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Line 74. Were red-hot steel, to sear me to the brain!] This was the ancient mode of punishing a regicide, or any other great criminal, viz. by placing a crown of iron, red-hot, upon his head.
Line 100. But with his timorous dreams-] 'Tis recorded by Polydore Virgil, that Richard was frequently disturbed by terrible dreams: this is therefore no fiction. JOHNSON. Line 122. Rude ragged nurse! old sullen play-fellow-] To call the Tower nurse and play-fellow is very harsh: perhaps part of this speech is addressed to the Tower, and part to the lieutenant. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
Line 134. now do I play the touch,] To play the touch, is to represent the touchstone. No emendation is necessary. STEEV. Line 164. And unrespective boys;] Unrespective is inattentive, taking no notice, inconsiderate.
close exploit-] Is secret act.
·246. A king!—perhaps-] From hence to the words, Thou troublest me, I am not in the vein-have been left out ever since the first editions, but I like them well enough to replace them. POPE. The allusions to the plays of Henry VI. are no weak proofs of the authenticity of these disputed pieces. JOHNSON..
Line 268. Because that, like a Jack, &c.] An image, like those at St. Dunstan's-church in Fleet-street, and at the markethouses at several towns in this kingdom, was usually called a Jack of the clock-house. See Cowley's Discourse on the Government of Oliver Cromwell. Richard resembles Buckingham to one of those automatons, and bids him not suspend the stroke on the clockbell, but strike, that the hour may be past, and himself be at liberty to pursue his meditations. Sir JOHN HAWKINS.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Line 341. fearful commenting
Is leaden servitor-] Timorous thought and cautious disquisition are the dull attendants on delay. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE IV.
Line 352. dire induction-] Induction is preface, introduction, first part. JOHNSON. Line 364. - -say, that right for right-] This is one of those conceits which our author may be suspected of loving better than propriety. Right for right, is justice answering to the claims of justice.
seniory,] For seniority.
·414. And makes her pew-fellow-] Pew-fellow seems to be companion. We have now a new phrase, nearly equivalent, by which we say of persons in the same difficulties, that they are in the same box. JOHNSON.
Line 422. Young York he is but boot,] Boot is that which is thrown in to mend a purchase. JOHNSON. Line 457. Decline all this,] i. e. run through all this from first to last. MALONE. Line 493. Airy succeeders of intestate joys,] i. e. words, tuned to complaints, succeed joys that are dead; and unbequeathed to them, to whom they should properly descend. THEOBALD. -that ow'd that crown,] i. e. that owned or
Line 529. a touch of your condition,] A spice or particle of your temper or disposition. JOHNSON.
Line 544. Tetchy-] i. e. peevish.
That ever grac'd me— -] To grace seems here to mean the same as to bliss, to make happy. So gracious is kind, and graces are favours. JOHNSON.
Line 553. Humphrey Hour,] This may probably be an allusion to some affair of gallantry of which the dutchess had been suspected. I cannot find the name in Holinshed. Surely the poet's fondness for a quibble has not induced him at once to personify and christen that hour of the day which summoned his mother to breakfast? STEEVENS.
Line 577. Shame serves thy life,] To serve is to accompany, servants being near the persons of their masters. JOHNSON. Line 581. Stay, madam,] On this dialogue 'tis not necessary
to bestow much criticism: part of it is ridiculous, and the whole improbable. JOHNSON.
Line 607. All unavoided &c.] i. e. unavoidable. MALONE. 641. The high imperial type-] Type is exhibition, shew, display. JOHNSON. Line 644. Canst thou demise-] To demise is to grant, from demittere, to devolve a right from one to another. STEEVENS. Line 683. -as sometime Margaret-] Here is another reference to the plays of Henry VI. JOHNSON. Line 700. Nay, then indeed, she cannot chuse but have thee,] The sense seems to require that we should read, -but love thee,
Line 701. bloody spoil.] Spoil is waste, havock. JOHNS. -717. Endur'd of her,] Of in the language of Shakspeare's age was frequently used for by. MALONE. -bid like sorrow.] Bid is in the past tense from JOHNSON.
Line 717. bide.
Line 737. Advantaging their loan, with interest
Of ten-times-double gain of happiness.] The tears that you have lent to your afflictions shall be turned into gems; and requite you by way of interest, with happiness twenty times as great as your sorrows have been. THEOBALD.
Line 857. And be not peevish found-] Peevish, in our author's time, signified foolish. MALONE.
Line 883. Some light-foot friend post to the duke-] Richard's precipitation and confusion is in this scene very happily represented by inconsistent orders, and sudden variations of opinion. JOHNSON. -more competitors-] That is, more opponents. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE V.
Line 1015. Sir Christopher, tell Richmond this from me:] The person, who is called sir Christopher here, and who has been stiled so in the Dramatis Persona of all the impressions, I find by the chronicles to have been Christopher Urswick, a bachelor in divinity; and chaplain to the countess of Richmond, who had intermarried with the lord Stanley. This priest, the history tells
us, frequently went backwards and forwards, unsuspected, on messages betwixt the countess of Richmond, and her husband, and the young earl of Richmond, whilst he was preparing to make his descent on England. THEOBALD.
Dr. Johnson has observed, that sir was anciently a title assumed by graduates. Which opinion is confirmed by Mr. Mason.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 22. Is the determin'd respite of my wrongs.] Wrongs in this line means wrongs done, or injurious practices. JOHNSON. Line 32. -blame the due of blame.] This scene should, in my opinion, be added to the foregoing act, so the fourth act will have a more full and striking conclusion, and the fifth act will comprise the business of the important day, which put an end to the competition of York and Lancaster. Some of the quarto editions are not divided into acts, and it is probable, that this and many other plays were left by the author in one unbroken continuity, and afterwards distributed by chance, or what seems to have been a guide very little better, by the judgment or caprice of the first editors. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE II.
That spoil'd your summer fields, and fruitful vines, Swills your warm blood &c.] This sudden change from the past to the present, and vice versá, is common to Shakspeare. MALONE.
Line 45. —embowell'd bosoms,] Exenterated; ripped up: alluding, perhaps, to the Promethean vulture; or, more probably, to the sentence pronounced in the English courts against traitors, by which they are condemned to be hanged, drawn, that is, embowelled, and quartered. JOHNSON.
Line 46. Lies now-] i. e. sojourns.
ACT V. SCENE III.
Line 84. tary skill.
-sound direction:] True judgment; tried miliJOHNSON.
Line 138. -Give me a watch:] A watch has many signi fications, but I should believe that it means in this place not a
sentinel, which would be regularly placed at the king's tent; nor an instrument to measure time, which was not used in that age; but a watch-light, a candle to burn by him; the light that afterwards burnt blue: yet a few lines after, he says,
Bid my guard watch.
which leaves it doubtful whether watch is not here a sentinel. JOHNSON.
Lord Bacon mentions a species of light called an all-night, which is a wick set in the middle of a large cake of wax. JOHNS. Line 140. Look that my staves be sound,] Staves are the wood of the lances. JOHNSON.
Line 146. Much about cock-shut time,] i. e. twilight.
by attorney,] By deputation. I, as I
With best advantage will deceive the time,] I will take the best opportunity to elude the dangers of this conjuncture. JOHNSON.
-The leisure and the fearful time
Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love,] We have still a phrase equivalent to this, however harsh it may seem— -I would do this, if leisure would permit-where leisure, as in this passage, stands for want of leisure. JOHNSON. Line 185. peise me down to-morrow,] To peise, i. e. to weigh down, from peser, French. STEEVENS.
Line 209. Harry, that prophecy'd thou should'st be king,] The prophecy, to which this allusion is made, was uttered in one of the parts of Henry the sixth. JOHNSON.
Line 258. I died for hope,] i, e. I died for wishing well to you. Line 262. Give me another horse,] There is in this, as in many of our author's speeches of passion, something very trifling, and something very striking. Richard's debate, whether he should quarrel with himself, is too long continued, but the subsequent exaggeration of his crimes is truly tragical. JOHNSON.
Line 343. One that made means-] To make means was, in Shakspeare's time, always used in an unfavourable sense, and signified-to come at any thing by indirect practices. STEEVENS.