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Scene 3

Bosworth Field.

(King Richard; Norfolk; Ratcliffe; Earl of Surrey; Soldiers; Richmond; Sir William Brandon; Oxford; Dorset; Blunt; Herbert; Catesby; Stanley; Ghost of Prince Edward; Ghost of King Henry VI; Ghost of Clarence; Ghost of Rivers; Ghost of Grey; Ghost of Vaughan; Ghosts of two young Princes; Ghost of Hastings; Ghost of Lady Anne; Ghost of Buckingham; First Lord to Richmond; Second Lord to Richmond; Attendants; Fifth Messenger)

Richmond and Richard set up their respective tents. Richard is reassured by the low number of rebels. Richmond aligns his forces. Richard checks on the location of his leaders and sends a message to Stanley, reminding him that his son is a hostage. Richard then goes to sleep, less certain than he lets on. Richmond and Stanley confer, the older man giving him advice. Richmond prays before going to sleep. As both Richard and Richmond are asleep, the ghosts of all of Richard’s victims appear, one by one: Henry VI’s son, Henry VI himself, Clarence, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, the two princes, Hastings, Lady Anne, Buckingham: all appear, and curse Richard, urging him to despair and die, before offering encouragement to Richmond. Richard wakes in a panic, thinking an assassin is near. He reflects on matters, realizing how alone he is, and beginning to feel the weight of his sins. He realizes that nobody, not even himself, can pity him. He prepares for battle with less confidence that he might have had. Richmond, meanwhile, wakes in high good spirits, having slept wonderfully well, and urges his soldiers to fight well, since their cause is just: the fight against tyranny. Norfolk tells Richard of a warning he received implying that Richard has been betrayed. Richard gives a speech to his soldiers, insulting the enemy as one easily defeated. Just as the battle is about to begin, he hears that Stanley has refused to join him. Needing to concentrate on the fight, he has no time to execute Stanley’s son. (361 lines)

Enter at one door King Richard, in arms, with Norfolk, Ratcliffe, and the Earl of Surrey, with others.


Here pitch our tent, even here in Bosworth field.

My Lord of Surrey, why look you so sad?


My heart is ten times lighter than my looks.


My Lord of Norfolk—


Here, most gracious liege.


Norfolk, we must have knocks. Ha, must we not?


We must both give and take, my loving lord.


Up with my tent! Here will I lie tonight

Soldiers begin to set up the King’s tent.

But where tomorrow? Well, all’s one for that.

Who hath descried the number of the traitors?


Six or seven thousand is their utmost power.


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, tomorrow is a busy day.


Enter at the other door Richmond, Sir William Brandon, Oxford, and Dorset, Blunt, Herbert, and others. Some of the soldiers pitch Richmond’s tent.


The weary sun hath made a golden set,

And by the bright tract of his fiery car

Gives token of a goodly day tomorrow.

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?


Unless I have mista’en his colors 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.


If without peril it be possible,

Sweet Blunt, make some good means to speak with him,

And give him from me this most needful note.


Upon my life, my lord, I’ll undertake it,

And so God give you quiet rest tonight!


Good night, good Captain Blunt.

Exit Blunt.

Come, gentlemen,

Let us consult upon tomorrow’s business.

In to my tent, the dew is raw and cold.

They withdraw into the tent.

Enter to his tent King Richard, Ratcliffe, Norfolk, and Catesby.


What is’t a’ clock?


It’s supper-time, my lord,

It’s nine a’ clock.


I will not sup tonight.

Give me some ink and paper.

What? Is my beaver easier than it was?

And all my armor laid into my tent?


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


Good Norfolk, hie thee to thy charge,

Use careful watch, choose trusty sentinels.


I go, my lord.


Stir with the lark tomorrow, gentle Norfolk.


I warrant you, my lord.





My lord?


Send out a pursuivant-at-arms

To Stanley’s regiment, bid him bring his power

Before sunrising, lest his son George fall

Into the blind cave of eternal night.

Exit Catesby.

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

Saddle white Surrey for the field tomorrow.

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



My lord?


Saw’st thou the melancholy Lord Northumberland?


Thomas the Earl of Surrey and himself,

Much about cock-shut time, from troop to troop

Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers.


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.

Wine brought.

Set it down. Is ink and paper ready?


It is, my lord.


Bid my guard watch; leave me.

Ratcliffe, about the mid of night come to my tent

And help to arm me. Leave me, I say.

Exit Ratcliffe. Richard sleeps.

Enter Stanley the Earl of Derby to Richmond in his tent, Lords and others attending.


Fortune and victory sit on thy helm!


All comfort that the dark night can afford

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

Tell me, how fares our loving mother?


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 sund’red friends should dwell upon.

God give us leisure for these rites of love!

Once more, adieu! Be valiant, and speed well!


Good lords, conduct him to his regiment.

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

Lest leaden slumber peize me down tomorrow,

When I should mount with wings of victory.

Once more, good night, kind lords and gentlemen.

Exeunt. Manet 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 the 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!


Enter the Ghost of young Prince Edward of Lancaster, son to Henry the Sixth, to Richard.


To Richard.

Let me sit heavy on thy soul tomorrow!

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

At Tewksbury. Despair therefore and die!

To Richmond.

Be cheerful, Richmond, for the wronged souls

Of butchered princes fight in thy behalf.

King Henry’s issue, Richmond, comforts thee.

Enter the Ghost of King Henry the Sixth.


To 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!

Harry the Sixth bids thee despair and die.

To Richmond.

Virtuous and holy, be thou conqueror!

Harry, that prophesied thou shouldst be king,

Doth comfort thee in thy sleep. Live and flourish!

Enter the Ghost of Clarence.


To Richard.

Let me sit heavy in thy soul tomorrow,

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

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

Tomorrow 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!

Enter the Ghosts of Rivers, Grey, Vaughan.


To Richard.

Let me sit heavy in thy soul tomorrow,

Rivers, that died at Pomfret! Despair and die!


To Richard.

Think upon Grey, and let thy soul despair!


To Richard.

Think upon Vaughan, and with guilty fear

Let fall thy lance. Despair and die!


To Richmond.

Awake and think our wrongs in Richard’s bosom

Will conquer him! Awake and win the day!

Enter the Ghosts of the two young Princes.


To Richard.

Dream on thy cousins smothered 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.

Enter the Ghost of Hastings.


To Richard.

Bloody and guilty, guiltily awake,

And in a bloody battle end thy days!

Think on Lord Hastings. Despair and die!

To Richmond.

Quiet untroubled soul, awake, awake!

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

Enter the Ghost of Lady Anne, his wife.


To Richard.

Richard, thy wife, that wretched Anne thy wife,

That never slept a quiet hour with thee,

Now fills thy sleep with perturbations.

Tomorrow 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.

Enter the Ghost of Buckingham.


To 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. Richard starteth up out of a dream.


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 highest degree;

Murder, stern murder, in the direst 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.

And 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

Tomorrow’s vengeance on the head of Richard.

Enter Ratcliffe.


My lord!


’Zounds, who is there?


Ratcliffe, my lord, ’tis I. The early village cock

Hath twice done salutation to the morn,

Your friends are up and buckle on their armor.


O Ratcliffe, I have dream’d a fearful dream!

What think’st thou—will our friends prove all true?


No doubt, my lord.


O Ratcliffe, I fear, I fear!


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


By the apostle Paul, shadows tonight

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.

’Tis not yet near day. Come, go with me,

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

To see if any mean to shrink from me.


Enter the Lords to Richmond sitting in his tent.


Good morrow, Richmond!


Cry mercy, lords and watchful gentlemen,

That you have ta’en a tardy sluggard here.


How have you slept, my lord?


The sweetest sleep and fairest-boding dreams

That ever ent’red 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 soul is very jocund

In the remembrance of so fair a dream.

How far into the morning is it, lords?


Upon the stroke of four.


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 upon, 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 established;

One that made means to come by what he hath,

And slaughtered 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 quits 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 corpse 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!


Enter King Richard, Ratcliffe, Attendants, and forces.


What said Northumberland as touching Richmond?


That he was never trained up in arms.


He said the truth, and what said Surrey then?


He smil’d and said, “The better for our purpose.”


He was in the right, and so indeed it is.

The clock striketh.

Tell the clock there. Give me a calendar.

Who saw the sun today?


Not I, my lord.


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.



My lord?


The sun will not be seen today,

The sky doth frown and low’r upon our army.

I would these dewy tears were from the ground.

Not shine today? Why, what is that to me

More than to Richmond? For the self-same heaven

That frowns on me looks sadly upon him.

Enter Norfolk.


Arm, arm, my lord, the foe vaunts in the field.


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?


A good direction, warlike sovereign.

He sheweth him a paper.

This found I on my tent this morning.


“Jockey of Norfolk, be not so bold,

For Dickon thy master is bought and sold.”


A thing devised by the enemy.

Go, gentlemen, every man unto 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 it 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 runaways,

A scum of Britains and base lackey peasants,

Whom their o’ercloyed country vomits forth

To desperate adventures and assur’d destruction.

You sleeping safe, they bring to you unrest;

You having lands, and blest with beauteous wives,

They would restrain the one, distain the other.

And who doth lead them but a paltry fellow,

Long kept in Britain 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 seas 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 conquered, let men conquer us,

And not these bastard Britains, whom our fathers

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

And in 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?

5. MESS.

My lord, he doth deny to come.


Off with his son George’s head!


My lord, the enemy is past the marsh,

After the battle let George Stanley die.


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 on our helms.



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