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Keep. My lord, will't please you to fall to? K. Rich. Taste of it first, as thou art wont to do. Keep. My lord, I dare not; sir Pierce of Exton, who Lately came from the king, commands the contrary. K. Rich. The devil take Henry of Lancaster, and thee! Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.
[Beats the Keeper. Keep. Help, help, help!
Enter Exton and Servants, armed.
K. Rich. How now? what means death in this rude assault? Villain, thy own hand yields thy death's instrument.
[Snatching a weapon, and killing one. Go thou, and fill another room in hell.
[He kills another, and then Exton strikes him doivn.1 That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire, That staggers thus my person.—Exton, thy fierce hand Hath with the king's blood stained the king's own land. Mount, mount, my soul! thy seat is up on high, Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die.
[Dies.2 Exton. As full of valor, as of royal blood. Both have I spilled! O, 'would the deed were good!
1 These stage directions are not in the old copies.
a The representation here given of the king's death is perfectly agreeable to Hall and Holinshed (wl*o copied from Fabian, with whom the story of Exton is thought to have its origin). But the fact was otherwise. He refused food for several days, and died of abstinence and a broken heart. See Walsingham, Otterburne, the Monk of Evesham, the Continuator of the History of Croyland, and the Godstow Chronicle. His body, after being submitted to public inspection in the church of Pomfret, was brought to London, and exposed inCheapside for two hours, "his heade on a black cushion, and his visage open," when it was viewed, says Froissart, by twenty thousand persons, and finally in St Paul's cathedral. Stowe seems to have had before him a manuscript history of the latter part of king Richard's life, written by a person who was with him in Wales. He says "he was imprisoned in Pomfrait Castle, where xv dayes and nightes they vexed him with continual hunger, thirst, and cold, and finally bereft him of his life with such a kind of death as never before that time was knowen in England." Vol. in. 57
For now the devil, that told me—I did well,
SCENE VI. Windsor. A Room in the Castle. Flourish.
Enter Bolingbroke and York, with Lords and Attendants.
Boling. Kind uncle York, the latest news we hear Is—that the rebels have consumed with fire Our town of Cicester in Glocestershire! But whether they be ta'en, or slain, we hear not.
Welcome, my lord. What is the news?
North. First, to thy sacred state wish I all happiness. The next news is,—I have to London sent The heads of Salisbury, Spencer, Blunt, and Kent.1 The manner of their taking may appear At large discoursed in this paper here.
[Presenting a paper.
Boling. We thank thee, gentle Percy, for thy pains; And to thy worth will add right worthy gains.
Fitz My lord, I have from Oxford sent to London The heads of Brocas and sir Bennet Seely; Two of the dangerous, consorted traitors, That sought at Oxford thy dire overthrow.
Boling. Thy pains, Fitzwater, shall not be forgot; Right noble is thy merit, well I wot.
1 So the folio. The quarto reads, of Oxford, Salisbury, Blunt, and Kent. The folio is right according to the histories.
Enter Percy, with the Bishop of Carlisle.
Percy. The grand conspirator, abbot of Westminster,1
Boling. Carlisle, this is your doom :—2
Enter Exton, with Attendants bearing a coffin.
Exton. Great king, within this coffin I present
Boling. Exton, I thank thee not; for thou hast wrought A deed of slander, with thy fatal hand, Upon my head, and all this famous land. Exton. From your own mouth, my lord, did I this deed.
Boling. They love not poison that do poison need, Nor do I thee; though I did wish him dead, I hate the murderer, love him murdered. The guilt of conscience take thou for thy labor, But neither my good word nor princely favor.
1 This abbot of Westminster was William de Colchester. The relation, which is taken from Holinshed, is untrue, as he survived the king many years; and though called "the grand conspirator," it is very doubtful whether he had any concern in the conspiracy; at least, nothing was proved against him.
2 The bishop of Carlisle was committed to the tower, but, on the intercession of his friends, obtained leave to change his prison for Westminster abbey. In order to deprive him of his see, the pope, at the king's instance, translated him to a bishopric in partibus infidelium; and the only preferment he could ever after obtain was a rectory in Gloucestershire.
With Cain go wander through the shade of night,
And never show thy head by day nor light.
Lords, I protest, my soul is full of woe,
That blood should sprinkle me, to make me grow.
Come, mourn with me for what I do lament,
And put on sullen black, incontinent:
I'll make a voyage to the Holy Land,
To wash this blood off from my guilty hand.—
March sadly after; grace my mournings here,
In weeping after this untimely bier. [Exeunt.
This play is one of those which Shakspeare has, apparently, revised; hut as success in works of invention is not always proportionate to labor, it is not finished at last with the happy force of some other of his tragedies, nor can it he said much to affect the passions, or enlarge the understanding. Johnson.
FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
"shakspeare has, apparently, designed a regular connection of these dramatic histories, from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. King Henry, at the end of Richard the Second, declares his purpose to visit the Holy Land, which he resumes in the first speech of this play. The complaint made by king Henry, in the last act of King Richard the Second, of the wildness of his son, prepares the reader for the frolics which are here to be recounted, and the characters to be exhibited."—Johnson.
The historical dramas of Shakspeare have, indeed, become the popular history. Vain attempts have been made by Walpole to vindicate the character of king Richard III., and in later times, by Mr. Luders, to prove that the youthful dissipation ascribed to king Henry V. is without foundation. The arguments are probable and ingeniously urged; but we still cling to our early notions of "that mad-cap—that same sword-and-buckler prince of Wales." No plays were ever more read, nor does the inimitable, all-powerful genius of the Poet ever shine out more than in the two parts of King Henry IV. which may be considered as one long drama divided.
The transactions contained in the First Part of King Henry IV. are comprised within the period of about ten months; for the action commences with the news brought of Hotspur having defeated the Scots under Archibald, earl of Douglas, at Holmedon (or Halidown Hill), which battle was fought on Holyrood-day (the 14th of September), 1402; and it closes with the battle of Shrewsbury, on Saturday, the 21st of July, 1403.
Malone places the date of the composition of this play in 1597; Dr. Drake in 1596. It was first entered at Stationers' Hall, February 255 1597. There are no less than five quarto editions published during the author's life, viz. in 1598,1599,1604,1608,1613. For the piece which is supposed to have been its original, the reader is referred to the "Six Old Plays on which Shakspeare founded," &c, published by Steevens and Nichols.