Page images
PDF
EPUB

K. Rich. Thou, now a dying, fay'ít, thou flatter'st

me.

Gaunt. Oh! no, thou dy'st, though I the sicker be.
K. Rich. I am in health, I breathe, I see thee ill.

Gaunt. Now, he that made me knows, I see thee ill:
Ill in myself, and in thee, seeing ill.
Thy death-bed is no lesser than thy land,
Wherein thou lieft in reputation fick;
And thou, too careless patient as thou art,
Giv'st thy anointed body to the cure
Of those physiciano that first wounded thee.
A thousand Aatterers sit within thy crown,
Whose compass is no bigger than thy head,
And yet, incaged in so small a verge,
Thị waste is no whit lesser than thy land.
Oh, had thy grandfire, with a prophet's eye,
Seen how his son's son should destroy his sons,
From forth thy reach he would have laid thy shame;
Deposing thee before thou wert poffefs’d,
Who art poffefs'd now, to depole thyself.
Why, cousin, wert thou regent of the world,
It were a shame to let this land by lease:
But, for thy world, enjoying but this land,
Is it not more than shame, to shame it so?
Landlord of England art thou now, not king :
9 Thy state of law is bond-Nave to the law;
And

K. Rich.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

9

Thy state of law is bond-Nave to the law;] State of law, i.e. legal fou'reignty. But the Oxford editor alters it to state o'er law, i.e. absolute fou'reignty. A

A doctrine, which, if our poet ever learnt at all, he learnt not in the reign when this play was written, queen Elizabeth's, but in the reign after it, king James's

. By bond-slave to the law, the poet means his being innaved to his favorite subjects.

WARBURTON. This sentiment, whatever it be, is obscurely expressed. I understand it differently from the learned commentator, being perhaps not quite so zealous for Shakespeare's political reputation. The reasoning of Gaunt, I think, is this: By setting by royalties to farm thou haft reduced thyself to a frate below for This tongue,

vereignty,

K. Rich. Thou, a lunatic lean-witted foob, Presuming on an ague's privilege, Dar'ft with a frozen admonition Make pale our cheek; chasing the royal blood With fury from his native residence. Now by my seat's right-royal majesty, Wert thou not brother to great Edward's son,

that runs so roundly in thy head, Should run thy head from thy unreverend shoulders.

Gaunt. Oh, fpare me not, my brother Edward's son, For that I was his father Edward's son. That blood already, like the pelican, Hast thou tap'd out, and drunkenly carows'd. My brother Gloster, plain well-meaning soul (Whom fair befal in heaven ʼmongst happy fouls !) May be a precedent and witness good, That thou respectft not spilling Edward's blood. Join with the present sickness that I have;

And thy unkindness be like crooked age, To crop at once a too-long wither'd flower.

Live

vereignty, thou art now no longer king but landlord of England, subject to the same restraint and limitations as other landlords; by making thy condition a state of law, a condition upon which the common rules of law can operate, thou art become a bond-slave to the law; thou hast made thyself amenable to laws from which thou wert originally exempt.

Whether this interpretation be true or no, it is plain that Dr. Warburton's explanation of bond-slave to the law, is not true. JOHNSON.

And thy unkindness be like crooked age, To crop at once a too-long wither'd Rower.] Thus stand these lines in all the copies, but ì think there is an error. Why should Gaunt, already old, call on any thing like age to end him? How can age be faid to crop at once? How is the idea of crookedness connected with that of cropping? I suppose the poet dictated thus :

And thy unkindness be time's crooked edge

To crop at once
That is, let thy unkindness be time's scythe to crop.

Edge was easily confounded by the ear with age, and one mistake once admitted made way for another. JOHNSON.

Shakespeare

Live in thy shame, but die not shame with thee!
These words hereafter thy tormentors be!
Convey me to my bed, then to my grave :-
: Love they to live, that love and honour have.

[Exit, borne out. K. Rich. And let thern die, that age and sullens have; For both hast thou, and both become the grave.

York. I do beseech your majesty, impute
His words to wayward fickliness and age:
He loves you, on my life, and holds you dear
As Harry duke of Hereford, were he here.

K. Rich. Right, you fay true: as Hereford's love,

so his;

As theirs, so mine; and all be, as it is.

Enter Northumberland.
North. My liege, old Gaunt commends him to

your majesty
K. Rich. What says he ?
North. Nay, nothing; all is said.
His tongue is now a stringless instrument,
Words, life, and all, old Lancaster hath spent.

York. Be York the next, that must be bankrupt so! Though death be poor, it ends a mortal woe.

K. Rich. The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he; His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be: So much for that. Now for our Irish wars : We must supplant those rough rug-headed kerns, Which live like venom, where no venom else 3, But only they, hath privilege to live. And, for these great affairs do ask some charge, Towards our assistance, we do seize to us,

Shakespeare, I believe, took this idea from the figure of Time, who is armed with a scythe, which (from its form) was anciently called a crook. Crooked may mean armed with a crook. Steev. * Love they] That is, let them love. JOHNSON.

where no venom else,] This alludes to the tradition that St. Patrick freed the kingdom of Ireland from venomous reptiles every

kind. STEEVENS. Vol. Y.

K

The

of

[ocr errors]

The plate, coin, revenues, and moveables,
Whereof our uncle Gaunt did stand possess’d.

York. How long shall I be patient? Oh, how long
Shall tender duty make me suffer wrong?
Not Glofter's death, not Hereford's banishment,
Not Gaunt's rebukes, nor England's private wrongs,
4 Nor the prevention of poor Bolingbroke,
About his marriage, nor my own disgrace,
Have ever made me four my patient cheek,
Or bend one wrinkle on my sovereign's face.-
I am the last of noble Edward's fons,
Of whom thy father, prince of Wales, was first;
In war, was never lion rag'd more fierce,
In peace, was never gentle lamb more mild,
Than was that young and princely gentleman:
His face thou hast, for even so look'd he,
Accomplish'd with the number of thy hours;
But when he frown'd, it was against the French,
And not against his friends : his noble hand
Did win what he did spend, and spent not that
Which his triumphant father's hand had won.
His hands were guilty of no kindred's blood,
But bloody with the enemies of his kin.
Oh, Richard ! York is too far gone with grief,
Or else he never would compare between.

K. Rich. Why, uncle, what's the matter?

York. O my liege,
Pardon me, if you please; if not, I, pleas'd
Not to be pardon'd, am content withal.
Seek you to seize, and gripe into your hands,
The royalties and rights of banish'd Hereford ?
Is not Gaunt dead? and doth not Hereford live?
Was not Gaunt just, and is not Harry true ?
4 Nor the prevention of poor Bolingbroke,

About bis marriage, &c.) When the duke of Hereford, after his banishment, went into France, he was honourably entertained at that court, and would have obtained in marriage the only daughter of the duke of Berry, uncle to the French king, had not Richard prevented the match, STEEVENS,

Did

[ocr errors]

Did not the one deserve to have an heir ?
Is not his heir a well-deserving fon?
Take Hereford's right away, and take from time
His charters, and his customary rights;
Let not to-morrow then ensue to-day ;
Be not thyself; for how art thou a king,
But by fair fequence and succession ?
Now, afore God (God forbid I say true!)
If you do wrongfully seize Hereford's rights,
Call in his letters patents that he hath
By his attornies-general to sue
His livery, and 5 deny his offer'd homage,
Yo: pluck a thousand dangers on your head;
You lose a thousand well-difpofed hearts ;
And prick my tender patience to those thoughts,
Which honour and allegiance cannot think.
K. Rich. Think what you will; we seize into our

hands
His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.

York. I'll not be by the while: my liege, farewell: What will ensue hereof, there's none can tell ; But by bad courses may be understood, That their events can never fall out good. [Exit.

K. Rich. Go, Bushy, to the earl of Wiltfhire straight, Bid him repair to us to Ely-house, To see this business. To-morrow next We will for Ireland ; and 'tis time, I trow; And we create, in absence of ourself, Our uncle York lord-governor of England, For he is just, and always lov'd us well.Come on, our queen : to-morrow must we part ; Be merry, for our time of stay is short. [Flourish.

[Exeunt king, queen, &c. North. Well, lords, the duke of Lancaster is dead, Ross. And living too; for now his son is duke.

[ocr errors]

deny bis offer'd homage,] That is, refuse to admit the bemege, by which he is to hold his lands. JOHNSON.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »