Imagens das páginas

description of the entry of Richard and Bolingbroko into for so Thomas Walsingham termeth them-and was so London. We incline to the opinion of Mr. Knight, that beaten out of heart,--that wilfullie he starved himselfe, and the “Civil Warres" was produced and published before so died in Pomfret Castle." So far as this statement can Richard II. was writton. In Drayton the incident is told be received, it is not at all inconsistent with the ordinary as follows:

account of the murder of Richard, nor with his "desperate “ He that in glory of his fortune sate,

manhood," as Holinshed properly calls it, on that occasion ; Admiring what he thought could never be,

excited as he was by his injuries, and his own fierve selfDid feel his blood within salute his state,

will and impetuous disposition, And lift up his rejoicing soul, to see

In the termination of the life of the dethroned king, by So many hands and hearts congratulate

whatsoever means it was effected,-if the guilty wish for Th' advancement of his long-desir'd degree ;

his death, were ever expressed by Bolingbroke as related When, prodigal of thanks, in passing by, He re-salutes them all with cheerful eye.

by Walsingham, and transferred by Fleming into Holin

shed; the passage seems not only to have furnished matter Behind him, all aloof, came pensive on

for the present play, but also to have suggested almost the The unregarded king; that drooping went.

very words which Shakespeare has employed in two very Alone, and (but for spite) scarce look'd upon :. Judge, if he did more envy, or lament.

noble and well-known parallel passages. See what a wondrous work this day is done ;

The first of these is in “ King John,” Act III. Scene 1. Which th' image of both fortunes doth present:

“Good Hubert, Hubert,-Hubert, throw thine eye In th' one, to shew the best of glories face;

On yon young boy:-I'll tell thee what, my friend ;In th' other, worse than worst of all disgrace."

He is a very serpent in my way; (4) SCENE III.-Can no man tell of my unthrifty son!]

And wheresoe'er this foot of mine doth tread,

He lies before me. Dost thou understand me? This speech may be regarded as striking the key-note of

Thou art his kecper ! " the three plays which continue the history of England at this period; and is, as Johnson observes, "a very proper

The other passage is of course the celebrated temptation introduction to the future character of Henry the Fifth, to

of Buckingham by the Duke of Gloucester to the murder his debaucheries in his youth, and his greatness in his

of Edward V. and his brother, in “ The Life and Death of manhood." Shakespeare's authority for thus delineating

Richard the Third,” Act IV. Scene 2. the Prince, was in all probability either the old play of

“ Thus high, by thy advice and thy assistance,

Is Richard seated. Richard II. or a passage in Holinshed, which may be better

But, shall we wear these glories for a day, adduced as an illustration in another place. Holinshed has

Or shall they last, and we rejoice in them? founded his statement “on the authority," as Mr. Hunter points out, "of the chroniclers immediately preceding

Now, Buckingham, now do I play the touch himself, Fabyan, Polydore Vergil, and Caxton, who wrote

To try if thou be current gold, indeed.-while the memory of the Prince's extravagance may well

Young Edward livesThink now what I would speak!" be supposed to have been alive, as they were all writers of “One writer," says Holinshed, “ which seemeth to have his own century. But as this testimony," he adds, “may great knowledge of King Richard's doings, saith that King be regarded as coming late, and it may be thought that Henrie, sitting on a daie at his table, sore sighing, said, they are so far removed from the actual time, that they Have I no faithfull friend which will deliver me of him, are in some degree at least copyists from each other, and whose life will be my death, and whose death will be the not wholly independent authorities ;" he refers to Henry's preservation of my life?' This saying was much noted of own contemporaries, Hardyng, Walsingham, Otterburne, them that were present, and especiallie of one called Sir the historian who called himself Titus Livius, and Thomas Piers of Exton." It is added that “this knight incontiof Elmham: all of whom notice the vicious life of his nentlie departed from the court, with eight strong persons youth in connexion with the entire change which took in his companie, and came to Pomfret ;" where the replace in him on his accession to the throne. How early maining act of the tragedy was suddenly performed. In Henry became thus dissolute, it is not possible even to the Chronicle of Gervase of Dover, relating to the reign of conjecture, but Malone's note on this passage is quite Henry II., 1171, there is a very remarkable historical worthy of attention. « The Prince," he observes, “was at parallel to this passage, in the passionate expression of that this time but twelve years old; for he was born in 1388, and sovereign in reference to the Archbishop Thomas à Becket. the conspiracy on which the ent scene is fo

The historian states that the king became so enraged discovered in the beginning of the year 1400. He scarcely beyond the majestic decency of his condition, that he frequented taverns or stews at so early an age :” and it aloud lamented that of all the numbers, both of nobles and may be noticed that his answer declaring his prowess as a others, whom he had maintained, there was not one of tilter, is that of an inexperienced young champion in his them who would undertake to redress his injuries. These full strength.

and the like complaints of the king so much irritated four

knights, that they bound themselves together by an oath, (5) SCENE V.-Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to and withdrew from court to execute their design. die.] The circumstantial detail of the murder of Richard II., After the death of Richard, Shakespeare sagaciously as it is represented in the close of this play, was popularly shows that the first policy of Bolingbroke was to disclaim considered, even long after the time of Shakespeare, to be any participation in it, as he does even to Exton himself : in reality the true history of his death : and down to the and here again appears a remarkable similarity between this present day, the manner in which he came to his end con- part of the present play and the speech of King John to stitutes one of the most interesting Problems of English Hubert after the supposed murder of Arthur, in the fine history. Holinshed is again the principal authority of the | passage in Act IV. Scene 2, of that play. Bolingbroke's dramatist; and his statements are avowedly founded on second and more imposing act of policy was to appear pubthe report of Abraham Fleming, who was one of the com licly to declare that he was altogether innocent of'the death pilers of the series of chronicles collectively called by the of the late king. by honourably exposing and interring a name of Holinshed. Fleming derived his information from body affirmed to be that of Richard. Holinshed thus sets the “Short History by Thomas of Walsingham, from down the circumstances of this ceremony :-“ After he was Edward I. to Henry V." Walsingham appears to record thus dead, his bodie was embalmed and cered, and covered his narrative for the purpose of disproving the common with lead, all save the face, to the intent that all men fame,” that the king's death was to be attributed to com. might see him, and perceive that he was departed from life. pulsory famine ; and, continues Fleming, “he referreth it For, as the corpse was conveied from Pomfret to London, altogether to voluntarie pining of himselfe. For, when he in all the townes and places where those that had the heard that the complots and attempts of such of his conveiance of it did staie with it all night,-they caused favourers as sought his restitution, and their own advance- 'Dirige' to be sung in the evening, and masse of 'Rement, were annihilated, and the chiefe agents shamefullie quiem' in the morning; and, as well after the one service executed; he tooke such a conceit at these misfortunes,- ! as the other, his face, dis-covered, was shewed to all that

But, vanquish'd from that hour, denied
All food to take, and so he died.

This some have said and have received,
But shall not be by me believed ;
For certain others yet do tell
That he is still alive and well,
Though shut within their prison-fort;
And therefore some do mis-report.
It matters not that they display'd
A dead man's corse uncover'd laid,
Through London with such honours borre
As should a lifeless king adorn;
Declaring that it was the corse
or Richard lying on that hearse.

But I believe not certainly
That it the former king could be:
'Twas but his chaplain, Maudelain,
Was carried by that solemn train;
Who in face, size, and height, and limb,
So closely did resemble him,
That each one firmly thought he knew
'T was good King Richard met his view,
If it were he, both morn and eve
My hearty prayers to God I give,
Who merciful and piteous is,
That he may take his soul to bliss."

coveted to behold it. Thus was the corpse first brought to the Tower, and after through the citie to the cathedrall church of saint Paule, bare-faced, where it laie three daies together, that all men might behold it. There was a solemne obsequie done for him, both at Paule's and after at Westminster; at which time both at Dirige over night, and in the morning at Requiem, the king and the citizens of London were present." Up to this point the remains were treated with great ceremony, but they were next removed to the church of the Friars Predicants at Abbot's Langley in Hertfordshire ; where they were obscurely interred by the Bishop of Chester and the Abbots of St. Alban's and Waltham, "none of the nobles," adds Holinshed, “nor anie of the commons to accompt ofbeing present; neither was there anie to bid them to dinner after they had laid him in the ground, and finished the funerall service."

Throughout the whole of these proceedings, as well in the first ostentatious display of a corse, affirmed to have been that of the dethroned monarch, as afterwards,-it seems as if the policy of Bolingbroke might everywhere be traced. After having effected his first object, that of showing, in the most public places, the uninjured body of a person, which is declared by Froissart to have been seen by twenty thousand witnesses ;-and after having performed all the principal rites, the rest of the funeral was passed over in silence. There is also the curious evidence of a contemporaneous poetical historian, relating first the exposure of a body said to have been King Richard's, and afterwards the obscure burial of it. In a manuscript copy of John Hardyng's Chronicle, preserved in the Lansdowne Collection, there are the following notices of this funeral :

“Sone after that kyng Richerde so was dede,

And brought to Paule's with gret solempnite, -
(Men sayd he was for-hungred)-and lapp'd in lede;

But that his masse was done, and “ Dirige,"

In Herxe Rial his corse lay there, I se:
And after Masse to Westmynster was ladde,

Where Placebo' and 'Dyryge' he hadde." The printed editions of the Chronicle differ entirely in the text of this stanza; but the following verse, and the title of the chapter in which they occur, appear to indicate that the author probably thought it more prudent not to declare his having seen the body. He states, however, that when the funeral ceremonies were performed at St. Paul's :

" · The kynge and lordes clothes of golde there offered,

Some viii, some ix, upon his herse were profferde.

The priest Maudelaine, who is mentioned in these verses, had already represented Richard in the conspiracy of the Earls of Rutland and Kent; and he was afterwards taken with many others at Cirencester, and was one of those hanged at London. Hence ii was that his body could be so opportunely brought forward as that of the late king ; and it is not impossible that Henry might even have ndulged in a bitter jest, by so calling the lifeless remains of one who, whilst living, had been really put forward as the royal substitute. Throughout a great part of the reign of Henry IV. the very general belief that Richard was not dead, was a source of the most serious vexation to him; and it is especially remarkable that he should have experienced much of his anxiety from the appearance of other false Richards after Maudelaine, against whom he issued proclamations so late as 1402.

The illustration of the removal of the body obscurely interred at Abbot's Langley, with royal honours to Westminster, rightly belongs to the play of Henry V. to which we refer it. But there is one circumstance, arising out of that translation, which may be properly noticed in this place,-the opportunity which it afforded of examining some skulls in the royal tomb, by Sir Joseph Ayloffe, Edward King, Richard Gough, and others, in the latter part of the last century; when the skull which was believed to be that of the king did not exhibit any marks of violence. Mr. King states that "a small cleft that was visible on one side, appeared, on close inspection, to be merely the opening of a suture from length of time and decay: and it was beside in such a part of the head that it must have been visible when the visage was exposed, had it been the consequence of a wound given by a battle-axe, it being at the top of what the anatomists call the os temporis.* In answer to these arguments it is to be observed, firstly, that the skulls examined were contained in the sub-basement of the tomb, and not in the monument itself, under the effigies, where the royal bodies might be supposed to be laid. Secondly, that only the lower part of the face was uncovered when the remains were carried through London, and the temporal bones were hidden. The rumour of starvation by his keepers, which Holinshed says was the most commonly believed, might have been the cause of the death of Richard; or he might even, as another account states, have remained by his own will too long without food, and then have been unable to receive it, and so have died, A heavy suspicion of the guilt of destroying him must always, however, rest upon the memory of Henry of Boling. broke ; though at the present time he is commonly believed to have been innocent, and Richard to have expired at Pomfret from purely natural causes.

At Westmynster then did they so the same;

When trustynge he should there have buryed bene, In at that Mynster lyke a Prince of name,

In his owne tombe, together with the quene

Anne, that afore his fyrst wyfe had bene.
But then the kyng him fast to Langley sent,
There in the Freers' to be buryed secretement."

Hardyng adds, in the title to this chapter, that the body was removed thither “for men should have no remembraunce of him."

No part of this narrative indicates any doubt that the remains which had been exhibitod were really those of Richard ; nor is there any notice of the other reports concerning the cause of his death. The author of the Metrical History of the Deposition, on the contrary, seems not only to have very much doubted the identity of the deceased individual, but also to have disbelieved that the dethroned king was really dead. His narrative of these particulars may be thus rendered in the familiar style and measure of the original :

" When the King was these tidings shew'd,

The which were neither fair nor good;
So sadly on his heart they sank
That never more he ate or drank;

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]



“ THE History of Henrie the Fovrth ; With the battell at Shrewsburie, betweene the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North. With the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstalffe. At London, Printed by P. S. for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paules Churchyard, at the signe of the Angell. 1598.” Such is the title of the first and best edition of this famous historic drama. A second edition was issued in 1599, which was followed by a third in 1604, a fourth in 1608, a fifth in 1613, and a sixth in 1622. That six distinct impressions of it should have been published before its incorporation in the folio of 1623, is proof of its enduring popularity.

The First Part of King Henry IV. was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in 1597, to which year Malone ascribes its production. Chalmers and Drake assign it to 1596, but the evidence for either date is so extremely vague and unsubstantial that no dependance can be placed upon it. All we really know is, that the play was written before 1598, because Meres, in his list published that year, enumerates “ Henry the IVth.” as one of our poet's works. Shakespeare, it is thought, selected the stirring period of our history comprehended in the reigns of Henry IV. and V. for dramatic illustration, in consequence of the success achieved by an old and worthless piece which had long retained possession of the stage, called “ The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth ; ” though Dr. Johnson conceived that he had planned a regular connexion of these dramatic histories from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. From a similarity in some of the incidents and in the names of two or three of the characters, it is quite clear that he was acquainted with “ The Famous Victories,” and the circumstance of his having chosen the same events for representation, may have occasioned the revival of that old piece by Henslowe's company in 1595, and its re-publication in 1598. As Mr. Collier observes, “ It is impossible to institute any parallel between “The Famous Victories' and Shakespeare's dramas; for, besides that the former has reached us evidently in an imperfect shape, the immeasurable superiority of the latter is such, as to render any attempt to trace resemblance a matter of contrast rather than of comparison.”

In the year 1844, a manuscript copy of the play of Henry the Fourth was found among the family papers of Sir Edward Dering, Bart., of Surrenden, Kent. Mr. Halliwell, who edited the MS. for the Shakespeare Society, observes, in his Introduction to the volume, that it “ does not contain the whole of Shakespeare's Henry IV., but the two parts condensed into one, and, as we

« AnteriorContinuar »