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Thy prime of manhood, daring, bold and venturous ;
True hope is swift, and flies with swallows wings; Kings it makes gods; and meaner creatures kings,
SCENE III. A fine Evening. The weary fun hath made a golden fet, And, by the bright tract of his fiery car, Gives signal of a goodly day to·morrow.
SCENE IV. Day-break.
eyes : Sleeping and waking, oh, defend me ftill!
Scene V. Richard Aarting out of his Dream,
Give me another horse--bind up my wounds. Have mercy, Jefu-Soft, I did but dream,
Ocoward conscience ! how dost thou afflict me?
SCENE VỊI. Conscience.
Conscience is but a word that cowards use, Devis’d at first to keep the strong in awe.
Richard before the Battle. A thousand hearts are great within
of fiery dragons, Upon them (11) victory fits on our helms!
SCENE VIII. Alarum. Enter King Richard.
upon a cast,
(11) Victory, &c.] The image here is fine and noble: Miltor defcribing Saian, speaks thus sublimely,
-His stature reach'd the skies, and on his crest,
-At his right hand victory
B. 6. 762.
THE historical facts of this play, (says Mrs. Lenox) are all taken from Holing And, and the characters all closely copied from that author ; that of Rickard the Third has been censured as monstrous, the picture of a fiend and not a man; and too exquisitely wicked to be represented on the stage. 'Tis certain, however, that Shakespear has not aggravated the vices and cruelty of this prince; he paints him such as history has tranf mitted him to us; and if his character shocks us more in the fetne than the story, 'tis because the colours of the poet are more lively, his expreffion stronger, and the lights he shews him in more diversified; but the subject in both is the same. The qualities of his mind and person are thus summed up by Holingshed.
* As he was small and little of stature, so was he of body greatly-deformed, the one shoulder higher than the other, his face was small, but his countenance cruel, and such that the first aspect a man would judge it to smell and favour of malice, fraud and deceit ; when he stood musing, he would bite and chaw his nether lip; as who said, that his fierce nature always chafed, stirred and was ever unquiet : beside, that the dagger which he wore, he would (when he studied) with his hand pluck up and dusvn in the sheath to the midst, never drawing it fully out. He was of a ready, pregnant, and quick wit, wielie to feire, and apt to dissemble: he had a proud mind, and an arrogant stomach, the which accompanied him even to his death, rather choosing to suffer the same by dint of sword, than being forsaken and left helpless of his unfaithful companions, to preserve by cowardlie Aight, such a frail and uncertain life, which by malice, sickness, or condign punihment, was like shortly to come to confusion.”
This character is the very fame with that drawn of him by Shakespear ; but the latter is made more striking by the wonderful propriety of the manners and sentiments he every where, throughout the play, attributes to him. If Shakespear is in any instance to be blamed for keeping too close to the historian, it is for dignifying the last inoments of this bloody tyrant with such shining proofs of fortitude and valour, as, notwithstanding the deteftation we conceived at his cruelties; must force from us an involuntary arplause. The history tells us he fought bravely in that battle which decided his fate, and, overpowered as he was by numbers, disdained to save his life by flight.
This (says Johnson) 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 mort, when praise is not most deserved. That this play has scenes noble in them. selves, and very well contrived to Itrike in the exhibition, canpot be denied. But some parts are trifling, others Thocking, and some improbable.
This tragedy (says Theobald), though it is called the Life and Death of this Prince, comprises, at most, but the last eight years of his time; for it opens with George duke of Clarence being clapped up in the Tower, which happened in the beginning of the year 1477; and closes with the death of Richard at Bosworth. field, which battle was fought on 22d of August, in the year 1485.
OVE is a smoke rais'd with the fume of fighs,
Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers tears ;
SCENE V. On Dreams,
(1) Fancy's, &c.] This has been read Fairies, but Mr. Ware burton altered it to Fancy: the lines following.
Which are the children of an idle brain
Begot of nothing but vain phantasy, evidently prove the truth of the reading. Beside, as she is the qucen of the fairies, it would rather be beneath her dignity to be their midwife too. The word shape is used in the next line very licentiously for form, fise, or magnitude.