Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

K. Rich. Mine ear is open, and my heart prepar’d 8 : The worst is worldly loss, thou canst unfold. Say, is my kingdom lost? why, 'twas my care? And what loss is it, to be rid of care? Strives Bolingbroke to be as great as we? Greater he shall not be; if he serve God, We'll serve him too, and be his fellow so : Revolt our subjects ? that we cannot mend; They break their faith to God, as well as us: Cry woe, destruction, ruin, loss, decay: The worst is—death, and death will have his day.

Scroop. Glad am I, that your highness is so arm’d To bear the tidings of calamity Like an unseasonable stormy day, Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores, As if the world were all dissoly'd to tears; So high above his limits swells the rage Of Bolingbroke, covering your fearful land With hard bright steel, and hearts harder than steel. White-beards havearm’d their thin and hairless scalps Against thy majesty; and boys, with women's voices, Strive to speak big, and clap their female joints In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown:

beadsmen learn to bend their bows Of double-fatal yew9 against thy state;

8 • It seems to be the design of the poet to raise Richard to esteem in his fall, and consequently to interest the reader in his favour. He gives him only passive fortitude, the virtue of a confessor, rather than of a king. In his prosperity we saw him imperious and oppressive; but in his distress he is wise, patient, and pious.'-Johnson.

9 Yew is called double-fatal, because of the poisonous quality of the leaves, and on account of the wood being used for instruments of death. From some ancient statutes it appears that every Englishman, while archery was practised, was obliged to keep in his house either a bow of yew or some other wood. It has been supposed that yews were anciently planted in churchyards not only to defend the church from the wind, but on account of their use in making bows; while their poisonous quality was kept from doing mischief to the cattle in that sacred enclosure.

The very

Yea, distaff-women manage rusty bills
Against thy seat: both young and old rebel,
And all goes worse than I have power to tell.

K.Rich. Too well, too well, thou tell’st a tale so ill:
Where is the earl of Wiltshire ? where is Bagot 10?
What is become of Bushy? where is Green ?
That they have let the dangerous enemy
Measure our confines with such peaceful steps?
If we prevail, their heads shall pay for it.
I warrant, they have made peace with Bolingbroke.

Scroop. Peace have they made with bim, indeed,

my lord.

K. Rich. O villains, vipers, damnd without re

demption !
Dogs, easily won to fawn on any man!
Snakes,in my heart-blood warm’d,that sting my heart!
Three Judases, each one thrice worse than Judas!
Would they make peace ? terrible hell make war.
Upon their spotted souls for this offence!

Scroop. Sweet love, I see, changing his property,
Turns to the sourest and most deadly hate ;--
Again uncurse their souls; their

peace

is made With heads, and not with hands : those whom

you curse, Have felt the worst of death's destroying wound, And lie full low, grav'd 11 in the hollow ground.

10 The mention of Bagot here is a lapse of the poet or the king; but perhaps it may have been intended to mark more strongly the perturbation of the king's mind by making him inquire at first for Bagot, whose loyalty, on further recollection, might show him the impropriety of the question.

il i. e. buried. The verb is not peculiar to Shakspeare. We have it in Gower, and in Lord Surrey's translation of the fourth Æneid:

Cinders, think'st thou, mind this, or graved ghosts?' Shakspeare uses it again in Timon of Athens :

ditches grave you all.' George Cavendish, in his Metrical Visions, makes the Duke of Suffolk say:

And my hedles body, vouchsafe to se it graved.'

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Aum. Is Bushy, Green, and the earl of Wiltshire

dead ? Scroop. Yea, all of them at Bristol lost their heads. Aum. Where is the duke, my father, with his power? K.Rich. No matter where; of comfort no man speak: Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs ; Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth. Let's choose executors, and talk of wills : And yet not so,-for what can we bequeath, Save our deposed bodies to the ground? Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's, And nothing can we call our own, but death; And that small model 12 of the barren earth, Which serves as paste and cover to our bones. For heaven's sake, let us sit upon the ground, And tell sad stories of the death of kings :How some have been depos’d, some slain in war; Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos’d; Some poison’d by their wives, some sleeping kill’d; All murder'd:-For within the hollow crown, That rounds the mortal temples of a king, Keeps death his court: and there the antick sits 13, Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp; Allowing him a breath, a little scene To monarchize, be fear’d, and kill with looks ; Infusing him with self and vain conceit, As if this flesh, which walls about our life, Were brass impregnable; and humour'd thus,

12 A small model, or module, for they were the same in Shakspeare's time, seems to mean in this place a small portion or quantity. It is a Latinism from modulus, the measure or quantity of a thing.'

13 It is not impossible that Shakspeare borrowed this idea from that most exquisite emblematic book of engravings on wood the Dance of Death, or Imagines Mortis, attributed to Holbein. See the seventh print.

Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell, king!
Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence; throw away respect,
Tradition 14, form, and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief,
Need friends :—Subjécted thus,
How can you say to me—I am a king ?
Car. My lord, wise men ne'er wail their present

woes,
But presently prevent the ways to wail,
To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength,
Gives, in your weakness, strength unto your foe,
And so your follies fight against yourself.
Fear, and be slain; no worse can come, to fight :
And fight and die, is death destroying death 15;
Where fearing dying, pays death servile breath.

Aum. My father hath a power, inquire of him;
And learn to 'make a body of a limb.
K. Rich. Thou chid'st me well :-Proud Boling-

broke, I come
To change blows with thee for our day of doom.
This ague-fit of fear is over-blown;
An
easy

task it is, to win our own. Say, Scroop, where lies our uncle with his power? Speak sweetly, man, although thy looks be sour.

Scroop. Men judge by the complexion of the sky

The state and inclination of the day:
So may you by my dull and heavy eye,

My tongue hath but a heavier tale to say.
I play the torturer, by small and small,
To lengthen out the worst that must be spoken:

[ocr errors]

14 Tradition here seems to mean traditional practices, i.e. established or customary homage.

15 That is, to die fighting is to return the evil that we suffer, to destroy the destroyers.

[ocr errors]

Your uncle York hath join'd with Bolingbroke;
And all your northern castles yielded up,
And all your southern gentlemen in arms
Upon his party

K. Rich. Thou hast said enough.Beshrew thee, cousin, which didst lead me forth

[TO AUMERLE.
Of that sweet way I was in to despair!
What say you now? What comfort have we now?
By heaven, I'll hate him everlastingly,
That bids me be of comfort any more 16.
Go, to Flint castle; there I'll pine away;
A king, woe's slave, shall kingly woe obey.
That power I have, discharge; and let them go
To ear 17 the land that hath some hope to grow,
For I have none:-Let no man speak again.
To alter this, for counsel is but vain.

Aum. My liege, one word.
K. Rich.

He does me double wrong, That wounds me with the flatteries of his tongue. Discharge my followers, let them hence:— Away, From Richard's night, to Bolingbroke's fair day.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III.

Wales. A Plain before Flint Castle. Enter, with Drum and Colours, BOLINGBROKE and Forces; YORK, NORTHUMBERLAND, and Others.

Boling. So that by this intelligence we learn, The Welshmen are dispers'd; and Salisbury

16 This sentiment is drawn from nature. Nothing is more offensive to a mind convinced that its distress is without remedy, and preparing to submit quietly to irresistible calamity, than these petty and conjectured comforts, which unskilful officiousness thinks it virtue to administer.

17 To ear the land is to till it, to plough it, from the Saxon erian. So in All's Well that Ends Well:

• He that ears my land, spares my team.'

« AnteriorContinuar »