« PreviousContinue »
honorable death of the hero on the field of battle." —But Shakspeare nas satisfied our moral feelings :—“He shows us Richard in his last moments already branded with the stamp of reprobation. We see Richard and Richmond, on the night before battle, sleeping in their tents; the spirits of those murdered by the tyrant ascend in succession, and pour out their curses against him, and their blessings on his adversary. These apparitions are, properly, merely the dreams of the two generals made visible. It is no doubt contrary to sensible probability, that their tents should only be separated by so small a space; but Shakspeare could reckon on poetical spectators, who were ready to take the breadth of the stage for the distance between the two camps, if, by such a favor, they were to be recompensed by beauties of so sublime a nature as this series of spectres, and the soliloquy of Richard on his awaking." *
Steevens observed that the favor with which the tragedy has been received on the stage in modern times “must in some measure be imputed to Cibber's reformation of it.” The original play was certainly too long for representation, and there were parts which might, with advantage, have been omitted in representation, as “dramatic encumbrances;” but such a piece of clumsy patchwork as the performance of Cibber, was surely any thing but “ judicious ;” and it is only surprising, that the taste which has led to other reformations in the performance of our great dramatic Poet's works, has not given to the stage a judicious abridgment of this tragedy in his own words, unencumbered with the superfluous transpositions and gratuitous additions which have been so long inflicted upon us.
* Schlegel's Lectures on Dramatic Literature, vol. ii. p. 246.
King EDWARD THE FOURTH.
Sons to the King.
King Richard III. A young Son of Clarence. Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards King Henry VII. CARDINAL Bouchier, Archbishop of Canterbury. THOMAS ROTHERAM, Archbishop of York. John Morton, Bishop of Ely. Duke of Buckingham. Duke of Norfolk: Earl of Surrey, his Son. Earl RIVERS, Brother to King Edward's Queen. Marquis of Dorset, and Lord Grey, her Sons. Earl of Oxford. Lord HASTINGS. LORD STANLEY. LORD LOVEL. SIR THOMAS VAUGHAN. Sır RICHARD RATCLIFF. Sir William CATESBY. Sir James TYRREL. Sir James Blount. Sir WALTER HERBERT. Sir ROBERT BRAKENBURY, Lieutenant of the Tower. CHRISTOPHER URSWICK, a Priest. Another Priest. Lord Mayor of London. Sheriff of Wiltshire.
ELIZABETH, Queen of King Edward IV.
Henry VI.; afterwards married to the Duke of Gloster. A young Daughter of Clarence.
Lords, and other Attendants, two Gentlemen, a Pursuivant, Scriv
ener, Citizens, Murderers, Messengers, Ghosts, Soldiers, foc.
KING RICHARD THE THIRD.
Enter GLOSTER. Gloster. Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun? of York; And all the clouds, that lowered upon our house, In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front; And now,-instead of mounting barbed 3 steeds, To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber, To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. But 1,—that am not shaped for sportive tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass; I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty, To strut before a wanton, ambling nymph; I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
1 The cognizance of Edward IV. was a sun, in memory of the three suns which are said to have appeared at the battle which he gained over the Lancastrians at Mortimer's Cross.
3 i. e. steeds caparisoned or clothed in the trappings of war. The word is properly barded, from equus bardatus, Latin of the middle ages.
4 Feature is proportion, or beauty, in general. By dissembling is not meant hypocritical nature, but nature that puts together things of a dissimilar kind, as a brave soul and a deformed body.
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY. Brother, good day. What means this armed guard, That waits upon your grace? Clar.
Glo. Upon what cause ?
Because my name is—George.
Clar. Yea, Richard, when I know; for, I protest,
1 This is from Ilolinshed.
As yet I do not. But, as I can learn,
Clar. By Heaven, I think there is no man secure,
Glo. Humbly complaining to her deity
Brak. I beseech your graces both to pardon me;
Glo. Even so ? An please your worship, Brakenbury, You may partake of any thing we say.
1 The queen and Shore.