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K. Rich. Jocky of Norfolk, be not too bold, [Reads. For Dickon thy muster is bought and sold. A thing devised by the enemy: Go, gentlemen, every man unto his charge : Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls ; Conscience is but a word that cowards use, Devised at first to keep the strong in awe; Our strong arms be our conscience, swords our law. March on, join bravely, let us to't pell-mell; If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell. What shall I say more than I have inferred ? Remember whom you are to cope withal ;A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and runaways, A scum of Bretagnes, and base, lackey peasants, Whom their o'er-cloyed country vomits forth To desperate ventures and assured destruction. You sleeping safe, they bring you to unrest; You having lands, and blessed with beauteous wives, They would restrain ? the one, distain the other. And who doth lead them, but a paltry fellow, Long kept in Bretagne at our mother's cost? A milk-sop, one that never in his life Felt so much cold as over shoes in snow? Let's whip these stragglers o'er the seas again ; Lash hence these over-weening rags of France, These famished beggars, weary of their lives; Who, but for dreaming on this fond exploit, For want of means, poor rats, had hanged themselves : If we be conquered, let men conquer us, And not these bastard Bretagnes ; whom our fathers
3 Thus Holinshed :—“ You see further, how a company of traitors, thieves, outlaws, and runagates, be aiders and partakers of this feate and enterprise. And to begin with the earl of Richmond, captaine of this rebellion, he is a Welsh milksop, brought up by my moother's means and mine, like a captive in a close cage in the court of Francis duke of Britaine," p. 756. Holinshed copied this verbatim from Hall, edit. 1548, fol. 54; but his printer has given us, by accident, the word moother instead of brother; as it is in the original, and ought to be in Shakspeare. In the first edition of Holinshed the word is rightly printed brother. So that this circumstance not only shows that the Poet follows Holinshed, but points out the edition used by him.
Have in their own land beaten, bobbed, and thumped,
[Drum afar off
broken staves !
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, he doth deny to come.
Nor. My lord, the enemy is passed the marsh;
bosom. Advance our standards, set upon our foes ; Our ancient word of courage, fair Saint George, Inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons ! Upon them! Victory sits on our helms. [Exeunt.
SCENE IV. Another Part of the Field.
Alarum. Excursions. Enter NORFOLK, and Forces;
to him CATESBY. Cate. Rescue, my lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue ! The king enacts more wonders than a man, Daring an opposite to every danger ; ? His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,
1 There was a large marsh in Bosworth plain between the two armies. Henry passed it, and made such a disposition of his forces that it served to protect his right wing. By this movement he gained also another point, that his men should engage with the sun behind them, and in the faces of his enemies; a matter of great consequence when bows and arrows were in use.
2 i. e. daringly opposing himself to every danger.
Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death :
Alarum. Enter KING RICHARD.
K. Rich. A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse! Cate. Withdraw, my lord, I'll help you to a horse.
K. Rich. Slave, I have set my life upon a cast, And I will stand the hazard of the die; I think there be six Richmonds in the field Five have I slain to-day, instead of him :A horse ! a horse ! my kingdom for a horse! [Exeunt.
Alarums. Enter King Richard und RICHMOND; and
exeunt fighting. Retreat and flourish. Then enter RICHMOND, STANLEY, bearing the crown, with divers other Lords, and Forces. Richm. God, and your arms, be praised, victorious
friends; The day is ours; the bloody dog is dead Stan. Courageous Richmond, well hast thou acquit
Richm. Great God of heaven, say, Amen, to all But, tell me first, is young George Stanley living ?
Stan. He is, my lord, and safe in Leicester town; Whither, if it please you, we may now withdraw us.
Richm. What men of name are slain on either side ?
1 Richard, according to Polydore Virgil, was determined if possible to engage with Richmond in single combat. For this purpose he rode furiously to that quarter of the field where the earl was; attacked his standard bearer, sir William Brandon, and killed him; then assaulted sir John Cheny, whom he overthrew. Having thus at length cleared his way to his antagonist, he engaged in single combat with him, and probably would have been victorious, but at that instant sir William Stanley, with three thousand men, joined Richmond's army, and the royal forces fled with great precipitation.
Stan. John duke of Norfolk, Walter lord Ferrers, Sir Robert Brakenbury, and sir William Brandon.
Richm. Inter their bodies as becomes their births. Proclaim a pardon to the soldiers fled, That in submission will return to us; And then, as we have ta’en the sacrament, We will unite the white rose with the red.Smile Heaven upon this fair conjunction, That long hath frowned upon their enmity!What traitor hears me, and says not,—Amen? England hath long been mad, and scarred herself; The brother blindly shed the brother's blood, The father rashly slaughtered his own son, The son, compelled, been butcher to the sire; All this divided York and Lancaster, Divided, in their dire division. O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth, The true succeeders of each royal house, By God's fair ordinance conjoin together! And let their heirs (God, if thy will be so) Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace, With smiling plenty, and fair, prosperous days ! Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord, That would reduce these bloody days again, And make poor England weep in streams of blood ! Let them not live to taste this land's increase, That would with treason wound this fair land's peace! Now civil wounds are stopped, Peace lives again ; That she may long live here, God say—Amen.
1 i. e. diminish, or take away.
“This is one of the most celebrated of our author's performances; yet I know not whether it has not happened to him as to others, to be praised most when praise is not most deserved. That this play has scenes noble in themselves, and very well contrived to strike in the exhibition, cannot be denied. But some parts are trifling, others shocking, and some improbable.”—Johnson.
Malone says, he “ agrees with Dr. Johnson in thinking that this play, from its first exhibition to the present hour, has been estimated greatly beyond its merits.” He attributes its popularity to the detestation in which Richard's character was held at the time that Shakspeare wrote, and to the patronage of queen Elizabeth, “ who was pleased at seeing king Henry VII. placed in the only favorable light in which he could be placed on the scene.” Steevens, in the following note, has stated the true grounds of the perpetual popularity of the play, which can only be attributed to one cause—the wonderful dramatic effect produced by the character of Richard.
“I most cordially join with Dr. Johnson and Mr. Malone in their opinions; and yet, perhaps, they have overlooked one cause of the success of this tragedy. The part of Richard is, perhaps beyond all others, variegated, and consequently favorable to a judicious performer. It comprehends, indeed, a trait of almost every species of character on the stage. The hero, the lover, the statesman, the buffoon, the hypocrite, the hardened and repenting sinner, &c., are to be found within its compass. No wonder, therefore, that the discriminating powers of a Burbage, a Garrick, and a Henderson, should at different periods have given it a popularity beyond other dramas of the same author."-STEEVENS.