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greatness and power, which some of the barons attained during the feudal times. Northumberland is the forerunner of him, of the bear and ragged staff, who in an after period of our history, was one of the principal actors among the ever-changing scenes on the evershifting stage of life. Warwick was to the 15th century, what Napoleon the Great was to the 19th,-a putter up and knocker down of kings. Northumberland was to Bolingbroke-what Warwick was to Henry VI. and Edward IV. The growing up of these barons and the expansion of their power, was a natural result of the system under which they lived. The families of a Neville, of a Clifford, of a Percy, and others, arose from the turbulence of the times, and for awhile, assumed a dictatorial power over the sovereign, a power sometime in the ascendant, and at others not, but which power was eventually destroyed, when the great Warwick fell upon the bloody field of Barnet. The pomp and magnificence of dress—another distinguishing mark of the period, ran into great extravagance during the reign of the unfortunate Richard. The splendour and richness of costume, the paraphernalia of war which characterized the lists at Shrewsbury, serves to show how great was Richard's delight, how strong was his desire for display,-a desire which was productive of injury to himself, assisting in evoking the ferment which ended with his dethronement. Every scene of the play affords ample scope for reflection; for whether we consider the incidents, the intrigues, the state of morals, the growth of parliamentary power, the extension of the principles of freedom, the unlocking of the priestly influence by the translations of the bible, the turbulence and lawlessness of the knights and mail-clad barons, it forms a picture
whose lines are forcibly impressed upon the brain; a volume, whose pages are pregnant with true wisdom, and it also serves to
" form a scene,
Her soul above this sphere of earthliness," and in the bright future, read the happy destiny of human kind.
THE tragedy of Richard III. was first produced in the year 1593, and it was first printed and published in 4to. in 1597, under the title of “The Tragedy of King Richard the Third. Containing His treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence; the pittiefull murther of his innocent nephewes; his tyrannicall vsurpation ; with the whole course of his detested life, and most deserued death. As it hath beene lately Acted by the Right honourable the Lord Chamberlaine, his servants. At London, Printed by Valentine Sims, for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paules Churchyard, at the sign of the Angell.” Five other editions were published in 4to., prior to the production of the complete dramatic works of Shakepere in folio, in 1623 ; one in 1598, in 1602, in 1605, in 1612, and in 1622. Two editions in 4to. were also published after the first folio, one in 1629 and one in 1634. In the folio edition, the title was altered to “ The Tragedy of Richard the Third ; with the landing of Earle Richmond, and the Battell of Bosworth Field.”
There was an elder play of Richard III., published by Thos. Creede, in 1594, its title running as follows : “ The Tragedie of Richard the third : Wherein is shown the death of Edward the fourth, with the smothering of the two young Princes in the Tower: With a lamentable
end of Shore's wife—an example for all wicked women. And lastly, the coniunction and ioyning of the two noble houses, Lancaster and Yorke. As it was played by the Queenes Maiesties Players. London Printed by Thomas Creede and are to be sold by William Barley, at his shop in Newgate Market, neare Christ Church doore.” This play bears no affinity to Shakspere’s Richard III., for it is wholly different in its construction, and after the scene in which Edward the Fourth dies, the “story is thenceforward most inartificially and clumsily conducted, with a total disregard of dates, facts, and places, by characters imperfectly drawn and ill sustained. Shore's wife plays a conspicuous part; and the tragedy does not finish with the battle of Bosworth Field, but is carried on subsequently, although the plot is clearly at an end." Richard in the elder play, is a coarse, unvarnished ruffian, possessing none of the subtlety nor the intellectual power which marks the character of Richard, as drawn by Shakspere. The language of the elder play is partly prose and partly very ponderous blank verse, and in no way can it be compared with the splendour of language which is found in Shakspere's production,
In this great tragedy the mind is preferred to the body, above all things the mental power, to that, every thing must yield. The mental superiority which Richard possesses, and feels he does possess, gives a strong dash of irony to all his utterances. The conventions of society, though Richard pretends to respect them to answer his own purposes, he thoroughly despises, and no matter the instrument or the means, so that they serve his desires and promote his interest, he cares not what the world may think or say, he is himself, alone !
Richard being thoroughly conscious of his own mental superiority, enabled him accurately to discriminate and weigh the powers of those by whom he is surrounded. To be wise is to be strong, and his strength laid in his superior knowledge. His quick sharp wit, his great powers of dissimulation, and his resolve to spare neither friend nor foe that stood in his path, gave him “ a tower of strength,” greater than "the king's name,” and which at every opportunity and under every circumstance he never failed to avail himself thereof. Those with whom he is brought in contact, he seizes on as stepping-stones towards the height which his ambition is desirious of climbing to, and no matter what has to be performed to reach the giddy height, reach it he will. His physical deformity preys upon his inward sense, though he laments it not, for it serves as an incentive to hurry him on in the path he has chosen. He has “no delight to pass away the time,” by looking on his own deformity," and since he “cannot prove a lover,” he will “ prove a villain.” He hates “ the idle pleasures” of the day, and by
. “inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,” he determines to commence his course of action by setting his
“brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate the one against the other." The stupid Clarence, the vapouring Hastings, and the ambitious Buckingham, are but tools of his iron will, whieh he uses and destroys to effect his purposes. His “naked villany he will hide
“With old ends stolen out of holy writ,