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Enter BUCKINGHAM from his Arraignment; Tip
staves before him ; the Axe with the Edge towards him; Halberds on each Side : with him, Sir THOMAS LOVELL, Sir NICHOLAS Vaux, Sir WILLIAM SANDS, and common People.
2 GENT. Let's stand close, and behold him.
All good people,
witness, And, if I have a conscience, let it sink me, Even as the axe falls, if I be not faithful ! The law I bear no malice for my death, It has done, upon the premises, but justice: But those, that sought it, I could wish more chris
tians : Be what they will, I heartily forgive them : Yet let them look they glory not in mischief,
Sir William Sands,] The old copy
reads Sir Walter.
STEEVENS. The correction is justified by Holinshed's Chronicle, in which it is said, that Sir Nicholas Vaux, and Sir William Sands, ren ceived Buckingham at the Temple, and accompanied him to the Tower. Sir William Sands was, at this time, (May, 1521,) only a baronet, (rather, a knight ; as baronetage was unknown till 1611,] not being created Lord Sands till April 27, 1527. Shakspeare probably did not know that he was the same person whom he has already introduced with that title. He fell into the error by placing the King's visit to Wolsey, (at which time Sir William was Lord Sands,) and Buckingham's condemnation, in the same year; whereas that visit was made some years afterwards. MALONE.
Nor build their evils on the graves of great men;?
name. Lov. I do beseech your grace, for charity, If ever any malice in your heart Were hid against me, now to forgive me frankly.
Buck. Sir Thomas Lovell, I as free forgive you, As I would be forgiven: I forgive all; There cannot be those numberless offences
7 Nor build their evils on the graves of great men;] Evils, in this place, are foricæ. So, in Measure
“ And pitch our evils there?” See Vol. VI. p. 260, n. 8. STEEVENS.
You few that lov'd me, &c.] These lines are remarkably tender and pathetick. JOHNSON.
the long divorce-] So, in Lord Sterline's Darius, 1603:
“ Scarce was the lasting last divorcement made
66 Betwixt the bodie and the soule” &c. STEEVENS. * And lift my soul to heaven.] So Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV:
- “ Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heaven."
'Gainst me, I can't take
I can't take peace with : no black envy Shall make my grave. —Commend me to his grace; And, if he speak of Buckingham, pray, tell him, You met him half in heaven: my vows and prayers
no black envy Shall make my grave.] Shakspeare, by this expression, meant no more than to make the Duke say, No action erpressive of malice shall conclude my life. Envy, by our author, is used for malice and hatred, in other places, and, perhaps, in this.
Again, in the ancient metrical romance of Syr Bevys of Hampton, bl. I. no date :
“ Traytoure, he sayd with great envy,
“ Turne thee now, I thee defye.” Again :
“ They drewe theyr swordes hastely,
“ And smot together with great envy.' And Barrett, in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, thus interprets it.
To make a grave, however, may mean to close it. So, in The Comedy of Errors :
Why at this time the doors are made against you." i. e. closed, shut. The sense will then be, (whether quaintly or poetically expressed, let the reader determine) no malicious action shall close my grave, i. e. attend the conclusion of my existence, or terminate my life; the last action of it shall not be un. charitable. STEEVENS.
Envy is frequently used in this sense by our author and his contemporaries. See Vol. VII. p. 341, n. 9; and p. 403, 1. 30. I have therefore no doubt that Mr. Steevens's exposition is right. Dr. Warburton reads—mark my grave; and in support of the emendation it may be observed that the same error has happened in King Henry V; or at least that all the editors have supposed so, having there adopted a similar correction. See Vol. XII. p. 339, n. 1.
Dr. Warburton's emendation also derives some support from the following passage in The Comedy of Errors :
“ A vulgar comment will be made of it ;
Yet are the king's; and, till my
soul forsake me, Shall
cry for blessings on him: May he live
your grace; Then give my charge up to sir Nicholas Vaux, Who undertakes you to your end. VAUX.
Prepare there, The duke is coming : see, the barge be ready; And fit it with such furniture, as suits The greatness of his person. Buck.
Nay, sir Nicholas, Let it alone; my state now will but mock me.4 When I came hither, I was lord high constable, And duke of Buckingham; now, poor Edward
Bohun : 5
forsake me,] The latter word was added by Mr. Rowe. MALONE.
Nay, sir Nicholas,
e.] The last verse would run more smoothly, by making the monosyllables change places: Let it alone, my state will now but mock me.
WHALLEY, poor Edward Bohun:] The Duke of Buckingham's name was Stafford. Shakspeare was led into the mistake by Holinshed, STEEVENS.
This is not an expression thrown out at random, or by mistake, but one strongly marked with historical propriety. The name of the Duke of Buckingham, most generally known, was Stafford ; but the History of Remarkable Trials, 8vo. 1715, p. 170, says:
it seems he affected that surname (of Bohun] before that of Stafford, he being descended from the Bohuns, earls of Hereford.” His reason for this might be, because he was lord high
Yet I am richer than my base accusers,
constable of England by inheritance of tenure from the Bohuns; and as the poet has taken particular notice of his great office, does it not seem probable that he had fully considered of the Duke's foundation for assuming the name of Bohun? In truth, the Duke's name was BAGOT; for a gentleman of that very ancient family married the heiress of the barony of Stafford, and their son relinquishing his paternal surname,
assumed that of his mother, which continued in his posterity. TOLLET.
Of all this probably Shakspeare knew nothing. MALONE.
• I now seal it ; &c.] I now seal my truth, my loyalty, with blood, which blood shall one day make them groan.