Page images
PDF
EPUB

A milk-sop, one that never in his life
Felt so much cold as over shoes in snow?

“ You see further, how a companie of traitors, theeves, outlaws and runagates be aiders and partakers of this feate and enterprize.- And to begin with the erle of Richmond, captaine of this rebellion, he is a Welch milksop-brought up by my moother's meanes and mine, like a captive in a close cage in the court of Francis Duke of Britaine." P. 756.

Holinshed copies this verbatim from his brother chronicler, Hall, edit. 1548, fol. 54, but his printer has given us by accident the word moother instead of brother; as it is in the original, and ought to be in Shakspeare. Farmer.

See a letter of King Richard III, persuading his subjects to resist Henry Tydder, &c. in Sir John Fenn's Collection of the Paston Letters, Vol. II, p. 318 Henley.

Henry Earl of Richmond was long confined in the court of the Duke of Britaine, and supported there by Charles Duke of Burgundy, who was brother-in-law to King Richard. Hence Mr. Theobald justly observed that mother in the text was not conform. able to the fact. But Shakspeare, as Dr. Farmer has observed, was led into this error by Holinshed, where he found the prece. ding passage in an oration which Hall, in imitation of the ancient historians, invented, and exhibited as having been spoken by the King to his soldiers before the battle of Bosworth.

If, says a Remarker, (Mr. Ritson) it ought to be so in Shakspeare, why stop at this correction, and why not in King Henry V, print precarissimus instead of præclarissimus? (See Vol. IX, p 376, n. 6] And indeed if brother is to be substituted for mother here, there can be no reason why all other similar errors should not be corrected in like manner. But the Remarker misunderstood Dr. Farmer's words, which only mean--as it is in the original, and as Shakspeare ought to have written. Dr. Farmer did not say—"as it ought to be printed in Shakspeare.”

In all the other places where Shakspeare has been led into er. rors by mistakes of the press, or by false translations, his text lias been very properly exhibited as he wrote it; for it is not the business of an editor to new-write his author's works. Thus, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, sc. i. we have "Let the old ruffian know, I have many other ways to die;" though we know the sense of the passage in Plutarch there copied is,--that “he (the old ruffian) hath many other ways to die." Again, in Fulius Cesar, Antony is still permitted to say, that Cæsar had left the Ro. man people his arbours and orchards“ on this side Tyber,” though it ouglit to be-"on that side Tyber:" both which mistakes Shakspeare was led into by the ambiguity and inaccuracy of the old translation of Plutarch.

In like manner in King Henry V, præclarissimus is exhibited as it was written by Shakspeare, instead of præcarissimus ; and in the same play I have followed our author in printing in Vol. IX, p. 212, Lewis the tenth, though Lewis the ninth was the person,

Let's whip these stragglers o'er the seas again;
Lash hence these over-weening 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 conquer'd, let men conquer us,
And not these bastard Bretagnes; whom our fathers
Have in their own land beaten, bobb’d, and thump’d,
And, on record, left them the heirs of shame.
Shall these enjoy our lands? lie with our wives?
Ravish our daughters ?-Hark, I hear their drum.

Drum afar of
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!?—

meant: an error into which he was led, as in the present instance, hy a mistake of the press.

For all such inaccuracies the poet, and not the editor, is responsible: and in the passage now under our consideration more particularly the text ought not to be disturbed, because it ascertains a point of some moment; namely that Holinshed, and not Hall, was the historian that Shakspeare followed. Of how much consequence this is, the reader may ascertain by turning to the Dissertation on the Plays of King Henry VI, where this circumstance, if I do not deceive myself, contributes not a little in ad. dition to the other proofs there adduced, to settle a long-agitated question, and to show that those plays were re-written by Shak. speare, and not his original composition. Malone.

6 A milk-sop, &c.] So, in The Mirrour for Magistrates, alreadly quoted :

“First with our foe-mens captaine to begin,

“ A weake Welch milksop,~; Alluding perhaps to goat's milk, of which anciently the Welsh were fonder than they are at present. Steevens.

7 Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!) That is, fright the skies with the shivers of your lances. Johnson. So, in Soliman and Perseda:

“ Now by the marble face of the welkin." A similar idea is more tamely expressed in W. Smith's Pals

Spears flew in splinters half the way to heaven.” The same imagery is justified by the following passage in Froissart's Chronicle, vol. 11, cap. Ixxvii: “Syr Raynolde du Roy breake his spere in üii peces, and the shevers flewe a grete hyght in to the ayre.Steevens.

grave, 1613:

Enter a Messenger.
What says lord Stanley? will he bring his power?

Mess. My lord, he doth deny to come.
K. Rich. Off instantly with his son George's head.8

Nor. My lord, the enemy is pass’d the marsh;9
After the battle let George Stanley die.

K. Rich. A thousand hearts are great within my bo

som:

Advance our standards,1 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. [Exeunt.

SCENE IV.

Another Part of the Field. Alarum: Excursions. Enter NORFOLK, and Forces; to

him CATESBY. Cates. Rescue, my lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue! The king enacts more wonders than a man,

8

Off instantly &c ] The word-instantly, was supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer. Without it, this line has no pretensions to metre. Steevens.

4—the enemy is pass'd the marsh ;) There was a large marsh in Bosworth plain beiween the two armies. Henry passed it, and ma le such a disposition of bis forces that it served to protect his right wing By this movement he gained also another point, that his men should engage with the sun behind them, and in the faces of his enemies: a matter of great consequence when bows and arrows were in use. Malone

1 Advance our standards, &c ] So again, in The Mirrour of Ma. gistrates; and apparently borrowed from Shakspeare:

Advance then captaines, forward to the fight, “ Draw forth your swords, each man address his sheeld;

“ Hence faint conceites, die thoughts of coward flight,
To heaven your hearts, to fight your valours yeeld:
“ Behold our foes do brave us in the field.

Upon them, friends ; the cause is yours and mine ;
“ Saint George and conquest on our helmes doth shine."

Steevens. So Holinshed after Hall: “. - like valiant champions advance forth your standardes, and assay whether your enemies can decide and try the title of battaile by dint of sword; avaunce, I say again, forward, my captaines.- Now Saint George to boridw, let us set forward.” Malone.

[ocr errors]

2

Daring an opposite to every danger;
His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death:
Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!

Alarum. Enter King RICHARD.
K. Rich. A horse! a horse !3 my kingdom for a horse!
Cates. Withdraw, my lord, I 'll help you to a horse.
K. Rich. Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,

[ocr errors]

of cru

2 Daring an opposite to every danger ;] Perhaps the poet wrote:

Daring and opposite to every danger. Tyrwhitt. Perhaps the following passage in Chapman's version of the 8th Book of Homer's Odyssey may countenance the old reading:

- a most dreadful fight

Daring against him.Steevens. The old reading is perhaps right. An opposite is frequently used by Shakspeare and the contemporary writers, for adversary. So, in Twelfth Night: - your opposite bath in him what youth, strength, skill, and wrath, can furnish man withal.” Again: “. and his opposite the youth, bears in his visage no presage elty.” So, in Blurt Mr. Constable, a comedy, by Middleton, 1602: “ – to strengthen us against all opposites. Again, more appositely, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 1602:

“Myself, myself, will dare all opposites." The sense then should seem to be, that King Richard enacts wonders, daring the adversary he meets with to every danger attending single combat. Malone

To dare a single opposite to every danger, is no very wonderful exploit.--I should therefore adopt Tyrwhitt's amendment, which infers that he flew to oppose every danger, wherever it was to be found, and read with him," and opposite.M. Mason.

3 A horse! a horse !] In The Battle of Alcazar, 1594, the Moor calls out in the same manner :

A horse, a horse, villain a horse !
“ That I may take the river straight, and fily!

Here is a horse, my lord, " As swiftly pac'd as Pegasus." This passage in Shakspeare appears to have been imitated by several of the old writers, if not stolen. So, Heywood, in the Second Part of his Iron Age, 1632:

--a horse, a horse ! “ Ten kingdoms for a horse to enter Troy!" Steevens. Marston seems to have imitated this line in his Satires, 1599:

“ A man, a man, a kingdom for a man!” Malone. This line is introduced into Marston's What you will, Act 11, sc. i, 4to. 1607 :

“Ha! he mounts Chirall on the wings of fame.
A horse ! a horse ! my kingdome for a horse !
“Looke thee, I speake play scraps,” &c. Reed..

And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think, there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain to-day, instead of him:*
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse !5 [Exeunt.
Alarums. Enter King RICHARD and RICHMOND; and

exeunt, fighting. Retreat, and flourish. Then enter RICHMOND, STANLEY, bearing the Crown, with divers other Lords, and Forces. Richm. God, and your arms, be prais'd, victorious

friends; The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead. Stan. Courageous Richmond, well hast thou acquit

thee!
Lo, here, this long-usurped royalty,
From the dead temples of this bloody wretch
Have I pluck’d off, to grace thy brows withal ;

4 Five have I slain to-day, instead of him:] Shakspeare had em. ployed this incident with historical propriety in The First Part of King Henry IV. Steevens.

Shakspeare had good ground for this poetical exaggeration. Richard, according to Polydore Virgil, was determined, if possible, to engage with Richmond in single combat. (See p. 192, 1.3] For this purpose he rode furiously to that quarter of the field where the Earl was; attacked his standard bearer, Sir William Brandon, and killed him; then assaulted Sir John Cheny, whom he overthrew: having thus at length cleared his way to his antagonist, he engaged in single combat with him, and probably would have been victorious, but that at that instant Sir William Stanley with three thousand men joined Richmond's army, and the royal forces fled with great precipitation. Richard was soon afterwards overpowered by numbers, and fell, fighting bravely to the last moment. Malone.

5 A horse! a horse !] Some inquiry hath been made for the first performers of the capital characters of Shakspeare.

We learn, that Burbage, the alter Roscius of Camden, was the original Richard, from a passage in the poems of Bishop Corbet; who introduced his host at Bosworth describing the battle:

“But when he would have said king Richard died,
“ And call'd a horse, a horse, he Burbage cried.” Farmer.

of this blondy wretch - ] It is not necessary to suppose that Richmond points to the dead body of Richard, when he speaks of him. According to an ancient idiom in our language, the denominative pronoun is often used instead of the prepositive article. So, in King Henry IV, P. 1:

- but for these vile guns
“He would himself have been a sollier." Steevens.
VOL XI.

S

6

« PreviousContinue »