To Richard music is “sweet music," as it is to all the characters that are merely Shakespeare's masks, and the scene in which Hamlet asks Guildenstern to “play upon the pipe” is prefigured for us in Richard's self-reproach: And here have I the daintiness of ear,

To check time broke in a disordered string;
But for the concord of my state and time,

Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.” In the last three lines of this monologue which I am now about to quote, I can hear Shakespeare speaking as plainly as he spoke in Arthur's appeals; the feminine longing for love is the unmistakable note: “Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me! For 'tis a sign of love; and love to Richard

Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.” And at the last, by killing the servant who assaults him, this Richard shows that he has the “something desperate” in him of which Hamlet boasted.

The murderer's praise that this irresolute-weak and loving Richard is " as full of valour as of royal blood” is nothing more than an excellent instance of Shakespeare's self-illusion. He comes nearer the fact in “ Measure for Measure," where the Duke,

' his other self, is shown to be an unhurtful opposite ” too gentle-kind to remember an injury or punish the offender, and he rings the bell at truth's centre, when, in “Julius Caesar," his mask Brutus admits that he

carries anger, as the fint bears fire
Who much enforced shows a hasty spark
And straight is cold again.”


If a hasty blow were proof of valour then Walter Scott's Eachin in “The Fair Maid of Perth" would be called brave. But courage to be worth the name must be founded on stubborn resolution, and all Shakespeare's incarnations, and in especial this Richard, are as unstable as water.

The whole play is summed up in York's pathetic description of Richard's entrance into London:

No man cried, God save him; No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home: But dust was thrown upon his sacred head; Which with such gentle sorrow he shook offHis face still combating with tears and smiles, The badges of his grief and patienceThat had not God, for some strong purpose, steeld The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted, And barbarism itself have pitied him.”


were never

This passage

it seems to me both in manner and matter is as truly characteristic of Shakespeare as any that can be found in all his works: his loving pity for the fallen, his passionate sympathy with gentle sorrow"

more perfectly expressed.

Pity, indeed, is the note of the tragedy, as it was in the Arthur-scenes in “ King John," but the knowledge of Shakespeare derived from King John” is greatly widened by the study of “

King Richard II.” In the Arthur of “ King John found Shakespeare's exquisite pity for weakness, his sympathy with suffering, and, more than all, his girlish-tender love and desire of love. In Richard II.,” the weakness Shakespeare pities is not physical weakness, but mental irresolution and incapacity for action, and these Hamlet-weaknesses are accompanied by a habit of philosophic thought, and are



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enlivened by a nimble wit and great lyrical power. In Arthur Shakespeare is bent on revealing his qualities of heart, and in “ Richard II.” his qualities of mind, and that these two are but parts of the same nature is proved by the fact that Arthur shows great quickness of apprehension and felicity of speech, while Richard once or twice at least displays a tenderness of heart and longing for love worthy of Arthur.

It appears then that Shakespeare's nature even in hot, reckless youth was most feminine and affectionate, and that even when dealing with histories and men of action he preferred to picture irresolution and weakness rather than strength, and felt more sympathy with failure than with success.




HE conclusions we have already reached will

ways by the study of Hotspur-Shakespeare's masterpicture of the man of action. The setting sun of chivalry falling on certain figures threw gigantic shadows across Shakespeare's path, and of these figures no one deserved immortality better than Harry Percy. Though he is not introduced in “ The Famous Victories of Henry V.,” the old play which gave Shakespeare his roistering Prince and the first faint hint of Falstaff, Harry Percy lived in story and in oral tradition. His nickname itself is sufficient evidence of the impression he had made on the popular fancy. And both Prince Henry when mocking him, and his wife when praising him, bear witness to what were, no doubt, the accepted peculiarities of his character. Hotspur lived in the memory of men, we may be sure, with thick, hasty speech, and hot, impatient temper, and it is easy, I think, even at this late date, to distinguish Shakespeare's touches on the traditional portrait. It is for the reader to say whether Shakespeare blurred the picture, or bettered it.

Hotspur's first words to the King in the first act are admirable; they bring the brusque, passionate soldier vividly before us; but I am sure Shakespeare had the fact from history or tradition.

"My liege, I did deny no prisoners.

But, I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat, trimly dressed,
Fresh as a bridegroom.”

Hotspur's picture of this “ popinjay" with pouncet-box in hand, and “perfuméd like a milliner,” is splendid self-revelation:

“ he made me mad,
To see him shine so brisk and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman.”

But immediately afterwards Hotspur's defence of Mortimer shows the poet Shakespeare rather than the rude soldier who hates nothing more than "mincing poetry.” The beginning is fairly good:

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" Hot.

Revolted Mortimer! He never did fall off, my sovereign liege, But by the chance of war; to prove that true, Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds, Those mouthéd wounds which valiantly he took, When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank.”

This “gentle Severn's sedgy bank” is too poetical for Hotspur; but what shall be said of his description of the river?

“Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks,

Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp head in the hollow bank
Blood-stainéd with these valiant combatants."

Shakespeare was still too young, too much in love with poetry to confine himself within the nature

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