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Enrich the time to come with smooth-fac'd peace,
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!
KING RICHARD III.
He capers-] WAR capers. This is poetical, though a little harsh; if it be York that capers, the antecedent is at such a distance, that it is almost forgotten.
2 -Warwick's youngest daughter:] This speech corrects an inadvertence of Shakspeare, at the close of the third act of Henry VI. Part 3, for there Warwick is made to say, that he will join his eldest daughter to Edward prince of Wales.
-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.
4 Imagine I have said farewell already.] Cibber, who altered K. 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,
-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.
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 Margaret.
6 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.
spider is called
7 that bottled spider,] A bottled, because, like other insects, he has a middle slender and a belly protuberant. Richard's form and venom, made her liken him to a spider. JOHNSON. 8 Peace, master Marquis, you are malapert, &c.] Shakspeare may either allude to the late creation of the marquis of Dorset, or to the institution of the title
of marquis here in England, as a special dignity, which was no older than Richard II. Robert Vere, earl of Oxford, was the first, who, as a distinct dignity, received the title of marquis, 1st December, anno nono Richardi secundi. See Ashmole's History of the Order of the Garter, p. 456.
-frank'd up to fatting
-] 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,
The same metaphor occurs in the last scene of act iv. lawful quest-] Quest is jury or inquest.
11 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.
12 Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fetch'd] Edward the young prince, in his father's lifetime, and at his demise, kept his household at Ludlow, as prince of Wales; under the governance of Antony Woodville, earl of Rivers, his uncle by the mother's side. The intention of his being sent thither was to see justice done in the Marches; and by the authority of his presence, to restrain the Welshmen, who were wild, dissolute, and ill-disposed, from their accustomed murders and outrages. Vid. Hall, Holinshed, &c.