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To be her men, and wear her livery:
The jealous o'er-worn widow, and herself1,
Since that our brother dubb'd them gentlewomen, Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.
BRAK. I beseech your graces both to pardon me; His majesty hath straitly given in charge, That no man shall have private conference, Of what degree so ever, with his brother.
GLO. Even so; an please your worship, Brakenbury,
You may partake of any thing we say :
We speak no treason, man ;-We say, the king
A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue;
And that the queen's kindred' are made gentlefolks : How say you, sir? can you deny all this ?}
BRAK. With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.
The jealous o'er-worn widow, and herself,] That is, the Queen and Shore. JOHNSON.
2 Well STRUCK in years;] This odd expression in our language was preceded by others as uncouth though of a similar kind. Thus, in Arthur Hall's translation of the first book of Homer's Iliad, 1581:
"In Grea's forme, the good handmaid, nowe wel ystept in yeares."
"Well shot in years he seem'd," &c.
Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. v. c. vi. The meaning of neither is very obvious; but as Mr. Warton has observed in his Essay on The Fairy Queen, by an imperceptible progression from one kindred sense to another, words at length obtain a meaning entirely foreign to their original etymology. STEEVENS.
3 And the queen's kindred-] The old copies harshly and unnecessarily read
"And that the queen's," &c. STEEVENS.
GLO. Naught to do with mistress Shore? I tell thee, fellow,
He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
BRAK. What one, my lord?
GLO. Her husband, knave :-Would'st thou betray me?
BRAK. I beseech your grace to pardon me; and, withal,
Forbear your conference with the noble duke. CLAR. We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
GLO. We are the queen's abjects, and must obey.
4-alone.] Surely the adjective-alone, is an interpolation, as what the Duke is talking of, is seldom undertaken before witnesses. Besides, this word deranges the metre, which, without it, would be regular :-for instance:
"Were best to do it secretly.
"Her husband, knave :-Would'st thou betray me?" STEEVENS.
The above note is a good specimen of Mr. Steevens's readiness to suppose an interpolation in the ancient copies, whenever he chose to disturb the text. He does not seem ever to have perceived that many short prosaical sentences are frequently interposed in our poet's metrical dialogues. Of this kind are the words "What one, my lord ?"—and the following line: "Her husband, knave," &c. MALONE.
These four speeches were probably all designed for prose. What verse can be made out of this line:
"We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey ?" Brakenbury's speech, "What one, my lord ?" and Gloster's answer, are omitted in quarto 1597. BOSWELL.
the queen's ABJECTS,] That is, not the queen's subjects, whom she might protect, but her abjects, whom she drives away.
So, in The Case is Alter'd. How? Ask Dalio and Milo, 1604 : "This ougly object, or rather abject of nature."
I cannot approve of Johnson's explanation. Gloster forms a substantive from the adjective abject, and uses it to express a lower
Brother, farewell: I will unto the king;
Mean time, this deep disgrace in brotherhood,
CLAR. I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
degree of submission than is implied by the word subject, which otherwise he would naturally have made use of. The Queen's abjects, means the most servile of her subjects, who must of course obey all her commands; which would not be the case of those whom she had driven away from her.
In a preceding page Gloster had said of Shore's wife-
"If we will keep in favour with the king,
"To be her men, and wear her livery.'
The idea is the same in both places, though the expression differs. In Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, Puntarvolo says to Swift:
"I'll make thee stoop, thou abject." M. MASON.
This substantive was not of Shakspeare's formation. We meet with it in Psalm xxxv. 15: "-yea, the very abjects came together against me unawares, making mouths at me, and ceased not." Again, in Chapman's translation of the 21st book of Homer's Odyssey:
"Whither? rogue! abject! wilt thou bear from us
Again, in the same author's version of Homer's Hymn to Venus: "That thou wilt never let me live to be
"An abject, after so divine degree
"Taken in fortune-." STEEVENS.
6 Were it, to call king Edward's widow-sister,] This is a very covert and subtle manner of insinuating treason. The natural expression would have been, "were it to call king Edward's wife,— sister." I will solicit for you, though it should be at the expence of so much degradation and constraint, as to own the low-born wife of King Edward for a sister. But by slipping, as it were casually, widow, into the place of wife, he tempts Clarence with an oblique proposal to kill the King. JOHNSON.
"King Edward's widow" is, I believe, only an expression of contempt, meaning the "widow Grey," whom Edward had chosen for his queen. Gloster has already called her, "the jealous o'erworn widow." STEEVENS.
I will deliver you, or else lie for you":
I must perforce; farewell. [Exeunt CLAREnce, Brakenbury, and
GLO. Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne'er
Simple, plain Clarence!-I do love thee so,
HAST. Good time of day unto my gracious lord! GLO. As much unto my good lord chamberlain! Well are you welcome to this open air.
How hath your lordship brook'd imprisonment? HAST. With patience, noble lord, as prisoners
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks,
GLO. No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence
For they that were your enemies, are his,
And have prevail'd as much on him, as you.
HAST. More pity, that the eagle should be mew'd9,
While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
LIE for you:] He means, to be imprisoned in your stead To lie was anciently to reside, as appears by many instances in these volumes. REED.
8 I must perforce ;] Alluding to the proverb, "Patience perforce, is a medicine for a mad dog." STEEVENS.
should be MEW'D,] A mew was the place of confinement where a hawk was kept till he had moulted. So, in Albumazar: "Stand forth, transform'd Antonio, fully mew'd
"From brown soar feathers of dull yeomanry,
HAST. No news so bad abroad, as this at home ;The king is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
And his physicians fear him mightily.;
GLO. Now, by Saint Paul, this news is bad indeed.
O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
And over-much consum'd his royal person; 'Tis very grievous to be thought upon. What, is he in his bed?
HAST. He is 2.
GLO. Go you before, and I will follow you.
[Exit HASTINGS. He cannot live, I hope; and must not die,
Till George be pack'd with posthorse up to heaven.
Clarence hath not another day to live:
Which done, God take king Edward to his mercy,
For then I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter3:
By marrying her, which I must reach unto.
9 Now, by Saint PAUL,] The folio reads:
Now, by Saint John." STEEVENS.
an evil diet-] i. e. a bad regimen. STEEVENS.
2 He is.] Sir Thomas Hanmer very properly completes this broken verse, by reading
"He is, my lord."
Warwick's YOUNGEST daughter:] Lady Anne, the Widow of Edward Prince of Wales. See Henry VI. Part III. vol. xviii. p. 478, n. 4. MALONE.