"I Am Not In The Giving Vein To-day"

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Last Updated on August 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 347

Context: Richard, having determined to "prove a villain" and to secure for himself the throne of England at any cost, finds the Duke of Buckingham a convenient and profitable ally in his schemes. Following the execution of his brother George, Duke of Clarence, and the death of his brother Edward IV, Richard uses the ambitious Buckingham to create dissension between powerful nobles such as Lord Hastings and Earl Rivers. When the Lord Mayor of London and a representative group of citizens are persuaded to request that Richard assume the protectorate following the king's death, again it is Buckingham who directs the scene, planting men in the crowd who call for Richard at various times and himself describing the holy devotion of Richard as the Duke of Gloucester is disclosed studying the Scripture. As Richard's desire to gain full control grows more desperate, he informs Buckingham that he "would be king," that he would have "the bastards [Edward's sons] dead." Buckingham's hesitation in agreeing to carry out this act is fatal, for Richard perceives in it a moral squeamishness which renders him useless as a henchman. A few lines later Buckingham, requesting the earldom he had earlier been promised, is rebuffed in a despotic fit of whimsicality which illustrates graphically the tenuousness of Richard's favor and foreshadows the ultimate fate which awaits Buckingham:

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My lord, your promise for the earldom–
Richmond! When last I was at Exeter,
The mayor in courtesy showed me the castle,
And called it Rougemont, at which name I started,
Because a bard of Ireland told me once
I should not live long after I saw Richmond.
My lord–
Ay, what's a clock?
I am thus bold to put your Grace in mind
Of what you promised me.
Well, but what's a clock?
Upon the stroke of ten.
Well, let it strike.
Why let it strike?
Because that like a Jack thou keep'st the stroke
Betwixt thy begging and my meditation.
I am not in the giving vein to-day.
Why then resolve me whether you will or no.
Thou troublest me, I am not in the vein.

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