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Line 26. Raz'd out my impress, &c.] The impress was a device or motto. Ferne, in his Blazon of Gentry, 1585, observes, “that "the arms, &c. of traitors and rebels may be defaced and removed, "wheresoever they are fixed, or set." STEEVENS.
ACT III. SCENE II.
Here may properly be inserted the last scene of the second act. JOHNSON. Line 73. Guard it, I pray thee,] Guard it, signifies here, as in many other places, border it. MALONE.
Line 80. Fear not, my lord, &c.] Of this speech the four last lines were restored from the first edition by Mr. Pope. They were, I suppose, omitted by the players only to shorten the scenes, for they are worthy of the author and suitable to the personage.
Line 92. and lights the lower world,] By the lower world we must understand, a world lower than this of ours; I suppose our antipodes. MALONE.
Line 96. He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines,] This is an image exquisitely beautiful.
Line 110. The breath of worldly men, &c.] Here is the doctrine of indefeasible right expressed in the strongest terms; but our poet did not learn it in the reign of K. 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. JOHNSON.
Line 153. Mine ear is open, &c.] It seems to be the design of the poet to raise Richard to esteem in his fall, and consequently to interest the reader in his favour. He gives him only passive fortitude, the virtue of a confessor rather than of a king. In his prosperity we saw him imperious and oppressive; but in his distress he is wise, patient, and pious. JOHNSON.
Line 179. Thy very beadsmen learn to bend their bows-] " As "boys 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.
Line 180. Of double-fatal yew-] Called so, because the leaves of the yew are poison, and the wood is employed for instruments of death; therefore double fatal should be with an hyphen. WARB.
Line 224. And that small model of the barren earth,] He uses model for mould. That earth, which, closing upon the body, takes its form. This interpretation the next line seems to authorize.
Line 225. Which serves as paste, &c.] A metaphor, not of the most sublime kind, taken from a pie. JOHNSON.
Line 233. There the antick sits,] Here is an allusion to the antick or fool of old farces, whose chief part is to deride and disturb the graver and more splendid personages. JOHNSON.
Line 244. Tradition,] This word seems here used for traditional practices: that is, established or customary homage. JOHNSON. Line 256. death destroying death;] That is, to die fighting, is to return the evil that we suffer, to destroy the destroyers.
-I'll 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. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE III.
Line 308. For taking so the head,] To take the head is, to act without restraint; to take undue liberties. We now say, we give the horse his head, when we relax the reins. JOHNSON.
Line 360. See! see! king Richard doth himself appear,] The following six lines are absurdly given to Bolingbroke, who is made to condemn his own conduct and disculp the king's. It is plain these six and the four following all belong to York. WARB.
Line 395. But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,
Shall ill become the flower of England's face;] 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. JOHNSON.
-] i. e. commit.
-441. With words of sooth!] Sooth is sweet as well as true. In this place sooth means sweetness or softness, a signification yet retained in the verb to sooth. JOHNSON.
Line 465. —on their sovereign's head:] Shakspeare is very apt to deviate from the pathetic to the ridiculous. Had the speech of Richard ended at this line it had exhibited the natural language of submissive misery, conforming its intention to the present fortune, and calmly ending its purposes in death. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE IV.
Line 564. Against a change: woe is forerun with woe.] The poet, according to the common doctrine of prognostication, supposes dejection to forerun calamity, and a kingdom to be filled with rumours of sorrow when any great disaster is impending. The sense is, that public evils are always presignified by public pensiveness, and plaintive conversation. JOHNSON.
Line 579. -Our firm estate ?] Why (says he) should we be careful to preserve order in the narrow cincture of this our state, when the great state of the kingdom is in disorder? STEEVENS.
Line 646. I would, the plants, &c.] This execration of the queen is somewhat ludicrous, and unsuitable to her condition; the gardener's reflection is better adapted to the state both of his mind and his fortune. Mr. Pope, who has been throughout this play very diligent to reject what he did not like, has yet, I know not why, spared the last lines of this act. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Westminster Hall.] The rebuilding of Westminster Hall, which Richard had begun in 1397, being finished in 1399, the first meeting of parliament in the new edifice was for the purpose of deposing him. MALONE. Line 4. —his timeless end.] Timeless for untimely. WARB. 35. If that thy valour stand on sympathies,] Aumerle has
challenged Bagot with some hesitation, as not being his equal, and therefore one whom, according to the rules of chivalry, he was not obliged to fight, as a nobler life was not to be staked in a duel against a baser. Fitzwalter then throws down his gage, a pledge of battle; and tells him that if he stands upon sympathics, that is, upon equality of blood, the combat is now offered him by a man of rank not inferior to his own. Sympathy is an affection incident at once to two subjects. This community of affection implies a likeness or equality of nature, and thence our poet transferred the term to equality of blood. JOHNSON. Line 42. my rapier's point.] Shakspeare deserts the manners of the age in which his drama is placed very often, without necessity or advantage. The edge of a sword had served his pur pose as well as the point of a rapier, and he had then escaped the impropriety of giving the English nobles a weapon which was not seen in England till two centuries afterwards. JOHNSON.
Line 54. I take the earth to the like, &c.] This speech I have restored from the first edition in humble imitation of former editors, though, I believe, against the mind of the author. For the earth I suppose we should read, thy oath. JOHNSON.
Line 80. I dare meet Surrey in a wilderness,] I dare meet him where no help can be had by me against him. So in Macbeth,
"O be alive again,
"And dare me to the desert with thy sword."
Line 84. -in this new world,] In this world where I have just begun to be an actor. Surrey has, a few lines above, called him boy. JOHNSON.
Line 134. And shall the figure, &c.] Here is another proof that our author did not learn in king James's court his elevated notions of the right of kings. I know not any flatterer of the Stuarts, who has expressed this doctrine in much stronger terms. It must be observed that the poet intends, from the beginning to the end, to exhibit this bishop as brave, pious, and venerable.
Line 163. His day of trial.] After this line, whatever follows, almost to the end of the act, containing the whole process of dethroning and debasing king Richard, was added after the first edition of 1598, and before the second of 1615. Part of the
addition is proper, and part might have been forborn without much loss. The author, I suppose, intended to make a very moving scene. JOHNSON. Line 180. The favours, &c.] The countenances; the features. JOHNSON.
199. The emptier ever dancing—] This is a comparison not easily accommodated to the subject, nor very naturally introduced. The best part is this line, in which he makes the usurper the empty bucket. JOHNSON.
Line 212. My care is-loss of care, by old care done ;] Shakspeare often obscures his meaning by playing with sounds. Richard seems to say here, that his cares are not made less by the increase of Bolingbroke's cares; for this reason, that his care is the loss of care, his grief is, that his regal cares are at an end, by the cessation of the care to which he had been accustomed. JOHNSON.
Line 224. —my balm,] The oil of consecration. He has mentioned it before. JOHNSON.
Line 250. If thou would'st,] That is, if thou would'st read over a list of thy own deeds. JOHNSON.
Line 265. —a sort-] A pack, a company. WARBURTON. The last who used the word sort in this sense was, perhaps, Waller.
A sort of lusty shepherds strive.
Line 276. No, not that name was given me at the font,] How that name which was given him at the font could be usurped, I do not understand. Perhaps Shakspeare meant to shew that imagina tion, dwelling long on its own misfortunes, represents them as greater than they really are. ANONYMOUS.
Line 308. Did keep ten thousand men ?] Shakspeare is here not quite accurate. Our old Chroniclers only say that to his household came every day, to meate, ten thousand men. MALONE.
Line 348. -conveyers are you all,] To convey is a term often used in an ill sense, and so Richard understands it here. Pistol says of stealing, convey the wise it call; and to convey is the word. for slight of hand, which seems to be alluded to here. Ye are all, says the deposed prince, jugglers, who rise with this nimble dexterity by the fall of a good king. JOHNSON. Line 355. —as sharp to them as thorn.] This pathetic denun