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The tragedy of King John, though not written with the utmost power of Shakespeare, is varied with a very pleasing interchange of incidents and characters. The lady's grief is very affecting ; and the character of the bastard contains that mixture of greatness and;levity which this author delighted to exhibit. Johnson.
There is extant another play of King John, published in 1611. Shakespeare has preserved the greatest part of the conduct of it, as well as some of the lines. A few of these I have pointed out in the notes, and others I have omitted as undeserving notice. What most inclines me to believe it was the work of some contemporary writer, is the number of quotations from Horace, and fimilar scraps of learning scattered over it. There is likewise a quantity of rhiming Latin, and ballad-metre, in a scene where the Baltard is represented as plundering a monastery; and some strokes of humour, which seem, from their particular turn, to have been most evidently produced by another hand than that of Shakespeare. p of this historical drama there is said to have been an edition in 1591
for Sampson Clarke, but I have never seen it; and the copy in 1611, which is the oldest I could find, was printed for John Helme, whose name appears before no other of the pieces of Shakespeare. I admitted this play some years ago as our author's own, among the twenty which I published from the old editions ; but a more careful perusal of it, and a further conviction of his custom of borrowing plots, sentiments, &c. disposes me to recede from that opinion. STEEVENS.
King Richard the Second.
terwards king Henry the Fourth, fon to John of
Creatures to king Richard.
other attendants SCENE, dispersedly, in England and Wales. ? Duke of Aumerle, -] Aumerle, or Aumale, is the French for what we now call Albemarle, which is a town in Normandy. The old historians generally use the French title. STEEVENS.
2 Earl Berkley. ] It ought to be Lord Berkley. There was no Earl Berkley 'till fome ages
after. STEEVENS. 3 Lord Rofs.] Now spelt Roos, une of the duke of Rutland's titles, STEEVENS.
KING RICHARD II.
SCEN E I.
Enter king Richard, John of Gaunt; with other nobles and
K. Rich. Old John of Gaunt, time-honour'd Lancaster,
+ The Life and Death of King Richard II.) But this history comprises little more than the two last years of this prince. The action of the drama begins with Bolingbroke's appealing the duke of Norfolk, on an accufation of high treaton, which fell out in the year 1398; and it clofes with the murder of king Richard ar Pomfret-castle towards the end of the year 1400, or the beginning of the ensuing year. THEOBALD.
It is evident from a pafiage in Camden's Annals, that there was an old play on the subject of Richard the Second ; but I know not in what language. Sir Gelley Merriek, who was concerned in the hare-brained business of the earl of Ellex, and was hanged for it, with the ingenious Cuffc, in 1601, is accused, amongit other things, “ quod exoletam tragediam de tragicâ abdicatione regis Ricardi Secundi in publico theatro coram conjuratis datâ pecuniâ agi curaffet."
I have fince met with a pallage in my lord Bacon, which proves this play to have been in English. It is in the arraignments of Caffe" and Merick, vol. IV. p. 412. of Mallet's edition : “ The afiernoon before the rebellion, Merick, with a great company of others, that afterwards were all in the action, had procured to be played before them the play of deposing king Richard the SeK 2
Hast thou, according to thy oath and bands, Brought hither Henry Hereford thy bold son ; Here to make good the boisterous late appeal, Which then our leisure would not let us hear, Against the duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ?
Gaunt. I have, my liege.
K. Rich. Tell me moreover, hast thou founded him, If he appeal the duke on ancient malice; Or worthily, as a good subject should, On some known ground of treachery in him? Gaunt. As near as I could fift him on that argu
ment, On some apparent danger seen in hiin, Aim'd at your highness, no inveterate malice. K. Rich. Then call them to our presence; face to
face, And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear
The accuser, and the accused, freely speak : High-stomach'd are they both, and full of ire, In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire. cond; - when it was told him by one of the players, that the play was old, and they should have less in playing it, because few would come to it, there was forty shillings extraordinary given to play, and so thereupon played it was."
It may be worth enquiry, whether some of the rhyming parts of the present play, which Mr. Pope thought of a different hand, might not be borrowed from the old one. Certainly however, the general tendency of it must have been very different; since, as Dr. Johnson observes, there are some expreffions in this of Shakespeare, which strongly inculcate the doctrine of indefeasible right.
FARMER. This play of Shakespeare was first entered at Stationers' Hall by Andrew Wise, Aug. 29, 1597. Steevens.
sthy oath and band, ] When these public challenges were accepted, each combatant found a pledge for his appearance at the time and place appointed. So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, b. iv. 6. 3. st. 3 :
The day was fet, that all might understand, " And pledges pawnd the fame to keep aright.' The old copies read band instead of bond. The former is right: So, in the Comedy of Errors: My master is arrested on a band." STEEVENS.