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London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter the Archbishop of YORK, the young Duke of YORK, Queen ELIZABETH, and the Duchess of YORK.
ARCH. Last night, I hear, they lay at Northampton;
At Stony-Stratford will they be to-night":
7 Last night, I HEAR, they lay at NORTHAMPTON:
AT STONY-STRATFORD WILL THEY BE to-night:] Thus the quarto 1597. The folio reads:
"Last night, I heard, they lay at Stony-Stratford,
An anonymous remarker, who appears not to have inspected a single quarto copy of any of these plays, is much surprised that editors should presume to make such changes in the text, (without authority, as he intimates,) and assures us the reading of the folio is right, the fact being, that "the prince and his company did in their way to London actually lye at Stony-Stratford one night, and were the next morning taken back by the duke of Glocester to Northampton, where they lay the following night. See Hall, Edw. V. fol. 6.”
Shakspeare, it is clear, either forgot this circumstance, or did not think it worth attending to.-According to the reading of the original copy in quarto, at the time the Archbishop is speaking, the King had not reached Stony-Stratford, and consequently his being taken back to Northampton on the morning after he had been at Stratford, could not be in the author's contemplation. Shakspeare well knew that Stony Stratford was nearer to London than Northampton; therefore in the first copy the young King is made to sleep on one night at Northampton, and the Archbishop very naturally supposes that on the next night, that is, on the night of the day on which he is speaking, the King would reach Stony-Stratford. It is highly improbable that the editor of the folio should have been apprized of the historical fact above stated; and much more likely that he made the alteration for the sake of improving the metre, regardless of any other circumstance. How little he attended to topography appears from a preceding scene, in which he makes Gloster, though in London, talk of sending a messenger to that town, instead of Ludlow. See p. 85, n. 9.
To-morrow, or next day, they will be here.
DUCH. I long with all my heart to see the prince;
By neither reading can the truth of history be preserved, and therefore we may be sure that Shakspeare did not mean in this instance to adhere to it. According to the present reading, the scene is on the day on which the King was journeying from Northampton to Stratford; and of course the Messenger's account of the peers being seiz'd, &c. which was on the next day after the King had lain at Stratford, is inaccurate. If the folio reading be adopted, the scene is indeed placed on the day on which the King was seized; but the Archbishop is supposed to be apprized of a fact which before the entry of the Messenger he manifestly does not know, and which Shakspeare did not intend he should appear to know; namely, the Duke of Gloster's coming to StonyStratford the morning after the King had lain there, taking him forcibly back to Northampton, and seizing the Lords Rivers, Grey, &c. The truth is, that the Queen herself, the person most materially interested in the welfare of her son, did not hear of the King's being carried back from Stony-Stratford to Northampton till about midnight of the day on which this violence was offered him by his uncle. See Hall, Edward V. fol. 6. Historical truth being thus deviated from, we have a right to presume that Shakspeare in this instance did not mean to pay any attention to it, and that the reading furnished by the quarto was that which came from his pen nor is it possible that he could have made the alteration which the folio exhibits, it being utterly inconsistent with the whole tenour and scope of the present scene. If the Archbishop had known that the young King was carried back to Northampton, he must also have known that the lords who accompanied him were sent to prison; and instead of eagerly asking the Messenger, in p. 92, "What news? might have informed him of the whole transaction.
The truth of history is neglected in another instance also. The Messenger says, the Lords Rivers, Grey, &c. had been sent by Gloster to Pomfret, whither they were not sent till some time afterwards, they being sent at first, according to Sir Thomas More, (whose relation Hall and Holinshed transcribed,) "into the North country, into diverse places to prison, and afterwards all to Pontefract.'
The reading of the text is that of the quarto 1597.
The arguments here adduced being, as I conceive, unanswerable, Mr. Steevens has not attempted to discuss them, and, without regard to them, adopts the reading of the folio, forsooth! as the smoother of the two. He asserts, indeed, that sense here cannot claim a preference; but I think I have shown the contrary.
I hope, he is much grown since last I saw him.
Hath almost overta'en him in his growth.
YORK. Ay, mother, but I would not have it so. DUCH. Why, my young cousin; it is good to grow. YORK. Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,
My uncle Rivers talk'd how I did grow
More than my brother; Ay, quoth my uncle Glos
Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace: And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast, Because sweet flowers are slow, and weeds make haste.
DUCH. 'Good faith, 'good faith, the saying did not hold
In him that did object the same to thee:
He was the wretched'st thing when he was young, So long a growing, and so leisurely,
That, if his rule were true, he should be gracious. ARCH. And so, no doubt, he is, my gracious madam.
I have followed the folios; the historical fact being as there represented. The Prince and his company did, in their way to London, actually lie at Stony-Stratford one night, and were the next morning taken back by the Duke of Gloucester to Northampton, where they lay the following night. See Hall, Edward V. fol. 6. See also, Remarks, &c. on the last edition of Shakspeare, [that of 1778,] p. 133. REED.
Shakspeare does not always attend to the propriety of his own alterations. As historical truth, therefore, whichever reading be chosen, must be violated, I am content with such an arrangement as renders the versification smoothest. Where sense cannot claim a preference, a casting vote may be safely given in favour of sound. STEEVENS.
the WRETCHED'ST thing,] Wretched is here used in a sense yet retained in familiar language, for paltry, pitiful, being below expectation. JOHNSON.
Rather, the weakest, most puny, least thriving. RITSON.
DUCH. I hope, he is; but yet let mothers doubt. YORK. Now, by my troth, if I had been remember'd9,
I could have given my uncle's grace a flout,
YORK. Marry, they say, my uncle grew so fast, That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old; 'Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth. Grandam, this would have been a biting jest. DUCH. I pr'ythee, pretty York, who told thee this?
YORK. Grandam, his nurse.
DUCH. His nurse! why, she was dead ere thou wast born.
YORK. If'twere not she, I cannot tell who told me. Q. ELIZ. A parlous boy': Go to, you are too shrewd.
ARCH. Good madam, be not angry with the child. Q. ELIZ. Pitchers have ears2.
* Quarto 1597,
That should have nearer toucht his growth than he did mine.
been remember'd,] To be remembered is, in Shakspeare, to have one's memory quick, to have one's thoughts about one. JOHNSON.
I A PARLOUS boy:] Parlous, is keen, shrewd. So, in Law Tricks, &c. 1608 :
"A parlous youth, sharp and satirical." STEEVENS. It is a corruption of perilous, dangerous; the reading of the old quartos. The Queen evidently means to chide him. RITSON. Mr. Steevens is right. Shakspeare himself has shown what he meant by parlous, in the very next scene, where Gloster, speaking of the Duke of York, says:
O, 'tis a parlous boy,
"Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable." MALONE. 2 Pitchers have ears.] Shakspeare has not quoted this proverbial saying correctly. It appears from A Dialogue both Pleasaunt and Pietifull, by William Bulleyn, 1564, that the old proverb is this: "Small pitchers have great ears." MALONE.
This proverb has already occurred in The Taming of the Shrew: "Pitchers have ears, and I have many servants." RITSON.
Enter a Messenger3.
ARCH. Here comes a messenger: what news? MESS. Such news, my lord, as grieves me to unfold.
Q. ELIZ. How doth the prince ?
Well, madam, and in health.
DUCH. What is thy news?
MESS. Lord Rivers, and lord Grey, are sent to
With them sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.
DUCH. Who hath committed them?
Gloster and Buckingham.
The mighty dukes,
For what offence 1?
Q. ELIZ. Ah me, I see the ruin of my house!
3 Enter a Messenger.] The quarto reads-Enter Dorset. STEEVENS.
And the speech following this-" Here comes your son," &c.: "M. Dorset. What news, &c. Marquis?" Boswell.
• For what offence?] This question is given to the Archbishop in former copies, but the Messenger plainly speaks to the Queen or Duchess. JOHNSON.
This question is given in the quarto to the Archbishop (or Cardinal, as he is there called,) where also we have in the following speech, "my gracious lady." The editor of the folio altered lady to lord; but it is more probable that the compositor prefixed Car. (the designation there of the Archbishop,) to the words, "For what offence?" instead of Qu. than that lady should have been printed in the subsequent speech instead of lord. Compositors always keep the names of the interlocutors in each scene readycomposed for use; and hence mistakes sometimes arise. MALONE. 5 The tiger now hath seiz'd the gentle HIND ;] So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece :
While she, the picture of pure piety, "Like a white hind under the grype's sharp claws-."