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ference ended with mutual reproaches and threats. The Chorus, adverting to the fate of Rivers and his companions, apostrophised the castle of Pomfret in verses founded on that speech of Shakspeare beginningO Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison,
Fatal and ominous to noble
peers ! # and described, in stirring and elevat ed strains, the captivity and death of
The Duchess of York now entered, and after exchanging salutations with the chorus, announced her intention of visiting the young king, her grandson, in the Tower. She was quickly followed by Elizabeth, who related with strong anxiety that her younger son had been separated from her, and conveyed into the fortress. The ma trons demanded admission and were refused, Elizabeth in vain exclaiming
The Chorus, in a short ode, bewail ed the melancholy condition of old age in these restless and bloody times; invoked heaven for deliverance, and wished they could mount the sunbeam, or be wafted on the cloud (winged child of ocean) to some remote northern isle, or to those tran quil coasts where Brittany looks out toward the blessed gardens of the west. This mention of Brittany introduced a panegyric upon Richmond, and the possibility of his future exalwith a glance at his past fortunes
informed them that the mass of citi Elizabeth, rejoining the Chorus, zens, perverted by some evil influence, had resolved on deposing Edward's throne. The Chorus hinted appre son and advancing Richard to the hensions for the young king's safety, Buckingham entered, and the alarmed mother assailed him with passion ate entreaties that he would procure
I am their mother; who shall bar me from her access to the princes. He retired
and the Duchess
into the Tower, promising with apparent sincerity to interfere in her
I am their father's mother, I will see behalf, and to bring back, if possible,
Richard and Buckingham then presented themselves on the Tower walls, armed, and displaying that affected panic which, in Shakspeare, forms the cloak of their revengeful and ambitious enterprises. A hurried and eager dialogue (in trochaic verses) ensued, resembling that passage of Euripides in which Orestes and his friend appear on the palace walls at Argos, and threaten to set the building on fire. The Duchess expostulated with her son, as Jocasta pleads with Eteocles in the Phoenissae; and was answered in the same fiery strain of impatience. Hastings entered and was invited to a parley in the Tower; he passed the gates, and his exclamation behind the scenes, with the taunting answer of his enemies, announced that he was arrested and led to death.
Rich. III. Act.iii. Sc. 3.
A short some tidings of comfort. lyrical dialogue ensued between Elizabeth and the Chorus ; Buckingham re-appeared, but with averted eyes after much solicitation that he told, and faultering speech; and it was with some slight change of circumstance, the tale which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of Tyrrel. It will easily be supposed that Euripides bestowed on this description all the tenderness, all the natural grace and moving sweetness that render his pathetic scenes so irresistibly enchanting-Elizabeth cast herself upon the earth, exclaiming that the curse of Henry's Queen had now reached its mark; and Buckingham hurried out, resolving to separate himself for ever from the counsels of Richard.
The Chorus, with a calmness truly admirable, began their lyric descant by relating how Matilda, daughter of Henry I, came over the seas to England and disputed the crown with the usurper Stephen for her son, the young Plantagenet. That Euripides should have introduced this cold and far-fetched exordium at such a juncture will not seem extraordinary to
those who recollect that in the Phonissae, when Eteocles has furiously driven Polynices from his presence, and each has vowed his brother's destruction, in the hearing of their afflicted mother, the Chorus instantly commences an old story of Cadmus and a heifer. It may be remembered too that in the Electra of this poet, when Orestes has gone forth to kill Ægisthus, the expecting Chorus fills up the interval of time with a "hoar tradition," (év Toλiałoi pýμais) about a golden-fleeced lamb that appeared once at Argos. Conformably to these and similar precedents, the citizens of the present drama reviewed in a lofty, but abrupt and desultory strain, some leading incidents in the history of the house of Anjou, and at length, descending to recent calamities, and glancing from the untimely fate of Prince Edward the heir of Lancaster, to the violence just perpetrated on young Edward of York, concluded with the reflection
Plantagenet doth quit Plantagenet,
Edward for Edward pays a dying debt. The Duchess of York now entering, united her wailings to those of Elizabeth, and their effusions of sorrow were almost as affecting as the lamentations of Andromache the mother, and Hecuba the grandmother, of Astyanax, when that royal infant is put to death by the victorious Greeks.* Richard then presented himself, and informed the Chorus that he was going to assume publicly the regal state which had devolved upon him, and should afterwards proceed to quell the insurrection already commenced in favour of Richmond. Although it appeared even more abrupt in this place than in the corresponding scene of Shakspeare, Euripides could not forbear introducing the suit preferred by Richard to Elizabeth for the hand of her daughter, as this incident gave occasion for a subtle and elaborate harangue, and for several keen reflections on the weakness and mutability of women. Some of the dialogue was so nearly parallel to Shakspeare's, that it might have passed for a moderately free translation; the long and artful speech of Richard, beginning
· Eurip. Troades.
Look, what is done cannot be now amended;
was in no respect altered, except that a few of the thoughts were amplified and a little refined upon: and the quick, tart alternation of speeches one line in length
K. Rich. Infer fair England's peace by
Queen. Which she shall purchase with still lasting war.
K. Rich. Say she shall be a high and mighty queen.
Queen. To wail the title, as her mother
Rich. Say, I will love her everlast, Queen. But how long shall that title, ever, ingly. last? &c. +
was of course retained, as suiting perfectly with the fashion of the Greek stage. Elizabeth at last appeared subdued by Richard's persevering solicitation, and gave a half unwilling consent, acknowledging with a candour not unprecedented among the heroines of Euripides, that female constancy is seldom proof to the al lurements of flattery and of interest. The bitter sneer
Relenting fool, and shallow, changing— woman!
could not with propriety be uttered in Elizabeth's presence; but the dia logue was so managed as to preserve the whole spirit of the sarcasm. I am not, however, certain whether Euripides intended to represent the Queen as really won by Richard's adulation; or as temporizing with the tyrant, like Medea in that exquisite scene, where she affects to be reconciled with Jason.§ Richard now gave the signal for departure, commanding all to attend him; and the drama closed with renewed but softened lamentation of the females, intermixed with a few votive strains from the Chorus, who implored Heaven for a favourable issue of the past transactions, and invoked peace to heal and renovate the land.
Sophocles constructed his tragedy (which was called, Richard at Bosworth) on a simpler and more confined plan. His scene was laid in the country adjoining the field of battle. A soldier of Richard's army opened the drama. He announced himself as having
• Descry'd the number of the traitors in Richmond's camp; rejoiced in the fortunate end of so dangerous a mission, and expressed impatience to find out the King, or some chief of the royal army. A Chorus (aged inhabitants of the country) then entered, with whom the soldier exchanged inquiries, and some brief articles of information. Richard himself was now seen approaching; he reproved the Chorus for their officious curiosity, and proceeded to examine the emissary, who replied concisely to his questions on the appearance, condition, and movements of the hos tile force. In the course of this dialogue, the hearer was prepared for an innovation on Shakspeare's play, in the appearance of Buckingham be. fore Richard, previous to that nobleman's execution. A messenger presently reported that the captive peer had arrived in the camp, and Richard commanded that he should be brought into the royal presence. Meantime the Chorus lamented, in sonorous and energetic verse, the state of a once happy realm that has "been mad and scarr'd herself"t with civil war; the bloodshed and famine that desolate her provinces; the "spoiling" of her "summer fields and fruitful vines;" the disunion of friends; the suppression of music and the dance, and sweet familiar converse; the scattering of kindred, and the cessation of love.§
Buckingham was introduced in bonds, and a stern dialogue ensued between him and the King. Sophocles's Richard was a statelier and more sententious personage than the tyrant pictured by Euripides, and bore a considerable resemblance to Creen, in the Edipus Coloneus, and Antigone, who accompanies every act of violence with an appeal to law and justice, and dogmatises with an
Rich. III. Act v. Sc. 2. Ο Ερώτων δ' ἀπέπαυσεν, ᾧ μοι. Rich, III. Act iv. Sc. 6.
edifying gravity while he entombs the living and exposes the dead. Buckingham, when about to be led off, remarked (as in Shakspeare ||) that the day of his death is that on which he once
Wish'd to fall
By the false faith of him whom most he trusted,
if ever he proved treacherous to Edward's children or family. This drew a taunting reply from Richard, on the unerring accuracy with which fate hunts out the devoted man. Pursuing the same train of thought, Buckingham observed that Queen Margaret, too, had prophesied his destruction by Richard's means.¶ The superstitious tyrant shuddered at this suggestion, recollecting that included in the he himself was
Queen's awful curse. He urged on the conversation eagerly, and yet with dread (like the ill-fated monarch in Sophocles's Edipus Tyrannus), and he was reminded that
A bard of Ireland told him once, He should not live long after he saw Rich
At this period a messenger entered, and related in a few animated lines that Richmond's forces had advanced, and were taking up a position in the immediate neighbourhood. The King roused himself at the news. Buckingham was led to death, and a hasty summons dispatched to the leading nobles of the army.
A short ode was sung by the Chorus, expressing fearful expectation; and, alluding to the prophecies just cited, they longed to interrogate the prescient spirit of Margaret, or to hold converse with some gifted dreamer, in forest or cavern of the rainy west, if so they might ascertain the issue of these gathering troubles.
In the ensuing scene, Richard, with Stanley, and some other personages who remained mute, appeared busy in warlike preparation. Sophocles, availing himself of the hints thrown out by Shakspeare, again represented the usurper's mind as haunted by appalling predictions. It recurred to his memory that
Did prophesy that Richmond should be king,
When Richmond was a little peevish boy.* Stanley, on being appealed to, said the prediction was still current in England. This remark drew down the tyrant's wrath and jealousy in full violence upon the speaker; he had already intimated a suspicion of Stanley; he now glanced again at the circumstance that Richmond was the "wife's son of that nobleman; and vehemently declared that the younger Stanley should be answerable for his father's fidelity.t
The Chorus attempted conciliation, with the usual bad success. Richard addressed some lines of exhortation to his followers, spoke slightingly of Richmond's expedition, and sternly warned the Chorus not to intrude upon the camp, or obstruct the preparations for battle by their useless presence. He retired, again cautioning Stanley to beware, lest by his misconduct his son should fall
Into the blind cave of eternal night.+ The Greek poet, as I recollect, translated these words literally from the English. On Richard's with drawing, Stanley imparted to the Chorus (which is bound to keep all men's counsel," ille tegat commissa") his determination to communicate with Richmond in spite of the king's threats; and he went forth with that intention.
The Chorus expatiated on parental affection, as displayed both in human feelings and in the brute instincts of inferior animals; and they moralized on the restless temper of man, who cannot be withheld even by this bond of nature from indulging the aspirations of his soul. Nor was their song unmarked by that warm interest in the passing action which continually animates the Chorus of Sophocles, even in its lyrical excursions. They prayed that Stanley's heir might escape the ruthless destiny which had cropped so many fair blossoms of mightier families; they alluded to the rising graces and premature fate of Rutland, and King Henry's Edward, and the royal off
Rich. III. Act iv. Sc. 2.
Ibid. Act v. Sc. 2.
spring of Elizabeth; and they closed their song with the favourite Greek simile of the bereaved nightingale.
Whether the scene now changed, as in Sophocles's Ajax, or the sub sequent action took place on the ground hitherto occupied by Richard's party, I cannot clearly recollect; but Richmond next entered, and was joined by Stanley. The dialogue between them opened like the corresponding one in Shakspeare; Stanley invoked Fortune and Victory to sit on the adventurer's helm, and promised him such aid as he might dare to render. Richmond then described the dream in which he was saluted and cheered with auguries of success, by the shades of all those whom Richard had put to death. There was much of the majestic, and something of the terrible, in this recital, which was perhaps unseasonably prolonged; but the practice of the Greek theatre is known to have allowed great latitude in this respect. Stanley departed; and, after a short preparatory scene, the battle was supposed to be commencing. The Chorus, who, if we presume a change of scene, may imagined to have shifted their ground in obedience to Richard's order, lamented in desponding strains the nothingness of old age, and their incapacity to mix as formerly in martial conflict. Sorrow, fear, curiosity, and abhorrence of the unnatural slaughter now raging near them, alternately swayed their thoughts; but at length a burst of hope, a sudden swell of prophetic exultation seemed to change the whole current of their song, and never, as I thought, had the lyric verse of Sophocles appeared more crowded with cheerful and brilliant imagery, than when the Chorus hailed in anticipation the glorious and welcome sun that should dart his rays upon their green hills and glistening streams, and find them all untroubled by a hostile presence.
A messenger from Richmond's army approached, and being eagerly questioned, related at great length the prowess and death of Richard, and the discomfiture of his forces, intelligence which elicited some pious
+Ibid. Act iv. Sc. 4.-Act v. Sc. 2. § Ibid. See the chorus, Sophoc. Antigone, 100, &c.
but not very sorrowful reflections from the Chorus. Richmond entered triumphant, attended by Stanley, and at this late period of the tragedy, Elizabeth, a sad and majestic personage, was introduced to greet the conqueror, and receive, with dignified acquiescence, his proposal to espouse her daughter. Sophocles, as usual, wound up his play with a few sober lines from the Chorus, who prayed that Heaven would
Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace.
(with some impropriety, perhaps) the sublime scene of Shakspeare, in which Elizabeth, and the Duchess of York assail the tyrant on his march with clamorous reproaches.
Margaret herself opened the drama with a strain of gloomy exultation over the "waning of her enemies;" and Eschylus adopted the figure of Shakspeare:
So now prosperity begins to mellow,
With smiling plenty, and fair prosperous whom she had cursed in her hour of
But of the three great dramatic rivals, Eschylus appeared to enter with the liveliest zeal and most congenial ardour into the conceptions of Shakspeare. War, with its pomp and tumult, supernatural terrors, the distraction and crimes of two old and kingly houses, and the dark, resistless influence of a solemn imprecation, were subjects well fitted to arouse the genius which bestowed on Greece the Agamemnon, Furies, and Seven Chiefs. The language, too, in Shakspeare's Richard, very often bears the vivid and impetuous character which Eschylus imparted to his own; the expressions, like his, show a mind impatient to discharge its burden; an imagination daring, restless and precipitate, leaping boldly from thought to thought, ever braving difficulty, ever grasping at the remote, and bending the repugnant to its purpose. Eschylus named his tragedy from Margaret of Anjou. That princess appeared only once on the stage; but the awful ascendancy of her character, acknowledged in a greater or less degree by all the other personages, and the fatal influence of her malediction, perpetually felt or dreaded, gave her almost the importance of an immediate sharer in the whole action. The stage was supposed to represent Bosworth Field, Richard's tent standing in the foreground, and (as appeared by some fine touches of incidental description) the whole royal encampment lying in prospect beyond. The time was the evening before Bosworth fight; and to this period was transferred
Rich. III. Act v. Sc. 3.
anguish, dwelling with peculiar force on Edward's death, his Queen's degradation, and the murder of his children; and she hailed the approaching hour that would bring with it the full accomplishment of her malediction. Elizabeth next entered, invoking her slaughtered sons, her
-Unblown flowers, new-appearing sweets,
Hover about her with their airy wings, and hear her lamentation. She was joined by Richard's mother, the Duchess of York; and the exclamation given to that lady by Shakspeare
Dead life, blind sight, poor mortal living ghost,
Woe's scene, world's shame, grave's due by life usurp❜d,
Brief abstract and record of tedious days, Rest thy unrest on England's lawful earth, Unlawfully made drunk with innocent blood!+
was closely copied by the Greek poet. In short, schylus went hand in hand with his original, through the whole of this magnificent scene, both in thought and, allowing for a few necessary deviations, in language also. He did not neglect the bold image conveyed in these lines (and expressed a little before in terms yet stronger,)
That dog that had his teeth before his eyes, To worry lambs, and lap their gentle blood,
Thy womb let loose to chase us to our graves.
And he imitated (for a Greek poet
+ Ibid. Act iv. Sc. 4.
Ibid. So Eschylus-w's Вpóτsiov alpa Kāμos.—Agam. 1199, 1200.