Short shrift Introduction
I'm Ratcliffe, and I'm one of Richard's minions. Even though I'm a nobleman, I act like a thug because I do Richard's dirty work, and tattle on everyone who doesn't go along with his plans. And you know what I think?
Dispatch, my lord; the duke would be at dinner:
Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head. (3.4.94-95)
Who Said It and Where
Richard decides he wants to be king. It doesn't matter that his bro is on the throne, or that his nephews are next in line. Once he decides he wants to wear the crown, there's no stopping him. He'll lie, cheat, and murder his way there. No biggie.
So when he calls a council meeting to talk about the coronation date of the young King Edward (his nephew), we know something is up. The committee has already settled on the following day, so they're just waiting for Richard to appear and speak his mind.
Richard shows up late and sends the Bishop of Ely off to go collect some strawberries for him. Next he draws Buckingham aside for a private conference about Hastings's unwillingness to join their scheme of murdering anyone in line for the crown.
Hastings declares that Richard is a really sweet guy and seems happy—there's no way he's angry with anyone in the room. Richard returns with Buckingham, acting like he's in a rage. Richard claims that his physical deformity is the result of witchcraft. He offers up his limp arm as evidence that Queen Elizabeth and Mistress Shore have been conspiring to wither him and potentially even kill him. But Richard knows he's full of it, and so do we. He already told us that his arm has been deformed since birth.
Richard accuses Hastings of sympathizing and conspiring with Queen Elizabeth and Jane Shore, which constitutes treason. Then he orders Hastings's execution. Ratcliffe is all, "Hurry up and stop crying—Richard can't have dinner until you're dead."
Hastings screams, "O bloody Richard! Miserable England!" and then declares that all of his enemies are going to die soon anyway. Hmm… knowing Richard's track record, we'd say that's pretty likely.