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* 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 drania begins with Bolingbroke's appealing the Duke of Norfolk, on an accusation of high treason, which fell out in the year 1398; and it closes with the murder of King Richard at Ponifret Castle towards the end of the year 1-400, or the beginning of the ensuing year.
THEOBALD. It is evident from a passage 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 Gillie Merick, who was concerned in the hare-brained business of the Earl of Essex, who was hanged for it, with the ingenious Cuffe, in 1601, is accused, amongst other things, “ quod exoletam tragadiam de tragicà abdicatione regis Ricardi Secundi in publico theatro coram conjuratis datâ Prunii agi curasset."
I have since met with a passage in my Lord Bacon, which proves this play to have been in English. It is in the arraignments of (lic and Veriek, Vol. IV. p. 119, of Mallet's edition: " The afternoon bezore the rebellion, Verick, 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 Secondi when it was told him by one of the players, that the play was old, and they should have loss 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 enquiring, 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 niust have been very different; since, as Dr. Johnson observes, there are some expressions in this of Shakspeare, which strongly inculcate the doctrine of indefeasible right. FARTER.
Bacon elsewhere glances at the same transaction : “ And for your comparison with Richard II. I see you follow the example of thein that brough! him upon the stage, and into print in Quech! Elizabeth's time.” Works, Vol. IV. p. 278. The partizans of Pes bed, therefore, procured the publication as weil as the acting of this play. HOLT WHITE.
It is pubi, I think, that the play which Sir Gilly Merick prxured to be represented, bure the litle of lleyne IV. and not of Cli!1) il.
Camkn calls it's exoltar tal de tragica abdicatione rroris Ricarili sedi;"' and (Lord Bacon in his account of The Citij thui inic? jussed at the mignment of Jerick and Cilirs,) sars:
" Tat the afternoon levre tlic rebellion, MIcrick 1... i jocured to !.« pa;ed before them, the play of depusing b.kzkird t'e Seconia.” 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 stated thus: “ The story of Henry IV. being set forth in a play, and in that play, there being set forth the killing of the king upon the stage; the Friday before, Sir Gilly Merick and some others of the earl's train having an humour tb see a play, they must needs have The Play of Henry IV. The players told them that was stale; they should get nothing by playing that; but no play else would serve: and Sir Gilly Merick gives forty shillings to Philips the player to play this, besides whatsoever he could get.”
Augustine 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 Wise, Aug. 29, 1597. STEEVENS.
It was written, I imagine, in the same year. MALONE.