Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

was,

[ocr errors]

my dangerous AFFAIRS"-So in the folio; the Give me some ink and paper in my tent." quartos, attempts,-—which last, as it might here imply

The quarto editions place this line, and three others, not defensive war, but hostile aggression, I take to in Richmond's last speech, before he and his officers have been changed by the author.

withdraw into the tent. The later editors adhere to

the arrangement.of the folio; but Pope thought it more Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,

natural that these directions should come later. Death, desolation, ruin, and decay." The passage runs thus in the quartos :

"Limit each leader"-i. e. Assign each leader to his Without her, follows to this land and me,

separate duty.
To thee, herself, and many a Christian soul,
Sad desolation, ruin and decay.

"- keeps his REGIMENT”-i. e. Remains with the

troops under his command—“regiment" being of old " — be not PEEVISH”—“Peevish" is silly.

used in the broad sense of command, and not, even in

military use, restricted to a limited subdivision of troops. “Some light-fool friend post to the duke of Norfolk :

Stanley's “regiment," spoken of soon after, was a force Ratcliff, thyself, :-or Catesby; where is he ?"

of above three thousand men, which, by going over, de“Richard's precipitation and confusion are in this scene cided the battle. very happily represented, by inconsistent orders and sudden variation of opinion." --Johnson.

It's supper lime, my lord; it's nine o'clock."

Thus in the folio. The earlier editions all have, “It's "My mind is chang'd—The quartos read, charac

six o'clock, full supper time." All the modern editions teristically, “My mind is chang’d, sir; my mind is chang'd;" and a little after they repeat the words,

give it, “ It's supper time, my lord ; it's six o'clock."

This is on the authority of Stevens, who remarks that • Well, sir, as you guess, as you guess.". In both in

a supper, at as late an hour as nine o'clock, in 1485, stances, the author's first intention may have been to

would have been a prodigy.”. We know very well what express the hurry and excitement of rapid action ;

the supper hour of the higher classes at that periol which, in revision, may well have seemed to him incon

Harrison tells us, (Preface to Hollingslied,) “ the sistent with the cool self-possession and lofty bearingnobilitie, gentrie, and students ordinarily go to dinner of Richard.

at eleven before noon, and to supper at five, or between “ – more comPETITORS"—i. e. Associates, confede

five and six, at afternoone." From this reason, I do rates; as in the Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, (act ii.

not doubt that the Poet wrote originally “ six o'clock." scene 6.)

But, on revision, he saw that that hour would not agree

with the context. The Earls of Pembroke and Surrey .There is my purse"— According to the quartos, the are said to have before gone through the army at “cockKing says, “0! I cry you mercy, I did mistake," and shut time," or twilight, which in August, in ibat part of does not recompense the Messenger himself; his words England, (the battle of Bosworth Field was on August are, Ratcliff, reward him for the blow I gave

him." 22, 1485,) when the sunset is after seven, would be In the Messenger's speech, just before, the older edi much later than the time assigned for this scene. Be tions begin with, “ Your grace mistakes; the news I sides, in the preceding scene, " the weary sun" had albring is good.” This line is too familiar and dilatory, ready“ made a golden set;" and this scene, therefore, and was, I suppose, intentionally omitted on that ac is long after six. It seems then that the Poet, perceiv

The other change may have been suggested by ing that the whole conduct of this scene required a later the better stage-effect.

hour, and wishing to preserve the incident of Richard's

refusing to sup, altered the time to what-though not SCENE V.

the common supper-hour of domestic life—might well be

that of an army, which had just encamped, after a march. "- the most deaDIY boar—“ This most bloody The insertion of six confuses the time of all this act. boar" is the reading of the quartos; the folio, most deadly."

Ratcliff!—In the earlier editions Richard calls

Catesby. According to the folio Richard calls Ratcliff “Well, hie thee to thy lord; I kiss his hand : twice; here, and at the end of his speech,--an alteraMy letter will resolve him of my mind.

tion evidently of the author's, to increase the dramatic Farewell."

effect. “This is the literal reading of the folio, and it appears unexceptionable. The quartos read

“ – Give me a wATCH”—The verb “give," and the

subsequent expression “bid my guard watch," show Return unto my lord, commend me to him.

that Richard is not asking for a sentinel, as some bave Tell him, the queen hath heartily consented He shall espouse Elizabeth her daughter,

supposed. The“ watch" is the watch-light. The nightThese letters will resolve him of my mind.

candle was divided by marks, to indicate how long it

had burned; each part being a regular time in consumOne reading or the other surely ought to be held to

ing. This, as it burned away, supplied the place of the the uncorrected or the corrected copy. But we have a

modern watch. A guard would be placed at the royal tent, as a thing of course.

Collier says, juinble of both in the modern editions—a reading which

Modern edi is different from that of the Poet, in any stage of his

tors have addressed Give me a watch' to Catesby, but labour."-KNIGHT.

there is no such stage-direction in any of the old copies."

Look that my staves be sound”-i. e. The "staves," ACT V.-SCENE I.

or poles, of the lances. It was the custom to carry more

than one into the field. the DETERMIN'D RESPITE of my wrongs"—i. e. The fixed termination of the period to which the pun.

"about cock-shut time" – In Ben Jonson's “Satyr," ishment of my wrong-doing has been respited.

we have

Kiss him in the cock-shut light
SCENE III.

Whalley explains this expression as equivalent with

twilight, and says it is derived from the name of a net - our battalia trebles that account"-Richmond's for woodcock, a cockshut, which is used in the twilight. forces are said to have been only five thousand ; and Gifford adopts the explanation, and adds, “ the commenRichard's army consisted of about twelve thousand. tators on Shakespeare have trifled egregiously over this But Lord Stanley lay at a small distance with three simple expression." Whatever be the true origin of thousand men, and Richard reckoned on them as his the phrase, it is given as synonymous with twilight in friends, though the event proved otherwise

Minshew's French and English Dictionary, (1617,) and

count.

“ the

Farewell.

was

66

similar contemporary authorities. As to its derivation, God, and Saint George !"-"Saint George !" Knight doubts whether a common epithet is thus formed the cry of the English soldiers when they charged. from a technical word, and thinks cock-shut time" is The author of the Arte of Warre," printed in Elizaequal to cock-roost time-the hour at which the cock beth's reign, formally enjoins its use :-" Item, that all goes to rest. As morning is cock-crow, evening may by soldiers entering into battle assault, skirmish, or other a parallel image be “cock-shut.”

faction of arms, shall have for their common cry and

word, “Saint George, forward !' or “Upon them, Saint " — mortal-staring ear"-i. e. War that looks death;

George!' whereby the soldier is much comforted, and stares fatality on its victims.

the enemy dismayed, by calling to mind the ancient “ — PEISE me down"-i. e. Weigh me down—a word,

valour of England, which with that name has so often though then antiquated, still used by the poets.

been victorious." The Ghost of Prince Edward, Sor to Henry"— The

He should have brav's the east-Stevens explains hiut for this scene is furnished by Hall or Hollingshed, certainly a common use of the word, as bravery was for

“brave” here to make splendid, or adorn;" as was who copy from Polydore Virgil :-" It seemed to him, being asleepe, that he saw diverse ymages like terrible

decoration, splendid allire. Singer thus offers another devilles, which pulled and haled him, not sufferynge

sense :—“The common signification of the old verb to him to take any quiet or reste.

The which strange

brave, was not what Stevens states it to be—to chalvision not so sodaynely strake his heart with a sodayne lenge, or set at de fiance;'—but “to look aloft, and go feare, but it stuffed his head with many busy and dread

gaily, desiring to have the preëminence. This is old ful imaginations. And least that it might be suspected

Baret's definition, which explains the text better than that he was abashed for fear of his enemies, and for

Mr. Stevens has done.” I do not, however, see how that cause looked so piteously, he recited and declared

going gaily," or looking aloft," can be the sense here, to his familiar friends of the morning his wonderfull

as the words stand. It would then be, " in the east.” vysion and feareful dreame.” The Legend of King

I must agree with the first explanation. Richard III. in the “ Mirror for Magistrates," and Dray " -'be not so bold—The early copies, together with ton, in the twenty-second Song of his " Polyolbion," the folio, (1623,) have, “ be not so bold;") but the have passages founded upon Shakespeare's description. quarto of 1634 reads, “ be not too bold," which agrees

with the words in Hall and Hollingshed. All editors, - ENTERS between the tro Tents"-In the old copies, quarto and folio, the ghosts are said to enter;"

except Knight, alter the Poet's word to that of the

chroniclers. though Collier, the best authority as to the old English stage, informs us that at that date there were trap-doors

And who doth lead them, but a paltry fellow, in the stage, by which spirits and fiends sometimes ascended. All the modern editors, without authority,

Long kept in Bretagne at our mother's cost," etc. make the ghosts severally rise, according to the custom

Thus Hollingshed :—" You see further, how a comof the stage, which I believe the reform of Macready

pany of traitors, thieves, outlaws, and runagates, be has here altered to the old mode.

aiders and partakers of this feate and enterprise. And

to begin with the Earl of Richmond, captaine of this - FULSOME wine"-The epithet seems used in the rebellion, he is a Welsh milksop, brought up by my sense of thick, or unctuous, as referring to the luscious moother's means and mine, like a captive in a close cage sweet wine, Malmsey, in which tradition reported Cla in the court of Francis duke of Britaine.”—(p. 756.) rence to have been immersed.

Hollingslied copied this verbatim from Hall, (edit. 1548, Think on lord Hastings. Despair, and die."

fol. 54;) but his printer has given us by accident the

word moother instead of brother, as it is in the original, Collier alone, of the modern editors, gives this line

and ought to be in SHAKESPEARE. In the first edition rightly. The rest have thrust and into the line, without of Hollingshed, the word is rightly printed brother; so the slightest authority; as if to amend the verse, when

that this circumstance not only shows that the Poet fol* Think on lord Hastings; and despair, and die," is infinitely less forcible than the old text, which corresponds || him.

lows Hollingshed, but points out the edition used by with the conclusions of previous speeches. Let us be lead within thy bosom”—The folio and

Spur your proud horses hard”—Richard alternately

addresses the mounted “gentlemen" and the yeomen later quartos read, “ Let us be laid," etc.; but the con archers on foot, to whom the line before is addressed. text shows that lead was the original word, subsequently misprinted

the enemy is pass'd the marsh" — There was a

large marsh in Bosworth-plain, between the two armies. I died for hope”—Buckingham's hope of aiding Henry passed it, and made such a disposition of his Richmond induced him to take up arms; he lost his life forces that it served to protect his right wing. By this in consequence, and therefore may be said to have died

movement he gained also another point, that his men for hope-hope being the cause which led to that event.

should engage with the sun behind them and in the

faces of their enemies: a matter of great consequence Richard loves Richard; that is, I am 1."

when bows and arrows were in use. “There is in this, as in many of the Poet's speeches of passion, something very trifling, and something very striking. Richard's debate, whether he should quarrel

SCENE IV. with himself, is too long continued; but the subsequent I think there be six Richmonds in the field; exaggeration of his crimes is truly tragical."—Johnson. Five have I slain to-day, instead of him.-"

No doubt, my lord"—This answer by Ratcliff, and The Poet had here more than mere dramatic effect to the preceding speech by Richard, are wanting in the excuse his making the tyrant fall by Riclunond's hand. folio. All the editors restore them from the prior old It is stated by the chroniclers that Richard was deter. editions, but it

may

be doubted whether the author did mined to engage with Richmond, if possible, in single not designedly omit them;—the dialogue proceeding as combat. For ihis purpose he rode furiously to that well without them, perhaps with more effect.

quarter of the field where the Earl was; attacked his [He advances to the Troops"]—“His oration to his

standard-bearer, (Sir William Brandon,) and killed him; Boldiers" is placed, as a title, before this speech, in all

then assaulted Sir John Cheny, whom he overthrew. the old copies.

Having thus cleared his way to his antagonist, he en.

gaged in single combat with him, and probably would “ - QUIT il in your age"-i. e. Quite or requite it have been victorious: but at that instant Sir William a form of the word in very frequent use.

Stanley joined Richmond's army, and the royal forces

Hled with great precipitation. Richard was soon after some fraud or deceit, began also to pause, and left strikwards overpowered by numbers, and fell fighting brave ing, and not against the wills of many, which had lieler ly to the last moment.

had the king destroyed than saved, and therefore they

fought very faintly, or stood still. The Earl of Oxford, "— They fight"-According to the old stage-direc

bringing all his band together on the one part, set on his tion Richard was killed before the audience. I restore

enemies freshly. Again, the adversaries perceiving that, the old direction, as the author's intention, instead of

placed their men slender and thin before, and thick which the popular editions give us and exeunt fighting.

and broad behind, beginning again hardily the battle.

While the two forwards thus mortally fought, each inThe following is Hall's narrative of the battle of Bos

tending to vanquish and convince the other, King Ricbworth Field :-" In the mean season King Richard

ard was admonished by his explorators and espials that (which was appointed now to finish his last labour by the very divine justice and providence of God, which

the Earl of Richmond, accompanied with a small numcalled him to condign punishment for his scelerate

ber of men of arms, was not far off; and as he approached

and marched toward him, he perfectly knew his permerits and mischievous deserts) marched to a place

sonage by certain demonstrations and tokens which he meet for two battles to encounter, by a village called Bosworth, not far from Leicester, and there he pitched

had learnt and known of other; and being inflamed with

ire and vexed with outrageous malice, he put his spurs his field, refreshed his soldiers, and took his rest. The

to his horse and rode out of the side of the range of his fame went that he had the same night a dreadful and a

battle, leaving the avant-gardes fighting, and like a terrible dream; for it seemed to him, being asleep, that

hungry lion ran with spear in rest toward him. The he saw divers images like terrible devils, which pulled and hauled him, not suffering him to take any quiet or coming toward him, and, by cause the whole hope of

Earl of Richmond perceived well the king furiously rest. The which strange vision not so suddenly strake

his wealth and purpose was to be determined by batile, his heart with a sudden fear, but it stuffed his head and troubled his mind with many dreadful and busy imagi- || and man to man. King Richard set on so sharply at

he gladly proffered to encounter with him body to body nations; for incontinent after, his heart being almost the first brunt that he overthrew the earl's standard and damped, he prognosticated before the doubtful chance

slew Sir William Brandon, his standard-bearer, (which of the battle to come, not using the alacrity and mirth

was father to Sir Charles Brandon, by King Henry the of mind and countenance as he was accustomed to do | Eighth created Duke of Suffolk,) and matched hand to before he came toward the battle. And lest that it

hand with Sir John Cheinye, a man of great force and might be suspected that he was abashed for fear of his strength, which would have resisted him, and the said enemies, and for that cause looked so piteously, he re

John was by him manfully overthrown; and so be cited and declared to his familiar friends in the morning

making open passage by dint of sword as he went forhis wonderful vision and terrible dream."

ward, the Earl of Richmond withstood his violence and The plan of the battle is minutely detailed in the kept him at the sword's point without advantage longer narratives; and Shakespeare has availed himself, with

than his companions other thought or judged; which, wonderful accuracy and spirit, of the circumstances

being almost in despair of victory, were suddenly reattending the disposition of the field.

comforted by Sir William Stanley, which came to sucAccording to the usual practice of the chroniclers,

cours with three thousand tall men, at which very inthey give long orations, by the respective leaders, pre

stant King Richard's men were driven back and fled, vious to the battle being joined. Shakespeare has availed himself of some of the most prominent parts of

and he himself, manfully fighting in the middle of his these apparently fictitious compositions. The legend | thily had deserved.”

enemies, was slain and brought to his death as he worof “ Jocky of Norfolk” is told thus by Hall:—“Of the nobility were slain John Duke of Norfolk, which was warned by divers to refrain from the field, insomuch that the night before he should set forward toward the

Schlegel remarks, on the character of Richard—“ His king one wrote on his gate

first speeches lead us already to form the most unfa. Jack of Norfolk, be not too bold.

vourable prognostications respecting him: he lowers For Dykon thy master is bought and sold."

obliquely like a thunder-cloud on the horizon, wbich

gradually approaches nearer and nearer, and first pours The battle and the victory are thus described by

out the elements of devastation with which it is charged Hall:—“He had scantly finished his saying but the one when it hangs over the heads of mortals.” “The other army espied the other. Lord! how hastily the soldiers characters of the drama are of too secondary a nature buckled their helms! how quickly the archers bent to excite a powerful sympathy; but in the back-ground their bows and frushed their feathers! how readily the the widowed Queen Margaret appears as the fury of the billmen shook their bills and proved their staves! ready past, who calls forth the curse on the future: every to approach and join when the terrible trumpet should

calamity which her enemies draw down on each other. sound the bloody blast to victory or death. Between

is a cordial to her revengeful heart. Other female both armies there was a great morass, which the Earl voices join, from time to time, in the lamentations and of Richmond left on his right hand, for this intent, that

imprecations. But Richard is the sonl, or rather the it should be on that side a defence for his part; and in

deinon, of the whole tragedy, and fulfils the promise 80 doing he had the sun at his back and in the faces of

which he formerly made to his enemies. When King Richard saw the Earl's company was passed the morass, he commanded with all

- set the murderous Machiavel to school. haste to set upon them; then the trumpets blew and “ Besides the uniform aversion with which he inspires the soldiers shouted, and the king's archers courageously us, he occupies us in the greatest variety of wave, by let fly their arrows: the earl's bowmen stood not still, his profound skill in dissimulation, his wit, his prudence, but paid them home again. The terrible shot once his presence of mind, his quick activity, and his valour. passed, the armies joined and came to hand-strokes, He fights at last against Richmond like a desperado, where neither sword nor bill was spared; at which and dies the honourable death of the hero on the field of encounter the Lord Stanley joined with the earl. The battle.”—But Shakespeare has satisfied our moral feel. Earl of Oxford in the mean season, fearing lest while ings:-"He shows us Richard in his last moments alhis company was fighting they should be compassed and ready branded with the stamp of reprobation. We see circumvented with the multitude of his enemies, gave Richard and Richmond on the night before battle sleepcommandment in every rank that no man should be so ing in their tents; the spirits of those murdered by the hardy as go above ten" foot from the standard ; which tyrant, ascend in succession, and pour out their curses commandment once known, they knit themselves to against him, and their blessings on his adversary. These gether, and ceased a little from fighting. The adver- apparitions are, properly, merely the dreams of the saries, suddenly abashed at the inatter, and mistrusting two generals made visible. It is no doubt contrary to

some man.

sensible probability, that their tents should only be sep VI. with his own hand. This might be well enough arated by so small a space; but Shakespeare could for the third part of HENRY VI., but it had no right to reckon on poetical spectators, who were ready to take a place in the tragedy of Richard III. Shakespeare's the breadth of the stage for the distance between the object in the latter piece was to produce from Richard's two camps, if, by such a favour, they were to be re character an impression of terror, not of disgust; and compensed by beauties of so sublime a nature as this the Poet, therefore, exhibits on the stage none of the series of spectres, and the soliloquy of Richard on his murders occasioned by Richard, except that of Clarence, awaking."

whose previous guilt mitigates our anger at his fate,

although he moves our pity. Clarence's dream, a piece “ Ix RICHARD III., (1593) Shakespeare put forth a of poetry which Charles Fox justly compared to the power of terrific delineation, which with the exception death-scene of Alcestis, in Euripides, is omitted in of the death-scene of Cardinal Beaufort in the second Kemble's edition of this drama. The complaint was, part of Henry VI., he had never before displayed. that Shakespeare's play was too long, and the remely This tragedy forms an epoch in the history of our Poet, to which they resorted was to thrust in interpolations.” and in that of dramatic poetry. In his preceding dra CAMPBELL. mas, he showed rather the suppleness than the knotted strength of his genius ; but in the subtle cunning, the Coleridge directs that this play should be “contrastcommanding courage, the lofty pride and ambition, the ed with Richard II. Pride of intellect is the characreinorselessness of the third Richard, and in the whole teristic of Richard, carried to the extent of even boastsublime depravity of his character, he reminds us of the ing to his own mind of his villainy, while others are eulogium passed by Fuseli on Michael Angelo, who present to feed his pride of superiority. Shakespeare says, that Michael.could stamp sublimity on the hump here, as in all his great parts, developes in a tone of of a dwarf.' So complete was this picture of human sublime morality the consequences of placing the moral guilt, that Milton, in seeking for a guilty hero, was in subordination to the mere intellectual being. In obliged to descend to the nether regions.

Richard there is a predominance of irony, accompanied " It belongs to our historical rather than our dramatic with apparently blunt manners to those immediately curiosity, to inquire whether Shakespeare was justified about him, but prolonged into a more set hypocrisy by the facts of history, to describe Richard III. quite so towards the people as represented by their magistrates." blackly. Every one may have leard of the old Countess of Desmond's testimony, that Richard was a hand The criticism of the German critic, Ulrici, is as usual some man, and only second in appearance to his brother refined to the very verge of ingenious paradox, while, Edward IV., in the ball room, in which she danced at the same time, it contains original and impressive with the former. Her declaration certainly proves that views of high import. After stating his critical objeche could not have been a notoriously deformed man; tion to the play as a work of dramatic art, that Richard but still I think there are proofs that he had one shoul stands absolutely alone in the drama, and that the infeder higher than the other, -a defect, which, if he was i| riority and feebleness of all the other personages destroys otherwise personable, as he probably was, he might i that mutual action and reaction, so powerful in real life. have well concealed by his dress; and to a girl of nine and so necessary to dramatic vividness, he thus proceeds teen or twenty he might have easily appeared a hand to a higher tone of moral speculation :

As to his true moral character, I know not “ But it should be remembered, that immobility and what to say; Horace Walpole's 'Doubts,' I think, are sameness, unnatural heaping of all the weights into one themselves subject to doubts. I remember being in scale, -want of organic interaction and co-operation beDrury Lane, when Kean played Richard III., and I had tween the body and the several parts, and consequently the felicity to sit in the same box with Madame de the greatest corruption in the political organization of Staël and Sir James Mackintosh. Sir James gave us a society, constitute the very character of that form of long discourse on the utterly absurd traditions respect tyranny in which an age of sufferings necessarily closes. ing Richard III.'s crimes and cruelties. He was at that But now the elucidation of the essence of tyranny is time a thorough believer in the doubts of Horace Wal the historical import of the present drama, and the pole. But when Sir James Mackintosh's History of poetical element of the ground-idea is in this, as in all England appeared, I looked in vain for a reassertion of others of Shakespeare's pieces, with singular tact assothe same scepticism respecting Richard's guilt; on the ciated with it. Therefore, it is not to be denied, that contrary, he seems to confess it. For my own part, I this artistic defect was the price with which the Poet think that Richard was infamously abused after his was forced to purchase the opportunity of depicting the death, by the Lancasterians, and afterwards by the ground-idea of his piece with greater force, depth, and Tudors; neither do I believe that he was a hunch-back ; truth. Tyranny is the historical phase of selfishness, yet still I have my suspicions both as to the perfect | and, consequently, of evil, in its highest possible conequality of his shoulders, and the perfect morality of his summation. A single ego arrogates to himself the power conduct.

of the collective mind and energy; an individual, in "The wretched taste of the public for many years spite of his finiteness, makes himself a whole nation ; Deglected this sublime drama. In the days of Better indeed humanity itself, and its supreme ruling power. ton, all the powers of that great actor could not give This is the interpretation of Richard's words, I am stage popularity to Richard III. Cibber at last brought myself alone,' with which the tyrant from his birth anit on the stage in a patched state, containing a portion nounces himself, and which reveals also his perfect conof the original play, but mixed up with matter from sciousness of his true nature. Richard knows himself other Shakespearian plays; and, strange to say, eked to be a tyrant; he knows himself and is willing to be a out with some of Cibber's own stuff. Yet with all this despot. This trait in his poetical character was necesstuff, Cibber's edition of Richard III.' kept possession sary, since it is inconsistent with the Christian view to of the stage for one hundred and twenty years. In represent an individual as a mere machine in the hands 1741, when Garrick came out at Goodman's Fields, his of a superior and constraining power. This truth is at utterance of the line, 'Off with his head ! so much for once the reason and the justification of the reflections Buckingham !' drew thunders of applause, and these which Richard makes upon himself and his own circumwords set the first seal on Garrick's popularity. That stances, in the many soliloquies which have been so line, nevertheless, was not Shakespeare's, but Cibber's. frequently censured as unnatural. They are a neces

"I have not before me Cibber's misadaptation to the sary part of the character of a tyrant in Christian times; stage of · Richard III.;' but only that of John Kemble, they are but the true utterance of his clear internal conand I fear that Kemble did little to restore the original | victions, and Richard must speak with himself, since in nay, it is certain that he did nothing material. The his terrible isolation he has none else with whom he medley called · Richard III.,' till lately acted on our can hold communion." boards, commences with Richard III. stabbing Henry “ The family of Henry the Sixth is utterly extinct;

of the House of York none survive but the childless some of the events of the reign of Richard III. anterior Richard, and a daughter of Edward the Fourth who is to that of Shakespeare. T. Warton quoted Harring. to form the link of union between the old and the new ton's • Apologie for Poetry,' prefixed to his translation times. Thus must it ever be. The avenger-the of Ariosto in 1591, respecting a tragedy of • Richard founder of a new era-must come of a different blood; the Third,' acted at St. John's, Cambridge, which would but at the same time he must form a true intermedium * have moved Phalaris, the tyrant, and terrified all tyr. between the past and the future, and must furnish a real annous-minded men;' and Heywood's . Apology for Acappeasing of history. Such was the Earl of Richmond, tors,' (1612,) repeats the words of Harrington. Both afterwards Henry the Seventh, and the husband of those authors referred to a Latin drama on the story of Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward, of the Richard III., written by Dr. Legge, and acted at Camhouse of Lancaster, (Gaunt,) but not by descent from bridge before 1583. Stevens followed up his quotation Henry the Fourth. He appears a pious harmless youth, from Heywood by the copy of an entry in the Station and by no means a highly-gifted or eminent character. ers' Registers, dated June 19, 1594, relating to an Eng. For an age so morally corrupt was unable to offer any lish play on the same subject. When Stevens wrote, opposition to the tyranny of Richard, much less to it was not known that such a drama had ever been provide a deliverer from within itself: The true deliv printed; but in 1821 Boswell reprinted a large fragment. erer was God. It is as his captain that Richmond ac A perfect copy of this rare play is in the collection of counts himself,—it is not in himself, in his forces, or in the Duke of Devonshire, with the following title-page:circumstances that he places his hope; the conviction “• The True Tragedie of Richard the third: Wherein that he is but working the will of God, alone gives is showne the death of Edward the fourth, with the him energy for his enterprise. He is the man whom smothering of the two young Princes in the Tower: God has sent, and of om the age stands in need ; With a lamentable ende of Shore's wife, an example who alone is justified in acting as he does: it is God's for all wicked women. And lastly, the coniunction and arm that strengthens and protects him. With wonder joyning of the two noble Houses, Lancaster and Yorke. ful judgment has the Poet indicated all this by the As it was played by the Queenes Maiesties Players. unequalled scene of the fifth act, where the ghosts of the London Printed by Thomas Creede, and are to be sold members of the royal family whom Richard had mur by William Barley, at his shop in Newgate Market, dered rise one by one. As already observed, such neare Christ Church door. 1594.' ghostly apparitions belong not properly to the historic • The piece, as a literary composition, deserves little drama; history itself kuows nothing of such things. remark; but as a drama it possesses several peculiar The Poet, it is true, represents them but as the vivid features. It is in some respects unlike any relic of the visionary shapes which issue from the troubled con kind, and was evidently written several years before it science in one case, and of the pure consciousness on the came from Creede's press. It opens with a singular other, but still in both cases be regards them as voices dialogue between Truth and Poetry :from God to encourage the innocent and to shake the Poctrie, Truth, well met. resolution of the guilty. They therefore possess a per

Truth. Thankes, Poetrie : what makes thou upon a stnge ?

Pod. Shadowcs. fect poetic reality, and it is no excuse for the Poet to

Truth. Then, will I adde bodies to the shadowes. urge that it is but as a dream that he has introduced

Therefore depart, and give Truth leave them. However, the true poet has alway a good To show her pageant. reason for his irregularities, and in the present case his Poct. Why, will Truth be a Player! excuse is obvious. The Poet does not paint history

Truth. No; but Tragedia like for to present

A Tragedie in England done but late, with the accuracy of a portrait-he also invents it; his

That will revive the hearts of drooping mindes. invention, however, is but the very kernel and essence Poet. Whereof? of history, which never attains to actual and immediate Truth, Marry, thus. manifestation, even because its inmost heart is wrapped " Hence Truth proceeds with a sort of argument of in the infinity of the divine ruler of the world. It the play; but before the Induction begins, the ghost is therefore necessary to show forth explicitly in the of George, Duke of Clarence, had passed over the stage, drama, what in history appears mediately and implicitly, delivering two lines as he went, which we give prebeing concealed beneath the very results to which it cisely as in the original copy now before us :gives rise. This apparent offence, therefore, against Cresse cruor sanguinis, satietur sanguine cresse, history-by its application it ceases to be such—is made Quod spero scitio. O scitio, scitio, rendicta ! use of by the Poet for the clear realization of his leading “ The drama itself opens with a scene representing idea, which has nothing less for its subject matter than the death of Edward IV., and the whole story is thencethe elucidation of the true relation of history to God;

forward most inartificially and clumsily conducted, with or, in other words, the truths that God alone can restore a total disregard of dates, facts, and places, by characters sinful man, and that the penalty which his strict un

imperfectly drawn and ill sustained. Shore's wife plays yielding justice intlicts, is at the same time the proof of his protecting love. The history of the world, in short, the battle of Bosworth Field, but is carried on subse

a conspicuous part; and the tragedy does not finish with is the gracious dispensation of this love and mercy, or, quently, although the plot is clearly at an end. The as the same idea is expressed by Henry, a little before conclusion is as remarkable as the commencement. he sees the spirits

After the death of Richard, Report (a personification O thou ! whose captain I account myself,

like some of those in the old Moralities) enters, and Look on my forces with a gracious eye;

holds a dialogue with a Page, to inform the audience Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,

of certain matters not exhibited ; and after a long scene That they may crush down with a heavy fall, Th' usurping helmets of our adversaries.

between Richmond, the Queen mother, Princess ElizaMake us thy ministers of chastisement,

beth, etc., two Messengers enter, and, mixing with the That we may praise thee in thy victory !"

personages of the play, detail the succession of events That his prayer is heard he is assured by the spirits,

and of inonarchs from the death of Richard until the acwhose speech concludes with the words :

cession of Elizabeth. The Queen mother then comes God and good angels fight on Richmond's side,

forward, and pronounces a panegyric upon Elizabeth, And Richard fall in height of all his pride !"

ending thus:

For which, if ere her life be tane away,

God grant her soule may live in heaven for aye; Mr. Collier gives the following account of the dramas

For if her Graces dayes be brought to end, on this subject preceding Shakespeare's, which shows

Your hope is gone on whom did peace depend. conclusively that the idea thrown out by some of the “As in this epilogue no allusion is made to the Span commentators, that he used them as the groundwork of ish Armada, though other public events of less prumi bis own tragedy, is quite unfounded :

nence are touched upon, we may infer that the drama " It is certain that there was an historical drama upon was written before 1588

« AnteriorContinuar »