Abbildungen der Seite

O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true fucceeders of each royal house,
By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!
And let their heirs, (God, if thy will be fo,)
Enrich the time to come with fmooth-fac'd peace,
With fmiling plenty, and fair prosperous days!
Abate the edge 3 of traitors, gracious Lord,
That would reduce 4 thefe bloody days again,
And make poor England weep in ftreams of blood!
Let them not live to tafte this land's increase,
That would with treafon wound this fair land's

Now civil wounds are ftopp'd, peace lives again;
That she may long live here, God fay-Amen!


All that divided York and Lancaster,
Divided in their dire divifion,

O now let Richmond and Elizabeth,

The true fucceeders of each royal houfe,

By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!
Let them unite all that York and Lancaster divided.


Abate the edge-] To abate, is to lower, depress, subdue. So, in Coriolanus:

-deliver you, as moft

"Abated captives,-." STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

-reduce-] i. e. bring back; an obfolete fenfe of the word. So, in The goodly Hiftory of the mofte noble and beautiful Ladye Lucres of Scene in Tuskan, and of her louer Eurialus &c. 1560: "The mornynge forfakyng the golden bed of Titan, reduced the defyred day-." STEEVENS.

5 This is one of the moft celebrated of our author's performances; yet I know not whether it has not happened to him as to others, to be praised moft, when praife is not most deserved. That this play has fcenes noble in themselves, and very well contrived to ftrike in the exhibition, cannot be denied. But fome parts are trifling, others fhocking, and fome improbable.

I agree entirely with Dr. Johnson in thinking that this play

from its first exhibition to the present hour has been estimated greatly beyond its merit. From the many allufions to it in books of that age, and the great number of editions it paffed through, I fufpect it was more often reprefented and more admired than any of our author's tragedies. Its popularity perhaps in fome measure arose from the detestation in which Richard's character was juftly held, which must have operated more strongly on those whofe grand fathers might have lived near his time; and from its being patronized by the Queen on the throne, who probably was not a little pleafed at feeing King Henry VII. placed in the only favourable light in which he could have been exhibited on the scene. MALONE.

I moft cordially join with Dr. Johnson and Mr. Malone in their opinions; and yet perhaps they have overlooked one cause of the fuccefs of this tragedy. The part of Richard is, perhaps, beyond all others variegated, and confequently favourable to a judicious performer. It comprehends, indeed, a trait of almoft every fpecies of character on the ftage. The hero, the lover, the ftatesman, the buffoon, the hypocrite, the hardened and repenting finner, &c. are to be found within its compass. No wonder, therefore, that the difcriminating powers of a Burbage, a Garrick, and a Henderson, fhould at different periods have given it a popularity beyond other dramas of the fame author.

Yet the favour with which this tragedy is now received, muft alfo in fome measure be imputed to Mr. Cibber's reformation of it, which, generally confidered, is judicious: for what modern audience would patiently liften to the narrative of Clarence's dream, his fubfequent expoftulation with the Murderers, the prattle of his children, the foliloquy of the Scrivener, the tedious dialogue of the Citizens, the ravings of Margaret, the grofs terms thrown out by the Duchefs of York on Richard, the repeated progrefs to execution, the fuperfluous train of spectres, and other undramatick incumbrances, which must have prevented the more valuable parts of the play from rifing into their prefent effect and confequence ?-The expulfion of languor, therefore, muft atone for fuch remaining want of probability as is infeparable from an hiftorical drama into which the events of fourteen years are irregularly compreffed. STEEVENS.

The Life and Death of King Richard the Third.] The oldest known edition of this tragedy is printed for Andrew Wife, 1597: but Harrington, in his Apologie for Poetrie, written in 1590, and prefixed to the tranflation of Ariofio, fays, that a tragedy of Richard the Third had been acted at Cambridge. His words are, "For tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies, that which was played at St. John's in Cambridge, of Richard the Third,

[ocr errors]

would move, I think, Phalaris the tyrant, and terrifie all tyrannous minded men," &c. He most probably means Shak-` fpeare's; and if fo, we may argue, that there is fome more ancient edition of this play than what I have mentioned; at least this shows how early Shakspeare's play appeared; or if fome other Richard the Third is here alluded to by Harrington, that a play on this subject preceded our author's. T. WARTON.

It appears from the following paffage in the preface to Nashe's Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt, is up, 1596, that a Latin tragedy of King Richard III. had been acted at Trinity College, Cambridge: -or his fellow codfhead, that in the Latine tragedie of King Richard, cried-Ad urbs, ad urbs, ad urbs, when his whole part was no more than-Urbs, urbs, ad arma, ad arma." STEEVENS.


The play on this fubject mentioned by Sir John Harrington in his Apologie for Poetrie, 1591, and sometimes mistaken for Shakfpeare's, was a Latin one, written by Dr. Legge; and acted at St. John's in our univerfity, fome years before 1588, the date of the copy in the Museum. This appears from a better MS. in our library at Emmanuel, with the names of the original performers.

A childish imitation of Dr. Legge's play was written by one Lacy, 1583; which had not been worth mentioning, were they not confounded by Mr. Capell. FARMER.

The Latin play of King Richard III. (MSS. Harl. n. 6926,) has the author's name,-Henry Lacey, and is dated—1586.


Heywood, in his Actor's Vindication, mentions the play of King Richard III. " acted in St. John's Cambridge, fo effentially, that had the tyrant Phalaris beheld his bloody proceedings, it had mollified his heart, and made him relent at fight of his inhuman maffacres." And in the books of the Stationers' Company, June, 19, 1594, Thomas Creede made the following entry : "An enterlude, intitled the tragedie of Richard the Third, wherein is fhown the deathe of Edward the Fourthe, with the fmotheringe of the two princes in the Tower, with the lamentable ende of Shore's wife, and the contention of the two houfes of Lancafter and Yorke." This could not have been the work of Shakspeare, unless he afterwards difmiffed the death of Jane Shore, as an unneceffary incident, when he revised the play. Perhaps, however, it might be fome tranflation of Lacey's play, at the end of the firft Act of which is, "The thowe of the procesion. 1. Tipstaffe. 2. Shore's wife in her petticote, having a taper burning in her hande. 3. The Verger. 4. Querifters. 5. Singing-men. 6. Prebendary. 7. Bifhoppe of London. 8. Citi

zens." There is likewise a Latin fong fung on this occafion, in MS. Harl. 2412. STEEVENS.

The English King Richard III. which was entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and which, it may be prefumed, had been exhibited fome years before, was probably written by the author of The Contention of the Two Houfes of Yorke and Lancafter. MALONE.

I fhall here fubjoin two Differtations, one by Dr. Warburton, and one by Mr. Upton, upon the Vice.


Thus like the formal vice, Iniquity, &c.] As this corrupt reading in the common books hath occafioned our faying fomething of the barbarities of theatrical representations amongst us before the time of Shakspeare, it may not be improper, for a better apprehenfion of this whole, to give the reader fome general account of the rife and progress of the modern stage.

The first form in which the drama appeared in the weft of Europe, after the deftruction of learned Greece and Rome, and that a calm of dulnefs had finished upon letters what the rage of barbarifm had begun, was that of the Mysteries. These were the fashionable and favourite diverfions of all ranks of people both in France, Spain, and England. In which laft place, as we learn by Stow, they were in ule about the time of Richard the fecond and Henry the fourth. As to Italy, by what I can find, the first rudiments of their ftage, with regard to the matter, were prophane fubjects, and, with regard to the form, a corruption of the ancient mimes and attellanes: by which means they got fooner into the right road than their neighbours; having had regular plays amongst them wrote as early as the fifteenth century.

As to thefe mysteries, they were, as their name speaks them, a representation of fome fcripture-ftory, to the life as may be feen from the following palage in an old French hiftory, intitled, La Chronique de Metz composée par le curé de St. Euchaire; which will give the reader no bad idea of the furprising abfurdity of thefe ftrange reprefentations: "L'an 1437 le 3 Juillet (says the honeft Chronicler,) fut fait le Jeu de la Pallion de N. S. en la plaine de Veximiel. Et fut Dieu un fire appellé Seigneur Nicolle Dom Neufchaftel, lequel etoit Curé de St. Victour de Metz, lequel fut prefque mort en la Croix, s'il ne fût eté fecourus ; & convient qu'un autre Prêtre fut mis en la Croix pour parfaire le Perfonnage du Crucifiment pour ce jour; & le lendemain le dit Curé de St. Victour parfit la Resurrection, et fit trés hautement

fon perfonage; & dura le dit Jeu- -Et autre Prêtre qui s' appelloit Mre. Jean de Nicey, qui eftoit Chapelain de Metrange, fut Judas lequel fut prefque mort en pendent, car le cuer li faillit, et fut bien hâtivement dependu & porté en Voye. Et etoit la bouche d'Enfer trefbien faite; car elle ouvroit & clooit, quand les Diables y vouloient entrer & iffer; & avoit deux grofs Culs d'Acier," &c. Alluding to this kind of reprefentations Archbishop Harfnet, in his Declaration of Popish Impostures, p. 71, fays: "The little children were never fo afraid of Hellmouth in the old plays, painted with great gang teeth, ftaring eyes, and foul bottle nofe." Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall, gives a fuller description of them in thefe words, "The Guary Miracle, in English a Miracle Play, is a kind of interlude compiled in Cornish out of fome fcripture hiftory. For reprefenting it, they raise an earthen amphitheatre in fome open field, having the diameter of an inclofed playne, fome 40 or 50 foot. The country people flock from all fides many miles off, to hear and fee it. For they have therein devils and devices, to delight as well the eye as the ear. The players conne not their parts without book, but are prompted by one called the ordinary, who followeth at their back with the book in his hand," &c. &c. There was always a droll or buffoon in these mysteries, to make the people mirth with his fufferings or abfurdities and they could think of no better a perfonage to fuftain this part than the devil himself. Even in the mystery of the Paffion mentioned above, it was contrived to make him ridiculous. Which circumftance is hinted at by Shakspeare (who had frequent allufions to thefe things) in The Taming of the Shrew, where one of the players afks for a little vinegar, (as a property) to make the devil roar.* For after the sponge with the gall and vinegar had been employed in the reprefentation, they used to clap it to the nofe of the devil; which making him roar, as if it had been holy-water, afforded infinite diverfion to the people. So that vinegar in the old farces, was always afterwards in ufe to torment their devil. We have divers old English proverbs, in which the devil is reprefented as acting or fuffering ridiculoufly and abfurdly, which all arofe from the part he bore in thefe mysteries, as in that, for instance, of-Great Cry and little Wool, as the Devil faid when he Sheered his Hogs. For the fheep-fhearing of Nabal being reprefented in the mystery of David and Abigail, and the devil always attending Nabal, was made to imitate it by fhearing a hog. This kind of abfurdity, as it is the propereft to create laughter, was the subject of the ridiculous in the ancient mimes,

This is not in Shakspeare's play, but in the old play entitled The Taming of a Shrew. MALONE.


M m

« ZurückWeiter »