« PreviousContinue »
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF KING RICHARD II.] But this hiftory comprises little more than the two laft years of this prince. The action of the drama begins with Bolingbroke's appealing the Duke of Norfolk, on an accufation of high treafon, which fell out in the year 1398; and it clofes with the murder of King Richard at Pomfret Caftle towards the end of the year 1400, or the beginning of the enfuing year. THEOBALD.
It is evident from a paffage in Camden's Annals, that there was an old play on the fubject of Richard the Second; but I know not in what language. Sir Gillie Merick, who was concerned in the hare-brained business of the Earl of Effex, who was hanged for it, with the ingenious Cuffe, in 1601, is accufed, amongst other things, "quod exoletam tragoediam de tragicâ abdicatione regis Ricardi Secundi in publico theatro coram conjuratis datâ pecuniâ agi curaffet."
I have fince met with a paffage in my Lord Bacon, which proves this play to have been in English. It is in the arraignments of Cuffe and Merick, Vol. IV. p. 412, of Mallet's edition: "The afternoon 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 depofing King Richard the Second- -when it was told him by one of the players, that the play was old, and they should have lofs in playing it, because few would come to it, there was forty fhillings extraordinary given to play, and fo thereupon played it was."
It may be worth enquiry, whether fome of the rhyming parts of the prefent 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; fince, as Dr. Johnfon obferves, there are fome expreffions in this of Shakspeare, which strongly inculcate the doctrine of indefeafille right. FARMER.
Bacon elsewhere glances at the fame tranfaction: "And for your comparison with Richard II. I fee you follow the example of them that brought him upon the ftage, and into print in Queen Elizabeth's time." Works, Vol. IV. p. 278. The partizans of Effex had, therefore, procured the publication as well as the acting of this play. HOLT WHITE.
It is probable, I think, that the play which Sir Gilly Merick procured to be reprefented, bore the title of HENRY IV. and not of RICHARD II.
Camden calls it" exoletam tragediam de tragica abdicatione regis Ricardi fecundi ;" and (Lord Bacon in his account of The Effect of that which paffed at the arraignment of Merick and others,) fays: "That the afternoon before the rebellion, Merick
had procured to be played before them, the play of depofing King Richard the Second." But in a more particular account of the proceeding against Merick, which is printed in the State Trials, Vol. VII. p. 60, the matter is ftated thus: "The ftory of Henry IV. being fet forth in a play, and in that play there being set forth the killing of the king upon a stage; the Friday before, Sir Gilly Merick and fome others of the earl's train having an humour to fee a play, they must needs have The Play of HENRY IV. The players told them that was ftale; they fhould get nothing by playing that; but no play else would ferve: and Sir Gilly Merick gives forty fhillings to Philips the player to play this, befides whatsoever he could get."
Auguftine Philippes was one of the patentees of the Globe playhouse with Shakspeare, in 1603; but the play here described was certainly not Shakspeare's HENRY IV. as that commences above a year after the death of Richard. TYRWHITT.
This play of Shakspeare was first entered at Stationers' Hall by Andrew Wife, Aug. 29, 1597. STEEVENS.
It was written, I imagine, in the fame year. Malone.
Uncles to the
King Richard the Second.
Duke of Surrey.
Earl of Salisbury. Earl Berkley."
Creatures to King Richard.
Earl of Northumberland: Henry Percy, his Son.
Queen to King Richard.
Lady attending on the Queen.
Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Two Gardeners, Keeper, Meffenger, Groom, and other Attendants.
SCENE, difperfedly 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.
There was no
2 Earl Berkley.] It ought to be Lord Berkley.
Earl Berkley till fome ages after.
3 Lord Rofs.] Now, fpelt Roos, titles. STEEVENS.
one of the Duke of Rutland's