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LIFE AND DEATH
KING RICHARD II.
ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 3. -thy oath and band,] Band and bond were formerly MALONE. synonymous. Line 52. right-drawn-] Drawn in a right or just cause. JOHNSON.
-73. inhabitable,] That is, not habitable, uninhabitable.
-the duke of Gloster's death;] Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III.; who was murdered at
MALONE. my scepter's awe-] The reverence due to my
Calais, in 1397.
-no boot.] That is, no advantage, no use,
lay or refusal.
-my fair name, &c.] That is, my name that lives
on my grave in despight of death. This easy passage most of the editors seem to have mistaken.
Line 215. The slavish motive-] Motive, for instrument.
Rather that which fear puts in motion.
ACT I. SCENE II.
the part I had—] That is, my relation of con
sanguinity to Gloucester.
Line 286. A caitiff recreant--] Caitiff originally signified a prisoner; next a slave, from the condition of prisoners; then a scoundrel, from the qualities of a slave.
Ημισυ τῆς ἀρετῆς αποαἴνυται δέλιον ἤμαρ.
In this passage it partakes of all these significations.
ACT I. SCENE III.
Line 312. Norfolk.] Mr. Edwards, in his MSS. notes, observes, both from Matthew Paris and Holinshed, that the duke of Hereford, appellant, entered the lists first: and this indeed must have been the regular method of the combat; for the natural order of things requires, that the accuser or challenger should be at the place of appointment first. Steevens.
Line 334. -my succeeding issue,] The reading of the first folio is, his succeeding issue; the later editions read my issue. Mowbray's issue was, by this accusation, in danger of an attainder, and therefore he might come, among other reasons, for their sake; but the old reading is more just and grammatical, JOHNSON,
Line 418. As gentle and as jocund, as to jest,] Not so neither. We should read, to just; i. e. to tilt or tournay, which was a kind of sport too. WARBURTON.
The sense would perhaps have been better if the author had written what his commentator substitutes; but the rhyme, to which sense is too often enslaved, obliged Shakspeare to write jest, and obliges us to read it. JOHNSON.
hath thrown his warder down.] A warder was a truncheon carried by him who presided at these combats.
To wake our peace
Which so rous'd up
fright fair peace,] To wake peace is
to introduce discord. Peace asleep, is peace exerting its natural influence, from which it would be frighted by the clamours of war.
Line 487. A dearer merit, not so deep a maim,
Have I deserved- -] To deserve a merit is a phrase
of which I know not any example. I wish some copy would
A dearer mede, and not so deep a maim.
To deserve a mede or reward, is regular and easy. Line 506. -compassionate ;] For plaintive. WARBURTON. 515. (Our part, &c.)] It is a question much debated amongst the writers of the law of nations, whether a banished man may be still tied in allegiance to the state which sent him into exile. Tully and lord chancellor Clarendon declare for the affirmative: Hobbs and Puffendorf hold the negative. Our author, by this line, seems to be of the same opinion. WARBURTON.
Line 527. Norfolk, so fur, &c.] i. e. Norfolk, so far I have addressed myself to thee as to mine enemy, I now utter my last words with kindness and tenderness, Confess thy treasons. JOHNSON. Line 541. all the world's my way.] Perhaps Milton had this in his mind when he wrote these lines,
The world was all before them, where to chuse
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide. JOHNS, Line 566. And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow.] It is matter of very melancholy consideration, that all human advantages confer more power of doing evil than good. JOHNSON. Line 571. upon good advice,] Upon great consideration.
-a party-verdict gave ;] i. e. you had yourself a MALONE.
part or share in the verdict that I pronounced. Line 580. A partial slander-] That is, the reproach of partiality. This is a just picture of the struggle between principle and affection. JOHNSON.
Line 620.journeyman to grief?] I am afraid our author in this place designed a very poor quibble, as journey signifies both travel and a day's work. However, he is not to be censured for what he himself rejected. JOHNSON.
Line 621. All places that the eye of heaven visits, &c.] The fourteen verses that follow are found in the first edition. РОРЕ.
I am inclined to believe, that what Mr. Theobald and Mr. Pope have restored were expunged in the revision by the author: if the lines inclosed in crochets are omitted, the sense is more coherent. Nothing is more frequent among dramatic writers, than to shorten their dialogues for the stage. JOHNSON.
Line 658. —yet a true-born Englishman.] Here the first act ought to end, that between the first and second acts there may be time for John of Gaunt to accompany his son, return, and fall sick. Then the first scene of the second act begins with a natural conversation, interrupted by a message from John of Gaunt, by which the king is called to visit him, which visit is paid in the following scene. As the play is now divided, more time passes between the two last scenes of the first act, than between the first act and the second. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 29. Report of fashions in proud Italy;] Our author, who gives to all nations the customs of England, and to all ages the manners of his own, has charged the times of Richard with a folly not perhaps known then, but very frequent in Shakspeare's time, and much lamented by the wisest and best of our ancestors.
Line 36. Where will doth mutiny with wit's regard.] Where the will rebels against the notices of the understanding. JOHNS. Line 37. —whose way himself will choose ;] Do not attempt to guide him who, whatever thou shalt say, will take his own course.
Line 42. rash- -] That is, hasty, violent.
So in King Henry IV. Part I.;
"Like aconitum, or rash gunpowder."
Line 54. Against infection,] I once suspected that for infection we might read invasion; but the copies all agree, and I suppose Shakspeare meant to say, that islanders are secured by their situation both from war and pestilence..
Line 59. -less happier lands;] So read all the editions, except Hanmer's, which has less happy. I believe Shakspeare, from the habit of saying more happier according to the custom of his time, inadvertently writ less happier.
Line 63. Fear'd by their breed,] i. e. by means of their breed. MALONE.
137. Thy state of law is bondslave to the law;] I think the reasoning of Gaunt is this: By setting thy royalties to farm thou hast reduced thyself to a state below sovereignty, 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. JOHNS. Line 158. And thy unkindness be like crooked age,
To crop at once a too-long wither'd flower.] Thus stand these lines in all the copies, but I think there is an error. Why should Gaunt, already old, call any thing like age to end him? How can age be said to crop at once? How is the idea of crookedness connected with that of cropping? dictated thus:
I suppose the poet
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.
Line 163. Love they] That is, let them love. JOHNSON. 188. where no venom else,] This alludes to the tradition that St. Patrick freed the kingdom of Ireland from venomous reptiles of every kind. STEEVENS.
Line 199. 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. STEEVENS.
Line 209. Accomplish'd with the number of thy hours;] i. e. when he was of thy age.
Line 237. deny his offer'd homage,] That is, refuse to admit the homage by which he is to hold his lands. JOHNSON. Line 312. And yet we strike not,] To strike the sails, is, to contract them when there is too much wind. JOHNSON.
Line 312. -but securely perish.] We perish by too great confidence in our security. MALONE.
Line 314. And unavoided is the danger-] Unavoided is, I believe, here used for unavoidable. MALONE.
Line 342. Imp out-] As this expression frequently occurs in our author, it may not be amiss to explain the original meaning of it. When the wing-feathers of a hawk were dropped, or forced