« AnteriorContinuar »
his enterprises; for where his person was present, the victorie fledde ever from him to the other parte." Henry VI. fol. C.
Line 409. misshapen stigmatick,] A stigmatick was a notorious lewd fellow.
Line 414. (As if a channel should be call'd the sea,)] A channel, in our author's time, signified what we now call a kennel. MALONE.
Line 417. To let thy tongue detect-] To show thy meanness of birth by the indecency of language with which thou railest at my deformity. JOHNSON.
Line 418. A wisp of straw-] I suppose, for an instrument of correction that might disgrace, but not hurt her. JOHNSON. Line 420. To make this shameless callet know herself.] Callet, a lewd woman, a drab. GREY.
-we saw our sunshine made thy spring,
And that thy summer bred us no increase,] When we saw that by favouring thee we made thee grow in fortune, but that we received no advantage from thy fortune flourishing by our favour, we then resolved to destroy thee, and determined to try some other means, though our first efforts have failed.
Line 474. Thy brother's blood the thirsty carth hath drunk,] In this line, of which there is no trace in the original play, Shakspeare had probably the sacred writings in his thoughts: "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood." MALONE.
Genesis, iv. 11.
Line 535. This battle fares like to the morning's war, &c.] "This deadly conflict continued ten hours in doubtful state of victorie, uncertainlie heaving and setting on both sides," &c. Holinshed, p. 665.
Line 556. methinks, it were a happy life,] This speech is mournful and soft, exquisitely suited to the character of the king, and makes a pleasing interchange, by affording, amidst the
tumult and horror of the battle, an unexpected glimpse of rural innocence and pastoral tranquillity. JOHNSON. ere the poor fools will yean ;] Poor fool, it has already been observed, is an expression of tenderness, often used by our author. MALONE.
Enter a Son &c.] These two horrible incidents are selected to show the innumerable calamities of civil war. JOHNSON,
Line 614. And let our hearts, and eyes, like civil war,
Be blind with tears, and break o'ercharg'd with grief.] The meaning is here inaccurately expressed. The king intends to say that the state of their hearts and eyes shall be like that of the kingdom in a civil war, all shall be destroyed by power formed within themselves. JOHNSON. Line 627. What stratagems,] Stratagem seems to stand here only for an event of war, or may intend snares and surprizes.
Line 631. And hath bereft thee of thy life too late!] I rather think the meaning to be this: Thy father exposed thee to danger by giving thee life too soon, and hath bereft thee of life by living himself too long. JOHNSON.
Line 643. Take on with me,] i. e. Be enraged at me. -661. And so obsequious will thy father be,] Obsequious is here careful of obsequies, or of funeral rites. JOHNSON. Line 663. As Priam was for all-] I, having but one son, will grieve as much for that one, as Priam, who had many, could grieve for many. JOHNSON.
Line 713. No way to fly, nor strength to hold out flight:] This line is clear and proper as it is now read; yet perhaps an opposition of images was meant, and Clifford said:
No way to fly, nor strength to hold out fight.
Line 720. Now breathe we, lords;] This battle, in which the house of York was victorious, was fought on a plain between Towton and Saxton, on the 29th of March, (Palm Sunday) 1461. The royal army consisted, according to Hall, of about forty thousand men; and the young duke of York's forces were 48,760. In this combat, which lasted fourteen hours, and in the actions of
the two following days, thirty-six thousand seven hundred and seventy-six persons are said to have been killed; the greater part of whom were undoubtedly Lancastrians. MALONE. vex him with eager words.] Sour words; JOHNSON.
Line 766. words of asperity.
Line 815. For Gloster's dukedom is too ominous.] Alluding to the deaths of Hugh Spencer, Thomas of Woodstock, son to king Edward III. and duke Humphrey.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Line 3. For through this laund—] i. e. lawn.
ACT III. SCENE II.
Line 133. sir John Grey,] Vid. Hall, Third Year of Edward IV. folio 5. It was hitherto falsely printed Richard.
Sir John Grey was slain at the second battle of St. Albans, fighting on the side of king Henry. MALONE. Line 148. Widow, we will consider-] This is a very lively and sprightly dialogue; the reciprocation is quicker than is common in Shakspeare. JOHNSON.
Line 347. —unlick'd bear-whelp,] It was an opinion which, in spite of its absurdity, prevailed long, that the bear brings forth only shapeless lumps of animated flesh, which she licks into the form of bears. It is now well known that the whelps of the bear are produced in the same state with those of other creatures.
-to o'erbear such
As are of better person than myself,] Richard speaks here the language of nature. Whoever is stigmatized with deformity has a constant source of envy in his mind, and would counterbalance by some other superiority those advantages which he feels himself to want. Bacon remarks that the deformed are commonly daring; and it is almost proverbially observed that they are ill-natured. The truth is, that the deformed, like all other men, are displeased with inferiority, and endeavour to gain ground by good or bad means, as they are virtuous or corrupt.
Line 528. —that Henry was unfortunate,] He means, that Henry was unsuccessful in war, having lost his dominions in France, &c. MALONE
Line 539. Exempt from envy, but not from disdain,] Envy is always supposed to have some fascinating or blasting power; and to be out of the reach of envy is therefore a privilege belonging only to great excellence. I know not well why envy is mentioned here, or whose envy can be meant; but the meaning is, that his love is superior to enty, and can feel no blast from the lady's disdain. Or that, if Bona refuse to quit or requite his pain, his love may turn to disdain, though the consciousness of his own merit will exempt him from the pangs of envy. JOHNSON. Line 577. Thy sly conveyance,] Conveyance is juggling, and thence is taken for artifice and fraud. JOHNSON.
Line 601.. -to sooth your forgery and his,] To soften it, to make it more endurable: or perhaps, to sooth us, and to prevent our being exasperated by your forgery and his.
Line 615. Did I let pass the abuse done to my niece?] Thus Holinshed, p. 668: "King Edward did attempt a thing once in the earles house, which was much against the earles honestie (whether he would have defloured his daughter or his niece, the certaintie was not for both their honours revealed,) for surely such a thing was attempted by king Edward." STEEVENS.
Line 618. And am I guerdon'd-] i. e. recompensed. -to make a stale,] i. e. a pretence.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Line 62. Let us be back'd with God, and with the seas,] This has been the advice of every man who in any age understood and favoured the interest of England. JOHNSON.
Line 78. -you would not have bestow'd the heir-] It must be remembered, that till the restoration, the heiresses of great estates were in the wardship of the king, who in their minority gave them up to plunder, and afterwards matched them to his favourites. I know not when liberty gained more than by the abolition of the court of wards. JOHNSON.
Line 136.she was there in place.] This expression, signifying, she was there present, occurs frequently in old English writers. MALONE. Line 137. -my mourning weeds are done,] i. e. are consumed, thrown off. MALONE. Line 162. You, that love me and Warwick, follow me.] That Clarence should make this speech in the king's hearing is very improbable, yet I do not see how it can be palliated. The king never goes out, nor can Clarence be talking to a company apart, for he answers immediately to that which the post says to the king. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE VI.
Line 426. few men rightly temper with the stars:] I sup pose the meaning is, that few men conform their temper to their destiny; which king Henry did, when finding himself unfortunate he gave the management of publick affairs to more prosperous hands. JOHNSON.
Line 480. This pretty lad-] He was afterwards Henry VII. a man who put an end to the civil war of the two houses, but no otherwise remarkable for virtue. Shakspeare knew his trade. Henry VII. was grandfather to queen Elizabeth, and the king from whom James inherited. JOHNSON.
. 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.”
Line 642. Let's lexy men, and beat him back again.] This line expresses a spirit of war so unsuitable to the character of Henry, that I would give the first cold speech to the king, and the brisk answer to Warwick. This line is not in the old quarto; and