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FIHAT a plet on the subject of RICEARD II.” was extant
when Shakere wote this tezgets, there can no longer be a Soestion; but that he was indebted to it to y extent we do not bebere, and for a reason with me she presently deliver. Many commentators, hometer, seem b y to have made up their minds
as to the cristezze CE FEET320 Fey; and w e they hint at it in connexion with a very interesting serial event, se ast, sêz 2. qete sere that Shakspere's tragedy was not the performance in quesoon.
On the night preceding the ill advised iscursice of the Earl of Eases into the City, his steward, Sir Gilly Meyrick, and his secretary, Henry Cse, proceed to be played the play of the DEPOSING OF RICHARD II.” It seems they were informed by Aagrestise P os, to whom they had applied, and who was one of the players at the Globe Theatre, that "the play wis old, and they should have loss in playing it, because few would come to it;" si, szer gy, there were forty shillings extraordinary given to play, and therefore played it was.” This ters, si], s ciently investes that it was not the work of Shakspere, which had not been written more than three or four years. Camden, likewise, calls it the “oul-dated play of RICHARD II.;" a word which, in this instance, appears to us to convey, not only the sense of antiquated, or out of date, but also of superseded. Way mention it s oct-dated, since that could make no difference in the matter, if not to čistiage it from the nex, or Shakspere's play?
It may be worth abile to pursue this a Etile fertler. Ose Hayward, in the previous year (1599). liad published his History of the first year of the reign of Heary IT. which, as Malone truly says, was in fact nothing more than a history of the deposing Kirg Richard II. The writie adds, what is likewise true, that the publication of this book gare great o ecee at court, and that the author was heavily censured in the Star Chamber, and committed to prison. Hence, he infers that the subject itself was disgustful to the Queen, and that Shakspere felt himself constrained to omit one hundred and fifty-four lines, describing "a kind of trial of the King, and his actual deposition in parliament," not only in the representation, but in his printed play.
Now, the truth is, neither Hayward's book, as to its substance, nor Shakspere's play, as to its spirit, was obnoxious to Queen Elizabeth. Hayward was censured and imprisoned, not for writing a History of the first year of Henry IV., but for dedicating it to the Earl of Essex, sith the addition of all his titles and offices of honour, and for presuming in such dedication to foretel that that nobleman was yet bom to great achievements, at a time when the Earl was suffering under the displeasure of the Queen, suspended from all his offices, and actually in the custody of the Lord Keeper. And although the scene of Richard's formal deposition does not occur in the first edition of Shakspere's play, which was published in 1597, yet it is to be found in the second, which was published in the year following:-3 twelvemonth, be it remembered, before the Earl of Essex had fallen into disgrace; before he had conceived any designs against her Majesty; and, consequently, before the Queen could have taken any disgust to the subject of the play, or felt any dread of its representation. Queen Elizabeth seldom strained at a guat or swallowed a camel; and to have objected to the scene of Richard's deposition, while she permitted the scene of his murder, his deposition being recognised in the play, and, accordingly, perfectly well known to the audience, is to suppose a degree of squeamishness in that great princess not only foreign to ner character, but absolutely absurd and irrational. We have no doubt that the play caused to be played by Meyrick and Cuffe was written in a totally different spirit from Shakspere's tragedy and from Hayward's history, which last is little more than an abstract from Holinshed; as, indeed, the occurrences, and some of the passages, in our author's play are likewise drawn thence.
From a play like the older one, therefore, thus fallen into discredit, and fraught probably with per. nicious sentiments, Shakspere can have borrowed little more than the subject. His production is adapted to no such purpose as the other. True to his design of representing history, and of revivifying its per sonages, he has been neither unjust to Richard, nor partial to Bolingbroke. What they were to the apprehension of every reader of history, even so has he painted them, and with colours such as none but he could employ, and with a pencil such as none other could wield. Few of his dramas contain finer things, both of poetry and passion, than are to be found in “RICHARD II.” No man could have imagined that this play would help the cause of treason: that the semblable presentment, on a public stage, of this weak and willul, this dejected and yet majestic creature, Richard, could steel meu's hearts :
SCENE I.-London. A Room in the Palace. Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ? Enter KING RICHARD, attended; Johx of GAUNT Gaunt. I have, my liege. and other Nobles with him.
I K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded
him, K. Rich. Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured If he appeal the duke on ancient malice; Lancaster, ol
Or worthily, as a good subject should, Hast thou, according to thy oath and band, On some known ground of treachery in him ? Brought hither Henry Hereford thy bold son; | Gaunt. As near as I could sift him on that Here to make good the boisterous late appeal,
On some apparent danger seen in him,
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain :
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
[Exeunt some Attendants. | Meantime, let this defend my loyalty,– High-stomached are they both, and full of ire; By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie. In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Boling. Pale trembling coward, there I throw
my gage, Re-enter Attendants, with BOLINGBROKE and
Disclaiming here the kindred of a king;
And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
Nor. Each day still better other's happiness; As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop : Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap, By that, and all the rites of knighthood else, Add an immortal title to your crown!
Will I make good against thee, arm to arm, K. Rich. We thank you both : yet one but | What I have spoke, or thou canst worse devise. flatters us,
Nor. I take it up: and by that sword I swear As well appeareth by the cause you come; Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder, Namely, to appeal each other of high treason. I 'll answer thee in any fair degree, Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object Or chivalrous design of knightly trial: Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray? And when I mount, alive may I not light Boling. First, (Heaven be the record to my If I be traitor or unjustly fight! speech!).
K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to MowIn the devotion of a subject's love,
bray's charge ? Tendering the precious safety of my prince, It must be great that can inherit us And free from other misbegotten hate,
So much as of a thought of ill in him. Come I appellant to this princely presence. Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee;
it true;And mark my greeting well: for what I speak That Mowbray hath received eight thousand My body shall make good upon this eartlı,
nobles, Or my divine soul answer it in heaven :
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers: Thou art a traitor and a miscreant;
'The which he hath detained for lewd employments, Too good to be so, and too bad to live;
Like a false traitor and injurious villain. Since the more fair and crystal is the sky, Besides I say, and will in battle prove The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
(Or here or elsewhere, to the furthest verge Once more, the more to aggravate the note, That ever was surveyed by English eye), With a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat; That all the treasons for these eighteen years And wish (so please my sovereign), ere I move, Complotted and contrived in this land, What my tongue speaks my right-drawn sword Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and may prove.
spring. Nor. Let not my cold words here accuse my Further I say (and further will maintain zeal:
Upon his bad life to make all this good), "T is not the trial of a woman's war,
That he did plot the Duke of Gloster's death ; The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
Suggest his soon-believing adversaries; Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain : And consequently, like a traitor coward, The blood is hot that must be cooled for this. Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of Yet can I not of such tame patience boast,
blood : As to be hushed, and nought at all to say. Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries, First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth, From giving reins and spurs to my free speech, | To me for justice and rough chastisement: Which else would post until it had returned And, by the glorious worth of my descent, These terms of treason doubled down his throat. This arm shall do it, or this life be spent. Setting aside his high blood's royalty,
K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
soars! I do defy him, and I spit at him;
Thomas of Norfolk, what sayst thou to this?
Nor. O, let my sovereign turn away his face, | R. Rich. Norfolk, throw down; we bid : there And bid his ears a little while be deaf,
is no boot. Till I have told this slander of his blood
Nor. Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot: How God and good men hate so foul a liar. My life thou shalt command, but not my shame: K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and The one my duty owes; but my fair name ears:
(Despite of death, that lives upon my grave) Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir To dark dishonour's use thou shalt not have.. (As he is but my father's brother's son),
I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled here; Now by my sceptre's awe I make a vow
Pierced to the soul with slander's venomed spear: Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood Should nothing privilege him, nor partialise Which breathed this poison. The unstooping firmness of my upright soul. K. Rich. Rage must be withstood : He is our subject, Mowbray; so art thou:
Give me his gage:-lions make leopards tame. Free speech, and fearless, I to thee allow.
Nor. Yea, but not change their spots: take Nor. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
but my shame, Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest! And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord, Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais, The purest treasure mortal times afford, Disbursed I duly to his highness' soldiers : Is spotless reputation: that away, The other part reserved I by consent;
Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.
Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try : Neglected my sworn duty in that case.—
In that I live, and for that will I die. For you, my noble lord of Lancaster,
K. Rich. Cousin, throw down your gage: do The honourable father to my foe,
you begin. Once did I lay in ambush for your life ;
Boling. O God defend my soul from such foul sin ! A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul : Shall I seem crestfallen in my father's sight; But ere I last received the sacrament
Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height I did confess it, and exactly begged
Before this outdared dastard ? Ere my tongue Your grace's pardon; and I hope I had it. Shall wound mine honour with such feeble wrong, This is my fault. As for the rest appealed, Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear It issues from the rancour of a villain,
The slavish motive of recanting fear, - A recreant and most degenerate traitor :
And spit it bleeding, in his high disgrace, Which in myself I boldly will defend;
Where shame doth harbour, even in Mowbray's And interchangeably hurl down my gage
[Exit Gaunt. Upon this overweening traitor's foot,
K. Rich. We were not born to sue, but to To prove myself a loyal gentleman
command : Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom. Which since we cannot do to make you friends, In haste whereof, most heartily I pray
Be ready, as your lives shall answer it, Your highness to assign our trial day.
At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert's day: K. Rich. Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled There shall your swords and lances arbitrate by me:
The swelling difference of your settled hate. Let's purge this choler without letting blood : Since we cannot atone you, you shall see This we prescribe, though no physician:
Justice design the victor's chivalry. Deep malice makes too deep incision.
Lord Marshal, command our officer at arms
Enter Gaunt and Ducuess of Gloster. Gaunt. When, Harry; when?
Gaunt. Alas! the part I had in Gloster's blood Obedience bids I should not bid again.
Doth more solicit me than your exclaims, VOL. IIT.
To stír against the butchers of his ite.
Duch. Finds brocherhood in theena sharper spur?
Some of those branches by the destinies cut:
In some large measure to thy father's death, Duch. Where then, alas! may I complain myself! In that thou seest thy wretched brother die, Gamt. To Heaven, the widow's champion and Who was the model of thy father's life.
defence. Cail it not patience, Gaunt; it is despair.
Duch. Why then, I will. Farewell, old Gaunt: In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughtered, Thou go'st to Coventry, there to behold Thou shev'st the naked pathway to thy life; Our cousin Hereford and fell Mowbray fight:Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee. O, sit my husband's wrongs on Hereford's spear, That which in mean men we entitle patience, That it may enter butcher Mowbray's breast! Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.
Or, if misfortune miss the first career, What shall I say?-to safeguard thine own life, Be Mowbray's sins so ha avy in bis bosom The best way is to 'venge my Gloster's death. That they may break his foaming courser's back, Gaunt. Heaven's is the quarrel · for Heaven's And throw the rider hearllong in the lists, substitute,
A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford !His deputy anointed in His sight,
Farewell, old Gaunt: thy sometime brother's wife Hath caused his death : the which, if wrongfully, | With her companion grief must end her life. Let Heaven revenge ; for I may never lift
Gaunt, Sister, farewell: I must to Coventry : An angry arm against His minister
| As much good stay with thee as go with me!