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ence, and banished it from all his waking thoughts. But it takes advantage of his sleep, and frights him in his dreams. With greater elegance therefore he is made to call it coward conscience, which dares not encounter him while he is himself awake, and his faculties entire; but takes advantage of reason being off its guard, and the powers of the soul dissolved in sleep. But the players, amongst their other innumerable absurdities in the representation of this tragedy, make Richard say, instead of O coward conscience, O tyrant conscience! whereby not only a great beauty is lost, but a great blunder committed. For Richard had entirely got the better of his conscience; which could, on no account, therefore, be said to play the tyrant with him.
31 God, and saint George!-] Saint George was the common cry of the English soldiers when they charged the enemy. The author of the old Arte of Warre, printed in the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign, formally enjoins the use of this cry among his military laws, page 84.
"Item, that all souldiers entring into battaile, "assault, skirmish, or other faction of armes, shall "have for their common cry and word, Saint George, "forward, or upon them, saint George, whereby the "souldiour is much comforted, and the enemy dis"maied by calling to minde the ancient valour of "England, which with that name has so often been "victorious; and therefore he, who upon any sinister "zeale shall maliciously omit so fortunate a name,
"shall be severely punished for his obstinate erroneous
"heart, and perverse mind." 32 A horse! a horse! -] Some inquiry hath been made for the first performers of the capital characters of Shakspeare.
We learn, that Burbage, the alter Roscius of Camden, was the original Richard, from a passage in the poems of bishop Corbet; who introduces his host at Bosworth describing the battle,
"But when he would have said king Richard died, And call'd a horse, a horse, he Burbage cried."
33 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,
O now let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true succeeders of each royal house,
Let them unite all that York and Lancaster divided.
THE PLOT, THE FABLE, AND CONSTRUCTION
KING HENRY VIII.
THE play of Henry the Eighth is one of those, which still keeps possession of the stage, by the splendor of its pageantry. The coronation, about forty years ago, drew the people together in multitudes for a great part of the winter. Yet pomp is not the only merit of this play. The meek sorrows and virtuous distress of Catherine have furnished some scenes, which may be justly numbered among the greatest effort of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Catherine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written. JOHNSON.