Abbildungen der Seite


(1) SCENE I.


-I here entail

The crown to thee, and to thine heirs for ever.]

This compromise is an historical fact; and, from the following account, extracted from a MS. in the British Museum (Harl. C. 7), appears to have been the result of long and frequent debates in parliament. "On halmesse evyn, abowt thre after noyne, comyn into the Comowne Howus, the Lordys spiritual and temporal, excepte the Kyng, the Duk of York, and hys sonys; And the Chawnceler reherset the debate had_bytwyn owre soveren Lord the Kyng and the Duk of York upon the tytelys of Inglond, Fraunce, and the Lordschep of Erlond, wyche mater was debat, arguet, and disputet by the seyd lordes spiritual and temporal byfore owre soveren Lord and the Duk of York longe and diverse tymys. And at the last, by gret avyce and deliberacion, and by the assent of owre soveryn Lord and the Duk of York, and alle the lordes spiritual and temporal ther assemelyd by vertu of thys present parlement, assentyt, agreyt, and acordyt, that owre sovereyne Lord the Kyng schal pessabylly and quyetly rejoys and possesse the crowne of Inglond and of Fraunce, and the Lordchip of Irlond, with al hys pre-emynences, prerogatyves, and liberteys during hys lyf. And that after hys desese, the coroun, etc., schal remayne to Rychard Duk of York, as rythe inheryt to hym and to hys issue, prayng and desyring ther the comownes of Inglond, be vertu of thys present parlement assemylet, to comyne the seyd mater, and to gyff therto her assent. The whyche comyns, after the mater debatet, comynt, grawntyt, and assentyt to the forseyd premisses. And ferthermore was granted and assentyt, that the seyd Duk of York, the Erl of March, and of Rutlond, schul be sworne that they schuld not compas ne conspyrene the kynges deth ne hys hurt duryng hys lyf. Ferthermore the forseyd Duk schulde be had, take and reportyt as eyr apparent prince and ryth inheryter to the crowne aboveseyd. Ferthermore for to be had and take tresoun to ymagine or compas the deth or the hurt of the seyd Duk, wythe othyr prerogatyves as long to the prince and eyr parawnt. And ferthermore the seyd Duk and hys sonys schul have of the Kyng yerly ten thousand marces, that is to sey, to hemself five thousand, to the Erl of Marche three thousand, the Erl of Rutlond two thousand marces. And alle these mateyrs agreyd, assentyt, and inactyt by the auctoritie of thys present parlement. And ferthermore, the statutes mad in the tyme of Kyng Herry the fowrth, wherby the croune was curtaylet to hys issu male, utterly anullyd and evertyth, wyth alle other statutes and grantys mad by the seyd Kynges days, Kyng Herry the V. and King Herry the vjte, in the infforsyng of the tytel of Kyng Herry the fourth in general."

(2) SCENE I.-Stern Falconbridge.] "The person here meant was Thomas Nevil, bastard son to the lord Faucon bridge. A man (says Hall) of no lesse corage then audacitie, who for his evel condicions was such an apte person, that a more meter could not be chosen to set all the worlde in a broyle, and to put the estate of the realme on an yl hazard.' He had been appointed by Warwick vice-admiral of the sea, and had in charge so to keep the passage between Dover and Calais, that none which either favoured King Henry or his friends should escape untaken or undrowned: such at least were his instructions, with respect to the friends and favourers of King Edward, after the rupture between him and Warwick. On Warwick's death, he fell into poverty, and robbed, both by sea and land, as well friends as enemies. He once brought his ships up the Thames, and with a considerable body of the men of Kent and Essex, made a spirited assault on the City, with a view to plunder and pillage, which was not repelled but after a sharp conflict, and the loss of many lives; and, had it happened at a more critical period, might have been attended with fatal consequences to Edward. After roving on

the sea some little time longer, he ventured to land at Southampton, where he was taken and beheaded."-RITSON.

(3) SCENE III.-Thy father slew my father; therefore, die.] "While this battaill was in fightyng, a prieste called sir Robert Aspall, chappelain and schole master to the yong erle of Rutland II. sonne to the above named duke of Yorke, scarce of the age of .xii. yeres, a faire gentleman, and a maydenlike person, perceivyng that flight was more savegard, then tariyng, bothe for him and his master, secretly conveyed therle out of the felde, by the lord Cliffordes bande, toward the towne, but or he coulde enter into a house, he was by the sayd lord Clifford espied, folowed, and taken, and by reson of his apparell, demaunded what he was. The yong gentelman dismaied, had not a word to speake, but kneled on his knees imploryng mercy, and desiryng grace, both with holding up his handes and making dolorous countinance, for his speache was gone for feare. Save him sayde his Chappelein, for he is a princes sonne, and peradventure may do you good hereafter. With that word, the lord Clifford marked him and sayde: by Gods blode, thy father slew myne, and so wil I do the and all thy kyn, and with that woord, stacke the erle to the hart with his dagger, and bad his Chappeleyn bere the erles mother and brother worde what he had done, and sayde. In this acte the lord Clyfford was accompted a tyraunt, and no gentelman, for the propertie of the Lyon, which is a furious and an unreasonable beaste, is to be cruell to them that withstande hym, and gentle to such as prostrate or humiliate them selfes before him."-HALL.

(1) SCENE I.


Nay, if thou be that princely eagle's bird,
Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun.]

The opinion that the eagle, of all birds, possessed the faculty of gazing undazzled at the blazing sun, is of very high antiquity. Pliny relates that it exposes its brood to this test as soon as hatched, to prove if they be genuine or not. Chaucer refers to the belief in the "Assemblie of Foules:"

"There mighten men the royal egal find,

That with his sharp look persith the sonne."

As does Spenser, in the "Hymn of Heavenly Beauty:"

"Mount up aloft, through heavenly contemplation,
From this dark world, whose damps the soul do blind.
And like the native brood of eagles kind,


On that bright sun of glory fix thyne eyes,
Clear'd from gross mists of frail infirmitys."

And happy always was it for that son,

Whose father for his hoarding went to hell?]

An allusion to a trite proverb: "Happy is the child whose father went to the devil.” "It hath beene an olde proverbe, that happy is that sonne whose father goes to the devill: meaning by thys allegoricall kind of speech, that such fathers as seeke to inrich theyr sonnes by covetousnes, by briberie, purloyning, or by any other sinister meanes, suffer not onely affliction of mind, as greeved with insatietie of getting, but wyth danger of soule; as a just reward for such wretchednesse."-GREENE'S Royal Exchange, 4to. Lond. 1590.


I would your highness would depart the field;
The queen hath best success when you are absent.]

"Happy was the Quene in her two battayls, but unfortunate was the King in al his enterprises, for wher his person was presente, ther victory fled ever from him to the other parte, and he commonly was subdued and vanqueshed.”—HALL.

Drayton, in "The Miseries of Queen Margaret," calls attention to this general belief in the luckless fortunes of the King:

"Some think that Warwick had not lost the day,

But that the King into the field he brought;
For with the worse that side went still away

Which had King Henry with them when they fought.
Upon his birth so sad a curse there lay,

As that he never prospered in aught.

The queen won two, among the loss of many,
Her husband absent; present, never any."

(4) SCENE III-A Field of Battle between Towton and Saxton, in Yorkshire.] The following is Hall's narrative of the memorable battle of Towton; "a battle," Carte observes, which "decided the fate of the house of Lancaster, overturning in one day an usurpation strengthened by near sixty-two years' continuance, and established Edward on the throne of England." "The same day, about .ix. of the clocke, whiche was the .xxix. day of Marche, beyng Palm-sundaye, bothe the hostes approched in a playn felde, between Towton and Saxton. When eche parte perceyved other, thei made a great shoute, and at the same instante time, their fell a small snyt or snow, which by violence of the wynd was driven into the faces of them, which were of kyng Henries parte, so that their sight was somewhat blemeshed and minished. The lord Fawnconbridge, which led the forward of kyng Edwardes battail (as before is rehersed) being a man of great polecie, and of much experience in marciall feates, caused every archer under his standard, to shot one flyght (which before he caused them to provide) and then made them to stand still. The Northrenmen, feling the shoot, but by reason of the snow, not wel vewyng the distaunce betwene them and their enemies, like hardy men shot their schiefe arrowes as fast as thei might, but al their shot was lost, and their labor vayn, for they came not nere the Southermen by .xl. taylors yerdes. When their shot was almost spent, the lord Fawconbridge marched forwarde with his archers, which not onely shot their awne whole sheves, but also gathered the arrowes of their enemies, and let a great parte of them flye agaynst their awne masters, and another part thei let stand on the ground, which sore noyed the legges of the owners, when the battayle joyned. The erle of Northumberland, and Andrew Trolope, which were chefetayns of Kyng Henries vangard, seynge their shot not to prevayle, hasted forward to joine with their enemies; you may besure the other part nothing retarded, but valeauntly foughte with their enemies. This battayl was sore foughten, for hope of life was set on side on every parte and takynge of prisoners was proclaymed as a great offence, by reason wherof every man determined, either to conquere or to dye the felde. This deadly battayle and bloudy conflicte, continued .x. houres in doubtfull victorie. The one parte some time flowyng, and some time ebbyng, but in conclusion, kyng Edward so coragiously comforted his men, refreshyng the wery, and helping the wounded, that the other part was discomfited and overcome, and lyke men amased, fledde toward Tadcaster bridge to save them selfes: but in the meane way there is a litle broke called Cocke not very broade, but of a great deapnes, in the whiche, what for hast of escapyng, and what for feare of folowers, a great number were drent and drowned, in so much that the common people there affirme, that men alyve passed the ryver upon dead carcasis, and that the great ryver of Wharfe, which is the great sewer of that broke, and of all the water comyng from Towton, was colored with bloude."

(5) SCENE VI.-For Gloster's dukedom is too ominous.] So Hall:-"It seemeth to many men that the name and title of Gloucester hath bene unfortunate and unluckie to diverse, whiche for their honor have bene erected by creation of princes to that stile and dignitie; as Hugh Spencer, Thomas of Woodstocke, son to Kynge Edward the thirde, and this duke Humphrey, whiche three persons by miserable death finished their daies; and after them King Richard the iii. also duke of Gloucester, in civil warre was slaine and confounded; so that this name of Gloucester is taken for an unhappie and unfortunate stile, as the proverbe speaketh of Sejanes horse, whose ryder was ever unhorsed, and whose possessor was ever brought to miserie."


(1) SCENE I.-From Scotland am I stoln, even of pure love, &c.] "And on that parte that marched upon Scotlande, he laied watches and espialles, that no persone should go

out of the realme to kyng Henry and his company, which then laye soiornyng in Scotlande; but whatsoever ieoperdy or peryll might bee construed or demed to have insued by the meanes of kyng Henry, all suche doubtes were now shortly resolved and determined, and all feare of his doynges were clerely put under and extinct; for he hymselfe, whether he were past all feare, or was not well stablished in his perfite mynde, or could not long kepe hymselfe secrete, in a disguysed apparell boldely entered into Englande. He was no soner entered, but he was knowen and taken of one Cantlowe, and brought towarde the kyng, whom the erle of Warwicke met on the waie, by the kynges commaundement, and brought hym through London to the towre, and there he was laied in sure holde."-HALL.


This is an error. not on the side of aware, since, in remarks,

Because in quarrel of the house of York

The worthy gentleman did lose his life.]

Sir John Grey fell at the second battle of St. Alban's, while fighting, York, but Lancaster; a fact of which Shakespeare was subsequently "Richard III." Act I. Sc. 3, Richard, addressing Queen Elizabeth,

"In all which time, you, and your husband Grey,

Were factious for the house of Lancaster;

And, Rivers, so were you-was not your husband
In Margaret's battle at Saint Alban's slain?"

It may not be out of place to introduce here a portion of Hall's description of King Edward's first interview with the lady Grey, upon which the present scene was founded.

"The king being on huntyng in the forest of Wychwod besyde Stonnystratforde, came for his recreacion to the mannor of Grafton, where the duches of Bedford sojorned, then wyfe to sir Richard Wodvile, lord Ryvers, on whom then was attendyng a doughter of hers, called dame Elizabeth Greye, wydow of sir Ihon Grey knight, slayn at the last battell of saincte Albons, by the power of kyng Edward. This wydow havyng a suyt to the king, either to be restored by hym to some thyng taken from her, or requyring hym of pitie, to have some augmentacion to her livyng, founde such grace in the kynges eyes, that he not onely favored her suyte, but much more phantasied her person, for she was a woman more of formal countenaunce, then of excellent beautie, but yet of such beautie and favor, that with her sober demeanure, lovely lokyng, and femynyne smylyng, (neither to wanton nor to humble) besyde her toungue so eloquent, and her wit so pregnant, she was able to ravishe the mynde of a meane person, when she allured, and made subject to her, the hart of so great a king. After that kyng Edward had well considered all the linyamentes of her body, and the wise and womanly demeanure that he saw in her, he determined first to attempt, if he might provoke her to be his sovereigne lady, promisyng her many giftes and fayre rewardes, affirmynge farther, that if she woulde therunto condiscend, she myght so fortune of his peramour and concubyne, to be chaunged to his wyfe and law full bedfelow: whiche demaunde she so wisely and with so covert speache aunswered and repugned, affirmynge that as she was for his honor farre unable to be hys spouse and bedfelow: So for her awne poore honestie, she was to good to be either hys concubyne, or sovereigne lady: that where he was a littell before heated with the dart of Cupid, he was nowe set all on a hote burnyng fyre, what for the confidence that he had in her perfyte constancy, and the trust that he had in her constant chastitie, and without any farther deliberacion, he determined with him selfe clerely to marye with her, after that askyng counsaill of them, whiche he knewe neither woulde nor once durst impugne his concluded purpose. But the duches of Yorke hys mother letted it as much as in her lay alledgyng a precontract made by hym with the lady Lucye, and divers other lettes: al which doubtes were resolved, and all thinges made clere and all cavillacions avoyded. And so, privilie in a mornyng he maried her at Grafton, where he first phantasied her visage."


I came from Edward as ambassador,

But I return his sworn and mortal foe.]

Shakespeare's relation of Warwick's embassy and commission, and the rupture between king Edward and him in consequence of the former's marriage with lady Grey, are strictly accordant with the statements of Hall and Holinshed; but, as Ritson observes, "later as well as earlyer writers, of better authority, incline us to discredit the whole; and to refer the rupture between the king and his political creator to causes which have not reached posterity, or to that jealousy and ingratitude so natural, perhaps, to those who

are under great obligations, too great to be discharged.

Beneficia (says Tacitus) eò usque læta sunt, dum videntur exsolvi posse: ubi multum antevenere, pro gratiâ odium redditur.'"

Hall's narration of the circumstances, which appears to have been that adopted by the poet, is as follows:

"The same yere he [Warwick] cam to kyng Lewes the .xi. then beyng Frenche kyng, liying at Tours, and with greate honor was there received, and honorably interteined: of whom, for kyng Edward his master, he demaunded to have in mariage the lady Bona, doughter to Lewes duke of Savoy, and suster to the lady Carlot, then French Quene, beyng then in the Frenche court. This mariage semeth pollitiquely devised, and of an high imaginacion to be invented, if you will well consider, the state and condicion of king Edwardes affaires, which at this time, had kyng Henry the vi. in safe custody, in the strong toure of London, and the moste parte of his adherentes, he had as he thought, either profligated or extinct, Quene Margaret onely except, and Prince Edward her sonne, which wer then sojornyng at Angiers, with old Duke Reiner of Anjow her father, writyng himself kyng of Naples, Scicile, and Jerusalem, having as much profites of the letters of his glorious stile, as rentes and revenues out of the said large and riche realmes and dominions, (because the kyng of Arragon toke the profites of the same, and would make no accompt therof to duke Reiner). Kyng Edward therfore thought it necessary, to have affinitie in Fraunce, and especially by the Quenes suster: which Quene although she ruled not the kyng her husband, (as many women do) yet he of a certain especiall humilitie, was more content to have her favor and folowe her desire, (for wedded men oftentymes doubt stormes) rather then to have a lowryng countenaunce, and a ringing peale, when he should go to his rest and quietnes: trusting that by this mariage, quene Margarete (whom the same Quene Carlot litle or nothyng regarded, although her father was called a kyng and she a quene, and none of both having subjectes, profites, nor dominions) should have no aide, succor, nor any comfort of the French king, nor of none of his frendes nor alies, wherfore quene Carlot much desirous to advance her blod and progenie, and especially to so great a prince as kyng Edward was, obteyned both the good will of the kyng her husband, and also of her syster, so that the matrimony on that syde was clerely assented to. But when the erle of Warwycke had perfit knowledge by the letters of his trusty frendes, that kyng Edward had gotten him a new wyfe, and that all that he had done with kyng Lewes in his ambassade for the conjoynyng of this new affinitie, was both frustrate and vayn, he was earnestly moved and sore chafed with the chaunce, and thought it necessarye that king Edward should be deposed from his croune and royal dignitie, as an inconstant prince, not worthy of such a kyngly office. All men for the most parte agre, that this mariage was the only cause, why the erle of Warwycke bare grudge, and made warre on kynge Edwarde. Other affirme that ther wer other causes, which added to this, made the fyre to flame, which before was but a litell smoke."


(1) SCENE VI.-My liege, it is young Henry, earl of Richmond.] "Henry, Earl of Richmond, was the son of Edmond and Margaret, daughter to John the first Duke of Somerset.' Edmond, Earl of Richmond, was half-brother to King Henry the Sixth, being the son of that king's mother, Queen Catharine, by her second husband, Owen Teuther, or Tudor, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Mortimer's Cross, and soon afterwards beheaded at Hereford.

[ocr errors]

"Henry the Seventh, to show his gratitude to Henry the Sixth for this early presage in his favour, solicited Pope Julius to canonize him as a saint; but, either Henry would not pay the money demanded, or, as Bacon supposes, the Pope refused, lest, as Henry was reputed in the world abroad but for a simple man, the estimation of that kind of honour might be diminished, if there were not a distance kept between innocents and saints.'"-MALONE.


I have not been desirous of their wealth,
Nor much oppress'd them with great subsidies.]

In speaking of the impost called a fifteen, or fifteenth (see note ("), p. 748), we described it as a tax of the fifteenth part of all the personal property of each subject; but we 3 I


« ZurückWeiter »