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K. RICH. A horfe! a horfe !5 my kingdom for a
CATE. Withdraw, my lord, I'll help you to a horfe.
K. RICH. Slave, I have fet my life upon a caft, And I will ftand the hazard of the die: I think, there be fix Richmonds in the field; Five have I flain to-day, instead of him :
A horfe! a horfe! In The Battle of Alcazar, 1594, the Moor calls out in the fame manner :
"A horfe, a horse, villain a horse!
"That I may take the river ftraight, and fly!
Here is a horfe, my lord,
"As fwiftly pac'd as Pegafus."
This paffage in Shakspeare appears to have been imitated by feveral of the old writers, if not ftolen. So, Heywood, in the Second Part of his Iron Age, 1632:
a horse, a horse!
"Ten kingdoms for a horfe to enter Troy." STEEVENS. Marfton feems to have imitated this line in his Satires, 1599: "A man, a man, a kingdom for a man!" MALONE. This line is introduced into Marston's What you will, A& II. fc. i. 4to. 1607 :
"Ha! he mounts Chirall on the wings of fame.
Five have I flain to-day, instead of him :] Shakspeare had employed this incident with historical propriety in The First Part of King Henry IV. STEEVENS.
Shakspeare had good ground for this poetical exaggeration ; Richard, according to Polydore Virgil, was determined, if poffible, to engage with Richmond in fingle combat. [See p. 521, 1.5.] For this purpofe he rode furiously to that quarter of the field where the Earl was; attacked his ftandard-bearer, Sir William Brandon, and killed him; then affaulted Sir John Cheny, whom he overthrew having thus at length cleared his way to his an
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse !"
Alarums. Enter King RICHARD and RICHMOND; and exeunt, fighting. Retreat, and flourish. Then enter RICHMOND, STANLEY, bearing the Crown, with divers other Lords, and Forces.
RICHM. God, and your arms, be prais'd, victorious friends;
The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead.
STAN. Courageous Richmond, well haft thou acquit thee!
Lo, here, this long-ufurped royalty,
From the dead temples of this bloody wretch
tagonist, he engaged in fingle combat with him, and probably would have been victorious, but that at that inftant Sir William Stanley with three thoufand men joined Richmond's army, and the royal forces fled with great precipitation. Richard was foon afterwards overpowered by numbers, and fell, fighting bravely to the last moment. MALONE.
7 A horfe! a horfe !] Some inquiry hath been made for the firft performers of the capital characters of Shakspeare.
We learn, that Burbage, the aiter Rofcius of Camden, was the original Richard, from a paffage in the poems of Bishop Corbet; who introduced his hoft at Bosworth describing the battle:
"But when he would have faid king Richard died,
of this bloody wretch-] It is not neceffary to fuppofe that Richmond points to the dead body of Richard, when he fpeaks of him. According to an ancient idiom in our language, the demonstrative pronoun is often used instead of the prepofitive article. So, in King Henry IV. P. I:
but for thefe vile guns
"He would himfelf have been a foldier." STEEVENS.
say, amen, to
RICHM. Great God of heaven, say,
But, tell me first,' is young George Stanley living?
STAN. He is, my lord, and safe in Leicester town; Whither, if it please you, we may now withdraw us. RICHM. What men of name are flain on either
STAN. John duke of Norfolk, Walter lord Ferrers,
Sir Robert Brakenbury, and fir William Brandon. RICHM. Inter their bodies as becomes their births.
Proclaim a pardon to the foldiers fled,
And then, as we have ta'en the facrament,1
9 But, tell me firft, &c.] The word-firft, was introduced by Sir Thomas Hanmer, to complete the verse. STEEVENS.
as we have ta'en the facrament,] So, in Holinshed, p. 745: "The earle himselfe first tooke a corporall oth on his honor, promifing that incontinent after he fhuld be poffeffed of the crowne and dignitie of the realme of England, he would be conjoined in matrimonie with the ladie Elizabeth, daughter to king Edward the fourth." STEEVENS.
"All this divided York and Lancaster,
Divided, in their dire divifion.] I think the paffage will be fomewhat improved by a flight alteration :
O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,
Now civil wounds are stopp'd, peace lives again; That the may long live here, God fay-Amen!
All that divided York and Lancaster,
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.
3 Abate the edge-] To abate, is to lower, deprefs, fubdue. So, in Coriolanus:
deliver you, as most
"Abated captives,-." STEEVENS.
- reduce] i. e. bring back; an obsolete sense 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 most 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.
JOHNSON: 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 represented and more admired than any of our author's tragedies. Its popularity perhaps in fome measure arose from the deteftation in which Richard's character was juftly held, which must have operated more ftrongly 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 pleased at seeing King Henry VII. placed in the only favourable light in which he could have been exhibited on the fcene. 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 almost every fpecies of character on the stage. 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, must also in some 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 progress to execution, the fuperfluous train of spectres, and other undramatick incumbrances, which muft 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 translation of Ariofto, 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,