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39 The bay-trees, dj-c.] This enumeration of prodigies is in the highest degree poetical and striking.
Some of these prodigies are found inT. Haywarde's Life and Raigne of Henry IF. 15Qg. "This yeare "the laurel trees withered almost throughout the realm," &c.
So again in Holinshead. "In this yeare in a man"ner throughout all the realme of England, old baie "trees withered," &c. Steevens.
87 From mine own window torn my household coat,"] It was the practice, when coloured glass was in use, of which there are still some remains in the old seats and churches, to anneal the arms of the family in the windows of the house. Johnson.
** Raz'd out my impress, Sfc."] The impress was a device or motto. Ferne, in his Blazon if Gentry, 1585, observes, "that the arms, &c. of traitors and rebels "may be defaced and removed, wheresoever they are "fixed, or set." Steevens.
49 Thanlen, gentle uncle.—Come, lords, away; To fight with Glendower and his complices; Awhile to work, and, after, holiday.'] Though the intermediate line has taken possession of all the old copies, I have great suspicion of its being an interpolation; and have therefore ventured to throw it out. The first and third lines rhime to each other; nor do I imagine this was casual, but intended by the poet. Were we to acknowledge the line genuine, it must argue the poet of forgetfulness and inattention to history. Bolingbroke is, as it were, yet but just arrived: he is now at Bristol; weak in his numbers; has had no meeting with a parliament; nor is so far assured of the succession, as to think of going to suppress insurrections before he is planted in the throne. Besides, we find the opposition of Glendower begins The First Part of K. Henry IV; and Mortimer's defeat by that hardy Welshman is the tidings of the first scene of that play. Again, though Glendower, iu the very first year of King Henry IV. began to be troublesome, put in for the supremacy of Wales, and imprisoned Mortimer; yet it was not till the succeeding year that the king employed any force against
30 Scene II.] Here may be properly inserted the last scene of the second act. Johnson.
31 The breath of worldly men cannot depose] Here is the doctrine of indefeasible right expressed in the strongest terms; but our poet did not learn it in the. reign of King James, to which it is now the practice of all writers, whose opinions are regulated by fashion or interest, to impute the original of every tenet which they have been taught to think false or foolish.
'* Thy very beadsmen learn to bend their iuavs] Such is the reading of all the copies, yet I doubt whether beadsmen be right, for the bow seems to be mentioned, here as the proper weapon of a beadsman. The king's beadsmen were his chaplains. Trevisa calls himself the beadsman of his patron. Beadsman might like
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wise be any man maintained by charity to pray for their benefactor. Hanmer reads the very beadsmen, but thy is better. Johxson.
The reading of the text is right enough, "As boy* "strive to speak big, and clasp their effeminate joints "in stiff unwieldy arms," &c. "so his very beadsmen "learn to bend their bows against him." Their does not absolutely denote that the bow was their usual or proper weapon; but only taken up and appropriated by them on this occasion. Percy.
93 Where is the earl of Wiltshire? where is Bagot? What is become of Bushy? where is Green ?] Here ax&four of them named; and, within a very few lines, the king, hearing they had made their peace with Bolingbroke, calls them Three Judasses. But how was their peace made? Why, with the loss of their heads. This being explained, Aumerle says, Is Bushy, Green, and the earl of Wiltshire dead? So that Bagot ought to be left out of the question: and, indeed, he had made the best of his way for Chester, and from thence had escaped into Ireland. And so we find him, in the second act, determining to do:
Bagot. Aro: I'll to Ireland, to his mnjesty. The poet could not be guilty of so much forgetfulness and absurdity. The transcribers must have blundered. It seems probable to me that he wrote, as I have conjecturally altered the text,
Where is the earl of Wiltshire? where is he got? i. e. into what corner of my dominions is he slunk, and absconded <' Theobald.
This emendation Dr. Warburton adopts. Hanmer leaves a blank after Wiltshire. I believe the author, rather than transcriber, made a mistake. Where is he got does not sound in my ear like an expression of Shakspeare. Johnson.
34 —death destroying death j] That is, to die fighting, is to return the evil that we suffer, to destroy the destroyers.
• 3i PU hate him everlastingly,
That bids me be of comfort—] This sentiment is drawn from nature. Nothing is more offensive to a mind convinced that his distress is without a remedy, and preparing to submit quietly to irresistible calamity, than these petty and conjectured comforts which unskilful officiousness thinks it virtue to administer.
35 But ere the crmrn he looks for live in peace, Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons Shall ill become the flower of England's face;]
Though I have not disturbed the text here, I cannot but think it liable to suspicion. A crown living in peace, as Mr. Warburton justly observed to me, is a very odd phrase. He supposes,
But e'er the crown, he looks for, light in peace, i. e. descend and settle upon Bolingbroke's head in peace.—Again, I have a small quarrel to the third line quoted. Would the poet say, that bloody crowns should disfigure \hejlawers that spring on the ground, and bedew the grass with blood? Surely the two images are too similar. I have suspected,
Mia 11 ill become the floor of England's faces
t. e. shall make a dismal spectacle on the surface of the kingdom's earth. Theobald.
By the flower of England's face, is meant the choicest youths of England, who shall be slaughtered in this quarrel, or have bloody crowns. The Jlmjxr of England's face, to design her choicest youths, is a fine and noble expression. Pericles, by a similar thought, said that the destruction of the Athenian youth was a fatality like cutting off the spring from the year. Yet the Oxford editor, who did not apprehend the figure, alters the line thus,
Shall misbecome the flow'ry England's face. Which means 1 know not what. Warburt.
Dr. Warburton has inserted light in peace in the text of his own edition, but live in peace is more suitable to Richard's intention, which is to tell him, that though he should get the crown by rebellion, it will be long before it will live in peace, be so settled as to be firm. The flower of England's face, is very happily explained, and any alteration is therefore needless.
The flower of England's face, I believe, means England'sfluvery face, the^oa-erj/ surface of England's soil. The same kind of expression is used in Sidney's Arcadia, p. 2, "opening the cherry of her lips," i. e. 'her cherry lips.'
So Drayton in Mortimer's Epistle to Queen Isabell: "And in the field advance our plumy crest, "And march upon fair England's flow'ry breast."
Steevf.ns. 17 With words of sooth!] Sooth is suxet as well as