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wise be any man maintained by charity to pray for their benefactor. Hanmer reads the very beadsmen, but thy is better.
JOHNSON. The reading of the text is right enough, “ As boys “strive to speak big, and clasp their effeminate joints “ in stiff unwieldy arms,” &c. « so his very
beadsmen “ learn to bend their bows against him.” Their does not absolutely denote that the bow was their usual or proper weapon; but only taken up and appropriated by them on this occasion.
PERCY. 33 Where is the earl of Wiltshire? where is Bagot?
What is become of Bushy? where is Green ?] Here are four of them named; and, within a very few lines, the king, hearing they had made their peace with Bolingbroke, calls them THREE Judasses. But how was their peace made ? Why, with the loss of their heads. This being explained, Aumerle says, Is Bushy, Green, and the earl of Wiltshire dead? So that Bagot ought to be left out of the question : and, indeed, he had made the best of his way for Chester, and from thence had escaped into Ireland. And so we find him, in the second act, determining to do:
Bagot. No: I'll to Ireland, to his majesty. The poet could not be guilty of so much forgetfulness and absurdity. The transcribers must have blundered. It seems probable to me that he wrote, as I have conjecturally altered the text,
Where is the earl of Wiltshire ? where is he got ? i. e. into what corner of my dominions is he slunk, and absconded ?
This emendation Dr. Warburton adopts. Hanmer leaves a blank after Wiltshire. I believe the author, rather than transcriber, made a mistake. Where is he got does not sound in my ear like an expression of Shakspeare.
34 —death destroying death;] That is, to die fighting, is to return the evil that we suffer, to destroy the destroyers. 35 I'U hate him everlastingly,
That bids me be of comfort-] This sentiment is drawn from nature. Nothing is more offensive to a mind convinced that his distress is without a remedy, and preparing to submit quietly to irresistible calamity, than these petty and conjectured comforts which unskilful officiousness thinks it virtue to administer.
JOHNSON. 36 But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,
Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons
Shall ill become the flower of England's face ;] Though I have not disturbed the text here, I cannot but think it liable to suspicion. A crown living in peace, as Mr. Warburton justly observed to me, is a very odd phrase. He supposes,
But e'er the crown, he looks for, light in peace, i. e. descend and settle upon Bolingbroke's head in peace.- Again, I have a small quarrel to the third line quoted. Would the poet say, that bloody crowns should disfigure the flowers that spring on the ground, and bedew the grass with blood ? Surely the two images are too similar. I have suspected,
Shall ill become the floor of England's face ;
i. e, shall make a dismal spectacle on the surface of the kingdom's earth.
THEOBALD. By the flower of England's
face, meant the choicest youths of England, who shall be slaughtered in this quarrel, or have bloody crowns. The flower of England's face, to design her choicest youths, is a fine and noble expression. Pericles, by a similar thought, said that the destruction of the Athenian youth was a fatality like cutting off the spring from the year. Yet the Oxford editor, who did not apprehend the figure, alters the line thus,
Shall misbecome the flow'ry England's face. Which means -I know not what. WARBURT.
Dr. Warburton has inserted light in peace in the text of his own edition, but live in peace is more suitable to Richard's intention, which is to tell him, that though he should get the crown by rebellion, it will be long before it will live in peace, be so settled as to be firm. The flower of England's face, is very happily explained, and any alteration is therefore needless.
JOHNSON. The flower of England's face, I believe, means England's
flowery face, the flowery surface of England's soil. The same kind of expression is used in Sidney's Arcadia, p. 2, “opening the cherry of her lips," i.e. her cherry lips.' So Drayton in Mortimer's Epistle to Queen Isabell :
“ And in the field advance our plumy crest,
STEEVENS. 37 With words of sooth!) Sooth is sweet as well as true. In this place sooth means sweetness or softness, a signification yet retained in the verb, to soothe.
38 -on their sovereign's head :] Shakspeare is very apt to deviate from the pathetic to the ridiculous. Had the speech of Richard ended at this line it had exhibited the natural language of submissive misery, conforming its intention to the present fortune, and calmly ending its purposes in death. JOHNSON.
39 I would, the plants, &c.] This execration of the queen is somewhat ludicrous, and unsuitable to her condition; the gardener's reflection is better adapted to the state both of his mind and his fortune. Mr. Pope, who has been throughout this play very diligent to reject what he did not like, has yet, I know not why, spared the last lines of this act. JOHNSON
40 — timeless end.] Timeless for untimely.
41 -My fair stars,] The birth is supposed to be inAuenced by the stars, therefore the poet, with his usual licence, takes stars for birth. We learn from Pliny's Natural History, that the vulgar error assigned the bright and fair stars to the rich and great. Sidera singulis attributa nobis, et clara divitibus, minora pauperibus, &c. Lib. i. cap. 8.
42 If that thy valour stand on sympathies,] Aumerle has challenged Bagot with some hesitation, as not being his equal, and therefore one whom, according to the rules of chivalry, he was not obliged to fight, as a nobler life was not to be staked in a duel against a baser. Fitzwater then throws down his
gage, a pledge of battle; and tells him that if he stands upon sympathies, that is, upon equality of blood, the combat
is now offered him by a man of rank not inferior to his own. Sympathy is an affection incident at once to two subjects. This community of affection implies a likeness or equality of nature, and thence our poet transferred the term to equality of blood. JOHNS.
43 To keep him safely till his day of trial.] After this line, whatever follows, almost to the end of the act, containing the whole process of dethroning and debasing king Richard, was added after the first edition of 1598, and before the second of 1615. Part of the addition is proper, and part might have been forborn without much loss. The author, I suppose, intended to make a very moving scene.
JOHNSON --a sort-] A pack, a company. 45 -Conveyers are you all,] To convey is a term often used in an ill sense, and so Richard understands it here. Pistol says of stealing, convey the wise it call; and to convey is the word for slight of hand, which seems to be alluded to here. Ye are all, says the deposed prince, jugglers, who rise with this nimble dexterity by the fall of a good king.
JOHNSON Ah, thou, the model where old Troy did stand.) The queen uses comparative terms absolutely. Instead of saying, Thou who appearest as the ground on which the magnificence of Troy was once erected, she says, Ah, thou, the model, fc.
47 Are idly bent on him that enters next,] That is, carelessly turned, thrown without attention. This the poet learned by his attendance and practice on the stage.
JOHNSON 46 Enquire at London, &c.] This is a very proper