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Life and Death of King Richard the Third.
" Tuis (says Dr. Johnson) is one of the most ce-throne. To forward his wicked designs, he inlebrated of our author's performances; yet I fuses a deadly hatred for each other into the know not whether it has not happened to him minds of Edward and Clarence; and, on a preas to others, to be praised most, when praise is tended prophetic rumour being spread, that G not most deserved. That this play has scenes should murder bis heirs, the king imprisons noble in themselves, and very well contrived to his brother George, Duke of Clarence, in the strike in the exhibition, cannot be denied. But Tower. After feigning sorrow for Edward's some parts are trifling, others shocking, and cruelty, and undertaking, in order to disguise some improbable." In this opinion, though his secret purpose, to move the king in ClaMason disallows the latter part, Malone en- rence's behalf, laying the blame on the queen tirely agrees, adding," from the many allu- and her family, Richard employs two mursions to it in books of that age, and the great derers fora large reward to assassinate Clarence number of editions it passed through, I suspect in the Tower, which they accomplish ere the it was more often represented and more admired remission of his sentence, which the king had than any of our author's tragedies." He thought pronounced, could reach him. The king soon its popularity might arise through its being after this dies, and his son Edward is brought patronized by the queen, who was pleased at from Ludlow to be crowned in London. Glouseeing Hery VII. placed in the only favour. cester, with Buckingham and others in his able light in which he could be exhibited, and favour, had followed Lord Rivers and Grey, the the great detestation in which King Richard's brother and son of the queen(they having gone character was held by those whose great-grand- with a small retinue to conduct the prince), fathers might have lived in his day. With and had sent them, together with Sir Thomas both these commentators Steevens cordially Vaughan, prisoners to Pomfret Castle. The agrees; " Yet perhaps (says he) they have queen, on hearing this, flies with Richard, the overlooked one cause of the success of this young Duke of York, to the sanctuary. By the tragedy. The part of Richard is, perhaps, be- advice of his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, yond all others variegated, and consequently the prince with his brother, the Duke of York favourable to a judicious performer. It com- (who had been taken by force from his mother), prehends, indeed, a trait of almost every species retires to the Tower, tó await, as he was led to of character on the stage,-the hero, the lover, suppose, his coronation. Gloucester then, by the statesman, the buffoon, the hypocrite, the fraud, cruelty, and hypocrisy, hastens to obtain hardened and repenting sinner, &c. No wonder, his object, favoured by the Duke of Buckingthen, that the discriminating powers of a Bar- ham and others. Lords Rivers, Grey, and Sir bage, a Garrick, and a Henderson, should at Thomas Vaughan, are put to death in their different periods have given it a popularity prison, and this being told to the Marqness of beyond other dramas of the same author." So Hastings (who was hostile to the kindred of there may be added (with all his faults and bad the queen, through whom he had been formerly taste) the efforts of Kean in our own days. imprisoned in the Tower), serves as a prelude But Steevens observes in conclusion, that its to their sounding him with respect to the choice success with a modern andience must in a of Gloster for their king; he, however, stedmeasure be attributed to Cibber's judicious re- fastly refuses to forsake the son of the late formation of some scenes. It appears that king, and for this he is speedily dispatched : several dramas had been written on this sub- high treason is given out as being the cause of ject before Shakspeare attempted it. One, so hasty a deed. Buckingham's first attempt called The Legend of King Richard III., by to gain a people's favour for his master, is made Francis Seagers, was printed in editions of the by submitting, that both the deceased king and Mirroup for Magistrates, 1559, 1575, and 1587; the prince his son were illegitimate, which is but Malone thinks Shakspeare was not in- unavailing: but afterwards the citizens, headed debted to it. Steevens says, that Shakspeare's by the Lord Mayor,coming to Baynard's Castle, was first entered at Stationers' Hall, Oct. 20, find Gloster engaged in prayer, between two 1597, by Andrew Wise, under the title of The bishops, from which Buckingham takes opporTragedie of King Richard the Third, with the tunity to expatiate upon his piety, in opposition Death of the Duke of Clarence. According to to the licentious mode of living adopted by his Theobald, it embraces a period of eight years, brother Edward, together with other artful commencing with the imprisonment of Clarence, words, till at last they give their voice in favour A.D. 1577, and ending with the death of Richard of Gloster; and Buckingham, uninterrupted, at Bosworth field, which battle was fought, salutes him with the title of King of England. August 22, 1485; but in this he was mistaken, Being now seated on the throne, his tirst care for it embraces, as Malone justly observes, a is to rid himself of the two princes in the period of fourteen years, beginning with the Tower. Buckingham hesitates to obey his murder of Henry VI.(related in scene ii.) which, king in this : but Richard finds a willing execuaccording to the received account, happened tioner in Tyrrel, who, on the promise of adMay 21, 1471. Malone imagined it to have vancement, smothers the innocent objects of the been written in the year it was first published. king's envy. Further to secure his usurped THE PLOT.
power, he conceals the son, and meanly marries
the daughter of Clarence; then murders his The scene opens in London, with a soliloquy wife Anne, widow of Edward, Priuce of Wales, by Richard Duke of Gloucester, who, unable to and daughter of Warwick, and is upon the point enjoy it, is devising means to disturb that peace of marrying Elizabeth, daughter of the queen which followed his brother's accession to the (widow of Edward IV.), when he is called away
to moet Richmond, a descendant of the house, which increases as ne marches through the of Lancaster, who had been residing in Bretagne. country, until he arrives near Leicester. Here Him, Dorset, son of the queen, had incited to Richard comes up with him. On the night dethrone the tyrant, and take upon himself the previous to the battle of Bosworth Field, the government. Buckinghani, who had been pro-ghosts of those whom he had murdered appear nised the earldom of Hereford, with all the to Richard, and foretell his downfall. On the moveable property of the late king, as the re- morrow he is killed by Richmond, who then ward of his services in placing Richard on the proceeds to London, in order to receive the throne, on being refused, raises some forces in crown, and to establish his right by marrying Wales, to join Richmond ; but these being dis- Elizabeth, daughter of the widow of Edward persed by sudden floods, he is taken prisoner, IV., thus uniting the long-divided houses of and executed at Salisbury. Richmond, landing York and Lancaster. at Milford Haven, collects a formidable army,
King Brurn the Gighth.
In this drama, Steerens observes, “ Shakspeare was captivated. Under pretence of there being has deviated from history in placing the death no likelihood of his having any male issue by of Queen Katharine before the birth of Eliza- his present queen, a divorce is decreed, and in beth, for in fact Katharine did not die till 1626." | Katharine is allotted the title of Princess It embraces a period of twelve years, beginning Decager. The king, without the knowledge with the twelfth of Henry's reign, 1521, and of Wolsey, privately marries Anne Bullen; ending with the christening of Elizabeth in whilst he, fearful of such an event, writes to 1533. Malone believed it was written A.D. the pope to delay the judgment of the divorce, 1601.
for that the king was (he said) entangled in
affections towards “a creature of the queen's." THE PLOT.
This letter miscarries, and falls into the hands The scene opens in London, with a dialogue of the king. Awakened by this, as well as by between the Dukes of Norfolk and Buckingham, seeing an inventory of the immense property in which the latter expresses lois detestation which Wolsey had amassed, in order to obtain, of the pride and power of Cardinal Wolsey, at some future period, the popedom, and incited who has raised himself, by his own arts, to a by the jealousy of the nobles, he discards his rank inferior only to that of the king himself. favourite, and elects others in his room. WolWolsey, conscious of the enmity entertained sey, full of grief and repentance, dies in the towards him, takes opportunity (aided by a abbey of Leicester. Then follows the hatred discarded surveyor, and other menials of the and accusations in council of Gardiner, Bishop duke) to accuse Buckingham, and finally to of Winchester, against Cranmer, Archbishop obtain his condemnation, as a traitor: which of Canterbury: the former supports his charges heightens the hatred of the other nobles against on the ground of Cranmer's spreading new dochim. The people, also, complain of the heavy trines, and thereby creating mischief amongst burdens which are laid upon them in conse- the people. Upon being admitted to an hearquence of a splendid tournament made by the ing, however, Gardiner is, in some degree, instrumentality of Wolsey, on occasion of a silenced by the accused showing the king's peace being concluded with France. The car- seal, and, shortly afterwards, the king himself dinal is aiming at the divorce of Queen Kath-enters, and commands & reconciliation; and arine, which he endeavours to effect, in revenge then appoints Cranmer godfather to his daughfor the King of Spain having refused him the ter by Anne Bullen: and the play concludes archbishopric of Toledo. This proposal King by that prelate's prophecy of the blessings Henry listens to, baving seen, at an entertain which should be spread through the land, in ment given by the cardinal, Anne Bullen, maid the prosperous reign of the future Queen of honour to the queen, with whose charms he Elizabeth.
Troilus and Cressida.
"Tus play (says Dr. Johnson) is more cor- The comic characters seem to have been the rectly written than most of Shakspeare's com- favourites of the writer ; they are of the supositions, but it is not one of those in which perficial kind, and exhibit more of manners either the extent of his views, or elevation of than of nature ; but they are copiously filled his fancy, is fully displayed. As the story and powerfully impressed. Shakspeare has in abounded with materials, he has exerted little his story followed, for the greater part, the old invention; but he has diversified his charac- book of Caxton, which was then very popular; ters with great variety, and preserved them but the character of Thersites, of which is with great exactness. His vicious characters makes no mention, is a proof that this play was disgust but cannot corrupt, for both Cressida written after Chapman had published his verand Pandarus are detested and contemned.sion of Homer."
Malone informs us, that Dryden and Pope and recommending him to Cressida, who, albith declared the story of Trolus and Cressida though she
loves 'Froilus, hides her passion for was originally written by Lollius, historiogra- a while. The Greeks had already besieged pher of Urbino, in Italy, an old Lombard actor, Troy for seven years, in order to revenge the of whom Gascoigne speaks in Dan Bartholomewe, abduction of Helen hy Paris, wife of Menelaus ; his first triumph: the first “declares it to have when, as they are sitting in council, a challenge been written in Latin verse, and that Chaucer is brought from Hector by Æneas, to any of translated it. Chaucer made the loves of Troilus the Grecians who will dare to meet him on the and Cressida famous, which very probably might morrow. Soon after this, Troilus and Cressida have been Shakspeare's inducement to try their vow eternal fidelity, to the great joy of the fortune on the stage. Shakspeare received the uncle ; but Calchas, a Trojan priest, and father greatest part of his materials for the structure of Cressida, having left his countrymen, to take of this play from the Troye Book of Lydgate, part with the Greeks, demands, as a recompense who was little more than a translator of Guido for his services, the liberation of Antenor, a of Columpna, who was of Messina in Sicily. Trojan commander, who had been taken priGuido wrote his History of Troy in Latin, after soner. This is granted on condition of his Dictys Cretensis; and Dares Phrygius, in daughter Cressida being sent in exchange. 1287, is often referred to as an anthority by Calchas agrees to this, and Diomedes is sent to our chronicler, Grafton. His work was pub- Troy, taking with him Antenor, and bearing lished at Cologne, in 1477, again 1480; and at word at the same time that Ajax accepts the Strasburgh 1486, and 1489." Before this play," challenge of Hector. Achilles had long refused says Pope," of Truilus and Cressida, printed in to join the Grecian army, having a quarrel with 1609, is a bookseller's preface, showing that Agamemnop; but, on hearing that Ajax is first impression to have been before the play about to fight Hector, he expresses a wish that, had been acted, and that it was without Shak- after the combat, Hector should be invited to speare's knowledge." “We may learn from the Grecian tents. The engagement between this preface," observes Steevens, that the ori- the two heroes gives opportunity for the display ginal proprietors of Shakspeare's plays thought of Hector's generosity : for in a short time it to their interest to keep them unprinted." their arms are by his wish laid down, and he See I. Heywood's preface to the English Tra- embraces Ajax, regarding him not as hisenemy, veller, 1633. Dryden thought this to have but as his cousin-german. Hector is, according been one of Shakspeare's first plays; but, from to the desire of Achilles, invited to the Grecian the before-named preface and the number of camp: here, unarmed, he is viewed by that observations, both moral and politic, with which insolent warrior, and is provoked by him to it abounds, Pope thought it one of his last. give a challenge for a meeting on the following Farmer found it in one copy of the first folio, day. Achilles proposes to enervate Hector and Steevens in at least twenty. The first adds, with wine at a banquet, so that he may be an "it entirely differs from the copy in the second easier prey, at the approaching combat. Here, folio." " Lydgate's Troye Booke," says Steevens, also, Troilus sees Cressida in her father's tent, was printed by Pynson, 1913." In the books bestowing on Diomedes the sleeve which he of the Stationers' Company, anno 1581, is en had given her as a pledge of their love, before tered “ a proper ballad, dialogue-wise, between she was taken from Troy. He vows revenge Trolus and Cressida," Again, Feb. 7, 1602: upon his rival, and on the morrow engages with * the booke of Troilus and Cressida, as it is acted him in single fight. Hector, against the earnest by my Lord Chamberlain's men.' The first is wish of his wife and parents, and in opposition in the name of Edward White, the second in to the ill-boding prophecies of his sister, Casthat of M. Roberts. It was again entered Jan. sandra, seeks the field of battle, where, after 28, 1608, by Richard Bonian and Henry Whal- slaying a multitude of enemies, he is killed at ley," a booke called the History of Troilus and the close of the day by Achilles and his myrCressida." According to Malone, the entry in midons. 1608 and 9 was made by the booksellers, for
MORAL whom this play was published in 1609. He conceived it to have been written A.D. 1602. In this play, we have before us the folly of THE PLOT.
nation warring against nation without sufficient
cause, and the misery they thereby entail upon The scene opens in Troy, with a dialogue each other; and, in the despicable conduct of between Pandarus, the uncle of Cressida, and Achilles and other heroes, both Trojan and Troilus, son of Priam, her lover. Pandarus Grecian, we learn, that they are but human, busies himself in fanning the flame of Troilus, I and, like other men, have their frailties.
Timon of Athens.
* This play of Timon," says Dr. Johnson, " is between a painter, a poet, a jeweller, a mera domestic tragedy, and therefore strongly fas-chant, and others, who meet together in Timon's tens on the attention of the reader. In the plan hall, each for the purpose of disposing of some there is not much art, but the incidents are article, for which he expects a liberal price at natural, and the characters various and exact." | the hands of Timon, who is courted and flattered THE PLOT.
by all, except A pemantus, a churlish philoso
pher, on account of his extravagant liberality The scene opens at Athens, with a dialogue and bounty. The philosopher loses no opportunity of ridiculing and upbraiding Timon's | senators hold a parley with him, entreat him riotous mode of living, and predicting its speedy to forego hostilities, and promise thereupon to and ruinous termination. Awakened at length grant whatever he demands. He consents, and by Flavius, his steward, to a sense of his cir- insists on the sacrifice of his own and Timon's cumscribed and decreasing means, and ha-1 enemies. At the instant the senators descend rassed by his clamorous creditors, Timon re- to open the gates to Alcibiades, a soldier arrives solves to try the sincerity of those friends who with the news of Timon's death; and an imhad so often been the objects of his bounty, by pression of his fanciful epitaph, which being borrowing money of them, and is chagrined to read by Alcibiades, the whole concludes with find himself refused by all, under various ex- his regrets for his noble friend, and entry into cuses. Timon, frantic with rage at their in the city. gratitude, in order to revenge himself, invites
MORAL. them to a banquet at his house, where, being seated, the dishes are uncovered, and found to The catastrophe of this play exhibits a very contain nothing but warm water, which he throws powerful warning in the fate of Timon, who, in their faces, and then, with upbraidings, instead of improving from his former folly, falls drives them from his doors; retiring himself into an equally dangerous extreme.
In his to the woods, where he becomes a miserable early life we are taught, that ostentatious misanthrope. At the same time Alcibiades, liberality, though it scatters bounty, confers an Athenian general and the friend of Timon, no benefits,-though it buys flattery, secures is banished, for opposing the will of the senate, not friendship. In his latter days, we are inin the conviction of a man for manslaughter structed not to seek in corroding solitude, that Alcibiades marches against Athens with a peace of mind which the conviction of his own strong force, in order to revenge his wrongs : errors, and those of the parasites that surwhilst two senators are dispatched to seek rounded him, ought to have told him, was to Timon, who had before donc the state some be found in the society of good and just men; service, to oppose Alcibiades. Timon refuses and, in the concessions made to Alcibiades by the service, and determines on ending his days the senators, we behold the folly of states dein solitude. Meanwhile, Alcibiades arrives creeing punishinents which they have not the before Athens, from the walls of which the power to execute.
Coriolauus. Pope observes, in his comments, “The whole they revoke their decree. Coriolanus resists history of this piece is exactly followed, and the injustice of their proceedings, and is, at many of the principal speeches exactly, from last, banished as a traitor. Inflamed by the the Life of Coriolanus, by Plutarch."
ingratitude of his country, he determines It embraces a period of about four years, upon joining the Volscians, who are again beginning with the secession to the Mons Sacer preparing at Antium to invade the Roman (the sacred mountain), in the year of Rome territories. He is hospitably received by his 262, and ending with the death of Coriolanus, inveterate enemy and rival in arms, Aufidius, A. U.C. 266. Malone conjectured it to have general of the Volscians, with whom he is been written A.D. 1603.
joined in the command of the invading army.
His countrymen, in the utmost consternation, THE PLOT
in vain send the friends he most loved, to sue The scene opens in Rome, where, on account for peace; he remains inflexible, until his wife of a dearth, a mutiny is raised by the people, Virgilia, his mother Volumnia, and his son, under plea of provisions not being dealt out dressed in mourning garments, kneel beforo fairly to them. Tribunes are then chosen by him, and subdue him by the voice of nature. them, who favour the enmity already existing, He then prevails upon the Volscians to depart among the multitude, against Caius Marcius, home, having made an advantageous peace who is hated for his noble ambition and his with the Romans, and returns himself to Anunbending demeanour towards the people, which tium, with the Volscian army. Tullius Aufithey represent as pride, to his prejudice with dius, pretending to be indignant at the peace the populace. During these troubles, news is whichi Coriolanus has made with Rome, forms brought that the Volscians are in arms, and a conspiracy against his life and honour; and, Marcius is sent, with two other generals, having trst hired three assassins for the puragainst them: he soon returns victorious, and, pose, he accuses Coriolanus, before the nobles from his bravery in sacking the city of Coriol, at Antinm, or treachery. He nobly defends he is surnamed Coriolanus. And, as a further his reputation, but, in the midst of the aproar acknowledgment of his merits, the senators to which Aufidius moves the citizens, he and and nobility appoint him consul, and, by the the murderers fall upon Coriolanus with their advice of the people, he is coufirmed in that drawn swords and kill him; which he afterdignity; but, moved by the envy of the tri- wards excuses as the effect of passion. bunes (Sicinius Vilutus, and Junius Brutus),
Julins Cæsar. " Or this tragedy (says Dr. Johnson) many appear the enemy of Brutus and his associates, particular passages deserve regard, and the but, at the same time, by reading Cæsar's contention and reconcilement of Brutus and will, wherein they were made his inheritors, Cassius is universally celebrated; but I never and enumerating his good qualities, he so inhave been strongly agitated in perusing it, and gratiates himself as to awaken in them an think it somewhat cold and unaffecting, com- eager desire to revenge Cæsar's death. Brutus pared with some other of Shakspeare's plays; and Cassius, on hearing this, fly from Rome. his adherence to the real story and to Roman The young Octavius, nephew of Julius Cæsar, manners seems to have impeded the natural with Lepidus, arrive at antony's house. These vigour of his genius."
Triumvirs, by proscription having first put to Malone believed this piece to have been pro- death about an hundred Senators, prepare to duced A. D. 1607.
meet Brutus and Cassius, who, having levied THE PLOT.
forces on their way, are encamped near Sardis. The scene opens in Rome, with Csesar's re- Here a quarrel happens between them, but turn from the conquest of his enemies, who is they are quickly reconciled; here, too, news welcomed with demonstrations of joy by the is brought to Brutus of the death of his wife, adoring multitude, but envied by some noble Portia, who had killed herself by swallowing Romans, who view with indignation his over- fire. Learning that Antony and Octavius are ruling popularity. Of these Cassius is the advancing towards Philippi, it is determined to first to unbosom his thoughts, which he does meet them there. The battle of Philippiensues to Brutus and others. A party having been(the night previous to which the ghost of Assembled, favourable to their canse, they ap- Cæsar appears to Brutus in his tent). In the point the morrow for putting their plans into engagement, the wing of the army commanded execution, when Cesar is expected to go to by Cassius is routed by Antony, whilst Brutus the Capitol, with intention to receive the im- defeats Octavius. Cassius, ignorant of the perial crown. On the night preceding, many success of confederate, in despair kills prodigies appear, which seem to forebode some himself. Brutus, then overborne, rather than impending destruction, and which Calphurnia, fall into the hands of the Romans, and having Cæsar's wife, makes use of to divert him from in vain entreated some of his coadjutors to end his proposed visit to the Capitol. By the his life, falls, at last, upon his own sword. Anmanagement of Decius, however (one of the tony and Octavius, viewing him dead, confess conspirators), he determines upon going, and, his worth, and decree him an honourable burial. on his way, is warned by a Soothsayer of his danger. The refusal of the remission of a
MORAL, sentence, which Cesar had passed upon Pub- Shakspeare has, in this tragedy, finely delius Cimber, the brother of one of the party, picted the weaknesses which govern the pasis the signal for his death. Casca, leading sions of both rich and poor, learned and unthe way, first stabs him, Brutus giving the learned, and has shown us the instability of last blow, and Cæsar falls at the foot of Pom- usurped power. In the fall of Cæsar, we are pey's statue. The senators and people retire taught to limit our ambition, and not to create in confusion; but Brutus follows, and hy a enemies by aiming at others' rights: and in speech, in which he assures them that Cæsar's that of Brutus and his party, how little we ambition and the good of the state required ought to rely on popular support, or suffer the step he had taken, the populace are con- envy to mislead us: we cannot but lament tent: but Antony (Cæsar's friend), obtaining Cæsar's end, yet we are forced to pity that of leave to address them, he so speaks as not to
Autong and Cleopatra.
MALONE imagined this piece to have been length, adjusted by his marriage with Octavia, written A.D. 1608.
Cesar's sister by the mother's side. They all
then march out, with their forces, against THE PLOT.
Pompey, and meet him near Misenum ; but, The scene opens in Alexandria, where An- on his acceding to terms previously offered, tony is living with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, no hostilities are now entered upon. But the in voluptuousness and inactivity; but, on hear- animosity existing between Antony and Octaing from certain messengers the news of the vius Cæsar is not to be extinguished; their death of his wife Fulvia, and the conspiracy envy is mutual; and, after Octavius had waged of Pompey against the Triumvirate, with war anew against Pompey, and deposed Lepiother weighty matters, he is, with much dif- dus, on no other accusation except that which ficulty, induced to return to Rome. On his he himself had framed, the rancour of these two arrival, Antony meets with reproaches and potentates leads them to determine by arms enmity from Octavius Cæsar, who charges him which should enjoy, solely, the dominion of the with abetting some disturbances made by world. The tears and supplications of Octavia Lucius(Antony's brother)and Fulvia. Lepidus, are alike unavailing. By the advice of Cleothe third associate in the empire, endea- patra, Antony is prevailed upon to meet Octavours to reconcile them. Matters are, at vius by sea; although the superiority of bis land