« PreviousContinue »
King Edward IV.
Sons to Edward IV.
A young Son of Clarence.
afterwards King Richard III.
ry VI. afterwards married to the Duke of Gloster. Dutchess of York, Mother to Edward IV. Clarence,
and Richard III. Sheriff, Pursuivant, Scrivener, Citizens, Ghosts, Soldiers,
and other Attendants.
Glo. Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this fun of York";
Life and Death of King Richard III.]. This tragedy, though it is called the Life and Death of this prince, comprizes, at most, but the last eight years of his time; for it opens
with George duke of Clarence being clapped up in the Tower, which happened in the beginning of the year 1477 and cloies with the death of Richard at Bosworthfield, which battle was fought on the 22d of August, in the year 1485. THEOBALD.
It appears that several dramas on the present subject had been written before Shakspeare attempted it. See the notes at the conclusion of this play, which was first enter'd at Stationers' Hall by Andrew Wise, Oct. 20, 1597, under the title of The Tragedie of King Richard the Third, with the Death of the Duke of Clarence. Before this, viz. Aug. 15th, 1586, was entered, A Tragical report of King Richard the Third, a Baliad. It may be necessary to remark that the words, song, ballad, book, enterlude: and play, were often fynonymously used. STBEVENS.
this fun of York;] Alluding to the cognizance of Edward IV. which was a fun, in memory of the three funs, which are said to have appeared at the battle which he gained over the Lancastrians at Mortimer's Cross, B 2
And all the clouds, that lowr'd upon our house,
So, in Drayton's Miseries of Queen Margaret :
" Three suns were seen that inftant to appear,
Ready to buckle as the armies were,
" Which this brave duke took to himself alone, &c. Again, in the 22d Song of the Polyolbion : " And thankful to high heaven which of his cause had
" That day was seene veramente
merry meetings,] So, in The tragical Life and Death of King Richard the Third, which is one of the metrical monologues in a collection entitled, The Mirrour of Magistrates. The first edition of it appeared in 1575, but the lines quoted on the prefent as well as future occasions throughout this play, are not found in any copy before that of 1610, so that the author was more probably indebted to Shakspeare than Shakspeare. to him :
the battles jought in fields before
The war-god's thundring cannons dreadful rore,
God Mars laid by his launce, and tooke his lute,
Instead of crimson fields, war's fatal fruit,
And set his thoughts upon her wanton lookes. Steevens.
And now,-instead of mounting barbed steeds 5,
“ The neighing of barbed fleeds, whose loudness filled the air “ with terror, and whose breaths dimned the fun with smoak, “ converted to delicate tunes and amorous glances ? &c.”
EDITOR. barbed steeds,] I. Haywarde, in his Life and Raigne of Henry IV. 1599, lays, -The duke of Hereford came to the bar, riers, mounted upon a white courser, barbed with blew and green velvet, &c. So, in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607 :
armed in a black armour, curiously damask'd with interwinding wreaths of cypress and ewe, his barbe upon his horse, all of black abrosetta, cut in broken hoopes upon curled cypress.” Again, in the ad Part of K. Edward Iy. by Heywood, 1626:
“ With barbed horse, and valiant armed foot.” Barbed, however, may be no more than a corruption of barded. Equus bardatus, in the Latin of the middle ages, was a horse adorned with military trappings. I have met with the word barded many times in our ancient chronicles and romances. An instance or two may suffice. • They mounted him surely upon a good and mighty courser, well barded, &c.”
Hift. of Helyas Knight of the Swanne, bl. I. no date. Again, in Barrett's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580:
“ Bardes or trappers of horses. Phalere, Lat.' Again, Hollinshed speaking of the preparations for the battle of Agincourt: “to the intent that if the barded hones ran fiercely upon them, &c.” Again, p. 892, he says, that bards and trappers had the same meaning.
It is observed in the Turkish Spy, that the German cuirasliers, though armed and barbed, man and horse, were not able to stand against the French cavalry. Steevens.
“He capers-] War capers. This is poetical, though a little harí ; if it be York that capers, the antecedent is at such a distance, that it is almoft forgotten. Johnson.
· Cheated of feature by diffembling nature,
? Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,] By disembling is not meant hypocritical nature, that pretends one thing and does another: but nature that puts together things of a dissimilar kind, as a brave foul and a deformed body. WARBURTON. Disembling is here put very licentiously for fraudful, deceitful.
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson hath certainly mistaken, and Dr. Warburton rightly explained the word dissembling ; as is evident from the following extract : “ Whyle thinges oitoode in this case, and " that the manner of addyng was sometime too short and some“ time too long, els dissembled and let flip together." Arthur Golding's translation of Julius Solinus, 1587. Henley.
$ Ånd descant on mine own deformity :] Descant is a term in music, signifying in general that kind of harmony wherein one part is broken and formed into a kind of paraphrase on the other. The propriety and elegance of the above figure, without such an idea of the nature of defcant, could not be discerned.
Sir J. HAWKINS. And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,] Shakspeare very diligently inculcates, that the wickedness of Richard proceeded from his deformity, from the envy that rose at the comparison of his own person with others, and which incited him to disturb the pleasures that he could not partake. JOHNSON, ' And hate the idle pleasures--] Perhaps we might read :
And bate the idle pleasures JOHNSON.
inductions dangerous,] Preparations for mischief. The Induction is preparatory to the action of the play. Johnson.
Marston has put this line, with little variation, into the mouth of Fame': “ Plots ha' you laid? inductions dangerous ?"