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Wear it, enjoy it, and make much of it.
Richm. Great God of heaven, say, amen, to all !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 slain on either side ?
Stan. John duke of Norfolk, Walter lord Ferrers, Sir Robert Brakenbury, and sir William Brandon.
Richm. Inter their bodies as becomes their births. Proclaim a pardon to the soldiers fled, That in submission will return to us; And then, as we have ta’en the sacrament,8 We will unite the white rose and the red :Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction, That long hath frown'd upon their enmity! What traitor hears me, and says not,—amen? England hath long been mad, and scarr'd herself; The brother blindly shed the brother's blood, The father rashly slaughter’d his own son, The son, compelld, been butcher to the sire ;* All this divided York and Lancaster, Divided, in their dire division.' O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth, The true succeeders of each royal house, By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!
7 But, tell me first, &c.] The word-first, was introduced by Sir Thomas Hanmer, to complete the verse. Steevens.
- as we have ta'en the sacrament, ] So, in Holinshed, p. 745: “ The earle himselfe first tooke a corporall oth on his honor, promising that incontinent after he shuld be possessed 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. * The father rashly
slaughter'd his own son, &c.] See King Henry VI, P. III, pages 284 10 290, inclusive. Am. Ed. 9 All this divided York and Lancaster,
Divided, in their dire division.] I think the passage will be somewhat improved by a slight alteration:
All that divided York and Lancaster,
By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!
And let their heirs, (God, if thy will be so,)
1 Abate the edge -] To abate, is to lower, depress, subdue. So, in Coriolanus :
deliver you, as most
- reluce -] i.e. bring back; an obsolete sense of the word. So, in The goodly History of the moste noble and beautiful Ladye Lucres of Scene in Tuskan, and of her louer Eurialus &c. 1560: “The mornynge forsakyng the golden bed of Titan, reduced the desyred day -.” Steevens.
3 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 most, when praise is not most deserved. That this play has scenes noble in themselves, and very well contrived to strike in the exhibition, cannot be denied.
But some parts are trifling, others shocking, and some improbable.
Fohnson. 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 allusions to it in books of that age, and the great number of editions it passed through, I suspect it was more often represented and more adinired than any of our author's tragedies. Its popularity perhaps in some measure arose from the detestation in which Richard's character was justly beld, which must have operated more strongly on those whose 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 scene. Malone.
I most cordially join with Dr. Johnson and Mr. Malone in their opinions; and yet perhaps they have overlooked one cause of the success of this tragedy. The part of Richard is, perhaps, beyond all others variegated, and consequently favourable to a judicious performer. It comprehends, indeed, a trait of almost every species of character on the stage. The hero, the lover, the statesman, the buffoon, the hypocrite, the hardened and repenting sinner, &c. are to be found within its compass. No won. der, therefore, that the discriminating powers of a Burbage, a Garrick, and a Henderson, should at different periods have given it a popularity beyond other dramas of the same 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 considered, is judicious : for what modern audience would patiently listen to the narrative of Clarence's dream, his subsequent expostulation with the Murderers, the prattle of bis children, the soliloquy of the Scrivener, the tedious dialogue of the Citizens, the ravings of Margaret, the gross terms thrown out by the Duchess of York on Richard, the repeated progress to execution, the superfluous train of spectres, and other undrama. tic incumbrances, which must have prevented the more valuable parts of the play from rising into their present effect and consequence? - The expulsion of languor, therefore, must atone for such remaining want of probability as is inseparable from an his. torical drama into which the events of fourteen years are irregu. larly compressed. Steevens.
The Life and Death of King Richard the Third.] The oldest known edition of this tragedy is printed for Andrew Wise, 1597: but Harrington, in his Apologie for Poetrie, written in 1590, and prefixed to the translation of Ariostu, says, 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, would move, I think, Phalaris the tyrant, and terrifie all tyrannous minded men,” &c. He most probably means Shakspeare's; and if so, we may arglie, that there is some more ancient edition of this play than what I have mentioned; at least this show's how early Shakspeare's play appeared; or if some 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 passage 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 codshead, that 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 arina.” Steevens.
The play on this subject mentioned by Sir John Harrington in his Apologie for Poetrie, 1591, and sometimes mistaken for Shak. speare's, was a Latin one, written by Dr. Legge; and acted at St. John's in our university, some years before 1588, the date of the copy in the Museum. This appears from a better MS. in our library at Einmanuel, 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.
Tyrwhitt Heywood in his Actor's Vindication, mentions the play of King Richard III, “ acted in St. John's, Cambridge, so essentially, that had the tyrant Phalaris beheld his bloody proceedings, it had mol. lified his heart, and made him relent in sight of his inhuman massacres.” And in the bookes of the Stationers' Company, June 19, 1594, Thomas Creede made the following entry: “ An enterlude, intitled the tragedie of Richard the Third, wherein it is shown the deathe of Edward the Fourthe, with the smotheringe of the two princes in the Tower, with the lamentable ende of Shore's wife, and the contention of the two houses of Lancaster and Yorke.” This could not have been the work of Shakspeare, unless he afterwards dismissed the death of Jane Shore, as an unnecessary incident, when he revised the play. Perhaps, however, it might be some translation of Lacey's play, at the end of the first Act of which is, “ The showe of the procession. 1. Tipstaffe. 2. Shore's wife in her petticote, having a taper burning in her hande. 3. The Verger. 4. Queristers. 5. Singing-men. 6. Prebendary. 7. Bishoppe of London. 8. Citizens.” There is likewise a Latin song sung on this occasion, in MS. Harl. 2412.
Steevens. The English King Richard III, which was entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and which, it may be presumed, had been exhibited some years before, was probably written by the author of The Contention of the Two Houses of Yorke and Lancaster. Malone.
I shall here subjoin two Dissertations, one by Dr. Warburton,
and one by Mr. Upton, upon the Vice.
ACT III.....SCENE I. Thus like the formal vice, Iniquity, &c.] As this corrupt reading in the common books hath occasioned our saying something of the barbarities of theatrical representations amongst us before the time of Shakspeare, it may not be improper, for a better apprehension of this whole matter, to give the reader'some general account of the rise and progress of the modern stage.
The first form in which the drama appeared in the west of Eu. rope, after the destruction of learned Greece and Rome, and that a calm of dulness had finished upon letters what the rage of barbarism had begun, was that of the Mysteries. These were the fashionable and favourite diversions of all ranks of people in France, Spain, and England. In which last place, as we learn by Stow, they were in use about the time of Richard the second and Henry the fourth. As to Italy, by what I can find, the first rudiments of their stage, with regard to the matter, were propbane subjects, and, with regard to the form, a corruption of the ancient mimes and attellanes : by which means they got sooner into the right road than their neighbours; having had regular plays amongst them wrote as early as the fifteenth century.
As to these mysteries, they were, as their name speaks them, a representation of some scripture-story, to the life: as may be seen from the following passage in an old French history, intitled,
La Chronique de Metz composée par le curé de St. Euchaire; which will give the reader no bad idea of the surprising absurdity of these strange representations : “L'an 1437 le 3 Juillet (says the honest Chronicler) fut fait le Jeu de la Passion de N. S. en la plaine de Veximiel. Et fut Dieu un sire appellé Seigneur Nicolle Dom Neufchastel, lequel etoit Curé de St. Victour de Metz, lequel fut presque mort en la Croix, s'il ne fût eté secourus; et convient qu'un autre Prêtre fut mis en la Croix pour parfaire le Personnage du Crucifiment pour ce jour; et le lendemain le dit Curé de St. Victour parfit la Resurrection, et fit trés hautement son personage ; et dura le dit Jeu—-Et autre Prêtre qui s' appelloit Mre. Jean de Nicey, qui estoit Chapelain de Metrange, fut Judas : lequel fut presque 'mort en pendent, car le cuer li faillit, et fut bien hâtivement dependu et porté en Voye. Et etoit la bouche d'Enfer tresbien faite; car elle ouvroit et clooit, quand les Diables y vouloient entrer et isser; et avoit deux gross Culs d'Acier,” &c. Alluding to this kind of representations Archbishop Harsnet, in his Declaration of Popish impostures, p. 71, says: “ The little children were never so afraid of Hell-mouth in the old plays, painted with great gang teeth, staring eyes, and foul bottle nose.” Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall, gives a fuller description of them in these words, “ The Guary Miracle, in English a Miracle play, is a kind of interlude compiled in Corvish out of some scripture history. For representing it, they raise an earthen amphitheatre in some open field, having the diameter of an inclosed playne, some 40 or 50 foot. The country people flock from all sides many miles off, to hear and see 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 inirth with his sufferings or absurdities: and they could think of ro better a personage to sustain this part than the devil himself. Even in the mystery of the Passion mentioned above, it was con. trived to make him ridiculous. Which circumstance is hinted at by Shakspeare (who had frequent allusions to these things) in The Taming of the Shrew, where one of the players asks 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 representation, they used to clap it to the nose of the devil; which making him roar, as if it had been holy-water, afforded infinite diversion to the people. So that vinegar in the old farces, was al. ways afterwards in use to torment their devil. We have divers old English proverbs, in which the devil is represented as acting or suffering ridiculously and absurdly, which all arose from the part he bore in these mysteries, as in that, for instance, of_Great
* This is not in Shakspeare's play, but in the old play entitled The Taming of a Shrew. Malone.