Page images

Percy. The castle royally is mann'd, my lord,
Against thy entrance.

Boling. Royally!
Why, it contains no king?

Yes, my good lord,
It doth contain a king; king Richard lies
Within the limits of yon lime and stone:
And with him are the lord Aumerle, lord Salisbury,
Sir Stephen Scroop; besides a clergyman
Of holy reverence, who, I cannot learn.

North. Oh ! belike it is the bishop of Carlisle.
BOLING. Noble lord,

[To North.
Go to the rude ribs of that ancient castle ;
Through brazen trumpet send the breath of parle
Into his ruin'd ears, and thus deliver.
Harry Bolingbroke
On both his knees doth kiss king Richard's hand;
And sends allegiance, and true faith of heart,
To his most royal person : hither come
Even at his feet to lay my arms and power;
Provided that, my banishment repeald,
And lands restor'd again, be freely granted :
If not, I'll use the advantage of my power,
And lay the summer's dust with showers of blood,
Rain'd from the wounds of slaughter'd Englishmen:

[ocr errors][merged small]

copy destroys the metre by reading-Welcome, Harry --. The
emendation is Sir T. Hanmer's. STEEVENS.
3 Noble lord,

Go to the rude ribs, &c.] It is observable that our author in his addresses to persons, often begins with an hemistich. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act II. Sc. Ill.:

Agam. Princes, “What grief hath set the jaundice on your cheeks ?" This observation may be of use in other places, where in the old copies, by the mistake of the transcriber, the metre is destroyed by this regulation not being observed. It also confirms what I have often had occasion to mention, -that our poet in many instances blended short prosaick sentences with his metrical dialogues. MALONE.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

The which, how far off from the mind of Boling

It is, such crimson tempest should bedrench
The fresh green lap of fair king Richard's land,
My stooping duty tenderly shall show.
Go, signify as much while here we march
Upon the grassy carpet of this plain.--

[NORTHUMBERLAND advances to the Castle

with a Trumpet.
Let's march without the noise of threat’ning drum,
That from the castle's totter'd battlements
Our fair appointments may be well perus’d.
Methinks, king Richard and myself should meet
With no less terror than the elements
Of fire and water, when their thund'ring shock
At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven.
Be he the fire, I'll be the yielding water :
The rage be his, while on the earth I rain
My waters; on the earth, and not on him.
March on, and mark king Richard how he looks.
A parle sounded, and answered by another Trumpet

within. Flourish. Enter on the walls King
RICHARD, the Bishop of Carlisle, AUMERLE,
York. See, see, king Richard doth himself ap-


[ocr errors]

TOTTER'D battlements] Totter'd, the reading of the two first quartos, is here probably used for tottering, according to a usage of our poet, which has been frequently pointed out. The other copies read tatter'd. Boswell. the Bishop of Carlisle,] Was Thomas Merkes.

WALPOLE. 6 See, see, king Richard doth himself appear,] The following six lines are absurdly given to Bolinbroke, who is made to condemn his own conduct and disculp the King's. It is plain these six and the four following all belong to York. WARBURTON.

It should be observed that the four last of these lines are in all the copies given to York. Steevens.

As doth the blushing discontented sun
From out the firy portal of the east;
When he perceives the envious clouds are bent
To dim his glory, and to stain the track
Of his bright passage to the occident.
Yet looks he like a king; behold, his eye,
As bright as is the eagle's, lightens forth
Controlling majesty ; Alack, alack, for woe,
That any harm should stain so fair a show!
K. Rich. We are amaz'd; and thus long have

we stood
To watch the fearful bending of thy knee,

Because we thought ourself thy lawful king :
And if we be, how dare thy joints forget
To pay their awful duty to our presence ?
If we be not, show us the hand of God
That hath dismiss'd us from our stewardship;
For well we know, no hand of blood and bone
Can gripe the sacred handle of our scepter,
Unless he do profane, steal, or usurp.
And though you think, that all, as you have done,
Have torn their souls, by turning them from us,
And we are barren, and bereft of friends ;
Yet know,—my master, God omnipotent,
Is must'ring in his clouds, on our behalf,
Armies of pestilence; and they shall strike
Your children yet unborn, and unbegot,
That lift your vassal hands against my head,
And threat the glory of my precious crown.
Tell Bolingbroke, (for yond', methinks, he is,)
That every stride he makes upon my land,
Is dangerous treason: He is come to ope
The purple testament of bleeding war?;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

7 The purple testament of bleeding war;] I believe our author uses the word testament in its legal sense. Bolingbroke is come to open the testament of war, that he may peruse what is decreed

[ocr errors]

But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,
Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons
Shall ill become the flower of England's face 8
Change the complexion of her maid-pale peace
To scarlet indignation, and bedew
Her pastures' grass' with faithful English blood.

North. The king of heaven forbid, ourlord the king
Should so with civil and uncivil arms
Be rush'd upon! Thy thrice-noble cousin,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

there in his favour. Purple is an epithet referring to the future effusion of blood. STEEVENS.

Mr. Steevens is certainly right in his interpretation of this passage. See Julius Cæsar:

Now, while your purpled hands do reek and smoke,

“Fulfil your pleasure.
8 But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,

Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons

Shall ill become the flower of England's face ;) By " the flower of England's face" is meant 'the choicest youths of England, who shall be slaughtered in this quarrel, or have bloody crowns.' “The flower of England's face," to design her choicest youth, is a fine and noble expression. Pericles, by a similar thought, said “that the destruction of the Athenian youth was a fatality like cutting off the spring from the year.” WARBURTON.

Dr. Warburton reads "light in peace,” but “ live in peace” is more suitable to Richard's intention, which is to tell him, that though he should get the crown by rebellion, it will be long before it will live in peace, be so settled as to be firm. “ The flower of England's face," is very happily explained. Johnson.

"The flower of England's face," I believe, means 'England's
flowery face, the flowery surface of England's soil.' The same
kind of expression is used in Sidney's Arcadia, p. 2: “ - opening
the cherry of her lips," i. e. her cherry lips. Again, p. 240, edit.
1633 : "- the sweet and beautiful flower of her face.'
Again, Drayton, in Mortimer's Epistle to Queen Isabell :

“ And in the field advance our plumy crest,
“And march upon fair England's flow'ry breast."

We have a similar image in the first speech of Henry IV. Part I. :

“ No more the thirsty entrance of this soil,
“Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood."

9 Her PASTURES' grass) Old copies--pastors. Corrected
by Mr. Theobald. Malone.

Harry Bolingbroke, doth humbly kiss thy hand;
And by the honourable tomb he swears,
That stands upon your royal grandsire's bones;
And by the royalties of both your bloods,
Currents that spring from one most gracious head;
And by the buried hand of warlike Gaunt';
And by the worth and honour of himself,
Comprising all that may be sworn or said,
His coming hither hath no further scope,
Than for his lineal royalties, and to beg
Enfranchisement immediate on his knees :
Which on thy royal party granted once,
His glittering arms he will commend 'to rust,
His barbed steeds to stables, and his heart
To faithful service of your majesty.

1 And by the BURIED hand of WARLIKE Gaunt;] Dr. Warbur-
ton would read

“And by the warlike hand of buried Gaunt;"
and this, no doubt, was Shakspeare's meaning, though he has af-
fectedly misplaced the epithets. Thus, in King John, we have:

There is no malice in this burning coal,
instead of

" There is no malice burning in this coal." Again, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream :

But earthlier happy," instead of earthly happier." Again, in King Henry VI. Part II. :

A * These hands are free from guiltless bloodshedding,"

C instead of

C These guiltless hands are free from bloodshedding." Again, ibid. in Part III. :

S Until my misshap'd trunk that bears this head," instead of

S Until my head that this misshap'd trunk bears." Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :

1 “We cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears," instead of

“We cannot call her sighs and tears, winds and waters." and in the same play we have proof of harness, for harness of proof; as elsewhere, miserable most, for most miserable; despe

T rately mortal, for mortally desperate; action of precept, for precept of action;" &c. Ritson. commend -] i. e. commit. See Minsheu's Dict. in v.


[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »