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K. Rich. Thou, now a dying, fay'it, thou flatter'st
Gaunt. Oh! no, thou dy'ft, though I the ficker be. K. Rich. I am in health, I breathe, I fee thee ill. Gaunt. Now, he that made me knows, I fee thee ill; Ill in myself, and in thee, feeing ill. Thy death-bed is no leffer than thy land, Wherein thou lieft in reputation fick; And thou, too careless patient as thou art, Giv'ft thy anointed body to the cure Of those physicians that firft wounded thee. A thoufand flatterers fit within thy crown, Whose compass is no bigger than thy head, And yet, incaged in fo fmall a verge, Thy wafte is no whit leffer than thy land. Oh, had thy grandfire, with a prophet's eye, Seen how his fon's fon fhould destroy his fons, From forth thy reach he would have laid thy fhame; Depofing thee before thou wert poffefs'd, Who art poffefs'd now, to depofe thyself. Why, coufin, wert thou regent of the world, It were a fhame to let this land by leafe: But, for thy world, enjoying but this land, Is it not more than fhame, to fhame it fo? Landlord of England art thou now, not king: 9 Thy state of law is bond-slave to the law; And
Thy ftate of law is bond-flave to the law;] State of law, i. e. legal foreignty. But the Oxford editor alters it to fate c'er law, i. e. abfolute fo'reignty. 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-flave to the law, the poet means his being inflaved to his favorite fabjects. WARBURTON.
This fentiment, whatever it be, is obfcurely expreffed. I understand it differently from the learned commentator, being perhaps not quite fo zealous for Shakespeare's political reputation. The reafoning of Gaunt, I think, is this: By Setting thy royalties to farm thou haft reduced thyself to a fate below fo
Thou, a lunatic lean-witted fool,
Make pale our cheek; chafing the royal blood
Gaunt. Oh, fpare me not, my brother Edward's fon, For that I was his father Edward's fon. That blood already, like the pelican, Haft thou tap'd out, and drunkenly carows'd. My brother Glofter, plain well-meaning foul (Whom fair befal in heaven 'mongst happy fouls!) May be a precedent and witnefs good, That thou refpect'ft 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.
vereignty, thou art now no longer king but landlord of England, Jubject to the fame reftraint 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-flave 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-flave to the law, is not true. JOHNSON
And thy unkindness be like crooked age,
To crop at once a too-long wither'd flower.] Thus ftand thefe lines in all the copies, but I 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 fuppofe the poet
And thy unkindness be time's crooked edge
That is, let thy unkindness be time's fcythe to crop.
Edge was eafily confounded by the ear with age, and one mistake once admitted made way for another. JOHNSON.
Live in thy fhame, but die not shame with thee!
As theirs, fo mine; and all be, as it is.
North. My liege, old Gaunt commends him to your majefty.
K. Rich. What fays he?
North. Nay, nothing; all is faid. His tongue is now a ftringlefs inftrument, Words, life, and all, old Lancaster hath spent. York. Be York the next, that must be bankrupt fo! Though death be poor, it ends a mortal woe.
K. Rich. The ripest fruit firft falls, and fo doth he; His time is fpent, our pilgrimage must be: So much for that.-Now for our Irish wars! We must fupplant those rough rug-headed kerns, Which live like venom, where no venom elfe 3, But only they, hath privilege to live. And, for these great affairs do afk fome charge, Towards our affiftance, we do feize to us
Shakespeare, I believe, took this idea from the figure of Time, who is armed with a fcythe, which (from its form) was anciently called a crook. Crooked may mean armed with a crook. STEEV.
2 Love they] That is, let them love. JOHNSON.
3 where no venom elfe,] This alludes to the tradition that St. Patrick freed the kingdom of Ireland from venomous reptiles of every kind. STEEVENS.
The plate, coin, revenues, and moveables,
York. How long fhall I be patient? Oh, how long
K. Rich. Why, uncle, what's the matter?
Pardon me, if you pleafe; if not, I, pleas'd
4 Nor the prevention of poor Bolingbroke,
About his 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. STEVENS,
Did not the one deserve to have an heir?
His livery, and deny his offer'd homage,
K. Rich. Think what you will; we feize into our hands
His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.
K. Rich. Go, Bufhy, to the earl of Wiltshire straight, Bid him repair to us to Ely-house,
To fee this bufinefs. To-morrow next
-deny his offer'd homage,] That is, refufe to admit the bamage, by which he is to hold his lands. JOHNSON.