Obrázky na stránke

In some large measure to thy father's death,
In that thou seest thy wretched brother die,
Who was the model of thy father's life.
Call it not patience, Gaunt, it is despair:
In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter'd,
Thou show'st the naked pathway to thy life,
Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee:
That which in mean men we entitle-patience,
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.
What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life,
The best way is to 'venge my Gloster's death.

GAUNT. Heaven's is the quarrel; for heaven's substitute,

His deputy anointed in his sight,

Hath caus'd his death: the which if wrongfully,
Let heaven revenge; for I may never lift
An angry arm against his minister.

DUCH. Where then, alas! may I complain myself 1?

GAUNT. To heaven, the widow's champion and defence.

Gospel, xxiii. 51: "The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them." STEEVENS.

I may I COMPLAIN myself?] To complain is commonly a verb neuter, but it is here used as a verb active. So, in a very scarce book entitled A Courtlie Controversie of Cupid's Cautels, &c. Translated from the French, &c. by H. W. [Henry Wotton] Gentleman, 4to. 1578: "I coulde finde no companion, eyther to comforte me, or helpe to complaine my great sorrowe." Again, p. 58: "wyth greate griefe he complained the calamitie of his countrey."

Again, in The Queenes Majesties Entertainment in Suffolke and Norfolke, by Thomas Churchyard: "Cupid encountring the Queene, beganne to complayne hys state and his mothers," &c. Dryden also employs the word in the same sense in his Fables: Gaufride, who couldst so well in rhyme complain "The death of Richard with an arrow slain."


Complain myself (as Mr. M. Mason observes,) is a literal translation of the French phrase, me plaindre. STEEvens.

DUCH. Why then, I will. Farewell, old Gaunt 2. Thou go'st to Coventry, there to behold Our cousin Hereford and fell Mowbray fight: O, sit my husband's wrongs on Hereford's spear, That it may enter butcher Mowbray's breast! Or, if misfortune miss the first career,

Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom,
That they may break his foaming courser's back,
And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford!
Farewell, old Gaunt; thy sometimes brother's wife,
With her companion grief must end her life.


GAUNT. Sister, farewell: I must to Coventry: As much good stay with thee, as go with me! DUCH. Yet one word more ;-Grief boundeth where it falls,

Not with the empty hollowness, but weight:

2 Why then, I will. Farewell, old Gaunt.] The measure of this line being clearly defective, why may we not read ?— Now fare thee well, old Gaunt."


Why then I will.

Or thus:

"Why then I will. Farewell, old John of Gaunt." There can be nothing ludicrous in a title by which the King has already addressed him. RITSON.

Sir T. Hanmer completes the measure, by repeating the word -farewell, at the end of the line. STEEVENS.

3 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 δέλιον ἦμαρ.
In this passage it partakes of all these significations.


This just sentiment is in Homer; but the learned commentator quoting, I suppose, from memory, has compressed a couplet into a single line:

Ήμισυ γας T αρετης αποαινεται ευρύοπα Ζευς
Ανερος, ευτ' αν μιν κατα δούλιον ημαρ ελησιν.

Odyss. lib. xvii. v. 322. HOLT White.
I do not believe that caitiff in our language ever signified a pri-
soner. I take it to be derived, not from captiff, but from chetif,
Fr. poor, miserable. TYRWHITT.

I take my leave before I have begun;
For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.
Commend me to my brother, Edmund York.
Lo, this is all:-Nay, yet depart not so;
Though this be all, do not so quickly go;
I shall remember more. Bid him-O, what ?-
With all good speed at Plashy visit me.
Alack, and what shall good old York there see,
But empty lodgings and unfurnish❜d walls3,
Unpeopled offices, untrodden stones?


And what cheer there for welcome, but my




unfurnish'd walls,] In our ancient castles the naked stone walls were only covered with tapestry, or arras, hung upon tenter hooks, from which it was easily taken down on every removal of the family. See the preface to The Household Book of the Fifth Earl of Northumberland, begun in 1512. STEEvens.

and what shall good old York there see, But empty lodgings and unfurnish'd walls, Unpeopled OFFICES, untrodden stones?

And what CHEER there for welcome, but my groans?] Thus the first quarto, 1597; in those of 1598 and 1608, and in the folio, which appears to have been printed from the last mentioned quarto, hear was substituted in the fourth line for cheer; an alteration which was adopted in all the subsequent copies, till the true reading was noticed in the Appendix to my former edition.

This passage furnishes an evident proof of the value of first editions; and also shows at how very early a period the revisers of Shakspeare's pieces began to tamper with his text, under the notion of improving it, or of correcting imaginary errors of the press; of which kind of temerity the edition of his Lucrece in 1616 is a very remarkable instance.

Groans occurring in this passage, the reviser conceived that the word in the former part of the line where it is found, must have been hear, which gives a clear and plausible meaning; but certainly not that intended by Shakspeare.

Mr. Steevens has rightly interpreted, in a preceding note, the words-unfurnish'd walls; but neither he nor any other editor has taken any notice of the word offices in this passage, which requires to be particularly explained, because it is immediately connected with the word cheer, and shows that the original reading is the

true one.

Therefore commend me; let him not come there,
To seek out sorrow that dwells every where ':
Desolate, desolate, will I hence, and die;
The last leave of thee takes my weeping eye.


The offices of our old English mansions, as I have already had occasion to mention, vol. xiii. p. 305, n. 5, particularly denote the rooms designed for keeping the various stores of provisions, bread, wine, ale, &c. and for culinary purposes; that is, the butler's pantry, cellars, and kitchen; and they were always situated within the house, on the ground floor (for there were no subterraneous rooms till about the middle of the reign of Charles the First), and nearly adjoining to each other. When dinner had been set on the board by the sewers, the proper officers attended in each of these offices. Sometimes, on occasions of great festivity, these offices were all thrown open, and unlimited licence given to all comers to eat and drink at their pleasure. Thus, in Othello, where notice is given by a trumpeter, that, on account of the destruction of the Turkish Fleet, and in honour of the General's nuptials, every man was to put himself into triumph : "All offices are opened, and there is full licence from the present hour of five, till the bell hath toll'd eleven!" So also, in Timon of Athens:



So the gods bless me,
"When all our offices have been oppress'd
"With riotous feeders, when our vaults have wept
"With drunken spilth of wine, when every room
"Has blaz'd with lights, and bray'd with minstrelsy,
"I have retir'd me to a wasteful cock,
"And set mine eyes at flow."

The Duchess of Gloster, therefore, laments, that in consequence of the murder of her husband, all the hospitality of plenty is at an end; "the walls are unfurnished, the lodging rooms empty, the courts untrodden, and the offices unpeopled; being now no longer filled by the proper officers, who attended daily to execute their several functions in her husband's life-time. All now (she adds,) is solitude and silence, and my groans are the only cheer that my guests can now expect." MALONE.


let him not come there,

To seek out sorrow that dwells every where :] Perhaps the

pointing may be reformed without injury to the sense: let him not come there

"To seek out sorrow :-that dwells every where."


[ocr errors]



Gosford Green, near Coventry.

Lists set out, and a Throne. Heralds, &c.

Enter the Lord Marshal, and AUMERLE". MAR. My lord Aumerle, is Harry Hereford arm'd?

AUM. Yea, at all points; and longs to enter in. MAR. The duke of Norfolk, sprightfully and bold,

Stays but the summons of the appellant's trumpet. AUM. Why then, the champions are prepar'd, and stay

For nothing but his majesty's approach.

Flourish of Trumpets. Enter King RICHARD, who takes his seat on his Throne; GAUNT, and several Noblemen, who take their places. A Trumpet is sounded, and answered by another Trumpet within. Then enter NORFOLK in armour, preceded by a Herald.

K. RICH. Marshal, demand of yonder champion

8-Lord MARSHAL,] Shakspeare has here committed a slight mistake. The office of Lord Marshal was executed on this occasion by Thomas Holland, Duke of Surrey. Our author has inadvertently introduced that nobleman as a distinct person from the Marshal, in the present drama.

Mowbray Duke of Norfolk was Earl Marshal of England; but being himself one of the combatants, the Duke of Surrey officiated as Earl Marshal for the day. MALONE.

9 AUMERLE.] Edward Duke of Aumerle, so created by his cousin german, King Richard II. in 1397. He was the eldest son of Edward of Langley Duke of York, fifth son of King Edward the Third, and was killed in 1415, at the battle of Agincourt. He officiated at the lists of Coventry, as High Constable of England.


« PredošláPokračovať »