« AnteriorContinua »
Large gifts have I bestow'd on learned clerks;
When have I ought exacted at your hands,
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.
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,
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.
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.
SCENE V. hungry Lion.
So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch
A hawk, a grey-hound, and a hunting nag,
More pleasure than this king?
Make me a king, and let me scratch with care,
What think'd thou of a king ?
That hath power to do all ill.
That does divide an empire with the gods ;
I would be mighty Ferrand
The weighty forrows that fit on a crown,
Thou shalt ere long taste it.
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 !
* 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,