« 前へ次へ »
tion. The third husband, when a widower, allied himself with the supposed murderer of his step-son.* I do not find that any of the English lords interfered, as in the play, on behalf of Arthur. One sentence in the passage quoted from Holinshed, in which he speaks of the prince's death in England, as well as France, is the only authority for the interest excited in England, of which Shakspeare has drawn a picturesque description :
“ Hub. Old men and beldams in the streets Do prophesy upon it dangerously; Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths, And when they talk of him they shake their heads, And whisper one another in the ear; And he that speaks doth gripe the hearer's wrist, Whilst he that hears makes fearful action, With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes. I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus, The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool, With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news, Who with his shears and measure in his hand, Standing on slippers (which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,) Told of a many thousand warlike French That were embattled and rank'd in Kent; Another lean, unwash'd artificer Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur's death.”f
* Daru, i. 442; Hol. 294. # Act iv. Sc. 2.
In the passage of Matthew Paris, from which Holinshed takes his statement, the rumour is said to prevail only per totum regnum Francorum and per partes transmarinas.”
Nor can I trace to any authority, not even to the old play, the objection made by the peers to a repetition of the ceremony of the coronation.* However, it has given Shakspeare an opportunity of writing lines which are still quoted, sometimes,
perhaps, not more appropriately than when applied to the coronation :
“To be possess'd with double pomp,
These words are put into the mouth of William Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, natural son of
* Page 208.
t Steevens says that the coronation mentioned in Act iv. Sc. 2, was the fourth in this reign. It was probably the ceremony mentioned in Holinshed (p. 285) as taking place at Canterbury, on the 14th of April, 1202. The king and queen had each been crowned separately, and they both “sat crowned” when entertained by the Archbishop of York; but I think that this was only the third coronation, and of John the second only.—See Hol. 275, 280, 282,285.
Henry the Second by the fair Rosamond;* and this nobleman is always included by Shakspeare among the discontented peers, but the Chroniclest mention him as faithful to his half-brother, until the eve of the arrival of Lewis in England. The Earl of Pembroke,f who is coupled with Salisbury in this opposition to the King, appears also, at least up to the period of Magna Charta, on the side of John. Hubert de Burgh is correctly assigned by the poet to the King's side. Holinshed calls him “a right valiant man of war, as was anywhere to be seen,”| but he was not yet ennobled; and Shakspeare is perhaps right in representing him as hated by the nobles, and treated as an upstart. He makes him say, when charged by Salisbury with the murder,
“By Heaven, I think my sword's as sharp as yours. I would not have you, lord, forget yourself, Lest I, by marking of your rage, forget Your worth, your greatness, and nobility.”
* He married the daughter of William d’Evreux, Earl of Salisbury, and was created Earl by John. The family was soon extinct in the male line. I do not know whether there is any representative through females.—Banks' Ext. Peerage, iii. 645 and 440.
+ Hol. 304.
t William Marshall, mentioned before as Earl of Striguill.
§ Hol. 321. | P. 293.
The dignity of the peerage is asserted by Bigot. “Out, dunghill / darest thou brave a nobleman? Hub. Not for my life, but yet I dare defend My innocent life against an emperor.”
We now regard Hubert de Burgh as the very essence of nobility; but, although at a later period of his life he was an eminent member of the aristocracy, he was, I believe, the artificer of his own fortune,” and had not at this time attained the dignity of the peerage, though he had held important offices under the King. The nobleman who is thus made to reproach Hubert de Burgh with his base descent is Roger Bigot, Earl of Norfolk,+ who certainly was one of the barons who opposed King John. If Shakspeare took from the old play the solicitations of the nobles in behalf of Arthur, he has varied its language in a way not unworthy of ob* According to Dugdale (Bar. i. 693) he was nephew to William FitzAdelm, a favourite and servant of Henry the Second, and ancestor to the Earls of Clanricarde. He was himself created Earl of Kent by Henry the Third, in the 13th year of his reign; and in that reign, though sometimes in much favour with the king, he was repeatedly charged, both by king and nobles, with crimes of all sorts, political and personal. These occurrences may have been the original foundation for the jealousy and contempt of Hubert, which the play ascribes to the peers. t His ancestor came in with the Conqueror, and his father was made Earl by Henry the First.
servation. In the former play Essex” thus addresses the King :
“We crave, my lord, to please the Commons with,
Pembroke, whom our poet makes the spokesman, presses the request on the part of himself and his compeers; but, although he refers to “the murmuring lips of discontent,” he does not obtrude upon the ears of royalty the plebeian description of the people at large. Though Shakspeare appears to have incorrectly dated the disaffection of some of the barons, it is true that at this time discontents prevailed among them. The peers were summoned to attend the King at Portsmouth, in order to a fresh expedition into France; but, meeting at Leicester, they resolved that they would not go with him beyond sea, wnless he would restore to them their rights.f. It is remarkable that Shakspeare assigns no cause for the revolt of the barons, excepting that for which he had the least authority, the imprisonment and death of Arthur, whom the poet assumes to have been the rightful heir to the crown. Historians mention his profligacy, effeminacy, neglect of business, and pecuniary exactions. To these no * Geffry FitzPeter, Earl of Essex. Shakspeare only brings him forward once, in his character of chief justiciary.