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This is one of those touches that certainly came from the hand of Shakspeare; for these words are not in the old play.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Line 26. Me seemeth-] That is, seemeth to me, a word more grammatical than methinks, which has, I know not how, intruded into its place.
Line 48. —your grace's tale.] Suffolk uses highness and grace promiscuously to the queen. Majesty was not the settled title till the time of king James the First.
Line 102. But I will remedy this gear ere long,] Gear was a general word for things or matters.
Line 153. —these faults are easy,] Easy is s'ight, inconsiderable, as in other passages of this author. My liefest liege-] Is dearest.
And as the butcher takes away
And binds the wretch, and beats it when it strays,]
I am inclined to believe that in this passage, as in many, there is a confusion of ideas, and that the poet had at once before him a butcher carrying a calf bound, and a butcher driving a calf to the slaughter, and beating him when he did not keep the path. Part of the line was suggested by one image, and partly by another, so that strive is the best word, but stray is the right. JOHNSON.
Line 278. 'Tis York that hath more reason for his death.] Why York had more reason than the rest for desiring Humphrey's death, is not very clear; he had only decided the deliberation about the regency of France in favour of Somerset. No; let him die, in that he is a fox, By nature prov'd an enemy to the flock,
Before his chaps be stain'd with crimson blood;
As Humphrey, prov'd by reasons, to my liege.] The
meaning of the speaker is not hard to be discovered, but his expression is very much perplexed. He means that the fox may be lawfully killed, as being known to be by nature an enemy to sheep, even before he has actually killed them; so Humphrey may be properly destroyed, as being proved by arguments to be the king's enemy, before he has committed any actual crime.
Some may be tempted to read treasons for reasons, but the drift of the argument is to show that there may be reason to kill him before any treason has broken out.
Line 302. for that is good deceit
Which mates him first, that first intends deceit.] To mate, I believe, means here, as in many other places in our author's plays, to confound or destroy; from matar, Span. to kill. -I will be his priest.] I will be the attendant on
his last scene; I will be the last man whom he will see.
and censure well the deed,] That is, approve
the deed, judge the deed good.
-mad-bred flaw,] Flaw is a sudden violent gust
-a troop of Kernes ;] Irish infantry..
now called Morris, that is, a Moorish dance.
ACT III. SCENE II.
-right now- -] Just now, even now. JOHNS.
524. Be woe for me,] That is, let not woe be to thee for
Gloster, but for me.
Line 571. To sit and witch me, as Ascanius did,
His father's acts, commenc'd in burning Troy?] Old
copy to sit and watch me, &c.
The poet here is unquestionably alluding to Virgil (Æncid I.), but he strangely blends fact with fiction. In the first place, it was Cupid in the semblance of Ascanius, who sat in Dido's lap, and was fondled by her. But then it was not Cupid who related to her the process of Troy's destruction; but it was Æneas himself who related this history. Again, how did the supposed Asca nius sit and watch her? Cupid was ordered, while Dido mistakenly caressed him, to bewitch and infect her with love. To this circumstance the poet certainly alludes; and, unless he had wrote, as I have restored to the text
To sit and witch me,
why should the queen immediately draw this inferenceAm I not witch'd like her?
Upon-] This is one of our poet's harsh expressions. As when a thing is drain'd, drops of water issue from it, he licentiously uses the word here in the sense of dropping, or distilling. MALONE.
The folding Doors, &c] This stage-direction I have inserted as best suited to the exhibition. The stage-direction in the quarto is -“Warwick draws the curtaines, [i. e. draws them open] and shows duke Humphrey in his bed." In the folio: "A bed with Gloster's body put forth." These are some of the many circumstances which prove, I think, decisively, that the theatres of our author's time were unfurnished with scenes. In those days, as I conceive, curtains were occasionally hung across the middle of the stage on an iron rod, which, being drawn open, formed a second apartment, when a change of scene was required. The direction of the folio," to put forth a bed," was merely to the propertyman to thrust a bed forward behind those curtains, previous to their being drawn open. See the Account of the ancient Theatres, Vol. IX. MALONE.
Line 624. Oft have I seen a timely-parted ghost, &c.] All that is true of the body of a dead man is here said by Warwick of the soul. I would read:
Oft have I seen a timely-parted corse.
But of two common words how or why was one changed for the other? I believe the transcriber thought that the epithet timely-parted could not be used of the body, but that, as in Hamlet there is mention of peace-parted souls, so here timelyparted must have the same substantive. He removed one imaginary difficulty, and made many real. If the soul is parted from the body, the body is likewise parted from the soul.
I cannot but stop a moment to observe, that this horrible description is scarcely the work of any pen but Shakspeare's.
Being all descended to the labouring heart;] That is,
the blood being all descended, &c.; the substantive being comprised in the adjective bloodless. M. MASON.
Line 637. His hands abroad display'd,] i. e. the fingers being widely distended. So adown, for down; aweary, for weary, &c. See Peacham's Complete Gentleman, 1627: "Herein was the emperor Domitian so cunning, that let a boy at a good distance off hold up his hand and stretch his fingers abroad, he would shoot through the spaces, without touching the boy's hand, or any finger." MALONE.
Line 757. how quaint an orator-] Quaint for dextrous, artificial. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona: ". -a ladder quaintly made of cords."
Line 801. Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan,] The fabulous accounts of the plant called a mandrake give it an inferior degree of animal life, and relate, that when it is torn from the ground it groans, and that this groan being certainly fatal to him that is offering such unwelcome violence, the practice of those who gather mandrakes is to tie one end of a string to the plant, and the other to a dog, upon whom the fatal groan discharges its malignity. JOHNSON.
Line 625. You bade me ban, and will you bid me leave?] This inconsistency is very common in real life. Those who are vexed to impatience, are angry to see others less disturbed than themselves, but when others begin to rave, they immediately see in them what they could not find in themselves, the deformity and folly of useless rage. JOHNSON.
Line 838. That thou might'st think upon these by the seal, Through whom a thousand sighs, &c.] That by the impression of my kiss for ever remaining on thy hand thou mightest think on those lips through which a thousand sighs will be breathed for thee. JOHNSON.
Line 879. at a loss which any hour spent in contrivance and deliberation will enable her to supply. Or perhaps she may call the sickness of the cardinal the loss of an hour, as it may put some stop to her schemes. JOHNSON.
at an hour's poor loss,] She means, I believe,
I rather incline to think that the queen intends to say, "Why
do I lament a circumstance, the impression of which will pass away in the short period of an hour; while I neglect to think on the loss of Suffolk, my affection for whom no time will efface ?" MALONE.
Line 894. Where, from thy sight,] In the preambles of almost all the statutes made during the first twenty years of queen Elizabeth's reign, the word where is employed instead of whereas. It is so used here. MALONE. Line 908. I'll have an Iris-] Iris was the messenger of Juno. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE III.
Line 918. If thou be'st death, I'll give thee England's treasure, &c.] The following passage in Hall's Chronicle, Henry VI. fol. 70. b. suggested the corresponding lines to the author of the old play: "During these doynges, Henry Beaufford, byshop of Winchester, and called the riche Cardynall, departed out of this worlde. This man was-haut in stomach and hygh in countenance, ryche above measure of all men, and to fewe liberal; disdaynful to his kynne, and dreadful to his lovers. His covetous insaciable and hope of long lyfe made hym bothe to forget God, his prynce, and hymselfe, in his latter dayes; for doctor John Baker, his pryvie counsailer and his chapellayn, wrote, that lying on his death-bed, he said these words: Why should I dye, having so muche riches? If the whole realme would save my lyfe, I am able either by pollicie to get it, or by ryches to bye it. Fye will not death be hyred, nor will money do nothynge? When my nephew of Bedford died, I thought my selfe halfe up the whele, but when I sawe myne other nephew of Gloucester disceased, then I thought my selfe able to be equal with kinges, and so thought to increase my treasure in hope to have worne a trypple croune. But I se nowe the worlde fayleth me, and so I am deceyved; praying you all to pray for me.'" MALONE.
Line 952. Forbear to judge, &c.]
"Peccantes culpare cave, nam labimur omnes,
"Aut sumus, aut fuimus, vel possumus esse quod hic est."