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KING RICHARD II,
1-inhabitable-] i. e. NOT habitable.
2 -my scepter's awe-The reverence due to my
This we prescribe, though no physician, &c.] I must make one remark, in general, on the rhymes throughout this whole play; they are so much inferior to the rest of the writing, that they appear to me of a different hand. What confirms this, is, that the context does every where exactly (and frequently much better) connect without the inserted rhymes, except in a very few places; and just there too, the rhyming verses are of a much better taste than all the others, which rather strengthens my conjecture.
"This observation of Mr. Pope's," says Mr. Edwards, "happens to be very unluckily placed here; "because the context, without the inserted rhimes, "will not connect at all. Read this passage as it "would stand corrected by this rule, and we shall "find, when the rhiming part of the dialogue is left
"out, king Richard begins with dissuading them "from the duel, and, in the very next sentence, ap"points the time and place of their combat."
Mr. Edwards's censure is rather hasty; for in the note, to which it refers, it is allowed that some rhymes must be retained to make out the connection.
-no boot.] That is, no advantage, no use, in delay or refusal.
The slavish motive-] Motive, for instrument.
Rather that which fear puts in motion.
6 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. Ήμισυ Τῆς ἀρετῆς αποαίνυται δόλιον ἦμαρ. In this passage it partakes of all these significations.
7 Mowbray,] Mr. Edwards, in his MS. notes, observes, both from Matthew Paris and Holinshead, 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.
8 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.
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.
9 And for we think, &c.] These five verses are omitted in the other editions, and restored from the first of 1598.
10 To wake our peace, Which so rous'd upMight
fright fair peace,] Thus the sentence stands in the common reading, absurdly enough; which made the Oxford Editor, instead of fright fair peace, read, be affrighted; as if these latter words could ever, possibly, have been blundered into the former by transcribers. But his business is to alter as his fancy leads him, not to reform errors, as the text and rules of criticism direct. In a word then, the true original of the blunder was this: the editors before Mr. Pope had taken their editions from the folios, in which the text stood thus,
-the dire aspect
Of civil wounds plough'd up with neighbour swords;
-fright fair peace.
This is sense. But Mr. Pope, who carefully examined the first printed plays in quarto (very much to the advantage of his edition) coming to this place, found five lines, in the first edition of this play printed in
1598, omitted in the first general collection of the poet's works; and, not enough attending to their agreement with the common text, put them into their place. Whereas, in truth, the five lines were omitted by Shakspeare himself, as not agreeing to the rest of the context; which, on revise, he thought fit to alter. On this account I have put them into hooks, not as spurious, but as rejected on the author's revise; and, indeed, with great judgment; for,
To wake our peace, which in our country's cradle
as pretty as it is in the image, is absurd in the sense:
To this note, written with such an appearance of taste and judgment, I am afraid every reader will not subscribe. It is true, that peace awake is still peace, as well as when asleep; but peace awakened by the tumults of these jarring nobles, and peace indulging in profound tranquillity, convey images sufficiently opposed to each other for the poet's purpose. 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. STEEVENS.
11-compassionate-] Compassionate is here plaintive, endeavouring to move compassion.
12 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.
13 —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.
The quarto, in which these lines are found, is said in its title-page to have been corrected by the author; and the play is indeed more accurately printed than most of the other single copies. There is now however no method of knowing by whom the alteration was made.
14 -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.
15 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,