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(1) SCENE I.
Nay, if thou be that princely eagle's bird,
Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun.] The opinion that the eagle, of all birds, 'possessed the faculty of gazing undazzled at the blazing sun, is of very high antiquity. Pliny relates that it exposes its brood to this test as soon as hatched, to prove if they be genuine or not. Chaucer refers to the belief in the “Assemblie of Foules :"
" There mighten men the royal egal find,
That with his sharp look persith the sonne." As does Spenser, in the “Hymn of Heavenly Beauty:"" Mount up aloft, through heavenly contemplation,
From this dark world, whose damps the soul do blind.
clocko, whiche was the .xxix. day of Marche, beyng Palmsundaye, bothe the hostes approched in a playn felde, between Towton and Saxton. When eche parte perceyred other, thei made a great shoute, and at the same instante time, their fell a small snyt or snow, which by violence of the wynd was driven into the faces of them, which were of kyng Henries parte, so that their sight was somewhat blemeshed and minished. The lord Fawnconbridge, which led the forward of kyng Edwardes battail (as before is rehersed) being a man of great polecie, and of much experience in marciall feates, caused every archer under his standard, to shot one flyght (which before he caused them to provide) and then made them to stand still. The Northrenmen, feling the shoot, but by reason of the snow, not wel vewyng the distaunce betwene them and their enemies, like hardy men shot their schiefe arrowes as fast as thei might, but al their shot was lost, and their labor vayn for they came not nere the Southermen hy .xl. taylors yerdes. When their shot was almost spent, the lord Fawconbridge marched forwarde with his archers, which not onely shot their awne whole sheves, but also gathered the arrowes of their enemies, and let a great parte of them flye agaynst their awne masters, and another part thei let stand on the ground, which sore noyed the legges of the owners, when the battayle joyned. The erle of Northumberland, and Andrew Trolope, which were chefetayns of Kyng Henries vangard, seynge their shot
to prevayle, hasted forward to joine with their enemies : you may besure the other part nothing retarded, but valeauntly foughte with their enemies. This battayi was sore foughten, for hope of life was set on side on every parte and takynge of prisoners was proclaymed as a great offence, by reason wherof every man determined, either to conquere or to dye in the felde. This deadly battayle and bloudy conflicte, continued .x. houres in doubtfull victorie. The one parte some time flowyng, and some time ebbyng, but in conclusion, kyng Edward so coragiously comforted his men, refresh yng the wery, and helping the wounded, that the other part was discomfited and overcome, and lyke men amased, fledde toward Tadcaster bridge to save them selfes : but in the meane way there is a litle broke called Cocke not very broade, but of a great deapnes, in the whiche, what for hast of escapyng, and what for feare of folowers, a great number were drent and drowned, in so much that the corn. mon people there affirme, that men alyve passed the ryver upon dead carcasis, and that the great ryver of Wharfe, which is the great sewer of that broke, and of all the water comyng from Towton, was colored with bloude."
(2) SCENE II.
And happy always was it for that son,
Whose father for his hoarding went to hell ?] An allusion to a trite proverb: “Happy is the child whose father went to the devil." “ It hath beene an olde proverbe, that happy is that sonne whose father goes to the devill: meaning by thys allegoricall kind of speech, that such fathers as seeke to inrich theyr sonnes by covetousnes, by briberie, purloyning, or by any other sinister meanes, suffer not onely affliction of mind, as greeved with insatietie of getting, but wyth danger of soule, as a just reward for such wretchednesse."-GREENE'S Royal Exchange, 4to. Lond. 1590.
(3) SCENE II.
I would your highness would depart the field ;
The queen hath best success when you are absent.] “ Happy was the Quene in her two battayls, but unfortunate was the King in al his enterprises, for wher his person was presente, ther victory fled ever from him to the other parte, and he commonly was subdued and vanqueshed."--HALL.
Drayton, in “The Miseries of Queen Margaret,” calls attention to this general belief in the luckless fortunes of the King :
"Some think that Warwick had not lost the day,
The queen won two, among the loss of many,
(5) SCENE VI.-For Gloster's dukedom is too ominous.] So Hall :-“ It seemeth to many men that the name and title of Gloucester hath bene unfortunate and unluckie to diverse, whiche for their honor have bene erected by creation of princes to that stile and dignitie ; as Hugh Spencer, Thomas of Woodstocke, son to Kynge Edward the thirde, and this duke Humphrey ; whiche three persons by miserable death finished their daies; and after them King Richard the iii. also duke of Gloucester, in civil warre was slaine and confounded ; so that this name of Gloucester is taken for an unhappie and unfortunate stile, as the proverbe speaketh of Sejanes horse, whose ryder was ever unhorsed, and whose possessor was ever brought to miserie.”
(4) SCENE III.-A Field of Battle between Towton and Saxton, in Yorkshire.] The following is Hall's narrative of the memorable battle of Towton ; "a battle," Carte observes, which “decided the fate of the house of Lancaster, overturning in one day an usurpation strengthened by near sixty-two years' continuance, and established Edward on the throne of England.” “The same day, about .ix, of the
(1) Scene I.-From Scotland am I stoln, even of pure lore, &c.] “And on that parte that marched upon Scotlande, he laied watches and espialles, that no persone should go out of the realme to kyng Henry and his company, which then laye soiornyng in Scotlande; but whatsoever ieoperdy or peryll might bee construed or demed to have insued by the meanes of kyng Henry, all suche doubtes were now shortly resolved and determined, and all feare of his doynges were clerely put under and extinct ; for he hymselfe, whether he were past all feare, or was not well stablished in his perfite mynde, or could not long kepe hymselfe secrete, in a disguysed apparell boldely entered into Englande. He was no soner entered, but he was knowen and taken of one Cantlowe, and brought towarde the kyng, whom the erle of Warwicke met on the waie, by the kynges commaundement, and brought hym through London to the towre, and there he was laied in sure holde."-HALL.
fidence that he had in her perfyte constancy, and the trust that he had in her constant chastitie, and without any farther deliberacion, he determined with him selfe clerely to marye with her, after that askyng counsaill of them, whiche he knewe neither woulde nor once durst impugne his concluded purpose. But the duches of Yorke hys mother letted it as much as in her lay alledgyng a precontract made by hym with the lady Lucye, and divers other lettes: al which doubtes were resolved, and all thinges made clere and all cavillacions avoyded. And so, privilio in a mornyng he maried her at Grafton, where he first phantasied her visage.”
(2) SCENE II.
Because in quarrel of the house of York
The worthy gentlemun did lose his life.] This is an error. Sir John Grey fell at the second battle of St. Alban's, while fighting, not on the side of York, but Lancaster; a fact of which Shakespeare was subsequently aware, since, in “ Richard III.” Act I, Sc. 3, Richard, addressing Queen Elizabeth, remarks,
“ In all which time, you, and your husband Grey,
Were factious for the house of Lancastut;-
In Margaret's batlle at Saint Alban's slain?" It may not be out of place to introduce here a portion of Hall's description of King Edward's first interview with the lady Grey, upon which the present scene was foundled :
“ The king being on huntyng in the forest of Wychwod besyde Stonnystratforde, came for his recreacion to the mannor of Grafton, where the duches of Bedford sojorned, then wyfe to sir Richard Wodvile, lord Ryvers, on whom then was attendyng a doughter of hers, called dame Elizabeth Greye, wydow of sir Ihon Grey knight, slayn at the last battell of saincte Albons, by the power of kyng Eilward. This wydow havyng a suyt to the king, either to be restored by hym to some thyng taken from her, or requyring hym of pitie, to have some augmentacion to her livyng, founde such grace in the kynges eyes, that he not onely favored her suyte, but much more phantasied her person, for she was a woman more of formal countenaunce, then of excellent beautie, but yet of such beautie and favor, that with her sober demeanure, lovely lokyng, and femynyne smylyng, (neither to wanton nor to humble) besyde her toungue so eloquent, and her wit so pregnant, she was able to ravishe the mynde of a meane person, when she allured, and made subject to her, the hart of so great a king. After that kyng Edward had well considered all the linyamentes of her body, and the wise and womanly demeanure that he saw in her, he determined first to attempt, if he might provoke her to be his sovereigne lady, promisyng her many giftes and fayre rewardes, affirmynge farther, that if she woulde therunto condiscend, she myght so fortune of his peramour and concubyne, to be chaunged to his wyfe and lawfull bedfelow : whiche demaunde she so wisely and with so covert speache aunswered and repugned, affirmynge that as she was for his honor farre unable to be hys spouse and bedfelow : So for her awne poore honestie, she was to good to be either hys concubyne, or sovereigne lady : that where he was a littell before heated with the dart of Cupid, he was nowe set all on a hote burnyng fyre, what for the con
(3) SCENE III.
I came from Eduard as ambassador,
But I return his sworn and mortal foe.] Shakespeare s relation of Warwick's embassy and commission, and the rupture between king Edward and him in consequence of the former's marriage with lady Grey, are strictly accordant with the statements of Hall and Holinshed; but, as Ritson observes, “later as well as earlyer writers, of better authority, incline us to discredit the whole ; and to refer the rupture between the king and his political creator to causes which have not reached posterity, or to that jealousy and ingratitude so natural, perhaps, to those who are under great obligations, too great to be discharged. Beneficia (says Tacitus) ed usque lata sunt, dum videntur ersolvi, posse : ubi multum ant venere, pro gratiâ odium redditur.'
Hall's narration of the circumstances, which appears to have been that adopted by the poet, is as follows :
“ The same yere he [Warwick] cam to kyng Lewes the .xi. then beyng Frenche kyng, liying at Tours, and with greate honor was there received, and honorably interteined: of whom, for kyng Edward his master, he demaunded to have in mariage the lady Bona, doughter to Lewes duke of Savoy, and suster to the lady Carlot, then French Quene, beyng then in the Frenche court. This mariage semeth pollitiquely devised, and of an high imaginacion to be invented, if you will well consider, the state and condicion of king Edwardes affaires, which at this time, had kyng Henry the vi. in safe custody, in the strong toure of London, and the moste parte of his adherentes, ho had as he thought, either profligated or extinct, Quene Margaret onely except, and Prince Edward her sonne, which wer then sojornyng at Angiers, with old Duke Reiner of Anjow her father, writyng hymself kyng of Naples, Scicile, and Jerusalem, having as much profites of the letters of his glorious stile, as rentes and revenues out of the said large and riche realmes and dominions, (because the kyng of Arragon toke the profites of the same, and would make no accompt therof to duke Reiner). Kyng Edward therfore thought it necessary, to have affinitie in Fraunce, and especially by the Quenes suster : which Quene although she ruled not the kyng her husband, (as many women do) yet be of a certain especiall humilitie, was more content to have her favor and folowe her desire, (for wedded men oftentymes doubt stormes) rather then to have a lowryng countenaunce, and a ringing peale, when he should go to his rest and quietnes : trusting that by this mariage, quene Margarete (whom the same Quene Carlot litle or nothyng regarded, although her father was called a kyng and she a quene, and none of both having subjectes, profites, nor dominions) should have no aide, succor, nor any comfort of the French king, nor of none of his frendes nor alies, wherfore quene Carlot much desirous to advance her blod and progenie, and especially to so great a prince as kyng Edward was, obteyned both the good will of the kyng her husband, and also of her syster, so that the matrimony on that syde was clerely assented to.
But when the erle of Warwycke had perfit knowledge by the letters of his trusty frendes, that kyng Edward had gotten him a new wyfe, and that all that he had done with kyng Lewes in his ambassade for the conjoynyng of this now affinitie, was both frustrate and vayn, he was earnestly ved and sore chafed with the chaunce, and thought it necessaryo that king Edward should be de.
posed from his croune and royal dignitie, as an inconstant princo, not worthy of such a kyngly office. All men for the most parte agre, that this mariage was the only cause, why the erle of Warwycke bare grudge, and made warre on kynge Edwarde. Other affirme that ther wer other causes, which added to this, made the fyre to flame, which before was but a litell smoke."
(1) SCENE VI.-My liege, it is young Henry, earl of Richmond.).“ Henry, Earl of Richmond, was the son of Edmond and Margaret, daughter to John the first “Duke of Somerset.' Edmond, Earl of Richmond, was half-brother to King Henry the Sixth, being the son of that king's mother, Queen Catharine, by her second husband, Owen Teuther, or Tudor, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Mortimer's Cross, and soon afterwards beheaded at Hereford.
“Henry the Seventh, to show his gratitude to Henry the Sixth for this early presage in his favour, solicited Pope Julius to canonize him as a saint; but, either Henry would not pay the money demanded, or, as Bacon supposes, the Pope refused, lest, ‘as Henry was reputed in the world abroad but for a simple man, the estimation of that kind of honour might be diminished, if there were not a distance kept between innocents and saints.'' MALONE.
(1) SCENE VI.-0, God forgive my sins, and pardon thee !] The circumstances attending the death of Henry VI. are involved in deep obscurity. The balance of testimony supports the popular tradition that he was murdered on the night of Edward's entry into London, 21st May, 1471 :-“And the same nyghte that Kynge Edwarde came to Londone, Kynge Herry, beynge inwarde in presone in the Toure of Londone, was putt to dethe, the xxj. day of Maij, on a tywesday nyght, betwyx xj. and xij. of the cloke, beynge thenne at the Toure the Duke of Gloucetre, brothere to Kynge Edwarde, and many other; and one the morwe he was chestyde and brought to Paulys, and his face was opyne that every manne myghte see hyme; and in hys lyinge he bledde one the pament ther; and afterward at the Blake Fryres was broughte, and ther he blede new and fresche ; and
from thens he was caryed to Chyrchsey abbey in a bote, and buryed there in oure Lady chapelle.
Dr. Warkworth, whose chronicle furnishes the above extract, was a contemporary writer, Master of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, from 1473 to 1498, and a man of learning and ability. Fabyan, a citizen of London in the
In speaking of the impost called a fifteen, or fifteenth (see note (*), p. 380), we described it as a tax of the fifteenth part of all the personal property of each subject; but we should have added that, subsequently to the 8th of Edward III., when a taxation was made upon all the cities, towns, boroughs, &c., by compositions, the fifteenth became a sum certain, namely, the fifteenth part of their then existing value. The distinction between the taxes called fifteenths and tenths (quindismes and dismes), and the subsidy, in later times, Camden expresses thus :“A fifteen and a tenth (that I may note it for forrainers' sakes) is a certain taxation upon every city, borough, and town; not every particular man, but in general in respect of the fifteenth part of the wealth of the place. A subsidy we call that which is imposed upon every man, being cessed by the powle, man by man, according to the valuation of their goods and lands."
time of Henry the Seventh, is more explicit :-"Of the death of this Prynce dyverse tales were tolde: but the most common fame wente, that he was stykked with a dagger by the bandes of the Duke of Gloucester."
On the other hand, the Yorkist party contended that the deposed monarch died of grief and melancholy :-“In every party of England, where any commotion was begonne for Kynge Henry's party, anone they were rebuked, so that it appered to every mann at eye the sayde partie was extincte and repressed for evar, without any mannar hope of agayne quikkening : utterly despaired of any maner of hoope or releve. The certaintie of all whiche came to the knowledge of the sayd Henry, late called Kyng, being in the Tower of London ; not havynge, afore that, knowledge of the saide matars, he toke it to so great dispite, ire, and indingnation, that, of pure displeasure, and melencoly, he dyed the xxiij day of the monithe of May. Whom the kynge dyd to be browght to the friers prechars at London, and there, his funerall service donne, to be caried, by watar, to an Abbey upon Thamys syd, xvj myles from London, called Chartsey, and there honorably enteryd.” -Arrivall of Edvard I v.
THREE PARTS OF KING HENRY VI.
“SAAKSPEARE's choice fell first on this period of English history, so full of misery and horrors of every kind, because the pathetic is naturally more suitable than the characteristic to a young poet's mind. We do not yet find here the whole maturity of his genius, yet certainly its whole strength. Careless as to the apparent unconnectedness of contemporary events, he bestows little attention on preparation and development: all the figures follow in rapid succession, and announce themselves emphatically for what we ought to take them ; from scenes where the effect is sufficiently agitating to form the catastrophe of a less extensive plan, the poet perpetually hurries us on to catastrophes still more dreadful.
“The First Part contains only the first forming of the parties of the White and Red Rose, under which blooming ensigns such bloody deeds were afterwards perpetrated ; the varying results of the war in France principally fill the stage. The wonderful saviour of her country, Joan of Arc, is pourtrayed by Shakspeare with an Englishman's prejudices : yet he at first leaves it doubtful whether she has not in reality a heavenly mission; she appears in the pure glory of virgin heroism ; by her supernatural eloquence (and this circumstance is of the poet's invention) she wins over the Duke of Burgundy to the French cause ; afterwards, corrupted by vanity and luxury, she has recourse to hellish fiends, and comes to a miserable end. To her is opposed Talbot, a rough iron warrior, who moves us the more powerfully, as, in the moment when he is threatened with inevitable death, all his care is tenderly directed to save his son, who performs his first deeds of arms under his eye. After Talbot has in vain sacrificed himself, and the Maid of Orleans has fallen into the hands of the English, the French provinces are completely lost by an impolitic marriage ; and with this the piece ends. The conversation between the aged Mortimer in prison, and Richard Plantagenet, afterwards Duke of York, contains an exposition of the claims of the latter to the throne: considered by itself, it is a beautiful tragic elegy.
“In the Second Part, the events more particularly prominent are the murder of the honest Protector, Gloucester, and its consequences; the death of Cardinal Beaufort ; the parting of the Queen from her favourite Suffolk, and his death by the hands of savage pirates ; then the insurrection of Jack Cade under an assumed name, and at the instigation of the Duke of York. The short scene where Cardinal Beaufort, who is tormented by his conscience on account of the murder of Gloucester, is visited on his death-bed by Henry VI., is sublime beyond all praise. Can any other poet be named who has drawn aside the curtain of eternity at the close of this life with such overpowering and awful effect? And yet it is not mere horror with which the mind is filled, but solemn emotion ; a blessing and a curse stand side by side ; the pious King is an image of the heavenly mercy which, even in the sinner's last moments, labours to enter into his soul. The adulterous passion of Queen Margaret and Suffolk is invested with tragical dignity, and all low and ignoble ideas carefully kept out of sight. Without
attempting to gloss over the crime of which both are guilty, without seeking to remove our disapprobation of this criminal love, he still, by the magic force of expression, contrives to excite in us a sympathy with their sorrow. In the insurrection of Cade he has delineated the conduct of a popular demagogue, the fearful ludicrousness of the anarchical tumult of the people, with such convincing truth, that one would believe he was an eye-witness of many of the events of our age, which, from ignorance of history, have been considered as without example.
“The civil war only begins in the Second Part; in the Third it is unfolded in its full destructive fury. The picture becomes gloomier and gloomier ; and seems at last to be painted rather with blood than with colours. With horror we behold fury giving birth to fury, vengeance to vengeance, and see that when all the bonds of human society are violently torn asunder, even noble matrons became hardened to cruelty. The most bitter contempt is the portion of the unfortunate; no one affords to his enemy that pity which he will himself shortly stand in need of. With all, party is family, country, and religion, the only spring of action. As York, whose ambition is coupled with noble qualities, prematurely perishes, the object of the whole contest is now either to support an imbecile king, or to place on the throne a luxurious monarch, who shortens the dear-bought possession by the gratification of an insatiable voluptuousness. For this the celebrated and magnanimous Warwick spends his chivalrous life ; Clifford revenges the death of his father with blood-thirsty filial love; and Richard, for the elevation of his brother, practises those dark deeds by which he is soon after to pave the way to his own greatness. In the midst of the general misery, of which he has been the innocent cause, King Henry appears like the rowerless image of a saint, in whose wonder-working influence no man any longer believes : he can but sigh and weep over the enormities which he witnesses. In his simplicity, however, the gift of propbecy is lent to this pious king: in the moment of his death, at the close of this great tragedy, he prophesies a still more dreadful tragedy with which futurity is pregnant, as much distinguished for the poisonous wiles of cold blooded wickedness as the former for deeds of savage fury.”—SCHLEGEL.