head!

Nor.My lord, the enemy is pass’d the marsh:

After the battle let George Stanley die.

K. Rich.A thousand hearts are great within my bosom:

Advance our standards! set upon our foes!

Our ancient word of courage, fair Saint George,

Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons!

Upon them! Victory sits upon our helms.[Exeunt.