Imágenes de páginas

Large gifts have I bestow'd on learned clerks;
Because my book preferr'd me to the king :
And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven,
Unless you be poffefs’d with dev'lish spirits,
You cannot but forbear to murder me.

When have I ought exacted at your hands,
Kint, to maintain, the king, the realm, and you ?

This renders the passage plain and easy : that he should have bestowed gifts on learned clerks to maintain Kent, the king, &c. is something very unreasonable; that he should have bestowed gifts on them because his book preferred him to the king, is Bot only reasonable, but extremely probable.

General Observations.

THE contention (says Mrs. Lenox ) between the two houses of York and Lancaster furnishes the incidents which compose this play. 'The action begins with King Henry's marriage, which wasin the twenty-third year of his reign, and closes with the first battle fought at St. Albans and won by the York faction, in the thirtythird year of his reign; so that it takes in the history and transactions of ten years.

Shakespear has copied Holing shed pretty closely throughout this whole play, except in his relation of the Duke of Suffolk's death. The Chronicle tells us, that King Henry, to satisfy the nobility and people, who hated this favourite, condemned him to banishment during the space of five years. In his passage to France he was taken by a ship of war belonging to the Duke of Excer, constable of the Tower; the captain of which ship carried him into Dover road, and there struck off his head on the side of a cock-boat.

In Shakespear, he is taken by English pirates on the coast of Kent, who, notwithstanding the large ransom he offers them, resolve to murder him. One of them, in the course of his conversation with the Duke, tells him, that his name is Walter

Whitmore; Whilmore ; and observing him start, asks him, if he is frighted at death, to which Suffolk replied.

Thy name atfrights me, in whose found is death,
A cunning man did calculate my birth,

And told me that by Walter I should die. This circumstance is not to be found, either in Hall or Holingfhed; and as it has greatly the air of fiction, Sbakespear probably borrowed it from the same tale that furnished him with the loves of Suffolk and the Queen, on which several passionate scenes in this play, as well as the former, are built.


[blocks in formation]

The transports of a Crown.

O but think (1)-D

How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown; Within

whose circuit is Elysium, And all that poets feign of bliss and joy.


(1) Do but, &c.] In the Second part of Henry IV. (p. 21.) we have some fine reflections on the miseries that attend a crown: these, on the transports it bestows, are beautifully in character, and come very aptly from the mouth of the ambitious Gloucester. In the Double Marriage of Beaumont and Fletcher, Ferrand the tyrant, complaining of the miseries that attend royalty, a courtier longing to enjoy the honour, is put into pofleffion of them for one day, and finds them sufficiently burthensome. See the third act. Some of the tyrant's complaint sig and the courtiers' praises of royalty, are the following: Ferr. Tell me no more;

I faint beneath the burden of my cares,

And yield myself most wretched.
Vill. Look but on this,
Has not a man that has but means to keep

A hawk,

SCENE V. hungry Lion.

So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch
That trembles under his devouring paws ;
And so he walks infulting o'er his prey,
And so he comes to rend his limbs asunder.

[ocr errors][merged small]

A hawk, a grey-hound, and a hunting nag,

More pleasure than this king?
Goffr. A dull fool still :

Make me a king, and let me scratch with care,
And see who'll have the better : give me rule,
Command, obedience, pleasure of a king,
And let the devil roar; the greatest corrosive
A king can have, is of mere precious tickling,
And handled to the height more dear delight
Than other mens whole lives, let them be safe toe.
Thou enemy to majesty,

What think'd thou of a king ?
Vill. As of a man,

That hath power to do all ill.
Raffr. Or a thing rather

That does divide an empire with the gods ;
Obferye but with how little breath he shakes
A populous city, which would stand unmoved
Against a whirlwind !
For me, I do profess it,
Were I offer'd to be any thing on earth,

I would be mighty Ferrand
Ferr. Did'ft thou but feel

The weighty forrows that fit on a crown,
Tho' thou moulds find one in the streets, Caftruccio,
Thou wouldst not think it worth the taking up :
But since thou art enamour'd of my fortune,

Thou shalt ere long taste it.
Cafir. But one day,

And then let me expire.

Scene VI. The Duke of York on the gallant

Behaviour of his Sons.


My sons, God knows, what hath bechanced them; But this I know, they have demean'd themselves Like men born to renown, by life death. Three times did Richard make a lane to me, And thrice cry'd, courage, father! fight it out : And full as oft came Edward to my side, With purple falchion painted to the hilt In blood of those that had encounter'd him: And when the hardiest warriors did retire; Richard cry'd charge! and give no foot of ground; And cry'd a crown, or else a glorious tomb, A fceptre, or an earthly fepulchre. With this we charg'd again; but out, alas! We bodg'd again; as I have seen a fwan With bootless labour swim against the tide, And spend her strength with over-matching waves.

A Father's Passion on the Murder of a favourite


Oh tyger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide !
How couldst thou drain the life-blood of the child,
To bid the father wipe his eyes withal,
And yet be seen to wear a woman's face?
Women are soft, mild, pitiful and flexible;
Thou stern, obdurate, flinty, rough, remorseless.

* That face of his the hungry cannibals (2) Would not have touch'd, would not have stain'd with blood :







(2) Would nct, &c.] The first folios and the old quarto read shis passage as it is here printed; the second folio reads,


« AnteriorContinuar »