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which he immediately did. As he advanced to the town, he encountered the army that lay before it, routed them, and took Arthur prisoner. The queen, ia the meanwhile, remaining perfectly secure in the cattle of Mirabeaa
Sods !■ supposed to be the most authentic statement; bat, according to some accounts, Arthur took Queen Elinor prisoner, who was afterwards rescued by her son
'Bell, book, and eandU shall not drive me back.
Act III., Scene 3. By the old ecclesiastical law, it was decreed that sentence of excommunication was to be "explained in order in English, with bells tolling and candles lighted, that it may cause the greater dread: for laymen have greater regard to this solemnity, than to the effect of such sentences."
"Then, In despite of brooded watchful dag,
Act III., Scenes. "Brooded," I apprehend, Is here used, with our authors usual licence, for '•brooding;"—that ia, "day, who is as vigilant, as ready with open eye to mark what is done in his presence, as an animal at brood." Mr Pope, instead of "brooded," substituted "broad-eyed;" a more poetical epithet, perhaps, but certainly an unnecessary emendation. All animals while "brooded " (with a brood of young under their protection), are remarkably vigilant.—Maloxk.
"Northampton. A Room in the Castle."—Act IV., Scene 1.
There Is no circumstance, either in the older play or in Shakspere's, to denote the particular castle in which Arthur Is supposed to be confined. That of Northampton lias been adopted, because in the first act. King John seems to have been in that town.
According to the French historians, Arthur was first imprisoned at Falaise, in Normandy, and afterwards 2t Hoi.cn, whero ho was secretly put to death by John's own hand.
"Yet I remember, trAcn J was in France,
This affectation of sadness Is ridiculed by various writers of Shakspere's day. Lyly, in his "midas," says, "Melancholy is the crest of courtiers, and now every base companion says ho is melancholy."
"And here's a proj.hel that I brought with me
Act IV., Scene 2. This man was a hermit in great repute with the common people. Notwithstanding the event is said to have fallen out as ho prophesied, the poor fellow was inhumanly dragged at horses* tails through the streets of Wan-ham, and together with his son, who appears to have been even more innocent than his father, hanged afterwards upon a gibbet. Ilolinshed, in anno 1213.—Speed says, that Peter the hermit was suborned by the pope's legate, the French king, and the barons.
"Ifadtt thou but shook thy head, or made a pause,
Act IV., Scene 2. There are many touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice These reproaches vented against Hubert are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swelling with consciousness of A crime, and desirous of discharging Its misery on another
This account of the timidity of guilt Is drawn, o4 iptis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind: particularly that line in which John says, that " to hare bid him tell his tale in express words" would have "struck him dumb." Nothing is more certain than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambiguities and subterfuges.— Jon * sos.
11 Within this bosom never entered yet
Act IV., Scene 2. Nothing can be falser than what Hubert here says in his own vindication: for we find, from a preceding scene, that the " motion of a murderous thought" had entered into him, and that very deeply: and it was with difficulty that the tears, the entreaties, and the innocence of Arthur, had diverted and suppressed it.—Warbciitqx.
The critic here is correct as to the fact; but the poet was dramatically justified in representing Hubert, since he had not acted on his "murderous thought," as anxious to claim the merit of having never entertained it. This is one of Shakspere's exquisite touches of reality.—J. 0.
1 The King, I fear, is poisoned by a monk."
Act V., Scene 6.
Not one of the historians, who wrote within sixty years of the event, mentions this improbable story. The tale is, that a monk, to revenge himself on the King, for a saying at which he took offence, poisoned a cup of ale, and brought it to his majesty, drank some of it himself to induce the King to taste it, and soon afterwards expired.—Thomas Wjkes U the first who mentions it in his chronicle, as a report. According to the best accounts, John died at Newark, of a fever.—Ma Lone.
Ilolinshed states, that the monk's motive was to defeat the revenge of John, who had said (from hatred of the people on account of their revolt) that he would cause "all kind of grain to be at a far higher price, ero many days should pass."
"For, in a night, the best part of my power,
Act V., Scene 7. This disaster really happened to King John, and is supposed to have been the immediate cause of the fever that took him off. As he passed from Lynn into Lincolnshire, he lost by an inundation all his treasure, carriage, baggage, and regalia.
"king Jons-" was first published in the otiginal folio, and is founded on an older play, in two parts (1391), calli-d "the Troublesome Uaigxe Of John, Kino Of EngLand."
The present historic drama is pronounced by Johnson to be " not written with the utmost power of Shakspere." The truth is, the poet had no " utmost power." He has told us in this very play —
"When workmen strive to do better than well,
There were no throes, there was nothing spasmodic, in the genius of Shnksperc. He never "confounded his skill." Take any two of his plays written in his maturer years, and if a well judged preference is to be given to either, it will be found to arise from the subject, not its execution. In his historical plays, as we have said (Introductory Hemaiks), he was controlled and w*as content to be so. He might have made King John a more striking character, with less art and labour; but he spared neither, when he wns to paint him as he lived.
KING RICHARD THE SECOND, j
EDMUND OF LANGLEY, Duke of York, \ Uncles to the Kino.
JOHN OF GAUNT, Duke of Lancaster, )
HENRY, surnamed Hoi.ixgbiiokk, Duke or Hereford, Son to
John Op Gaunt; afterwards Kins Henry IV.
BAGOT, (Creatures to Kino Richabd.
SIR TIERCE OF EXTON.
Lords, Herald*, Officers, Soldiers, Two Gardener?, Keeper,
Scene. Dispcrscdly in England and Wales.
II." was extant
■ Bo longer be a
we do act
M.r.r ap their mind* at to ue fiigjT et? a aieriaaa atw; aad iUe they hint at it in connexion with [a rerr mtereatatt; *^^-""' ocas, are act, after aZ. oasse fare that Shakspere's tragedy was not the |n ifmanaii ia i[n>i "it
On the night preceding the Si-advised ia».a»s«y af the Earl af Lsa into the City, hi* steward, Sir Gilly Meyrick, and his aetxeUii, Hear; Cn*e. sracared to he rsryed '-the aatr of the Dxrosixo or Richard II." It teems they were iiia.—d by Aarxstize F- ~"-p», at whoa, they had applied, and who was one of the players at the Globe Theatre, that ** the alsy was cat, asai they shoald hare loss in plating it, because few would come to it;"' i^i, I_~--:---lzz.t, •■ taere were forty thilmvgs extraordinary given to play, and therefore played it was." This term. zli. laaVi allj awl", I'i i that it was not the work of Shakspere, which had act bees written soon thaa three or foax yean. fa—Va, likewise, calls it the "out-dated play of Richard II.;" a ward whack, ia this awiiacr, appears to as to conrey, not only the sense of antiqaatcd, or oat of date, bat also cf sapexseded. Why aatntioa it as oct-dated, since that could make no difference in the matter, if not to dtstasvsh it from the acw, or Shakspere's play?
It may be worth while to pursue this a little fcrtier. Oa Hayward, fci the previous year (1599), had published his History of the first year of the reign of Henry IT., which, as Malone truly says, was in fact nothing more than a history of the eeposir^ h**-; Richard IL The critic adds, what is likewise true, that the publication of this btsok give great n^rf at court, and that the author was heavily censured in the Star Chamber, and committed to prison. Hence, he infers that the subject itself was disgustful to the Queen, and that Shakspere Celt hrmserf constrained to omit one hundred and fifty-four lines, describing " a kind of trial of the Kmg, zsd his actual depositjan in parliament," not only in the representation, but in his printed play.
Now, the truth is, neither Hayward's book, as to its substance, nor Shakspere's play, as to its spirit, »-as obnoxious to Queen Elizabeth. Hayward was censured and imprisoned, not for writing a History of the first year of Henry IV., but for dedicating it to the Earl of Essex, with the addition of all his titles and offices of honour, and for presuming in such dedication to foretel that that nobleman was yet born to great achievements, at a time when the Earl was r.flfering under the displeasure of the Queen, suspended from all his offices, and actually in the custody of the Lord Keeper. And although the scene of Richard's formal deposition docs not occur in the first edition of Shakspere's play, which was published in 1597, yet it is to be found in the second, which was published in the year following:—a twelvemonth, be it remembered, before the Earl of Essex had fallen into disgrace; before he had conceived any designs against her Majesty; and, consequently, before the Queen could have taken any disgust to the subject of the play, or felt any dread of its representation. Queen Elizabeth seldom strained at a gnat or ■wallowed a camel; and to have objected to the scene of Richard's deposition, while she permitted the scene of hit murder, his deposition being recognised in the play, and, accordingly, perfectly well known to the audience, is to suppose a degree of squeamishness in that great princess not only foreign to ner character, but absolutely absurd and irrational. We have no doubt that the play caused to be played by Meyrick and Cufle was written in a totally different spirit from Shakspere's tragedy and from Hayward's history, which last is little more than an abstract from Holinshed; as, indeed, the occurrences, and some of the passages, in our author's play are likewise drawn thence.
From a play like the older one, therefore, thus fallen into discredit, and fraught probably with per. nicious sentiments, Shakspetc can have borrowed little more than the subject His production is adapted to no such purpose as the other. True to his design of representing history, and of revivifying its personages, he has been neither unjust to Richard, nor partial to Uolingbroke. What they were to the apprehension of every reader of history, even so has he painted them, and with colours such as none but lie could employ, and with a pencil such as none other could wield. Few of his dramas contain finer things, both of poetry and passion, than are to be found in " Richard II." No man could have imagined that Ihii play would help the cause of treason: that the semblablc presentment, on a public stage, of this weak and wilful, this dejected and yet majestic creature, Richard, could steel raeu's hearts:—
On some apparent danger seen in him,
[Exeunt tome Attendants. Iligh-stomached are they both, and full of ire; In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Re-enter Attendants, with Bolinobroke and Norfolk.
Baling. Many years of happy days befal My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!
Nor. Each day still better other's happiness; Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap, Add an immortal title to your crown!
K. Rich. We thank you both: yet one but flatters us, As well appearclh by the cause you come; Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.— Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray 1
Holing. First, (Heaven be the record to my speech!). In the devotion of a subject's love, Tendering the precious safety of my prince, And free from other misbegotten hate, Come 1 appellant to this princely presence.— Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee; And mark my greeting well: for what I speak My body shall make good upon this earth, Or my divine soul answer it in heaven :— Thou art a traitor and a miscreant; Too good to be so, and too bad to live; Since the more fair and crystal is the sky, The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly. Once more, the more to aggravate the note, With a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat; And wish (so please my sovereign), ere I move, What my tongue speaks my right-drawn sword may prove. Nor. Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal: 'T is not the trial of a woman's war, The bitter clamour of two eager tongues, Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain: The blood is hot that must be cooled for this. Yet can I not of such tame patience boast, As to be hushed, and nought at all to say. First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me From giving reins and spurs to my free speech, Which else would post until it had returned These terms of treason doubled down his throat. Setting aside his high blood's royalty, And let him be no kinsman to my liege, I do defy him, and I spit at him;
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain:
Doling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove
it true;— That Mowbray hath received eight thousand
nobles, In name of lendings for your highness* soldiers: The which he hath detained for lewdemployments, Like a false traitor and injurious villain. Besides I say, and will in battle prove (Or here or elsewhere, to the furthest verge That ever was surveyed by English eye), That all the treasons for these eighteen years Complottcd and contrived in this land, Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and
spring. Further I say (and further will maintain Upon his bad life to make all this good), That he did plot the Duke of Glostcr's death; Suggest his soon-believing adversaries; And consequently, like a traitor coward, Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of
blood: Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries, Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth. To me for justice and rough chastisement: And, by the glorious worth of my descent, This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.
K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution
soars!— Thomas of Norfolk, what sayst thou to this?