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Against proud Somerset, and William Poole,
PLAN. Good mafter Vernon, I am bound to you, That you on my behalf would pluck a flower. VER. In your behalf ftill will I wear the fame. LAW. And fo will I.
PLAN. Thanks, gentle fir. 5
Come, let us four to dinner: I dare say,
This quarrel will drink blood another day.
The fame. A Room in the Tower.
Enter MORTIMER, brought in a chair by two
MOR. Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
gentle fir.] The latter word, which yet does not complete the metre, was added by the editor of the fecond folio.
Perhaps the line had originally this conclufion:
Thanks, gentle fir; thanks both." STEEVENs. 6 Enter Mortimer, ] Mr. Edwards, in his MS. notes, obferves, that Shakspeare has varied from the truth of hiftory, to introduce this fcene between Mortimer and Richard Plantagenet. Edmund Mortimer ferved under Henry V. in 1422, and died unconfined in Ireland in 1424. Holinfhed fays, that Mortimer was one of the mourners at the funeral of Henry V..
His uncle, Sir John Mortimer, was indeed prifoner in the Tower, and was executed not long before the Earl of March's death, being
Let dying Mortimer here reft himself. 4
charged with an attempt to make his efcape in order to ftir up an infurrection in Wales. STEEVENS.
A Remarker on this note [the author of the next] feems to think that he has totally overturned it, by quoting the following paflage from Hali's Chronicle: " During whiche parliament [ held in the third year of Henry VI. 1425,] came to London Peter Duke of Quimber, whiche of the Duke of Exeter, &c. was highly fefte During whych feafon Edmond Mortymer, the laft Erle of Marche of that name, (whiche long ty me had bene reftrayed from hys liberty and finally waxed lame,) difceafed without yffue, whole inheritance defcended to Lord Richard Plantagenet,' &c. as if a ci cumftance which Hall mentioned to mark the time of Mortimer's death, neceffarily explained the place where it happened alio. ihe fd is, that this Edmund Mortinier did not die in London, but at Irim in Ireland. He did not however die in confinement (as Sandford has erroneously afferted in his Genealogical Hiftory. See King Henry IV. Part I. Vol. XII. p. 215, n. 7.); and whether he ever was confined, (except by Owen Glendower) may be doubted, notwithstanding the affertion of Hall. Hardyng, who lived at the time, fays he was treated with the greateft kindness and care both by Henry IV. (to whom he was a ward,) and by his fon Henry V. See his Chronicle, 1543, fol. 229. He was certainly at liberty in the year 1415, having a few days before King Henry failed from Southampton, divulged to him in that town the traiterous intention of his brother-in-law Richard Earl of Cambridge, by which he probably conciliated the friendship of the young king. He at that time received a general pardon from Heury, and was employed by him in a naval enterprize. At the coronation of Queen Katharine he attended and held the scepire.
Soon after the acceffion of King Henry VI. he was conftituted by the English Regency chief governor of Ireland, an office which he executed by a deputy of his own appointment. In the latter end of the year 1424, he went himfelf to that country, to protect the great inheritance which he derived from his grandmother Philippa, (daughter to Lionel Duke of Clarence) from the incurfions of fome Iith chieftains, who were aided by a body of Scottish rovers; but foon after his arrival died of the plague in his caftle at Trim, in January 1624-5.
This Edmond Mortimer was, I believe, confounded by the author of this play, and by the old biftoriaus, with his kinfman, who was perhaps about thirty years old at his death. Edmond Mortimer at the time of his death could not have been above thirty
Even like a man new haled from the rack,
years old; for fuppofing that his grandmother Philippa was married at fifteen, in 1376, his father Roger could not have been born till 1377; and if he married at the early age of fixteen, Edmond was born in 1394.
This family had great poffeffions in Ireland, in confequence of the marriage of Lionel Duke of Clarence with the daughter of the Earl of Ulfter, in 1360, and were long connected with that country. Lionel was for fome time Viceroy of Ireland, and was created by his father Edward III. Duke of Clarence, in confequence of poffeffing the honour of Clare, in the county of Thomond. Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, who married Philippa the duke's only daughter, fucceeded him in the government of Ireland, and died in his office, at St. Dominick's Abbey, near Cork, in December 1381. His fon, Roger Mortimer, was twice Vicegerent of Ireland, and was flain at a place called Kenles, in Offory, in 1398. Edmund his son, the Mortimer of this play, was, as has been already mentioned, Chief Governor of Ireland, in the years 1423, and 1424, and died there in 1425. His nephew and heir, Richard Duke of York, (the Plantagenet of this play) was in 1449 conftituted Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for ten years, with extraordinary powers; and his fon George Duke of Clarence (who was afterwards murdered in the Tower) was born in the Castle of Dublin, in 1450. This prince filled the fame office which fo many of his ancestors had poffeffed, being conftituted Chief Governor of Ireland for life, by his brother King Edward IV. in the third year of his reign.
Since this note was written, I have more precisely ascertained the age of Edmond Mortimer Earl of March, uncle to the Richard Plantagenet of this play. He was born in December 1392, and confequently was thirty-two years old when he died. His ancestor, Lionel Duke of Clarence, was married to the daughter of the Earl of Ulfter, but not in 1360, as I have faid, but about the year 1353. He probably did not take his title of Clarence from his great Irish poffeffions, (as I have fuggefted) but rather from his wife's mother, Elizabeth de Clare, third daughter of Gilbert de Clare Earl of Glofter, and fifter to Gilbert de Clare, the laft (of that name) Earl of Glofter who founded Clare Hall in Cambridge. The error concerning Edmund Mortimer, brother-in-law to Richard Earl of Cambridge, having been kept in captivity untill he died," feems to have arisen from the legend of Richard Plantagenet, duke of Yorke, in The Mirrour for Magiftrates, 1575, where the following lines are found:
And thefe grey locks, the purfuivants of death,5
"His curfed fon enfued his cruel path,
It is objected that Shakspeare has varied from the truth of history to introduce this fcene between Mortimer and Richard Plantagenet; as the former ferved under Henry V. in 1422, and died unconfined in Ireland, in 1424. In the third year of Henry the Sixth, 1425, and during the time that Peter Duke of Coimbra was entertained in London, Edmonde Mortimer (fays Hall) the laft erle of Marche of that name (which longe tyme had bene reftrayned from hys liberty, and fynally waxed lame) difceafed without yffue, whofe inheritance difcended to lord Richard Plantagenet," &c. Holinfhed has the fame words; and these authorities, though the fact be otherwife, are fufficient to prove that Shakspeare, or whoever was the author of the play, did not intentionally vary from the truth of history to introduce the present scene. The hiftorian does not, indeed, exprefsly fay that the Earl of March died in the Tower; but one cannot, reasonably fuppofe that he meant to relate an event which he knew had happened to a free man in Ireland, as happening to a prifoner during the time that a particular perfon was in London. But, wherever he meant to lay the fcene of Mortimer's death, it is clear that the author of this play understood him as representing it to have happened in a London prison; an idea, if indeed his words will bear any other conftruction, a preceding paffage may ferve to corroborate. t The erle of March (he has obferved) was ever kepte in the courte under fuch a keper that he could nether doo or attempte any thyng agaynfte the kying wythout his knowledge, and dyed without iffue.". I am aware and could easily show, that fome of the most interefting events, not only in the Chronicles of Hall and Holinfhed, but in the Hiftories of Rapin, Hume, and Smollet,
Neftor-like aged, in an age of care,
Thefe eyes,-like lamps whofe wafting oil is fpent,Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent:
Weak fhoulders, overborne with burd'ning grief; And pithlefs arms, like to a wither'd vine
are perfe&ly fabulous and unfounded, which are nevertheless conftantly cited and regarded as incontrovertible facts. But, if modern writers, ftanding, as it were, upon the shoulders of their predeceffors, and poffeffing innumerable other advantages, are not always to be depended on, what allowances ought we not to make for those who had neither Rymer, nor Dugdale, nor Sandford to confult, who could have no access to the treafuries of Cotton or Harley, nor were permitted the infpection of a publick record? If this were the cafe with the hiftorian, what can be expe&ed from the dramatift? He naturally took for fact what he found in hiftory, and is by no means answerable for the misinformation of his authority. RITSON. 4 Let dying Mortimer here reft himself.] I know not whether Milton did not take from this hint the lines with which he opens his tragedy. JOHNSON.
Rather from the beginning of the laft fcene of the third act of the Phaniffe of Euripides:
Tireftas. Ηγε πάροιθε, δύγατερ, ὡς τυφλῷ ποδὶ
Οφθαλμὸς εἶ σὺ, ναυβάταισιν αςρον ὣς.
Δεύρ ̓ εἰς τὸ λευρὸν πέδον ιχνος τιθεῖσ ̓ ἐμὸν, &c. STEEVENS. B purfuivants of death,] Purfuivants. The heralds that, forerunning death, proclaim its approach. JOHNSON.
6 like lamps whofe wafting oil is spent,] So, in King Richard II:
"My oil-dry'd lamp, and time-bewafted light.”
——as drawing to their exigent: ] Exigent, end. JOHNSON. So, in Dolor Dodypoll, a comedy, 1600:
"Hath driven her to fome defperate exigent."
And pithlefs arms, ] Pith was used for marrow, and figuratively,
for frength. JOHNSON.
In the firft of thefe fenfes it is ufed in Othello:
For fince thefe arms of mine had feven years' pith—"
And, figuratively, in Hamlet:
And enterprizes of great pith and moment-"