Page images

If murdering innocents be executing,
Why, then thou art an executioner.
Glo. Thy son I killid for his presumption.
K. Hen. Hadst thou been killd, when first thou

didst presume, Thou hadst not liv'd to kill a son of mine. * And thus I prophecy,—that many a thousand, • Which now mistrust no parcel of my fear;o ' And many an old man's sigh, and many a widow's, * And many an orphan's water-standing eye, —

Men for their sons, wives for their husbands' fate, ' And orphans for their parents' timeless death,

Shall rue the hour that ever thou wast born. The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign; * The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time; Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempests shook down trees; The raven rook'd her on the chimney's top, And chattering pies in dismal discords sung. Thy mother felt more than a mother's pain, And yet brought forth less than a mother's hope; * To wit,--an indigest deformed lump, Not like the fruit of such a goodly tree. Teeth hadst thou in thy head, when thou wast born, To signify, thou cam’st to bite the world: And, if the rest be true which I have heard, “Thou cam'stGlo. I'll hear no more;-Die, prophet, in thy

speech: For this, amongst the rest, was I ordain d. K. Hen. Ay, and for much more slaughter after

this. O God! forgive my sins, and pardon thee! [Dies.

[Stabs him.

9 Which now mistrust no parcel of my fear;] Who suspect no part of what


fears presage. The raven rook'd her -] To rook, or rather to ruck, is a north-country word, signifying to squat down, or lodge on any thing.

[ocr errors]

Glo. What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster Sink in the ground? I thoughtit would have mounted. See, how my sword weeps for the poor king's death! ‘0, may such purple tears be always shed

From those that wish the downfal of our house! If any spark of life be yet remaining, Down, down to hell; and say—I sent thee thither,

[Stabs him again.
I, that have neither pity, love, nor fear.-
Indeed, 'tis true, that Henry told me of;
For I have often heard


I came into the world with my legs forward :
Had I not reason, think ye, to make haste,

And seek their ruin that usurp'd our right? The midwife wonder'd; and the women cried, 0, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth! · And so I was; which plainly signifiedThat I should snarl, and bite, and play the dog. · Then, since the heavens have shap'd my body so, Let hell make crook'd my mind to answer it. I have no brother, I am like no brother: • And this word-love, which greybeards call divine, Be resident in men like one another, And not in me; I am myself alone.Clarence, beware; thou keep'st me from the light; But I will sort a pitchy day for thee:2 For I will buz abroad such prophecies, "That Edward shall be fearful of his life: And then, to purge his fear, I'll be thy death.

King Henry, and the prince his son, are gone: • Clarence, thy turn is next, and then the rest; Counting myself but bad, till I be best.• I'll throw thy body in another room, And triumph, Henry, in thy day of doom. [Exit.

? But I will sort a pitchy day for thee : ] But I will choose out an hour whose gloom shall be as fatal to you. To sort is to select.


The same.

A Room in the Palace.

King EDWARD is discovered sitting on his Throne ;

Queen ELIZABETH with the infant Prince, Cla-
RENCE, GLOSTER, HASTINGS, and Others, near
K. Edw. Once more we sit in England's royal

Re-purchas'd with the blood of enemies.
What valiant foe-men, like to autumn's corn,
Have we mow'd down, in tops of all their pride?
Three dukes of Somerset, threefold renown'd
For hardy and undoubted champions:
Two Cliffords, as the father and the son,
And two Northumberlands; two braver men
Ne'er spurr'd their coursers at the trumpet's sound:
With them, the two brave bears, Warwick and

That in their chains fetter'd the kingly lion,
And made the forest tremble when they roar'd.
Thus have we swept suspicion from our seat,
And made our footstool of security.-
Come hither, Bess, and let me kiss my boy:-
Young Ned, for thee, thine uncles, and myself

, Have in our armours watch'd the winter's night;

Went all a foot in summer's scalding heat, That thou might'st repossess the crown in peace; And of our labours thou shalt reap the gain.

Glo. I'll blast his harvest, if your head were laid; For yet I am not look'd on in the world. This shoulder was ordain'd so thick, to heave; And heave it shall some weight, or break my

back:Work thou the way,—and thou shalt execute.?

[Aside. K. Edw. Clarence, and Gloster, love my lovely

queen; And kiss your princely nephew, brothers both.

Clar. The duty, that I owe unto your majesty, I seal upon the lips of this sweet babe. K. Edw. Thanks, noble Clarence; worthy bro

ther, thanks. Glo. And, that I love the tree from whence thou

sprang'st, • Witness the loving kiss I give the fruit : To say the truth, so Judas kiss'd his master; And cried-all hail ! when as he meant- Aside.

all harm. K. Edw. Now am I seated as my soul delights, Having my country's peace, and brothers' loves.

Clar. What will your grace have done with Mar

garet ?

Reignier, her father, to the king of France
Hath pawn’d the Sicils and Jerusalem,
And hither have they sent it for her ransome.
K. Edw. Away with her, and waft her hence to

And now what rests, but that we spend the time
With stately triumphs, mirthful comick shows,
Such as befit the pleasures of the court ? -
Sound, drums and trumpets!—farewell, sour annoy!
For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy. (Exeunt.

3 Work thou the way, &c.] He speaks this line, first touching his head, and then looking on his hand.

* Thanks, noble Clarence; worthy brother, thanks.] In my copy of the second folio, which had belonged to King Charles the First, his Majesty has erased-Cla. and written King, in its stead. Shakspeare, therefore, in the catalogue of his restorers, may boast of a Royal name. STEEVENS.

5 With stately triumphs,] Triumphs are publick shows. 6 The three parts of King Henry VI. are suspected, by Mr. Theobald, of being supposititious, and are declared, by Dr. Warburton, to be certainly not Shakspeare's. Mr. Theobald's suspi

cion arises from some obsolete words; but the phraseology is like the rest of our author's style, and single words, of which however I do not observe more than two, can conclude little.

Dr. Warburton gives no reason, but I suppose him to judge upon deeper principles and more comprehensive views, and to draw his opinion from the general effect and spirit of the composition, which he thinks inferior to the other historical plays.

From mere inferiority, nothing can be inferred; in the production of wit there will be inequality. Sometimes judgment will err, and sometimes the matter itself will defeat the artist. Of every author's works, one will be the best, and one will be the worst. The colours are not equally pleasing, nor the attitudes equally graceful, in all the pictures of Titian or Reynolds.

Dissimilitude of style and heterogeneousness of sentiment, may sufficiently show that a work does not really belong to the reputed author. But in these plays no such marks of spuriousness are found. The diction, the versification, and the figures, are Shakspeare's. These plays, considered, without regard to characters and incidents, merely as narratives in rerse, are more happily conceived, and more accurately finished than those of K. John, Richard II. or the tragick scenes of King Henry IV and V. If we take these plays from Shskspeare, to whom shall they be given? What author of that age had the same easiness of expression and fluency of numbers ?

Having considered the evidence given by the plays themselves, and found it in their favour, let us now enquire what corroboration can be gained from other testimony. They are ascribed to Shakspeare by the first editors, whose attestation may be received in questions of fact, however unskilfully they superintended their edition. They seem to be declared genuine by the voice of Shakspeare himself, who refers to the second play in his epilogue to King Henry V. and apparently connects the first Act of King Richard III. with the last of The Third Part of King Henry VI. If it be objected that the plays were popular, and that therefore he alluded to them as well known; it may be answered, with equal probability, that the natural passions of a poet would have disposed him to separate his own works from those of an inferior hand. And, indeed, if an author's own testimony is to be overthrown by speculative criticism, no man can be any longer secure of literary reputation.

Of these three plays I think the second the best. The truth is, that they have not sufficient variety of action, for the incidents are too often of the same kind; yet many of the characters are well discriminated. King Henry, and his Queen, King Edward, the Duke of Gloucester, and the Earl of Warwick, are very strongly and distinctly painted.

The old copies of the two latter parts of King Henry VI. and of

« PreviousContinue »