« PreviousContinue »
Glo. Take up the corse, sirs.
Towards Chertsey, noble lord ? Glo. No, to White-Fryars; there attend my coming.
[Exeunt the rest, with the corse. Was ever woman in this humour woo'd ? Was ever woman in this humour won? I 'll have her,—but I will not keep her long. What! I, that kill'd her husband, and his father, To take her in her heart's extremest hate; With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes, The bleeding witness of her hatred by; With God, her conscience, and these bars against me, And I no friends to back my suit withal, But the plain devil, and dissembling looks, And yet to win her,—all the world to nothing! Ha! Hath she forgot already that brave prince, Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,
2 Imagine I have said farewel already.) Cibber, who altered King Richard III, for the stage, was so thoroughly convinced of the ridiculousness and improbability of this scene, that he thought himself obliged to make Tressel say:
When future chronicles shall speak of this,
They will be thought romance, not history. Thus also, in Twelfth Night, where Fabian observing the conduct of Malvolio, says: “If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction."
From an account of our late unsuccessful embassy to the Emperor of China, we learn, indeed, that a scene of equal absurdity was represented in a theatre at Tien-sing: “One of the dramas, particularly, attracted the attention of those who recollected scenes, somewhat similar, upon the English stage. The piece represented an Emperor of China and his Empress living in supreme felicity, when, on a sudden, his subjects revolt, a civil war ensues, battles are fought, and at last the arch-rebel, who was a general of cavalry, overcomes his sovereign, kills him with his own hand, and routs the imperial army. The captive Empress then appears upon the stage in all the agonies of despair, natu. rally resulting from the loss of her husband and of her dignity, as well as the apprehension for that of her honour. Whilst she is tearing her hair, and rending the skies with her complaints, the conqueror enters, approaches her with respect, addresses her in a gentle tone, soothes her sorrows with his compassion, talks of love and adoration, and like Richard the Third, with Lady Anne in Shakspeare, prevails in less than half an hour, on the Chinese Princess to dry up her tears, to forget her deceased consort, and yield to a consoling wooer." Steevens.
Stabb’d in my angry mood at Tewksbury?3
- whom I, some three months since, Stabb'd in my angry mood at Tewksbury?] Here we have the exact time of this scene ascertained, namely August 1471. King Edward, however, is in the second Act introduced dying. That King died in April 1483; so there is an interval between this and the next Act of almost twelve years. Clarence, who is represented in the preceding scene as committed to the Tower before the burial of King Henry VI, was in fact not confined nor put to death till seven years afterwards, March, 1477-8. Malone.
4 Fram'd in the prodigality of nature,] i. e. when nature was in a prodigal or lavish mood.Warburton.
- and, no doubt, right royal,] Of the degree of royalty belonging to Henry the Sixth there could be no doubt, nor could Richard have mentioned it with any such hesitation; he could not indeed very properly allow him royalty. I believe we should read:
and, no doubt, right loyal. That is, true to her bed. He enumerates the reasons for which she should love him. He was young, wise, and valiant; these were apparent and indisputable excellencies. He then mentions another not less likely to endear him to his wife, but which he had less opportunity of knowing with certainty, and, no doubt, right loyal. Johnson.
Richard is not speaking of King Henry, but of Edward his son, whom he means to represent as full of all the noble properties of a king. No doubt, right royal, may, however, be ironically spoken, alluding to the incontinence Margaret, his mother. Steevens.
abeggarly denier,] A denier is the twelfth part of a French sous, and appears to have been the usual request of a beggar. So, in The Cunning Northerne Beggar, bl. 1. an ancient ballad:
“For still will I cry, good your worship, good sir,
I 'll be at charges for a looking-glass;
The same. A Room in the Palace.
Enter Queen ELIZABETH, Lord RIVERS, and Lord Grey.
Riv. Have patience, madam; there's no doubt, his
majesty Will soon recover his accustom’d health.
Grey. In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse:
Q. Eliz. If he were dead, what would betide of me?
Grey. The heavens have bless'd you with a goolly son,
Q. Eliz. Ah, he is young; and his minority
Riv. Is it concluded, he shall be protector?
Q. Eliz. It is determin’d, not concluded yet : 9 But so it must be, if the king miscarry.
verbially. Proper in old language was handsome. See Vol. IV, p. 322, n. 1 Malone.
I'll turn' yon' fellow in his grave:) In is here used for into.
Mercurie shall guide
And (he gone)
Enter BUCKINGHAM and STANLEY.
Stan. I do beseech you, either not believe
Q. Eliz. Saw you the king to-day, my lord of Stanley?
Stan. But now, the duke of Buckingham, and I, Are come from visiting his majesty,
Q. Eliz. What likelihood of his amendment, lords? Buck. Madam, good hope; his grace speaks cheer
1 Here come the lords of Buckingham and Stanley.] [Old copies. Derby. ] This is a blunder of inadvertence, which has run through the whole chain of impressions. It could not well be original in Shakspeare, who was most minutely intimate with his history, and the intermarriages of the nobility. The person here called Derby, was Thomas lord Stanley, lord steward of King Edward the Fourth's houshold. But this Thomas lord Stanley was not created earl of Derby till after the accession of Henry the Seventh; and accordingly, afterwards, in the fourth and fifth Acts of this play, before the battle of Bosworth-field, he is every where called lord Stanley. This sufficiently justifies the change I have made in his title. Theobald.
2 The countess Richmond,] Margaret, danghter to John Beaufort, first duke of Somerset. After the deaih of her first hus. band, Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, half-brother to King Henry VI, by whom she had only one son, afterwards King Henry VII, she married first Sir Henry Stafford, uncle to Humphrey duke of Buckingham. Malone.
And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
Q. Eliz. 'Would all were well! But that will never
I fear, our happiness is at the height.
Enter GlosTER, HASTINGS, and DORSET. Glo. They do me wrong, and I will not endure it: Who are they, that complain unto the king, That I, forsooth, am stern, and love them not? By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly, That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours. Because I cannot flatter, and speak fair, Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive, and cog, Duck with French nods and apish courtesy, I must be held a rancorous enemy. Cannot a plain man live, and think no harm, But thus his simple truth must be abus'd By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks? Grey. To whom in all this presence speaks your grace?
Glo. To thee, that hast nor honesty, nor grace. When have I injur'd thee? when done thee wrong?Or thee?-or thee?-or any of
to warn them -) i. e. to summon. So, in Julius Cæsar : « They mean to warn us at Philippi here.” Steevens.
Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,] An importation of artificial manners seems to have afforded our ancient poets a never failing topic of invective. So, in A Tragical Discourse of the Haplesse Man's Life, by Churchyard, 1593:
“We make a legge, and kisse the hand withall,
with lewd complaints) Lewd, in the present instance, signifies rude, ignorant; from the Anglo-Saxon Laewede, a Lnick. Chaucer often uses the word lewd, both for a laick and an ignorant person. See Ruddiman’s Glossary to Gawin Douglas's Translation of the Æneid. Steevens.