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ticular stress upon her causing the imprisonment of Clarence, and upon the advancement of her relatives.
“The world is grown so bad, That wrens may prey where eagles dare not perch. Since every jack became a gentleman,
There's many a noble person made a jack.” And,
-“the nobility Held in contempt; while great promotions Are daily given, to ennoble those, That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble.”
After more of this, the queen, who always preserves her “ formal countenance,” and is never made to scold, addresses him,
“ My lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
By Heaven, I will acquaint his majesty*
Small joy I have in being England's queen.” Queen Margaret now enters, and vituperates the whole party in a characteristic style. Commen
* I believe that this is an anachronism, and that Henry VIII. was the first of our kings who assumed majesty.
tators have noticed the absurdity of introducing this personage, who had at no time been at large in Edward's court, and was now in France. I agree with Steevens, that “the merits of this scene are insufficient to excuse its improbability ; Margaret, bullying the court of England in a royal palace, is a circumstance as absurd, as the courtship of Gloucester in a public street.”*
In the conclusion of this scene, Richard again soliloquises upon his own enormities, especially his hypocrisy :“ I do beweep to many simple gulls,
Namely, to Stanley, Hastings, Buckingham ;
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.” We come now to the death of Clarence, which is perpetrated, in the play, by two murderers hired by Gloucester, who produce a commission, from the king it is to be presumed, commanding the
* Bosw., 42.
+ Act i. Sc. 4.
keeper to deliver the duke into their hands. They talk of drowning him in the butt of malmsey, but this ingenious notion is not acted upon; he is stabbed by one of the ruffians.
This is one of the cases in which Shakspeare has gone beyond his authorities, in order to blacken Richard. Not a word is said by Holinshed or More of Richard's participation in the murder.
“ About this season, through great mishap, the spark of privy malice was newly kindled between the king and the Duke of Clarence, insomuch that when one of the duke's servants was suddenly accused (I cannot say whether of truth, or untruly suspected by the duke's enemies) of poisoning, sorcery, or enchantment, and thereof condemned and put to execution for the same, the duke, which might not suffer the wrongful condemnation of his man (as he in his conscience judged), nor yet to forbear to murmur and reprove the doing thereof, moved the king with his daily exclamation to take such displeasure with him, that finally the duke was cast into the Tower, and therewith adjudged for a traitor, and privily drowned in a butt of malmsey, the eleventh of March, in the beginning of the seventeenth year of the king's reign. Some have reported, that the cause of this nobleman's death rose of a foolish prophecy; which was, that after King Edward one should reign, whose first letter of his name should be a G. ... Others alleged that the cause of his death was, that the duke being destitute of a wife,* by the means of his sister, the lady Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, procured to have the lady Mary, daughter and heir to her husband, Duke Charles; which marriage, King Edward (envying the prosperity of his brother), both gainsaid and disturbed, and thereby old malice revived betwixt them, which the queen and her blood (ever mistrusting and privily barking at the king's lineage) ceased not to increase.”+
Holinshed copied verbatim Polydore Vergil. I Walpole observes, that Habington tells us, that “ the king's discontents were secretly fomented by the Duke of Gloucester;" and he adds, that “when jealousies are secretly fomented in a court, they seldom come to the knowledge of an historian.” But the truth is that Habington || wrote after Shakspeare. The only cotemporary, the Continuator of Croyland, is silent as to the intrigues of Gloucester. This Chronicle, after mentioning Clarence's interference on behalf of Burdet, ** his summons before the king, in the presence of the mayor
* I do not know when Isabel Neville died.
+ Hol., 346. The event is not within More's period, but he alludes to it, without mentioning Richard, p. 362.
I P. 537.
** A gentleman in Clarence's family, accused of sorcery. See Lingard, 227.
and aldermen of London, and his imprisonment, mentions his being accused in parliament.
“No one argued against the duke but the king ; no one replied to the king but the duke. But some persons were introduced, of whom it was doubted whether they were accusers or witnesses ; for the two functions, in the same cause, are not compatible. The duke met all the charges by a denial of the fact; offering, if he could be heard, to defend his cause in personal combat. The members of parliament, thinking that the information they had heard was sufficient, came to a sentence of condemnation, which was pronounced by the Duke of Buckingham, lord high steward of England pro tempore. The execution of the sentence was for a long time delayed, until the speaker of the house of commons, going into the upper house with his companions, made a fresh request for the accomplishment of the affair; and consequently, within a few days, the punishment, of whatever kind it was, was secretly carried into effect in the Tower of London, in the year 1478.”
The Rolls of Parliament* show that Clarence was convicted and attainted of high treason ; upon a long recital of offences, including that which Lingard thinks was the most essential, the being preferred to Edward in the Lancastrian settlement of the crown. But of the petition from the Com