Imatges de pÓgina

detested Life, and most deserved Death. As it hath been lately acted by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his servants. Printed by Valentine Sims, for William Wise, 1597." It was again reprinted, in 4to, in 1598, 1602, 1612 or 1613, 1622, and twice in 1629.

This play was probably written in the year 1593 or 1594. One of Shakspeare's Richards, and most probably this, is alluded to in the Epigrams of John Weever,* published in 1599, but which must have been written in 1595.


Honie-tong'd Shakespeare, when I saw thine issue,
I swore Apollo got them, and none other;
Their rosie-tainted features clothed in tissue,
Some heaven-born goddesse said to be their mother.
Rose-cheeckt Adonis with his amber tresses,
Faire fire-hot Venus charming him to love her,
Chaste Lucretia, virgine-like her dresses,
Proud lust-stung Tarquine, seeking still to prove her,
Romeo, Richard, more whose names I know not,
Their sugred tongues and power attractive beauty,
Say they are saints, althogh that saints they shew not,
For thousand vowes to them subjective dutie,
They burn in love thy children Shakspeare let them,
Go wo thy muse more nymphish brood beget them.

27th Epig. 4th Weekc.

The character of Richard had been in part developed in the last parts of King Henry VI., where, Schlegel observes, "his first speeches lead us already to form the most unfavorable prognostications respecting him: he lowers obliquely like a thunder-cloud on the horizon, which gradually approaches nearer and nearer, and first pours out the elements of devastation with which it is charged when it hangs over the heads of mortals.” "The other characters of the drama are of too secondary a nature to excite a powerful sympathy; but in the back ground, the widowed queen Margaret appears as the fury of the past, who calls forth the curse on the future; every calamity which her enemies draw down on each other, is a cordial to her revengeful heart. Other female voices join, from time to time, in the lamentations and imprecations. But Richard is the soul, or rather the demon, of the whole tragedy, and fulfils the promise, which he formerly made, to

set the murderous Machiavel to school.'

Besides the uniform aversion with which he inspires us, he occupies us in the greatest variety of ways, by his profound skill in dissimulation, his wit, his prudence, his presence of mind, his quick activity, and his valor. He fights at last against Richmond like a desperado, and dies the

* This very curious little volume, which is supposed to be unique, is in the possession of Mr. Comb, of Henley. The title is as follows:-" Epigrammes in the oldest Cut and newest Fashion. Atwise seven Houres (in so many Weekes) Studie. No longer (like the Fashion, not unlike to continue. The first seven, John Weever. Sit voluisse sit valuisse. At London printed by V. S. for Thomas Bushele; and are to be sold at his shop, at_the_great north doore of Paules. 1599. 12°." There is a portrait of the author, engraved by Cecill, prefixed. According to the date upon this print, Weever was then twenty-three years old; but he tells us, in some introductory stanzas, that, when he wrote the Epigrams which compose the volume, he was not twenty years old; that he was one

"That twenty twelvemonths yet did never know." Consequently, these Epigrams must have been written in 1595.

[ocr errors]

honorable death of the hero on the field of battle."-But Shakspeare has 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.




EDWARD, Prince of Wales, afterwards

King Edward V.

RICHARD, Duke of York,

GEORGE, Duke of Clarence,

Sons to the King.

RICHARD, Duke of Gloster, afterwards Brothers 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.




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.
MARGARET, Widow of King Henry VI.

Duchess of York, Mother to King Edward IV., Clarence, and


LADY ANNE, Widow of Edward, Prince of Wales, Son to King Henry VI.; afterwards married to the Duke of Gloster.

A young Daughter of Clarence.

Lords, and other Attendants, two Gentlemen, a Pursuivant, Scrivener, Citizens, Murderers, Messengers, Ghosts, Soldiers, &c.

SCENE. England.



SCENE I. London. A Street.


Gloster. Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun1 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.2

Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed3 steeds,
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,—
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber,

To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.

But I,—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.

2 Dances.

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.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable,
That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;—
Why, I, in this weak, piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time;
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun,
And descant on mine own deformity;
And, therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair, well-spoken days,—
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence, and the king,
In deadly hate the one against the other;
And, if king Edward be as true and just,
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed
About a prophecy, which says-that G
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.1
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul! here Clarence comes


Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY. Brother, good day. What means this armed guard, That waits upon your grace?


His majesty,

Tendering my person's safety, hath appointed
This conduct to convey me to the Tower.

Glo. Upon what cause?


Because my name is—George. Glo. Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours; He should, for that, commit your godfathers. O, belike, his majesty hath some intent, That you shall be new christened in the Tower. But what's the matter, Clarence? may I know? Clar. Yea, Richard, when I know; for, I protest,

1 This is from Holinshed.

« AnteriorContinua »