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wishing to estrange them from the king and compass their downfall, and, without more ado, put him in ward. When they reached Stony Stratford, the king was about to depart. He received them graciously and without suspicion; but, in his presence, they picked a quarrel with Grey and cast reflections on his absent brother Dorset, accusing them of conspiracy with Rivers to rule the king and realm. In spite of Edward's readiness to uphold the honesty of his relations, the dukes there and then arrested Grey, Sir Thomas Vaughan, and Sir Richard Hawte, and took the whole party back to Northampton, in order to bring the prisoners together and take further counsel. They dined at Northampton, where Gloucester behaved encouragingly. But, before he set out again for London, he either directed or provided for the despatch of the prisoners to various strongholds in the north of England.
It does not appear that the king, with his new guardian, stopped another night at Northampton. The arrest of the lords took place on 30th April. It was on 4th May that Gloucester and the king arrived in London, which is sixty-six miles from Northampton.
In London the news became common property about midnight of 30th April. The tidings were announced to Archbishop Rotherham by a messenger from the Lord Chamberlain Hastings. He immediately went to the queen, whom he found preparing to go into sanctuary, and committed the great seal to her charge. When he returned to York House in the dawn of ist May, he “might in his chamber window see all the Thames full of boates of the Duke of Glocester's servants, watching that no man should go to sanctuarie, nor none could pass unsearched.” In the course of the day, the Archbishop, fearing that he had acted precipitately, sent to the sanctuary at Westminster for the great seal, and so recovered it. The day was one of disquiet. Hastings did his best to quiet the rising tumult; and the common people were satisfied by the arrival of some of Gloucester's servants with the baggage of the arrested lords, in which arms and armour were included. The duke's men explained, “Lo, here be the barrels of harnesse that these traitors had priuilie conueied in their carriage to destroie the noble lordes withall.” The intelligence of the mob could draw no other inference from this palpable testimony.
(3) We must not expect Shakespeare, of course, to be in complete accordance with the details of history. The interview in II. iv. clearly is derived from that which took place early on Ist May between Rotherham and the queen. If the chroni. clers' accounts are correct, (1) Rotherham knew all before he
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went to the queen ; (2) a messenger from Hastings had reached him at York House ; (3) the queen had received the news at least as soon, and was preparing to go to Westminster when Rotherham arrived. But in Shakespeare, (1) Rotherham knows nothing: all he can do is to calculate the point on the road which the party has reached; (2) the news arrives during the interview; and (3) the queen thereupon decides to go to sanctuary, and takes the great seal with her.
Shakespeare, therefore, makes it impossible for Rotherham to know of any change of route on the king's journey. Qq reading represents exactly the natural calculations of a man who knew the ordinary halting-places on the road from the north, and had no reason to suppose that they had been changed in this case. So far as Rotherham knew, the coronation was to take place on 4th May. The king would therefore arrive in London on 2nd May or 3rd May. On 29th April he would naturally spend the night at Northampton. What actually had happened was that he had passed through Northampton without stopping, probably because Rivers wished to keep ahead of Gloucester. Of this movement, as of its sequel, Rotherham was unaware. Ff, on the other hand, assume that Rotherham knew of the unusual change of route, but without feeling any curiosity about it, or awaking any interest in his hearers. They assume that, while aware of the fact, he had no idea of the division of the party which made Rivers' arrest an easy matter, or of the junction of the dukes with the king. In short, he says, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, that the party has stopped a night at one place, and then has gone thirteen miles back to spend a night at another, which it had passed through the day before. Ff reading is thus dramatically inaccurate, even if its accuracy as to the king's real movements be allowed.
We need not suppose, of course, that Shakespeare troubled himself about the actual hour of the scene as it took place in history. He simply compressed into one scene a sequence of necessary events, giving them their true dramatic relief. An imaginary meeting between the queen and Rotherham is made the occasion for the discovery of Gloucester's action. Before the messenger arrives with his startling news, Rotherham is ignorant that anything has happened. It is utterly impossible, therefore, unless we assume a slip of the tongue, that he can put Stony Stratford before Northampton
Shakespeare may have written the passage in Ff. That, in this instance, he made a careless comparison of his authorities with the dramatic exigencies of the passage, is not unlikely. That the editor of F I found the more metrical reading in the MS. which he used is highly probable. But Qq already had altered it, at the expense of regular metre, it is true, but with advantage to the truth of drama. The variation in Qq was probably used on the stage; and, whether it was made by Shakespeare himself or by the actors, it is the only reading which has any consistency with the facts of the scene.
My conclusion, then, is that, while Ff have a metrical advantage over Qq, and their reading may have been originally written by Shakespeare, it does not represent a reading to which Shakespeare could or would have adhered consistently. And this because it is at variance with the probabilities of the drama, and is not quite free in itself from historical error.
I may add a summary of previous editors' conclusions. Malone very justly says, “By neither reading can the truth of history be preserved, and therefore we may be sure that Shakespeare did not mean in this instance to adhere to it.” At the opposite pole is Grant White's unqualified praise of Ff reading : it has, he says, “on its side authority, rhythm, and—according to the chronicles which Shakespeare followed-historical truth.” Equally short-sighted is Delius' defence of Ff as the result of Shakespeare's work with “the authorities open before him”: on his theory, Qq would introduce a piratical emendation. The Cambridge editors adopt Qq reading, assuming the supposed coincidence between Ff and history to be accidental, but discovering an inconsistency between lines 1, 2 and line 3. Spedding refuted the latter notion; but upheld Ff on the usual historical assumption, estimating Qq reading as a correction “ by some one whose topographical knowledge was superior to his historical.” Pickersgill's view is closely allied, though with a slight difference in detail, to the view which I have taken.
ON THE READINGS AT III. IV. 80 AND III. V. 12-21
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(1) AT III. iv. 80 Qq read “some see it done" at the end of a line. Ff introduce a new line: “Louell and Ratcliffe, looke that it be done."
(2) In III. V. 12-21 I have adopted Ff reading substantially. For the variations in Qq, see collation ad loc. The difficulty which Qq introduce is in their stage-directions, corresponding to that after line 21, “Enter Catesby with Hastings' head." The conspirators, according to Theobald, are standing on the walls of the Tower; and Catesby is told to “overlook" the walls, ie, to look down and see whether any one is coming. Only four lines later, Gloucester calms Buckingham's pretended agitation at the sound of a drum, with the words “O, O, be quiet, it is Catesby”; and Catesby thereupon enters with Hastings' head. The supposition on which this entry of Catesby, inconsistent even with dramatic probability, can be defended, is that Catesby, overlooking the walls and seeing Hastings' executioners approaching, hastens from the scene, receives the head from them, and reappears bearing it. Even so, the interval is very short indeed between his disappearance and return.
Ff make Catesby introduce the mayor, and remain on the scene. Buckingham hears the drum; Gloucester tells Catesby to overlook the walls, and Ratcliff and Lovel, the executioners deputed in III. iv. 80, enter with the head of Hastings.
* The probable explanation of the difference lies in the circumstance that Qq require only one actor on the stage to fill the parts which Ff allot to three. A scarcity of actors very conceivably may have led to a grouping of the parts in the stage version. And here is one of many signs that the original of the Qq text of the play is to be found in such a version and re-arrangement for stage purposes of Shakespeare's text.
However, by the introduction of Ratcliff, Ff reading involves a fresh difficulty. Following the chroniclers, it puts Ratcliff (III. iii.) in charge of the execution of the lords at
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Pontefract, on the same day that Hastings suffers in London (III. iv. 49, 50, etc.) Ratcliff is thus in two widely distant places at once, Pontefract being 179 miles by road from London. The discrepancy would not be noticed by a casual spectator of the play, who would see each scene complete in itself, and would not remember details of place and time. But we cannot imagine Shakespeare making the mistake wilfully. If he did it involuntarily, he would have found it out on revising the play.
Theobald retained Catesby, as Qq had laid down the part, in III. V. In III. iv. he read “ Lovel and Catesby, look that it be done." This is in accordance with the stage-directions of Qq, which assign III. iv. 96, 97 to Catesby and III. iv. 104 to Lovel. But in Ff, III, iv. 96, 97 are given to Ratcliff.
To alter Ff reading substantially would be, as the Cambridge editors point out, to take liberties with the text. It is a great improvement on Qq in the point of metre and rhythm. Thus, in the absence of any indication of a satisfactory alternative, Ratcliff must be kept in both passages. It is noticeable that, in III. iv., he speaks only two lines, which might well be given to Lovel; while, in III. V., he says nothing, and is not included in Gloucester's instructions at the end of the scene. Both in Qq and Ff, Lovel alone is necessary to Hastings' execution. The chroniclers make no specific mention of the ministers employed to carry out this sentence. It is not likely that Catesby would have taken an active part in it. He had been Hastings' trusted servant; and, in a play so rhetorical as this, he hardly would have been allowed to die without some word of reproach to the traitor who bids him make haste that the duke may have his dinner.
The only possible conclusion seems to be that, at III. iv. 80, Shakespeare wrote “Ratcliffe” in a moment of forgetfulness, and continued the error in III. v.; that, on the stage, the mistake in III. iv. was recognised, and, in III. V., the parts were cut down from motives of economy; that Qq reproduced his alteration; and that Ff, correcting the misplacement of the lines and the rough prose of Qq, returned, in this case also, to the earlier reading, in spite of its drawbacks.
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