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Than can my ears that tragic history.—
* But wherefore dost thou come? is't for my life? Glo. Think'st thou I am an executioner?
K. Hen. A persecutor, I am sure, thou art;
If murdering innocents be executing,
Why, then thou art an executioner.
Glo. Thy son I killed for his presumption.
K. Hen. Hadst thou been killed, when first thou didst presume,
Thou hadst not lived to kill a son of mine.
• And many an old man's sigh, and many a widow's,
Teeth hadst thou in thy head, when thou wast born,
And, if the rest be true which I have heard,
Glo. I'll hear no more :-Die, prophet, in thy speech.
For this, amongst the rest, was I ordained.
K. Hen. Ay, and for much more slaughter after
O God! forgive my sins, and pardon thee!
1 Who suspect no part of what my fears presage.
2 To rook, or ruck, is to cower down like a bird at roost or on its nest. The word is of very ancient use in our language.
Glo. What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
Down, down to hell: and say—I sent thee thither.
And so I was; which plainly signified-
And this word, love, which greybeards call divine, Be resident in men like one another,
And not in me; I am myself alone.—
Clarence, beware; thou keep'st me from the light;
I'll throw thy body in another room,
1 Select, choose out.
SCENE VII. The same. A Room in the Palace.
KING EDWARD is discovered sitting on his throne, QUEEN ELIZABETH with the infant Prince, CLARENCE, GLOSTER, HASTINGS, and others, near him.
K. Edw. Once more we sit in England's royal throne,
Repurchased with the blood of enemies.
What valiant foemen, like to autumn's corn,
Two Cliffords, as the father and the son,
And two Northumberlands; two braver men
Ne'er spurred their coursers at the trumpet's sound:
With them, the two brave bears, Warwick and Mon
That in their chains fettered the kingly lion,
Come hither, Bess, and let me kiss my boy.-
Glo. I'll blast his harvest, if your head were laid; For yet I am not looked on in the world.
This shoulder was ordained so thick, to heave;
K. Edw. Clarence, and Gloster, love my lovely
And kiss your princely nephew, brothers both.
1 Gloucester may be supposed to touch his head and look significantly at his hand.
Clar. The duty that I owe unto your majesty, I seal upon the lips of this sweet babe.
K. Edw. Thanks, noble Clarence; worthy brother, thanks.1
Glo. And, that I love the tree from whence thou
Witness the loving kiss I give the fruit.
To say the truth, so Judas kissed his Master;
K. Edw. Now am I seated as my soul delights,
Reignier, her father, to the king of France
And hither have they sent it for her ransom.
K. Edw. Away with her, and waft her hence to
And now what rests, but that we spend the time.
Sound, drums and trumpets!-farewell, sour annoy!
1 The old quarto play appropriates this line to the queen. The first and second folio, by mistake, have given it to Clarence. In Steevens's copy of the second folio, which had belonged to king Charles the First, his majesty had erased Cla. and written King in its stead. Shakspeare, therefore, in the catalogue of his restorers, may boast a royal name.
THE three parts of King Henry VI. are suspected, by Mr. Theobald, of being supposititious, and are declared by Dr. Warburton to be certainly not Shakspeare's. Mr. Theobald's suspicion arises from some obsolete words; but the phraseology is like the rest of the author's style; and single words, of which, however, I do not observe more than two, can conclude little.
Dr. Warburton gives no reason; but I suppose him to judge upon deeper principles and more comprehensive views, and to draw his opinion from the general effect and spirit of the composition, which he thinks inferior to the other historical plays.
From mere inferiority nothing can be inferred; in the productions of wit there will be inequality. Sometimes judgment will err, and sometimes the matter itself will defeat the artist. Of every author's works, one will be the best, and one will be the worst. The colors are not equally pleasing, nor the attitudes equally graceful, in all the pictures of Titian or Reynolds. Dissimilitude of style, and heterogeneousness of sentiment, may sufficiently show that a work does not really belong to the reputed author. But in these plays no such marks of spuriousness are found. The diction, the versification, and the figures, are Shakspeare's. These plays, considered, without regard to characters and incidents, merely as narratives in verse, are more happily conceived, and more accurately finished, than those of King John, King Richard II., or the tragic scenes of King Henry IV. and V. If we take these plays from Shakspeare, to whom shall they be given? What author of that age had the same easiness of expression and fluency of numbers? *
Of these three plays I think the second is the best. The truth is, that they have not sufficient variety of action, for the incidents are too often of the same kind; yet many of the characters are well discriminated. King Henry, and his queen, king Edward, the duke of Gloster, and the earl of Warwick, are very strongly and distinctly painted.
The old copies of the two latter parts of King Henry VI. and of King Henry V. are so apparently mutilated and imperfect, that there is no reason for supposing them the first draughts of Shakspeare. I am inclined to believe them copies taken by some auditor, who wrote down during the representation what the time would permit; then, perhaps, filled up some of his omissions at a second or third hearing, and, when he had by this method formed something like a play, sent it to the printer.
*This note by Dr. Johnson has been preserved, notwithstanding the answer to his argument which is given in the abstract of Malone's dissertation prefixed to these plays, which discriminates between what is and what is not from the hand of our great Poet. "No fraudulent copyist (says Malone) or short-hand writer would have invented circumstances totally different from those which appear in Shakspeare's new-modelled draughts, as exhibited in the folio, or insert whole speeches of which scarcely a trace is to be found in that edition."
END OF VOL. IV.