Imatges de pàgina

Have chid me from the battle, swearing both
They prosper best of all when I am thence.
Would I were dead, if God's good will were so,
For what is in this world but grief and wo!
O God! methinks it were a happy life
To be no better than a homely swain,
To sit upon a hill as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run :
How many make the hour full complete,
How many hours bring about the day,
How many days will finish up the year,
How many years a mortal man may live.
When this is known, then to divide the times :
So many hours must I tend my flock,
So many hours must I take my rest,
So many hours must I contemplate,
So many hours must I sport myself;
So many days my ewes have been with young,
So many weeks ere the poor fowls will yean,
So many months ere I shall shear the fleece:
So many minutes, hours, weeks, months, and years
Past over, to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet krave.
Ah! what a life were this! how sweet, how lovely!
Gives not the hawthorn bush a sweeter shade
To shepherds looking on their ally sherp,
Than duth a rich embrindered canopy
To kings that fear their subjerts' treachery
O yes it doth, a thousand-fold it doth,
And to conclude, the shepherd's himely curda,
His cold thin drink out of hua Irather tette,
His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,
All whoch serure and swertly he enjoys,
Is far beyond a prince's delicates,
His vianis sparkling in a guiden cup,
His body couched in a curious bed,
Where care, mistrust, and treasons wast on hıtn”

This is a true and beautiful description of a naturally quiet and contented disposition, and not like the former, the splepetio effusion of disappointed ambition.

In the last scene of Richard II. his despair lends him courage : he beats the keeper, slays two of his asasins, and dies with im. precations in his mouth against Sir Pierce Exton, who “had staggered his royal person.” Henry, when he is seized by the deer-stealers, only reads them a moral lecture on the duty of allegiance and the sanctity of an oath ; and when stabbed by Gloucester in the Tower, reproaches him with his crimes, but pardons him his own death,



Richard III. may be considered as properly a stage-play: it belongs to the theatre, rather than to the closet. We shall there fore criticise it chiefly with a reference to the manner in which we have seen it performed. It is the character in which Garrick came out: it was the second character in which Mr. Kean appeared, and in which he acquired his fame. Shakspeare we have always with us : actors we have only for a few seasons; and therefore some account of them may be acceptable, if not to our contemporaries, to those who come after us, if that rich and idle personage, Posterity," should deign to look into our writings.

It is possible to forin a higher conception of the character of Richard than that given by Mr. Kean (not from seeing any other actor, but from reading Shakspeare); but we cannot ima. gine any character represented with greater distinctness and precision, more perfectly articulated in every part. Perhaps indeed there is too much of what is technically called executwa. When we first saw this celebrated actor in the part, we thought he sometimes failed from an exuberance of manner, and dissipated the impression of the character by the variety of his resources. To be perfect his delineation of it should have a little more soli. dity, depth, sustained and impassioned feeling, with somewhat I less brilliancy, with fewer glancing lights, pointed transitions, and pantomimic evolutions.

The Richard of Shakspeare is towering and lofty; equally impetuous and commanding; haughty, violent, and subtle; boid and treacherous; confident in his strength as well as in his cun. ning ; raised high by his birth, and highes by his genius and his crimes; a royal usurper, a princely hypocrite, a tyrant and ai murderer of the house of Plantagenet.

“ Bnt I was born so high :
Our aery buildeth in the cedar's top,
And dallies with the wind, and scorns the sun.”

The idea conveyed in these lines (which are indeed omitted in the miserable medley acted for RICHARD III.) is never lost sight of by Shakspeare, and should not be out of the actor's mind for a moment. The restless and sanguinary Richard is not a man striving to be great, but to be greater than he is; conscious of his strength of will, his power of intellect, his daring courage, his elevated station ; and making use of these advantages as giving him both the means and the pretext to commit unheard-of crimes, and to shield himself from remorse and infamy.

If Mr. Kean does not entirely succeed in concentrating all the lines of the character, as drawn by Shakspeare, he gives an anit mation, vigor, and relief to the part which we have never seen surpassed. He is more refined than Cooke; more bold, varied, and original than Kemble in the same character. In some parts he is deficient in dignity, and, particularly in the scenes of state business, he has by no means an air of artificial authority. There is at times a sort of tip-toe elevation, an enthusiastic rapture in his expectations of attaining the crown, and at others a gloating expression of sullen delight, as if he already clenched the bauble, and held it in his grasp. This was the precise es. pression which Mr. Kean gave with so much effect to the pari where he says, that he already feels “ The golden rigol bind his brows." In cne who dares so much, there is indeed little to blame. The courtship scene with Lady Anne is an admirable exhibition of smooth and smiling villainy. The progress of wily adulation, of encroaching humility, is finely marked by his ac. tion, voice and eye. He seems, like the first Tempter, to approach his prey, secure of the event, and as if success had smoothed his way before him. Mr. Cooke's manner of representing this scene was more vehement, hurried, and full of anx. bous uncertainty. This, though more natural in general, was less in character in this particular instance. Richard should woo Dot as a lover but as an actor—to show his mental superiority, and power of making others the playthings of his will. Mr. death. To make room for these worse than needless additions, many of the most striking passages in the real play have been omitted by the foppery and ignorance of the prompi-book critics. We do not mean to insist merely on passages which are fine as poetry and to the reader, such as Clarence's dream, &c., but on those which are important to the understanding of the cha. racter, and peculiarly adapted for stage effect. We will give the following as instances among several others. The first is the scene where Richard enters abruptly to the queen and her friends to defend himself :

“GLOUCESTER. They do me wrong, and I will not endure it.
Who are they that complain unto the kink.
That I forsooth am stern, and love them not?
By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly,
That fill his ears with such dissensious rumuns:
Because I cannot flatter and look fair,
Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive, and cog.
Duck with French nods, and apısh courtesy,
I must be held a rancoroas enemy.
Cannot a plain man live, and think no harm,
But was his simple truth must be abus'd
With sukken, sly, insinuating Jacks?

Grar. To whom in all this presence speaks your grace!

GLOUCESTER "To thee, that hast nor bunesty nor grace!
When have I injur'd thee, when done thee wrong?
Or thee? or thee? or any of your faction?

A plague upon you all ?" Nothing can be more characteristic than the turbulent pretea sions to meekness and simplicity in this address. Again, the versatility and adroitness of Richard is admirably described in the following ironical conversation with Brakenbury

* BU AK***PRY. I beseerh your kraces both to pardon me
His Majesty hath straitly given in charge.
That no man skall have private conference,
Of wird der er sever, with a brushes

Gorrastu. K'ras, ant please your wts ip, Brakentary,
You may partar of anything we say.
We speak no trasa, man--"y the king
I wise and virtus, and he meble queen
Well stock in years, faut, and not jealous,
We say that Suure's wife hath a pretty luol,

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