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the printed copy of 1597, from the fear of offending Elizabeth ; against whom the pope had published a bull in the preceding year, exhorting her subjects to take up arms against her. In 1599, Hayward published his History of the first year of King Henry IV., which is in fact nothing more than a history of the deposing of King Richard II. The displeasure which that book excited at court sufficiently accounts for the omitted lines not being inserted in the copy of this play which was published in 1602.* Hayward was heavily censured in the Star Chamber, and committed to prison. In 1608, when James was quietly and firmly settled on the throne, and the fear of internal commotion, or foreign invasion, no longer subsisted, neither the author, the managers of the theatre, nor the bookseller, could entertain any apprehension of giving offence to the sovereign: the rejected scene was therefore restored without scruple, and from some playhouse copy probably found its way to the press." +
Malone places the date of its composition in 1593; Mr. Chalmers in 1596. The play was first entered on the Stationers' books by Andrew Wise, August 29, 1597 ; and there were four quarto editions published during the life of Shakspeare, viz. in 1597, 1598, 1608, and 1615.
This play may be considered the first link in the chain of Shakspeare's historical dramas, which Schlegel thinks the Poet designed to form one great whole, “as it were an historical, heroic poem, of which the separate plays constitute the rhapsodies."
“ In King Richard the Second, the Poet exhibits to us a noble, kingly nature, at first obscured by levity and the errors of unbridled youth, and afterwards purified by misfortune, and rendered more highly splendid and illustrious. When he has lost the love and reverence of his subjects, and is on the point of losing also his throne, he then feels with painful inspiration the elevated vocation of the kingly dignity, and its prerogatives over personal merit and changeable institutions. When the earthly crown has fallen from off his head, he first appears as a king whose innate nobility no humiliation can annihilate. This is felt by a poor groom: he is shocked that his master's favorite horse should have carried the proud Bolingbroke at his coronation; he visits the captive king in his prison, and shames the desertion of the great. The political history of the deposition is represented with extraordinary knowledge of the world,the ebb of fortune on the one hand, and the swelling tide on the other, which carries every thing along with it: while Bolingbroke acts as a king, and his ad
* This is a mistake of Mr. Malone's. There is no quarto copy of the date of 1602. He probably meant the edition of 1598.
† Malone's Chronology of Shakspeare's plays.
herents behave towards him as if he really were so, he still continues to give out that he comes with an armed band, merely for the sake of demanding his birthright and the removal of abuses. The usurpation has been long completed before the word is pronounced, and the thing publicly avowed. John of Gaunt is a model of chivalrous truth: he stands there like a pillar of the olden time which he had outlived." *
This drama abounds in passages of eminent poetical beauty; among which every reader will recollect the pathetic description of Richard's entrance into London with Bolingbroke, of which Dryden said that “he knew nothing comparable to it in any other language;" John of Gaunt's praise of England,
« Dear for her reputation through the world;"
and Mowbray's complaint a: being banished for life.
* Schlegel's Lectures in Dramatic Literature, vol. ii. p. 224.
KING RICHARD THE SECOND.
to John of Gaunt; afterwards King Henry IV.
Queen to King Richard.
Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, two Gardeners, Keeper,
Messenger, Groom, and other Attendants.
SCENE, dispersedly in England and Wales.
KING RICHARD II.
SCENE I. London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter King RICHARD, attended ; John of Gaunt, and
other Nobles with him. King Richard. Old John of Gaunt, time-honored
Hast thou, according to thy oath and band,
Gaunt. I have, my liege.
K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him, If he appeal the duke on ancient malice; Or worthily, as a good subject should, On some known ground of treachery in him?
1 “Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster.” Our ancestors, in their estimate of old age, appear to have reckoned somewhat differently from us, and to have considered men as old whom we should now esteem as middle-aged. With them, every man that had passed fifty seems to have been accounted an old man. John of Gaunt, at the period when the commencement of this play is laid (1398), was only fifty-eight years old: he died in 1399, aged fifty-nine. This may have arisen from its being customary in former times to enter life at an earlier period than we do now. Those who married at fifteen, had at fifty been masters of a house and family for thirty-five years.
2 When these public challenges were accepted, each combatant found a pledge for his appearance at the time and place appointed. Band and bond were formerly synonymous.
3 In the old play, and in Harding's Chronicle, Bolingbroke's title is written Herford and Harford. This was the pronunciation of our Poet's time, and he therefore uses this word as a dissyllable.
Gaunt. As near as I could sift him on that argu
ment, On some apparent danger seen in him, Aimed at your highness; no inveterate malice. K. Rich. Then call them to our presence; face to
face, And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear The accuser, and the accused, freely speak.
[ Exeunt some Attendants. High stomached are they both, and full of ire, In
rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Re-enter Attendants, with BOLINGBROKEP and Nor
Boling. Many years of happy days befall My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!
Nor. Each day still better other's happiness, Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap, Add an immortal title to your crown!
K. Rich. We thank you both; yet one but flatters us, As well appeareth by the cause you come : Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object Against the duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ?
Boling. First, (Heaven be the record to my speech!) In the devotion of a subject's love, Tendering the precious safety of my prince, And free from other misbegotten hate, Come I appellant to this princely presence.Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee; And mark my greeting well; for what I speak, My body shall make good upon this earth, Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
1 Drayton asserts that Henry Plantagenet, the eldest son of John of Gaunt, was not distinguished by the name of Bolingbroke till after he had assumed the crown. He is called earl of Hereford by the old historians, and was surnamed Bolingbroke from having been born at the town of that name in Lincolnshire, about 1366.
2 i. e. "by. the cause you come on.” The suppression of the preposition has been shown to have been frequent with Shakspeare.