Booke of Plaies

Source: Simon Forman, Booke of Plaies, extract reproduced in E.K. Chambers, William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), vol. II, pp. 339-340

Production: Unknown author, Richard II, Globe theatre, London, 30 April 1611

Text: In Richard the 2 at the Glob 1611 the 30 of Aprill ♂ [Tuesday]

Remember therin howe Jack Straw by his overmoch boldnes not beinge pollitick nor suspecting Anye thinge: was Soddenly at Smithfeld Bars stabbed by Walworth the major of London, & soe he and his wholle Army was overthrowen. Therefore in such a case or the like, never admit any party without a bar betwen, for A man cannot be to wise, nor kepe him selfe to safe.

Also remember howe the duke of Gloster, The Erell of Arundell, Oxford and others, crossing the kinge in his humor, about the duke of Erland and Bushy, wer glad to fly and Raise an hoste of men, and beinge in his Castell, howe the d. of Erland cam by nighte to betray him with 300 men, but hauinge pryuie warninge ther of kept his gates faste, And wold not suffer the Enimie to Enter, which went back Again with a flie in his eare, and after was slainte by the Errell of Arundell in the battell.

Remember also, when the duke and Arundell cam to London with their Army, king Richard came forth to them and met them and gaue them fair wordes. And promised them pardon and that all should be well yf they wold discharge their Army, vpon whose promises and faier Speaches they did yt, and Affter the king byd them all to A banket and soe betraid them And Cut of their heades &c because they had not his pardon vnder his hand & sealle before but his worde.

Remember therin Also howe the ducke of Lankaster pryuily contryued all villany, to set them all together by the ears and to make the nobilyty to Envy the kinge and mislyke of him and his gouernmentes by which means he made his own sonn king which was henry Bullinbrocke.

Remember also howe the duke of Lankaster asked A wise man, wher him self should ever be kinge, And he told him no, but his sonn should be a kinge. And when he had told him he hanged him vp for his labor, because he should not brute yt a brod or speke ther of to others. This was a pollicie in the common wealthes opinion. But I sai yt was a Villains parte and a Judas kisse to hange the man for telling him the truth. Beware by this Example of noble men, and of their fair wordes. & sai lyttell to them, lest they doe the like by thee for thy good will.

Comments: Simon Forman (1552-1611) was an Elizabethan astrologer, whose manuscripts include the ‘Booke of Plaies‘ with Forman’s impressions of four plays that he saw in London 1610-11, three of which were productions of Shakespeare. the fourth was this production of Richard II, which covers events earlier than those in Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Though some have argued that the Forman document is a forgery, it is generally accepted as authentic.

Links: Copy at Shakespeare Documented (image plus modernised and exact transcription)

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