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Rich. I cannot weep for all my body's moisture Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart. Richard, I bear thy name, I'll ’venge thy death, Or die renowned by attempting it.”
The critic is led by the common prejudice to be very unfair towards Richard. He displays more energy of character, but there is nothing savage in his resolution to avenge the death of his father. However, as the whole is imaginary, I leave it.
The appearance in the heavens of
“Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun," is not a creation of Shakspeare's imagination, as it is to be found in Holinshed, who, as well as the poet, transfers the suns to Edward's shield.
Warwick and Montagu with their troops, now join the brothers; and announce their ill success in the second battle of St. Alban’s.* Warwick and Edward did at that time meet and unite their forces, at Chipping Norton, but the battle was fought after the meeting at York ; not before it, as in the play.
The introduction of “ Lord George your brother,” is gratuitous. That prince was seven years
* Feb. 15, 1461. Hol., 272; Wyre., 486-488. The Duke of Exeter is mentioned as now with the queen.
younger than Edward, and thus only twelve years old at the present time. Edward, too, is made to ask, “Where is the Duke of Norfolk, gentle Warwick,
And when came George from Burgundy to England ?” To which the earl answers, “Some six miles off the duke is with the soldiers,
And for your brother,—he was lately sent
The Duchess of Burgundy was not Edward's aunt, nor did she send over Clarence, who, as a boy, had been sent to Flanders with his brother Richard, to be out of the way.*
Warwick adds, that the king and his friends are going to London, to put an end to the settlement to which he had sworn. He advised that Henry's movement should be anticipated : and so it was.
But Shakspeare now brings the king and queen with Clifford, Northumberland, and the Prince of Wales, “ before York.”+ Here they are met by Edward and the Yorkists, and a long colloquy ensues. The new Duke of York reproaches Henry with perjury. “I was adopted heir by his consent,
Since when his oath is broke; for, as I hear,
* Ritson in Bosw., 410.
+ Sc. 2.
You, that are king, though he do wear the crown,
No parliament had sat, but Henry had by proclamation declared that the agreement for York's succession to the crown was void.* And though there might be no specific article to the effect, t such a departure from the agreement clearly put the Yorkists in the right.
In the play, the battle of Towton follows; but previously to this, the army which had been victo rious at St. Alban's refused to march to London. Henry announced by proclamation that his assent to the late compromise had been extorted by violence; and he gave orders for arresting the young Duke of York; but Edward, as I have said, marched with all his friends to that important place. And now, with the apparent consent of the people, as well as of the “great council of lords spiritual and temporal,” Henry was declared to have forfeited the crown, by breaking the award, and Edward was placed upon the throne. This important event occurred early in March, 1461, between the battles of St. Alban's (the second) and Towton; but although it is related by Holinshed, I it is unnoticed by our poet.
* Lingard, 166; Rolls, 465.
# P. 272.
It is true, that the king and queen assembled their forces at York; but this was after the battle of Wakefield, and before that of St. Albans ; it was after he had been acknowledged as king that Edward marched against them, and gained the decisive victory of Towton.* It is hardly necessary to say that the long parley between the two parties, on the eve of the battle, is altogether imaginary ; but some of the allusions are founded upon the Chronicles. Prince Edward, who was now about nine years old, was not knighted at this time, but after the second battle of St. Albans.t
In the play, the fortune of the day is, at first, against the Yorkists; and it is said to Warwick, “ Thy brother's blood the thirsty earth has drank.”I
Here is only a slight deviation ; there was an action at Ferrybridge, where Lord Fitzwalter was surprised by Clifford. In this a natural brother of Warwick was slain by the Yorkists, as well as Northumberland and Clifford himself. This fierce Lancastrian, however, was killed, not by Richard, but by the Lord Fauconberg.S
And it is on Holinshed's* authority that Warwick is made to say,
" I'll kill my horse, because I will not fly.” I am sorry that we have not room for the insertion of a part of the soliloquy which Henry is made to utter in the midst of the battle
-“Methinks it were a happy life To be no better than a homely swain.” The speech is characteristic, and may be read as an illustrative specimen of Shakspeare's mode of amplifying the old plays. Of the dead Clifford, Warwick says,
“Off with the traitor's head, And rear it in the place your father's stands.” This substitution of heads is from Holinshed, who, however, does not mention Clifford by name, but “the Earl of Devonshire and three others.” Warwick proceeds ;“ And now to London with triumphant march,
There to be crowned England's royal king.” King Edward was crowned on the 29th of June, 1461,+ and then, not on the field of battle, as in the play, he created his brothers George and Richard, Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester. Ri