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Against the envy of less happier lands;
7 - LESS HAPPIER lands ;] So read all the editions, except Sir T. Hanmer's, which has less happy. I believe, Shakspeare, from the habit of saying more happier, according to the custom of his time, inadvertently writ less happier. Johnson.
8 Fear'd by their breed, and famous by their birth,] The first edition in quarto, 1598, reads :
"Fear'd by their breed, and famous for their birth." The quarto in 1615 :
* Fear'd by their breed, and famous by their birth.” The first folio, though printed from the second quarto, reads as the first. The particles in this author seem often to have been printed by chance. Perhaps the passage, which appears a little disordered, may be regulated thus :
“As is the sepulchre-," JOHNSON. The first folio could not have been printed from the second quarto, on account of many variations as well as omissions. The quarto 1608 has the same reading with that immediately preceding it. STEEVENS.
Dr. Johnson was in an error in supposing the quarto of 1598 to be the first. The original copy was printed in 1597, and reads
“ Feard by their breed, and famous by their birth.” “By their breed," i. e. by means of their breed.
There is some resemblance in the mode of expression between this passage and the following in The Farewell to Follie, one of the tracts of his predecessor Green's, which appeared in 1598 : “My lordes and worthy peeres of Buda, feared for your valour and famous for your victories, let not the private will of one be the ruin of such a mighty kingdom." Malone,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
9 This land
Is now leas'd out (I die pronouncing it,)
Like to a tenement, or pelting FARM:7 “ In this 22d yeare of King Richard (says Fabian,) the common fame ranne, that the kinge had letten to farm the realme unto Sir William Scrope, earle of Wiltshire, and then treasurer of England, to Syr John Bushey, Sir John Bagot, and Sir Henry Grene, knightes."
Malone. A pelting farm, is a small paltry farm. So, in Measure for Measure :
“For every pelting petty officer,
“ Would use his heaven for thunder." MALONE. 1 With inky blons,] I suspect that our author wrote-inky bolts ? How can blots bind any thing? and do not bolts correspond better with bonds ? Inky bolts are written restrictions. So, in The Honest Man's Fortune, by Beaumont and Fletcher, Act IV. Sc. I. :
“ manacling itself
“ In gyves of parchment." STEEVENS. “ Inky blots,” is a contemptuous term for writings. Boswell.
2 — rotten parchment bonds ;] Alluding to the great sums raised by loans and other exactions, in this reign, upon the English subjects. Grey.
Gaunt does not allude, as Grey supposes, to any loans or exactions extorted by Richard, but to the circumstances of his having actually farmed out his royal realm, as he himself styles it. In the last scene of the first Act he says:
“ And, for our coffers are grown somewhat light,
“We are enforc'd to farm our royal realm."" And it afterwards appears that the person who farmed the realm was the Earl of Wiltshire, one of his own favourites.
Enter King RICHARD, and Queen'; AUMERLE 4, Bushy, GREEN, Bagot, Ross", and WILLOUGHBY 6. York. The king is come: deal mildly with his
youth; For young hot colts, being rag'd, do rage the
more? Queen. How fares our noble uncle, Lancaster ? K. Rich. What comfort, man? How is't with
aged Gaunt? Gaunt. O, how that name befits my composi
tion ! Old Gaunt, indeed; and gaunt in being old : Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast; And who abstains from meat, that is not gaunt? For sleeping England long time have I watch'd ; Watching breeds leanness, leanness is all gaunt : The pleasure, that some fathers feed upon, Is my strict fast, I mean-my children's looks ; And, therein fasting, hast thou made me gaunt: Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave, Whose hollow womb inherits nought but bones. K. Rich. Can sick men play so nicely with their
3 - Queen ;] Shakspeare, as Mr. Walpole suggests to me, has deviated from historical truth in the introduction of Richard's queen as a woman in the present piece ; for Anne, his first wife, was dead before the play commences, and Isabella, his second wife, was a child at the time of his death. MALONE.
4 - Aumerle,] Was Edward, eldest son of Edmund Duke of York, whom he succeeded in the title. He was killed at Agincourt. WALPOLE.
5 - Ross,] Was William Lord Roos, (and so should be printed,) of Hamlake, afterwards Lord Treasurer to Henry IV.
WALPOLE. 6 Willoughby.) Was William Lord Willoughby of Eresby, who afterwards married Joan, widow of Edmund Duke of York.
WALPOLE. 7 For young hot colts, being rag'd, do rage the more.] Read :
“ being rein'd, do rage the more." Ritson.
Gaunt. No, misery makes sport to mock itself: Since thou dost seek to kill my name in me, I mock my name, great king, to flatter thee. K. Rich. Should dying men flatter with those
that live? Gaunt. No, no; men living flatter those that
die. K. Rich. Thou, now a dying, say’st-thou flat
ter'st me. GAUNT. Oh! no; thou diest, though I the sicker
be. K. Rich. I am in health, I breathe, and see thee
8 Ill in myself to see, and in thee seeing ill.] I cannot help supposing that the idle words—to see, which destroy the measure, should be omitted. STEEVENS.
9 Which art possess'd now to depose thyself.] Possess'd, in this second instance, was, I believe, designed to mean-alicted with madness occasioned by the internal operation of a dæmon.
Why, cousin, wert thou regent of the world,
So, in The Comedy of Errors :—“Both man and master is possess'd. STEVENS.
Thy state of Law is bondslave to the law;] “ State of law," i. e. legal sovereignty. But the Oxford editor alters it to “ state o'er law," i. e. absolute sovereignty. A doctrine, which, if ever our poet learnt at all, he learnt not in the reign when this play was written, Queen Elizabeth's, but in the reign after it, King James's. By “ bondslave to the law,” the poet means his being inslaved to his favourite subjects. WARBURTON.
This sentiment, whatever it be, is obscurely expressed. I understand it differently from the learned commentator, being perhaps not quite so zealous for Shakspeare's political reputation. The reasoning of Gaunt, I think, is this : “ By setting the royalties to farm thou hast reduced thyself to a state below sovereignty, thou art now no longer king but landlord of England, subject to the same restraint and limitations as other landlords : by making thy condition a state of law, a condition upon which the common rules of law can operate, thou art become a bondslave to the law; thou hast made thyself amenable to laws from which thou wert originally exempt.”
Whether this explanation be true or no, it is plain that Dr. Warburton's explanation of “bondslave to the law,” is not true,
JOHNSON. Warburton's explanation of this passage is too absurd to require confutation; and his political observation is equally ill-founded. The doctrine of absolute sovereignty might as well have been learned in the reign of Elizabeth, as in that of her successor, She was, in fact, as absolute as he wished to be.
Johnson's explanation is in general just; but I think that the words, of law, must mean, by law, or according to law, as we say, of course, and of right, instead of by right, or by course. -Gaunt's reasoning is this —“ Having let your kingdom by lease, you are no longer the king of England, but the landlord only; and your state is by law, subject to the law.” M. Mason.
Mr. Heath explains the words “ state of law,” somewhat differently: “ Thy royal estate is now, in virtue of thy having leased it out, subjected,” &c.