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Line 86. The jealous o'erworn widow, and herself,] That is, the queen and Shore. JOHNSON. Line 118. the queen's abjects-] That is, not the queen's subjects, whom she might protect, but her abjects, whom she drives away. JOHNSON.
Line 121. Were it to call king Edward's widow-sister,] This is a very covert and subtle manner of insinuating treason. The natural expression would have been, were it to call king Edward's wife, sister. I will solicit for you, though it should be at the expence of so much degradation and constraint, as to own the lowborn wife of king Edward for a sister. But by slipping, as it were casually, widow into the place of wife, he tempts Clarence with an oblique proposal to kill the king. JOHNSON.
King Edward's widow is, I believe, only an expression of contempt, meaning the widow Gray, whom Edward had thought proper to make his queen. He has just before called her, the jealous o'erworn widow. STEEVENS.
Line 148. should be mew'd,] A mew is a place where any thing is confined.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 184. -obsequiously lament—] Obsequious, in this instance, means funereal. So in Hamlet, act i. sc. ii. To do obsequious sorrow.
STEEVENS. I'll make a corse of him that disobeys.] So in
Line 222. Hamlet,
Line 242. example.
I'll make a ghost of him that lets me. JOHNSON. -pattern of thy butcheries:] Pattern is instance, or JOHNSON.
-see! dead Henry's wounds
Open their congeal'd mouths, and bleed afresh.] It is a tradition very generally received, that the murdered body bleeds on the touch of the murderer. This was so much believed by sir Kenelm Digby, that he has endeavoured to explain the reason. JOHNSON.
Line 272. Vouchsafe, diffus'd infection of a man,] I believe, diffus'd in this place signifies irregular, uncouth; such is its meaning in other passages of Shakspeare. JOHNSON.
Diffus'd infection of a man may mean, thou that art as dangerous as a pestilence, that infects the air by its diffusion. STEEV. Line 298. That laid their guilt—] The crime of my brothers. He has just charged the murder of lady Anne's husband upon Edward. JOHNSON.
Line 374. they kill me with a living death.] In imitation of this passage, and, I suppose, of a thousand more, Pope writes, -a living death I bear,
Says Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair. JOHNS.
Line 378. These eyes, which never, &c.] The twelve follow ing beautiful lines added after the first editions. POPE. JOHNSON.
They were added with many more.
Line 404. But 'twas thy beauty-] Shakspeare countenances the observation, that no woman can ever be offended with the mention of her beauty. JOHNSON.
Line 443. Crosby-place:] A house near Bishopsgate-street, belonging to the duke of Gloucester. JOHNSON.
Line 457. Imagine I have said farewell already.] Cibber, who altered Rich. III. for the stage, was so thoroughly convinced of the ridiculousness and improbability of this scene, that he thought himself obliged to make Tressel say,
When future chronicles shall speak of this,
They will be thought romance, not history. STEEVENS. Line 478. Fram'd in the prodigality of nature,] i. e. when nature was in a prodigal or lavish mood. WARBURTON.
Line 479. and, no doubt, right royal,] Of the degree of royalty belonging to Henry the sixth there could be no doubt, nor could Richard have mentioned it with any such hesitation; he could not indeed very properly allow him royalty. I believe we should read,
and, no doubt, right loyal.
That is, true to her bed. He enumerates the reasons for which she should love him. He was young, wise, and valiant; these were apparent and indisputable excellencies. He then mentions another not less likely to endear him to his wife, but which he had less opportunity of knowing with certainty, and, no doubt, right loyal, JOHNSON,
Richard means only full of all the noble properties of a king. No doubt, right royal, may, however, be ironically spoken, alluding to the incontinence of his mother Margaret. STEEVENS.
Line 489.a marvellous proper man.] Marvellous is here used adverbially: proper in old language was handsome.
ACT I. SCENE III.
Line 518. It is determin'd, not concluded yet:] Determin'd signifies the final conclusion of the will: concluded, what cannot be altered by reason of some act, consequent on the final judgWARBURTON. my pains-] My labours; my toils. JOHNS. -out, devil!] Out is an expression of disgust
Line 641. 642. and abhorrence. Line 656.
-Was not your husband
In Margaret's battle, It is said in Henry VI, -] that he died in quarrel of the house of York. JOHNSON. MALONE.
The account here given is the true one.
Line 688. Hear me, you wrangling pirates, &c.] This scene of Margaret's imprecations is fine and artful. She prepares the audience, like another Cassandra, for the following tragic revolutions. WARBURTON.
Line 693. Ah, gentle villain,] The meaning of gentle is not tender or courteous, but high-born. An opposition is meant between that and villain, which means at once a wicked and a lowborn wretch. So before,
Since ev'ry Jack is made a gentleman,
There's many a gentle person made a Jack. JOHNSON.
Line 694. What mak'st thou in my sight?] An obsolete expression for-what dost thou in my sight? MALONE.
by surfeit die your king,]
Alluding to his
Line 735. luxurious life. Line 769. rooting hog!] The expression is fine, alluding (in memory of her young son) to the ravage which hogs make, with the finest flowers, in gardens; and intimating that Elizabeth was to expect no other treatment for her sons. WARBURTON.
She calls him hog, as an appellation more contemptuous than
boar, as he is elsewhere termed from his ensigns armorial. There is no such heap of allusion as the commentator imagines. JOHNS. Line 771. The slave of nature-] The expression is strong and noble, and alludes to the ancient custom of masters' branding their profligate slaves: by which it is insinuated that his misshapen person was the mark that nature had set upon him to stigmatize his ill conditions. WARBURTON.
Line 774. Thou rag of honour! &c.] The word rag intimates that much of his honour is torn away. Patch is, in the same manner, a contemptuous appellation. JOHNSON. Line 788. bottled spider.] A spider is called bottled, because, like other insects, he has a middle slender and a belly protuberant. Richard's form and venom, make her liken him to a spider. JOHNSON.
Line 875. He is frank'd up to fatting for his pains.] A frank is an old English word for a hog-sty. 'Tis possible he uses this metaphor to Clarence, in allusion to the crest of the family of York, which was a boar. Whereto relate those famous old verses on Richard III.
The cat, the rat, and Lovel the dog,
He uses the same metaphor in the last scene of act iv. POPE.
ACT I. SCENE IV.
faithful man,] Not an infidel.
-953. Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,] here used for invaluable. Line 958: That woo'd the slimy bottom-] By seeming to gaze upon it; or, as we now say, to ogle it. JOHNSON. Line 966. within my panting bulk,] Bulk is often used by Shakspeare and his contemporaries for body. MALONE. Line 982. fleeting, perjur'd Clarence,] Fleeting is the same as changing sides. JOHNSON. Line 1006. Princes have but their titles for their glories, An outward honour for an inward toil;] The first line may be understood in this sense, The glories of princes are
nothing more than empty titles: but it would more impress the purpose of the speaker, and correspond better with the following lines, if it were read,
Princes have but their titles for their troubles. JOHNSON. Line 1008.for unfelt imaginations,
They often feel a world of restless cares:] They often suffer real miseries for imaginary and unreal gratifications. JOHNSON.
Line 1083. Spoke like a tall fellow,] The meaning of tall, in old English, is stout, daring, fearless, and strong. JOHNSON. -the costard-] i. e. the head. -we'll reason-] We'll talk. What lawful quest-] Quest is inquest or jury. -1167. -springing,- Plantagenet,] Blooming Plantagenet; a prince in the spring of life. JOHNSON. -novice,] Youth; one yet new to the world. JOHNSON.
Line 1221. what beggar pities not?] I cannot but suspect that the lines, which Mr. Pope observed not to be in the old edition, are now misplaced, and should be inserted here, somewhat after this manner.
Clar. A begging prince what beggar pities not?
Vil. A begging prince!
Clar. Which of you, if you were a prince's son, &c. Upon this provocation, the villain naturally strikes him. JOHNS.
A begging prince what beggar pities not?] To this in the quarto, the murderer replies, Ay, thus, and thus! and stabs him. STEEV.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 118. The forfeit,] He means the remission of the forfeit. JOHNSON.
Line 122. Have I a tongue to doom my brother's death,] This lamentation is very tender and pathetick. The recollection of the good qualities of the dead is very natural, and no less naturally does the king endeavour to communicate the crime to others.
JOHNSON. Line 128. -be advis'd?] i. e. deliberate; consider what I was about to do. MALONE. VOL. X.