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us, frequently went backwards and forwards, unsuspected, on messages betwixt the countess of Richmond, and her husband, and the young earl of Richmond, whilst he was preparing to make his descent on England.. THEOBALD.
Dr. Johnson has observed, that sir was anciently a title assumed by graduates. Which opinion is confirmed by Mr. Mason.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 22. Is the determin'd respite of my wrongs.] Wrongs in this line means wrongs done, or injurious practices. JOHNSON.
Line 32. -blame the due of blame.] This scene should, in my opinion, be added to the foregoing act, so the fourth act will have a more full and striking conclusion, and the fifth act will comprise the business of the important day, which put an end to the competition of York and Lancaster. Some of the quarto editions are not divided into acts, and it is probable, that this and many other plays were left by the author in one unbroken continuity, and afterwards distributed by chance, or what seems to have been a guide very little better, by the judgment or caprice of the first editors. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE II.
That spoil'd your summer fields, and fruitful vines,
from the past to the present, and vice versá, is common to Shakspeare. MALONE.
Line 45. embowell'd bosoms,] Exenterated; ripped up: alluding, perhaps, to the Promethean vulture; or, more probably, to the sentence pronounced in the English courts against traitors, by which they are condemned to be hanged, drawn, that is, embowelled, and quartered.
Line 46. Lies now-] i. e. sojourns.
ACT V. SCENE III.
-sound direction:] True judgment; tried mili
JOHNSON. -Give me a watch:] A watch has many significations, but I should believe that it means in this place not a
sentinel, which would be regularly placed at the king's tent; nor an instrument to measure time, which was not used in that age; but a watch-light, a candle to burn by him; the light that afterwards burnt blue: yet a few lines after, he says,
Bid my guard watch.
which leaves it doubtful whether watch is not here a sentinel.
Lord Bacon mentions a species of light called an all-night, which is a wick set in the middle of a large cake of wax. JOHNS. Line 140. Look that my staves be sound,] Staves are the wood of the lances.
Line 146. Much about cock-shut time,] i. e. twilight.
With best advantage will deceive the time,] I will
take the best opportunity to elude the dangers of this conjuncture.
-The leisure and the fearful time Cuts off the ceremonious vows of love,] We have still a phrase equivalent to this, however harsh it may seem-I would do this, if leisure would permit-where leisure, as in this passage, stands for want of leisure. JOHNSON.
Line 185. -peise me down to-morrow,] To peise, i. e. to weigh down, from peser, French. STEEVENS.
Line 209. Harry, that prophecy'd thou should'st be king,] The prophecy, to which this allusion is made, was uttered in one of the parts of Henry the sixth. JOHNSON.
Line 258. I died for hope,] i, e. I died for wishing well to you. Line 262. Give me another horse,] There is in this, as in many of our author's speeches of passion, something very trifling, and something very striking. Richard's debate, whether he should quarrel with himself, is too long continued, but the subsequent exaggeration of his crimes is truly tragical. JOHNSON. Line 343. One that made means-] To make means was, in Shakspeare's time, always used in an unfavourable sense, and signified-to come at any thing by indirect practices. STEEVENS.
Line 346. by the foil
Of England's chair,] It is plain that foil cannot here mean that of which the obscurity recommends the brightness of the diamond. It must mean the leaf (feueille) or thin plate of metal in which the stone is set. JOHNSON.
Nothing has been, or is still more common, than to put a bright-coloured foil under a cloudy or low-prized stone. I have seen a brown chrystal, set with a pink foil, which has made it appear very beautiful. STEEVENS. Line 361. the ransom of my bold attempt-] The fine paid by me in atonement for my rashness shall be my dead corpse.
Line 366. God, and Saint George!] Saint George was the common cry of the English soldiers when they charged the enemy. The author of the old Arte of Warre, printed in the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign, formally enjoins the use of this cry among his military laws, page 84.
"Item, that all souldiers entring into battaile, assault, skirmish, "or other faction of armes, shall have for their common cry and "word, Saint George, forward, or upon them, saint George, where
by the souldiour is much comforted, and the enemy dismaied "by calling to minde the ancient valour of England, which with "that name has so often been victorious; and therefore he, who upon any sinister zeale shall maliciously omit so fortunate a "name, shall be severely punished for his obstinate erroneous heart, "and perverse mind."
Line 406. This, and Saint George to boot!] That is, this is the order of our battle, which promises success, and over and above this, is the protection of our patron saint.
To boot is (as I conceive) to help, and not over and above.
-Dickon thy master &c] Dickon was the old
nick-name of Richard.
Line 412. Let not our babbling dreams &c.] I suspect these six lines to be an interpolation; but if Shakspeare was really guilty of them in his first draught, he certainly intended to leave them
out when he substituted the much more proper harangue that follows.
T. T. Line 420. A sort of vagabonds,] A sort, that is, a company, a collection.
JOHNSON. Line 447. Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!] That is, fright the skies with the shivers of your lances. JOHNSON.
Line 451. —the enemy is pass'd the marsh;] 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. MALONE.
ACT V. SCENE IV.
Line 465. A horse! a horse!] Some inquiry hath been made for the first performers of the capital characters of Shakspeare.
We learn, that Burbage, the alter Roscius of Camden, was the original Richard, from a passage in the poems of bishop Corbet; who introduces his host at Bosworth describing the battle,
"But when he would have said king Richard died,
And call'd a horse, a horse, he Burbage cried." FARMER.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON KING RICHARD III.