Henry VI Part 2 (1923) Yale/Notes
The Second Part of Henry the Sixth. The last word is written 'Sixt' in the early editions, that being the regular Elizabethan form of the numeral.
I. i. 58–63. It is further agreed between them, etc. Editors have not failed to observe that the wording of the document here differs from what Gloucester has just read, ll. 50 ff. Such inconsistency is very common in Shakespeare. Compare I. iv, lines 35 ff. and 67 ff. It is not necessary to explain that Gloucester's eyes were dim, or that his agitation prevented him from getting more than the general import of the passage. The author was writing for auditors, who would not compare the two texts.
I. i. 65. We here create thee the first Duke of Suffolk. The Earl of Suffolk was created Marquis, September 14, 1444, and was made Duke, June 2, 1448, three years after the coronation of Queen Margaret (May, 1445). The earlier dignity is the one which chronologically belongs in this scene; but the author is doubtless thinking of Holinshed's account of the later one: 'the marquesse of Suffolke, by great fauour of the king, & more desire of the queene, was erected to the title and dignitie of duke of Suffolke, which he a short time inioied.'
I. i. 68, 69. till term of eighteen months Be full expir’d. York is discharged for the term of the truce with the French king. Cf. line 42 above.
I. i. 120. Anjou and Maine! myself did win them both. An entirely unhistoric statement (found in the Contention version also). The earliest military service that Warwick saw was at the first battle of St. Albans, with which this play concludes (May 22, 1455). The present Earl of Warwick, the King-maker, is probably here confused with his father-in-law, from whom he derived his title. The earlier Earl, who died in 1439, appears in The First Part of Henry VI as a general on service in France. This is perhaps an indication that the authors of the Contention and of the First Part were not the same. (Actually the King-maker did not become Earl of Warwick till 1449. In the historical year of this scene, 1445, the earldom was held by the young son of the Earl who fought in France.)
I. i. 125. For Suffolk's duke, may he be suffocate. Poor puns are frequent in this play.
I. i. 134, 135. That Suffolk should demand a whole fifteenth For costs and charges in transporting her. A tax of one-fifteenth on personal property. The lines are suggested by Holinshed: 'for the fetching of hir, the marquesse of Suffolke demanded a whole fifteenth in open parliament.' In the concluding scene of the First Part (V. v. 92 f.), King Henry authorizes Suffolk to levy a greater tax:
‘For your expenses and sufficient charge,
Among the people gather up a tenth.’
I. i. 153. heir apparent to the English crown. A misuse of the term, according to modern practice, for Gloucester was heir presumptive, not heir apparent; i.e. his right to succeed was contingent upon the chance that Henry would leave no lineal heir.
I. i. 155. all the wealthy kingdoms of the west. Perhaps an anachronistic allusion to the golden realms of Spanish America.
I. i. 166, 167. Why should he then protect our sovereign, He being of age to govern of himself? King Henry was twenty-five years old at the time of Gloucester's death in 1447. Gloucester, however, had ceased to be Protector in name, or even in fact, long before. His formal Protectorship was annulled in 1429, when the king was crowned (at the age of seven). Thereafter Gloucester held no higher title than that of 'First Councillor.'
I. i. 192, 193. Thy deeds, thy plainness, and thy housekeeping Hath won the greatest favour of the commons. Many modern editors alter 'hath' to 'have,' but Elizabethan English often prefers a logical to a grammatical agreement between subject and verb. 'Hath' may be explained as agreeing with the nearest of the three subjects, or with the aggregate idea of Warwick's character implied by all three. Frequently the lack of agreement is only apparent, not real (cf. note on I. iv. 77).
I. i. 195. brother York, thy acts in Ireland. Salisbury and York were brothers-in-law (see note on line 241 below). York's 'acts in Ireland' were not performed till later than the historical date of this scene (1445). His highly successful administration of Ireland occurred in 1448-1450. Compare the note on III. i. 318.
I. i. 235, 236. As did the fatal brand Althæa burnt Unto the prince's heart of Calydon. The heart of the prince of Calydon (Meleager) succumbed to death when his mother in anger burned the piece of firewood ('brand'), which the Fates had prophesied would measure his length of life. This passage, like many others of a flowery and rhetorical nature, is not found in the original (Contention) version, and was presumably added by Shakespeare. It has been noted that the myth is here correctly reproduced from Ovid, whereas in 2 Henry IV (II. ii. 96-100) the poet seems to retain only a confused recollection of it.
I. i. 241. And therefore I will take the Nevils' parts. York's wife was Cecily, youngest sister of Richard Nevil, Earl of Salisbury, and aunt of Warwick. Actually it was the Nevils who took York's part. (Compare note on I. iii. 75-77.)
I. ii. 9. grovel on thy face. Solicit supernatural aid. Compare I. iv. 13, 14.
I. ii. 68. Sir John. Not a title of knighthood, but a common form of address for priests. In such cases it signifies no more than 'Dominie.'
I. ii. 71. I am but Grace. 'Your Grace' being the proper salutation for a Duchess. In Shakespeare, however, it is frequently used in addressing kings and queens, as in the next scene of this play, line 70.
I. iii. 18-22. Mine is, an 't please your Grace, against John Goodman, my Lord Cardinal's man, for keeping my house, and lands, my wife and all, from me. Suf. Thy wife too! that is some wrong indeed. This passage, which is considerably developed from its source in the Contention, shows in its revised form a strong similarity to the opening scene of the play of Sir Thomas More, in which Shakespeare is thought to have had a part. Some of the Jack Cade scenes of the present play likewise betray a close affinity to Sir Thomas More.
I. iii. 23-25. Against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the commons of Melford. Long Melford is a town in the county of Suffolk. The form of oppression represented by the appropriation and fencing in by wealthy citizens of common land was frequent in the sixteenth century. Some of the latest records of Shakespeare's life deal with his attitude toward the project of enclosing the common at Welcombe near Stratford. His kinsman, Thomas Greene, wrote as follows, November 17, 1614: 'My cosen Shakspear comyng yesterdy to town, I went to see him how he did. He told me that they assured him they ment to inclose no further than to Gospell Bush, and so upp straight (leavyng out part of the Dyngles to the field) to the gate in Clopton hedg, and take in Salisburyes peece; and that they mean in Aprill to survey the land, and then to gyve satisfaccion, and not before; and he and Mr. Hall [Shakespeare's son-in-law] say they think ther will be nothyng done at all.' On September 1, 1615, Greene wrote in his Diary: 'Mr. Shakspeare told Mr. J. Greene that I was not able to beare the enclosing of Welcombe."
I. iii. 63. canoniz'd. The accent is on the second syllable, as regularly in Shakespeare.
I. iii. 75-77. And he of these that can do most of all Cannot do more in England than the Nevils: Salisbury and Warwick are no simple peers. These lines are not found in the Contention version, and may be fairly credited to Shakespeare's Warwickshire memories of the Nevils. This noble family—'of all the great houses of mediaeval England . . . incontestibly the toughest and the most prolific' (Oman)—originated in the north, about Raby Castle near Durham. The first earldom they acquired was that of Westmoreland, bestowed by Richard II upon Sir Ralph Nevil in 1397. The latter is the Earl of Westmoreland who appears in Shakespeare's plays of Henry IV and Henry V. He married, as his second wife, a daughter of John of Gaunt, sister of the Cardinal Beaufort of the present play. Salisbury was their son and Warwick their grandson.
I. iii. 105. Or Somerset or York, all's one to me. Holinshed records that at the expiration of York's term as Regent of France (in 1446), 'he returned home, and was ioifullie receiued of the king with thanks for his good seruice, as he had full well deserued in time of that his gouernement: and, further, that now, when a new regent was to be chosen and sent ouer, to abide vpon safegard of the countries beyond the seas as yet subiect to the English dominion, the said duke of Yorke was eftsoones (as a man most meet to supplie that roome) appointed to go ouer againe, as regent of France, with all his former allowances.
'But the duke of Summerset, still maligning the duke of Yorkes aduancement, as he had sought to hinder his dispatch at the first when he was sent ouer to be regent, (as before yee haue heard,) he likewise now wrought so, that the king reuoked his grant made to the duke of Yorke for enioieng of that office the terme of other fiue yeeres, and, with helpe of William marquesse of Suffolke, obteined that grant for him selfe.' In connection with the latter part of this extract, see lines 162 ff.
I. iii. 121, 122. If he be old enough, what needs your Grace To be protector of his excellence? As before noted, this title had long since lapsed. Observe Gloucester's reply and see note on I. i. 166, 167.
I. iii. 128. The Dauphin hath prevail'd beyond the seas. Since the sovereignty of the French king, Charles VII, was not acknowledged by the English, they continued to designate him by the title ('Dolphin' in Elizabethan spelling) he had borne during his father's lifetime. The particular victories for the Dauphin here referred to are probably those obtained in 1443–1444 over John, the first Duke of Somerset, brother of the Duke who appears in this scene. By the influence of his uncle, Cardinal Beaufort, the first duke was appointed, on March 30, 1443, 'Captain General of all France and Guienne.' After a campaign of utter disaster, he returned to England and died in May, 1444. His failure was in a way a vindication, not a disgrace, for Gloucester.
I. iii. 133. Thy sumptuous buildings. The Duke occupied Greenwich Palace, which was greatly enlarged and improved by his Renaissance taste. In Shakespeare's time it was a favorite residence of Queen Elizabeth and King James.
I. iii. 144, 145. Could I come near your beauty with my nails, I'd set my ten commandments in your face. This undignified scene is historically impossible. The Queen and Duchess never met, for the humiliation and banishment of the latter, depicted in Act II, scene iv, occurred in 1441, four years before Margaret came to England.
I. iii. 174, 175. Last time I danc'd attendance on his will Till Paris was besieg'd, famish'd, and lost. The loss of Paris occurred in 1437, seven years before the present Duke of Somerset came to his title. York, however, is probably alluding to a scene in the First Part (IV. iii. 9-11), where he complains of 'that villain Somerset,
That thus delays my promised supply
Of horsemen that were levied for this siege.'
This is in connection with the siege of Bordeaux and last campaign of Talbot, 1453 (historically long after the date of the present scene). These lines have again been added by the reviser. Compare note on I. i. 144, 145.
I. iii. 215, 216. These lines are not in the Folio. They have been introduced from the Contention version because Somerset's reply (line 217) seems to presuppose them.
I. iv. 59. A pretty plot, well chosen to build upon! There is a quibble on 'plot': a plot of ground and a stratagem.
I. iv. 64, 65. Why, this is just, 'Aio te, Æacida, Romanos vincere posse.' The cryptic answer about the Duke of York and Henry, just quoted, is as ambiguous as the famous response given by the oracle to Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, which may be interpreted either, 'I say that you, descendant of Æacus, can conquer the Romans,' or 'I say that the Romans can conquer you.'
I. iv. 77. Thither goes these news as fast as horse can carry them. An example of Shakespeare's frequent use of an apparently singular verb with a plural subject. Compare note on I. i. 192, 193. The irregularity is usually to be explained by the fact that, while Shakespeare ordinarily used the midland verbal inflections which correspond with those of modern English, he was also familiar with the northern inflection, in which the present plural ends in 's,' and with the southern, in which it ends in 'eth.' Modern editors generally normalize the dialectal forms, except where rhyme or metre requires their retention. Other instances in which the Folio reading deviates from modern usage are the following: 'humours fits not' (I. i. 248), 'My troublous dreams this night doth make me sad' (I. ii. 22), 'What plain proceedings is more plain' (II. ii. 53), 'count them happy that enjoys the sun' (II. iv. 39), 'these dread curses . . . recoil, And turns the force of them upon thyself' (III. ii. 832), 'the traitors hateth thee' (IV. iv. 43), 'Let them obey that knows not how to rule' (V. i. 6), 'what intends these forces' (V. i. 60), 'thou mistakes me much' (V. i. 130).
II. i. 4. old Joan had not gone out. Old Joan (a hawk) would not have flown against such a wind.
II. i. 24. Tantæne animis cælestibus iræ? A quotation from the first book of the Æneid (line 11): 'Are such furies possible to heavenly minds?'
II. i. 26. With such holiness can you do it? 'Holy as you seem to be, can you hide your malice?' Or perhaps, 'can you be so hot?'
II. i. 46-48. The Folio gives these three speeches as one, spoken by Gloucester. Theobald made the change.
II. i. 63. Saint Alban's shrine. The town and abbey of St. Albans, twenty-two miles north of London, are named after the first Christian martyr in Britain, Saint Alban, who was put to death there, A. D. 304. The sham miracle is narrated by Sir Thomas More on the authority of his father. It was copied from More into Grafton's Chronicle, but not into those of Halle and Holinshed.
II. i. 91. who said, 'Simon, come.' Theobald has been generally followed in emending Simon to Simpcox, but the latter is merely a derivative of Simon, through Sim-cock (Simon boy). It is more in keeping with the saint's dignity to employ the Biblical name in its purity.
II. ii. 39-42. This Edmund, in the reign of Bolingbroke, As I have read, laid claim unto the crown; And but for Owen Glendower, had been king, Who kept him in captivity till he died. Here, as in 1 Henry IV, I. iii. 145, and in 1 Henry VI, II. v., the name Edmund Mortimer causes confusion. The Edmund Mortimer (5th Earl of March), who figured in the reign of Bolingbroke as heir to the throne, was (as York says in lines 43, 44) York's mother's brother. He did not die either in captivity to Glendower, as here stated, or in the Tower of London, as 1 Henry VI represents. The Edmund Mortimer captured by Glendower was uncle of the other Edmund, being younger brother to Roger, fourth Earl of March. The erroneous statement that Glendower 'kept him in captivity till he died,' which contradicts Shakespeare's treatment of the situation in 1 Henry IV, seems due to a further confusion of Sir Edmund Mortimer with another prisoner of Glendower, Lord Grey of Ruthin, whom the chroniclers report to have been kept a captive till his death. The Contention version of this scene gives a quite different and even more garbled account of these facts.
II. iii. 4. Such as by God's book are adjudg'd to death. Cf. Exodus 22. 18: 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'; and Leviticus 20. 6: 'And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards . . . I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.'
II. iii. 7, 8. The witch in Smithfield shall be burnt to ashes, And you three shall be strangled on the gallows. Holinshed's account is as follows: 'Margerie Iordeine was burnt in Smithfield, and Roger Bolinbrooke was drawne to Tiburne, and hanged and quartered; taking vpon his death that there was neuer anie such thing by them imagined. Iohn Hun had his pardon, and Southwell died in the Tower the night before his execution.' These lines dealing with the punishment of the Duchess's accomplices are not found in the Contention version. Holinshed's statement that Hun, or Hume, 'had his pardon' may have prompted the suggestion in I. ii. 88 f. that he betrayed the Duchess's plot.
II. iii. 13. With Sir John Stanley, in the Isle of Man. The dramatist appears here to be following Halle's (or Grafton's) Chronicle. Holinshed gives the name correctly as Sir Thomas Stanley. The error is found in the Contention version (e.g., in lines corresponding to II. iv. 78, 80, 85), and is not an evidence that Shakespeare himself forsook his favorite Holinshed for Halle. (The present line is not in the Contention.)
II. iii. 46. Thus Eleanor's pride dies in her youngest days. Some editors take 'her' as referring to 'pride,' but the Duchess's pride is nowhere represented as a newly acquired characteristic. Probably 'youngest' should be understood, like the Latin novissimi, as latest, most recent, in which case the meaning is that Eleanor's pride, so long maintained, dies at last.
II. iii. 97, 98. I confess, I confess treason. Holinshed makes it clear that the armorer 'was slaine without guilt,'—as a result of intoxication and not of his unrighteous cause. Peter, on the other hand, was a false servant who 'liued not long vnpunished; for being conuict of felonie in court of assise, he was iudged to be hanged, and so was, at Tiburne.' But it was the design of the author of the Contention, whom the reviser here follows closely, to emphasize from the start the treasonable purposes of York.
II. iv. 70-72. I summon your Grace to his majesty's parliament, holden at Bury the first of this next month. The three days' penance imposed on the Duchess were November 13, 15, 17, 1441. The Parliament at Bury St. Edmunds opened on February 10, 1447. Gloucester arrived on the 18th and died on the 23d.
III. i. 1, 2. I muse my Lord of Gloucester is not come: 'Tis not his wont to be the hindmost man. The parliament had been in session for a week when Gloucester arrived. See previous note.
III. i. 9-12. We know the time since he was mild and affable, And if we did but glance a far-off look, Immediately he was upon his knee, That all the court admir'd him for submission. This seems not to have been true of Gloucester, who was of an obstinate disposition. The lines are in the rhetorical style that the reviser of this play particularly affects. They are evolved from a slight hint in the Contention:
The time hath bene, but now that time is past,
That none so humble as Duke Humphrey was.'
III. i. 58, 59. Did he not, contrary to form of law, Devise strange deaths for small offences done? 'He was accused, it is said, of malpractices during his Protectorate, especially of having caused men adjudged to die to be put to other execution than the law of the land allowed.' (Vickers, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, p. 290.) The charge is found in the chroniclers, and has been suggested earlier in the play (I. iii. 185 f.).
III. i. 83-85. Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France? Som. That all your interest in those territories Is utterly bereft you: all is lost. This reports correctly Somerset's disastrous management of affairs in France from the time of his violation of the truce in March, 1449, till his return to England in October, 1450. The events alluded to are about three years later than Gloucester's death, and about three years earlier than the death of Talbot (July, 1458), which is depicted in the First Part.
III. i. 87, 88. Cold news for me; for I had hope of France, As firmly as I hope for fertile England. These lines are repeated from I. i. 238, 239. Holinshed reports that Somerset's ignominious conduct in France 'kindled so great a rancor in the duke's [York's] heart and stomach, that he neuer left persecuting the duke of Summerset, vntill he had brought him to his fatall end and confusion.' In fact, York seems, however, not to have been the persecutor.
III. i. 97. I do arrest thee of high treason here. The circumstances of Gloucester's arrival in Bury and his arrest are given by Vickers, op. cit., p. 292 f.: 'It was eleven o'clock in the morning when Gloucester rode into the city by the south gate, and passing through the "horsemarket," turned to his left into the Northgate Ward. Here he passed through a mean street, and as he rode along, he asked a passerby, by what name the alley was known. "Forsoothe, my Lord, hit is called the Dede [dead] Lane," came the answer. Then the inborn superstition of "the Good Duke" asserted itself; so with an old prophecy he had read ringing in his ears, and a word of pious resignation on his lips, he rode on to the "North Spytyll" outside the Northgate, otherwise called "Seynt Salvatoures," where he was to lodge. Having eaten his dinner, a deputation came to wait upon him, consisting of the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Dorset, the Earl of Salisbury, Lord Sudley, and Viscount Beaumont. The last in his capacity of High Constable placed the Duke under arrest by the King's command.'
III. i. 158-160. And dogged York, that reaches at the moon, Whose overweening arm I have pluck'd back, By false accuse doth level at my life. 'On the other hand, the Duke of York had come to the front as the opponent of the Beauforts and as a follower of Duke Humphrey, though he never came anywhere near to supplanting the latter as leader of the opposition to the existing state of government.' (Vickers, op. cit., p. 307) 'To the majority of the English people York passed not as a disturber of the peace, but as a wronged and injured man, goaded into resistance by the machinations of the Court party. In one aspect he was regarded as a great lord of the royal blood excluded from his rightful place at the Council board, and even kept out of the country, by his enemies who had the King's ear. In another he was regarded as the leader and mouthpiece of the Opposition of the day, of the old and popular war-party which inherited the traditions of Henry the Fifth and Humphrey of Gloucester.' (Oman, Warwick, p. 42.) Holinshed and other chroniclers had pointed out that the removal of Gloucester left King Henry exposed to attack by the House of York; but it was the author of the Contention (closely followed in the lines above) who dramatized the Duke of York as a treacherous self seeker, held in check by the good Duke Humphrey. The conception, while unfair to York, gave force and unity to the play.
III. i. 308. And in the number thee, that wishest shame. An allusion to the motto: 'Honi soit qui mal y pense.'
III. i. 318. Then, noble York, take thou this task in hand. These lines introduce York's Lieutenancy in Ireland (1448–1450), which in the first scene of the play is alluded to as already past. See note on I. i. 195.
III. i. 331, 332. Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts, And change misdoubt to resolution. In the original (Contention) version these lines have a very different spirit:
'Now, York, bethink thyself and rouse thee vp,
Take time whilst it is offered thee so fair.'
The speech as a whole, which has been expanded from twenty-four to fifty-three lines, is a very good example of the change Shakespeare's revision has wrought in York's character. The fearless, positive, and unscrupulous figure of the Contention is in the present play half concealed by an addition of sentimental, imaginative, and irresolute fancy.
III. i. 356-359. I have seduc'd a headstrong Kentishman, John Cade of Ashford, To make commotion, as full well he can, Under the title of John Mortimer. 'A certeine yoong man, of a goodlie stature and right pregnant of wit, was intised to take vpon him the name of Iohn Mortimer, coosine to the duke of Yorke; (although his name was Iohn Cade, or, of some, Iohn Mend-all, an Irishman, as Polychronicon saith).' (Holinshed.) The chroniclers do not assert that York was privy to Cade's rebellion. Lines 360-370, reciting Cade's performances in Ireland under the eye of York, are all new with the reviser of the play. They were probably inspired by Holinshed's remark that some authorities called Cade an Irishman.
III. ii. 14. S. d. In the Folio text Suffolk enters with the King, Queen, and the rest, having gone out previously with the Murderers. Thus a new scene should properly begin at this point; and this would be logical since Gloucester's death took place at a lodging at some distance from the king's court. Editors have, however, preferred to retain the Quarto (Contention) arrangement, by which the Murderers go out alone. 'Then enter the King and Queene' and all the rest except Suffolk, who is at once directly addressed by the King: 'My Lord of Suffolk, go call our uncle Gloster.'
III. ii. 26. Meg. In the Folio the word is 'Nell.' So in lines 79, 100, and 120 'Elinor' (or 'Elianor') appears instead of the 'Margaret' which modern editors have substituted. None of the lines in question occur in the Contention version. They are to be ascribed to a slip of the reviser's pen, induced, of course, by his familiarity with 'Nell' and 'Eleanor' as applied to the Duchess of Gloucester in earlier scenes. The mistake is of a sort more easily committed by a reviser, applying patches throughout the play, than by an author who thought in terms of the scene as a whole.
III. ii. 60, 61. heart-offending groans Or blood consuming sighs. Shakespeare is fond of the old idea that every sigh costs the heart a drop of blood. The notion is here given in double form and then repeated in line 63: 'blood-drinking sighs.' In the Third Part, IV. iv. 22, we have 'blood-sucking sighs.' Compare A Midsummer-Night's Dream, III. ii. 97: 'with sighs of love, that costs the fresh blood dear.'
III. ii. 76. What! art thou, like the adder, waxen deaf? A common allusion which goes back to Psalm 58. 4, 5: 'they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.' Cf. Shakespeare's 112th Sonnet, lines 10, 11: 'my adder's sense To critic and to flatterer stopped are.'
III. ii. 116-118. as Ascanius did, When he to madding Dido would unfold His father's acts, commenc'd in burning Troy! The allusion is new with the reviser, and like many of Shakespeare's classical references is not minutely accurate. It was Æneas himself who told Dido of his acts, and Ascanius, his son, was impersonated on that occasion by Cupid.
III. ii. 310. Would curses kill, as doth the man drake's groan. The mandrake, or mandragora, was a poisonous plant with narcotic properties. Its forked root was supposed to resemble the human figure, and to utter a cry when pulled from the ground which would kill or drive mad those who heard it. For the latter penalty, cf. Romeo and Juliet, IV. iii. 48 f.
'And shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth,
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad.'
III. ii. 344, 345. That thou might'st think upon these by the seal, Through whom a thousand sighs are breath'd for thee. As often in cases of difficult syntax, Samuel Johnson's paraphrase has been found the most accurate: 'That by the impression of my kiss forever remaining on thy hand thou mightest think on those lips through which a thousand sighs will be breathed for thee.' 'These' in line 344 is the antecedent of 'whom' and refers to Margaret's lips. The elaborate and 'precious' style which the reviser affects is well illustrated when lines 343-345 are contrasted with the plain language of the Contention version:
'Oh let this kisse be printed in thy hand,
That when thou seest it, thou maist thinke on me.'
III. ii. 369. Cardinal Beaufort is at point of death. Beaufort's death occurred on April 11, 1447, six weeks after that of Gloucester, and three years before the banishment of Suffolk (March 17, 1450). The unfavorable character of Beaufort which the dramatists derived from the Tudor chroniclers is not historically justified. The aged cardinal's death seems in particular to have been peaceful and dignified. See L. B. Radford's judicial and sympathetic biography (Henry Beaufort, Bishop, Chancellor, Cardinal, 1908).
III. ii. 393. its lips. One of the very rare instances of the possessive its in Shakespeare. The corresponding line of the Contention has 'his lips'; the Folio 'it's lips.'
IV. i. 1-7. The gaudy, blabbing, and remorseful day Is crept into the bosom of the sea, And now loud-howling wolves arouse the jades, etc. 'These obviously additional lines, inartistically joined to the scene by the word "Therefore" [line 8] bear impress of Shakespeare's earliest Marlovian style, or rather Peeleian, but vastly more powerful and more musical.' (Hart.) The Contention version opens very simply with the equivalent of line 8: 'Bring forward these prisoners that scorn'd to yeeld.'
IV. i. 9. whilst our pinnace anchors in the Downs. The Downs are a roadstead off the east coast of Kent, protected by Goodwin Sands (which are mentioned in The Merchant of Venice, III. i. 4). This reference to the Downs is not in the Contention version. From King Lear it would seem that Shakespeare must have had some personal knowledge of the coast of Kent.
IV. i. 11. Or with their blood stain this discolour'd shore. 'Discolour'd' is used 'proleptically': stain this shore, which will then be discolored by their blood.
IV. i. 35. And told me that by Water I should die. Compare I. iv. 36. The 'l' in Walter was silent, as in the abbreviated form 'Wat.'
IV. i. 48–50. The Folio text of these lines is evidently corrupt, and has been corrected by comparison with the Contention. The Folio omits line 48 and gives line 50 as part of the Lieutenant's speech, making Suffolk's answer begin with line 51. (For 'lowly' the Folio reads 'lowsie.')
IV. i. 50. King Henry's blood. Suffolk had only a vague claim to kinship with the king. Our chief interest in his family connection rests in the circumstance that his wife, Alice Chaucer, appears to have been a granddaughter of the poet.
IV. i. 54. my foot-cloth mule. A mule caparisoned with an elaborate cloth of state, reaching to the ground. Mules were highly regarded as mounts.
IV. i. 84. ambitious Sylla. Lucius Cornelius Sulla, or Sylla (ca. 188-78 B. C.), enemy of Marius and author of the first great proscription or legalized massacre in Roman history. He figures in Lodge's play, The Wounds of Civil War (printed, 1594).
IV. i. 98. Advance our half-fac'd sun, striving to shine. 'Edward III bare for his device the rays of the sun dispersing themselves out of a cloud.' (Camden.) The defeat of Warwick at Barnet was due to confusion of the badge of his supporter Oxford with the 'sun with rays' borne by Edward IV. 'Oxford's men, whose banners and armour bore the Radiant Star of the De Veres, were mistaken by their comrades for a flanking column of Yorkists. In the mist their badge had been taken for the Sun with Rays, which was King Edward's cognisance." (Oman, Warwick, p. 282.)
IV. i. 108. Bargulus, the strong Illyrian pirate. In the Contention the passage reads: 'mightie Abradas, The great Masadonian Pyrate,' a borrowing apparently from Greene, who wrote in his Penelope's Web: 'Abradas the great Macedonian Pirat thought euery one had a letter of mart that bare sayles in the Ocean.' In his Menaphon Greene repeated the sentence verbatim. Nothing further has been discovered concerning Abradas. Bargulus is substituted in the Folio version of the play from Cicero's De Officiis, bk. ii, ch. 11: 'Bargulus [properly Bardylis] Illyricus latro . . . magnas opes habuit.' Nicholas Grimald's translation of the De Officiis (1556) renders the phrase, 'Bargulus, that Illyrian robber.'
IV. i. 117. Pene gelidus timor occupat artus. 'Cold fear almost seizes my joints.' The Folio gives the first word as 'Pine,' which most editors omit as meaningless. Theobald interpreted it as 'pœnæ," (fear) of punishment, and Malone as 'pene,' almost.
IV. i. 127. let my head . . . sooner dance upon a bloody pole. 'There is, indeed, one detail in the drama of the period which may be regarded as symbolical of the whole dramatic tendency of the time, namely, the swinging about of a human head, cut from its body, on the stage. This cut-off head was a stage-property that had survived from the time of the mystery-plays, when it was meant to represent the head of the unfortunate John the Baptist at the gruesome crowning point of the dance of Salome. It survived in several specimens, a favourite stage-property, in the popular theatre, certain, as we may presume, at every appearance of drawing the ironical applause of experienced theatre-goers, and probably known to the actors, whose sense of the comic was at all times keen, by some droll nickname now forgotten. In the three parts of the old drama of Henry VI this head appears at different times. Queen Margaret (2 Henry VI, IV. iv.) presses it to her bosom as the head of her dead lover, Suffolk. A few scenes later it appears in duplicate and with a different signification, again further on (V. i.) as the head of the rebel Cade.' (Schücking, Character Problems in Shakespeare's Plays, 1922, p. 19 f.)
IV. i. 137. savage islanders. Pompey was slain in Egypt, 48 B. C., not by savage islanders, but by Egyptians and renegade soldiers of his own. The error is not found in the Contention. It is a coincidence that in Chapman's Tragedy of Cæsar and Pompey (printed 1631) Pompey is murdered on the island of Lesbos.
IV. ii. 86, 87. The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. The proposal to kill lawyers seems to have been a feature, not of Cade's rebellion, but of the earlier one led by Wat Tyler in 1381.
IV. ii. 111, 112. They use to write it on the top of letters. Emmanuel ('God with us') was placed as a pious sentiment at the head of letters and other documents.
IV. iii. 6-8. the Lent shall be as long again as it is; and thou shalt have a licence to kill for a hundred lacking one. The eating of flesh during Lent was forbidden in Elizabeth's reign, and killing of beasts at that time was permitted only by special license to provide for invalids (supposedly) unable to dispense with flesh. A license to kill for ninety-nine a week during a doubled Lent would thus constitute a valuable monopoly. 'For' in line 8 may mean 'at the rate of,' allowing Dick to slaughter ninety-nine beasts a week.
IV. vii. 24. he that made us pay one-and-twenty fifteens. Twenty-one fifteens is a humorous exaggeration. A frequent mode of raising revenue to cover unusual expenditures of the government was to impose a tax of one-fifteenth (sometimes one-tenth) on personal property. Compare note on I. i. 134. One of Cade's actual demands was 'that neither fifteens should hereafter be demanded, nor once anie impositions or taxes be spoken of.'
IV. vii. 39. the score and the tally. Tallies were the two halves of a stick, split and divided between creditor and debtor. Scores were the notches on the tallies which served to certify the transactions.
IV. vii. 39, 40. thou hast caused printing to be used. An anachronism, since the first book printed in England was not produced till 1477. (Cade's rebellion was in 1450, the outbreak following Suffolk's death by two months.)
IV. vii. 55, 56. when honester men than thou go in their hose and doublets. Hose and doublet were the indispensable articles of dress, covering the lower and upper parts of the body respectively. The cloak was worn over hose and doublet by the well-to-do. For the horse's 'cloak' or foot-cloth cf. note on IV. i. 54.
IV. vii. 65, 66. Kent, in the Commentaries Cæsar writ, Is term'd the civil'st place of all this isle. The wording, which is almost the same in the Contention, is probably borrowed from Golding's translation of Cæsar's Commentaries (1565): 'Of all the inhabitants of this isle the civilest are the Kentishfolke.' Marlowe, a Kentishman, may have introduced the quotation. The less complimentary appraisal in line 61, ''tis bona terra, mala gens' (good land, bad people), is supplied by the reviser, who adds the words, mala gens.
IV. viii. 1. Up Fish Street! down St. Magnus' corner! Places on the northern, or London, side of London Bridge. St. Magnus' Church was at the foot of the bridge, and Fish Street ran up from the bridge towards Eastcheap (where Shakespeare's Boar's Head Tavern was situated). This scene evidently takes place on the Southwark side of the river.
IV. viii. 44–46. Were 't not a shame that, whilst you live at jar, The fearful French, whom you late vanquished, Should make a start o'er seas and vanquish you? Probably an anachronistic allusion to French raids upon the English coast in 1457 (seven years after Cade's rebellion), when Sandwich was captured and sacked and Fowey in Cornwall burned.
IV. x. 31. I'll make thee eat iron like an ostrich. That ostriches could eat nails and other iron was one of the 'vulgar errors' common in Shakespeare's time.
IV. x. 56. As for words, whose greatness answers words. So much for words, whose pomposity corresponds to the pompousness of yours. The line is unsatisfactory and probably corrupt.
V. i. 5. Ah sancta majestas, who would not buy thee dear? A six-foot line, frequently employed by Marlowe for emphasis. It is found in the Contention version.
V. i. 15. Humphrey of Buckingham. Buckingham was brother-in-law of Salisbury and uncle of Warwick. Though a supporter of King Henry, he was friendly with the Yorkists, and was employed on the morning of the first battle of St. Albans (May 22, 1455) as an intermediary between the two forces. York's armed return from Ireland and protest against Somerset occurred in 1452. The incidents of over three years of difficult negotiation are condensed in the present scene.
V. i. 26, 27. And now, like Ajax Telamonius, On sheep or oxen could I spend my fury. An allusion (not in the Contention) to the madness of Ajax, when he slew a flock of sheep in his rage that the arms of Achilles had been adjudged to Ulysses rather than himself. Shakespeare refers to the myth again in Love's Labour's Lost, IV. iii. 6, 7: 'By the Lord, this love is as mad as Ajax: it kills sheep.'
V. i. 100, 101. Whose smile and frown, like to Achilles' spear, Is able with the change to kill and cure. Telephus, who had been wounded by Achilles' spear, could not be cured till the rust of the same weapon was applied to his wound. This classical figure also is missing in the Contention version.
V. i. 117. O blood-bespotted Neapolitan. Alluding to Margaret's father's title of King of the two Sicilies (Sicily and Naples). There may be an implied reference to the famous Sicilian Vespers massacre of 1282.
V. i. 144. Call hither to the stake my two brave bears. A metaphor from the popular sport of bear baiting, at which bears were fastened to stakes and attacked by dogs. Warwick and Salisbury are termed bears because of the badge of the 'bear and ragged staff.' Cf. next note.
V. i. 202, 203. Now, by my father's badge, old Nevil's crest, The rampant bear chain'd to the ragged staff. The heraldry here is erroneous. Warwick's famous badge of the bear and ragged staff was not derived from his father, but inherited, like his earldom, from the Beauchamp family to which his wife belonged. The Nevil crest was a bull.
V. ii. 58, 59. Into as many gobbets will I cut it As wild Medea young Absyrtus did. Not found in the Contention. The story is told in Ovid's Tristia. Medea, pursued by her father as she accompanied Jason from Colchos with the golden fleece, delayed the pursuers by slaying her brother Absyrtus and throwing his dismembered limbs into the sea.
V. ii. 78, 79. If you be ta'en, we then should see the bottom Of all our fortunes. The king was wounded with an arrow in the battle and fell into the hands of the Yorkists, from whom he suffered no further injury.
V. iii. 26. Let us pursue him ere the writs go forth. Lords were summoned to parliament by special writ issued in the name of the king. The parliament referred to was not summoned till several years after the battle.