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'K. Hen. The bird, that hath been limed in a bush, 'With trembling wings misdoubteth every bush: And I, the hapless male to one sweet bird,
Have now the fatal object in my eye,
Where my poor young was lim'd, was caught, and kill'd. Glo. Why, what a peevish fool was that of Crete, That taught his son the office of a fowl?
And yet, for all his wings, the fool was drown'd. K. Hen. I, Dædalus; my poor boy, Icarus; Thy father, Minos, that denied our course; The sun that sear'd the wings of my sweet boy, Thy brother Edward; and thyself the sea, 'Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life. * Ah, kill me with thy weapon, not with words! My breast can better brook thy dagger's point, Than can my ears that tragick history.*But wherefore dost thou come? is't for my 'Glo. Think'st thou I am an executioner? K. Hen. A persecutor, I am sure thou art; If murdering innocents be executing, Why, then thou art an executioner.
Glo. Thy son I kill'd for his presumption.
K. Hen. Hadst thou been kill'd, when first thou didst
Thou hadst not liv'd to kill a son of mine.
And thus I prophesy,-that many a thousand, Which now mistrust no parcel of my fear'; And many an old man's sigh, and many a widow's, And many an orphan's water-standing eye,Men for their sons, wives for their husbands' fate, And orphans for their parents' timeless death,'Shall rue the hour that ever thou wast born.
hapless male-] The word male is here used in a very uncommon sense, not for the male of the female, but for the male parent: the sweet bird is evidently his son prince Edward.
9 Which now mistrust no parcel of my fear;] Who suspect no part of what my fears presage.
The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign;
'The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time;
Not like the fruit of such a goodly tree.
Teeth hadst thou in thy head, when thou wast born,
And, if the rest be true which I have heard,
Glo. I'll hear no more ;-Die, prophet, in thy speech:
For this, amongst the rest, was I ordain'd.
K. Hen. Ay, and for much more slaughter after this. O God! forgive my sins, and pardon thee!
Glo. What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
Sink in the ground? I thought it would have mounted. See, how my sword weeps for the poor king's death?
O, may such purple tears be alway shed
From those that wish the downfal of our house!
'If any spark of life be yet remaining, Down, down to hell; and say-I sent thee thither, [Stabs him again. I, that have neither pity, love, nor fear.Indeed, 'tis true, that Henry told me of; For I have often heard my mother say, I came into the world with my legs forward: Had I not reason, think ye, to make haste, ' And seek their ruin that usurp'd our right? The midwife wonder'd: and the women cried, O, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!
1 The raven rook'd her -] To rook, or rather to ruck, is a north country word, signifying to squat down, or lodge on any thing.
And so I was; which plainly signified
That I should snarl, and bite, and play the dog.
Then, since the heavens have shap'd my body so,
Let hell make crook'd my mind to answer it.
I have no brother, I am like no brother:
' And this word-love, which greybeards call divine, Be resident in men like one another,
And not in me; I am myself alone.
Clarence, beware; thou keep'st me from the light;
That Edward shall be fearful of his life;
And then, to purge his fear, I'll be thy death.
King Henry, and the prince his son, are gone:
'Clarence, thy turn is next, and then the rest; Counting myself but bad, till I be best.
I'll throw thy body in another room, And triumph, Henry, in thy day of doom.
The same. A Room in the Palace.
King EDWARD is discovered sitting on his Throne; Queen ELIZABETH with the infant Prince, CLARENCE, GLOSTER, HASTINGS, and Others, near him.
K. Edw. Once more we sit in England's royal throne, Re-purchas'd with the blood of enemies.
What valiant foc-men, like to autumn's corn,
For hardy and undoubted champions:
Two Cliffords, as the father and the son,
2 But I will sort a pitchy day for thee:] But I will choose out an hour whose gloom shall be as fatal to you. To sort is to select.
And two Northumberlands: two braver men
Ne'er spurr'd their coursers at the trumpet's sound:
'With them, the two brave bears, Warwick and Mon
That in their chains fetter'd the kingly lion,
And made the forest tremble when they roar'd.
Come hither, Bess, and let me kiss my boy:-
Glo. I'll blast his harvest, if your head were laid;
Clar. The duty, that I owe unto your majesty,
I seal upon the lips of this sweet babe.
K. Edw. Thanks, noble Clarence; worthy brother, thanks*.
'Glo. And, that I love the tree from whence thou
'Witness the loving kiss I give the fruit:
To say the truth, so Judas kiss'd his master;
8 Work thou the way, &c.] He speaks this line, first touching his head, and then looking on his hand.
▲ Thanks, noble Clarence; worthy brother, thanks.] In my copy of the second folio, which had belonged to king Charles the First, his majesty has erased-Cla. and written King, in its stead.— Shakspeare, therefore, in the catalogue of his restorers, may boast of a royal name. STEEVENS.
K. Edw. Now am I seated as my soul delights, Having my country's peace, and brothers' loves.
Clar. What will your grace have done with Margaret ? Reignier, her father, to the king of France
Hath pawn'd the Sicils and Jerusalem,
And hither have they sent it for her ransome.
K. Edw. Away with her, and waft her hence to France. And now what rests, but that we spend the time With stately triumphs, mirthful comick shows, Such as befit the pleasures of the court ?— Sound, drums and trumpets !-farewell, sour annoy ! For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy.
5 With stately triumphs,] Triumphs are publick shows.
The three parts of King Henry VI. are suspected, by Mr. Theobald, of being supposititious, and are declared, by Dr. Warburton, to be certainly not Shakspeare's. Mr. Theobald's suspicion arises from some obsolete words; but the phraseology is like the rest of our author's style, and single words, of which however I do not observe more than two, can conclude little.
Dr. Warburton gives no reason, but I suppose him to judge upon deeper principles and more comprehensive views, and to draw his opinion from the general effect and spirit of the composition, which he thinks inferior to the other historical plays.
From mere inferiority, nothing can be inferred; in the production of wit there will be inequality. Sometimes judgment will err, and sometimes the matter itself will defeat the artist. Of every author's works, one will be the best, and one will be the worst. The colours are not equally pleasing, nor the attitudes equally graceful, in all the pictures of Titian or Reynolds.
Dissimilitude of style and heterogeneousness of sentiment, may sufficiently show that a work does not really belong to the reputed author. But in these plays no such marks of spuriousness are found. The diction, the versification, and the figures, are Shakspeare's. These plays, considered, without regard to characters and incidents, merely as narratives in verse, are more happily conceived, and more accurately finished, than those of K. John, Richard II., or the tragick scenes of King Henry IV. and V. If we take these plays from Shakspeare, to whom shall they be given? What author of that age had the same easiness of expression and fluency of numbers?
Having considered the evidence given by the plays themselves, and found it in their favour, let us now enquire what corroboration