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A glorious angel; then if angels fight,
Weak men must fall; for Heaven still guards the right."
Yet, notwithstanding this royal confession of faith, on the very first news of actual disaster, all his conceit of himself as the peculiar favourite of Providence vanishes into air.
"But now the blood of twenty thousand men
Immediately after, however, recollecting that cheap defence" of the divinity of kings which is to be found in opinion, he is for arming his name against his enemies.
"Awake, thou coward Majesty, thou sleep'st;
King Henry does not make any such vapouring resistance to the loss of his crown, but lets it slip from off his head as a weight which he is neither able nor willing to bear; stands quietly by to see the issue of the contest for his kingdom, as if it were a game at push-pin, and is pleased when the odds prove against him.
When Richard first hears of the death of his favourites, Bushy, Bagot, and the rest, he indignantly rejects all idea of any further efforts, and only indulges in the extravagant impatience of his grief and his despair, in that fine speech which has been so often quoted :
"Aumerle. Where is the duke, my father, with his power?
To monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks
I live on bread like you, feel want, taste grief,}
There is as little sincerity afterwards in his af
fected resignation to his fate, as this exaggerated picture of his they have happened.
there is fortitude in misfortunes before
When Northumberland comes back with the message from Bolingbroke, he exclaims, anticipating the result,
"What must the king do now? Must he submit?
How differently is all this expressed in King Henry's soliloquy during the battle with Edward's party :
"This battle fares like to the morning's war,
To be no better than a homely swain,
To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
So many hours must I tend my flock,
So many weeks ere the poor fools will yean,
So many months ere I shall shear the fleece:
So many minutes, hours, weeks, months, and years
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
Ah! what a life were this! how sweet, how lovely!
To shepherds looking on their silly sheep,
His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
His body couched in a curious bed,
This is a true and beautiful description of a naturally quiet and contented disposition, and not, like the former, the splenetick effusion of disappointed ambition.
In the last scene of Richard II. his despair lends him courage he beats the keeper, slays two of his assassins, and dies with imprecations in his mouth against Sir Pierce Exton, who "had staggered his royal person." Henry, when he is seized by the deer-stealers, only reads them a moral lecture on the duty of allegiance and the sanctity of an oath; and when stabbed by Gloucester in the Tower, reproaches him with his crimes, but pardons him his own death.
RICHARD III. may be considered as properly a stage play; it belongs to the theatre, rather than to the closet. We shall therefore criticise it chiefly with a reference to the manner in which we have seen it performed. It is the character in which Garrick came out it was the second character in which Mr. Kean appeared, and in which he acquired his fame. Shakspeare we have always with us: actors we have only for a few seasons; and therefore some account of them may be acceptable, if not to our contemporaries, to those who come after us, if "that rich and idle personage, Posterity," should deign to look into our writings.
It is possible to form a higher conception of the character of Richard than that given by Mr. Kean : but we cannot imagine any character represented with greater distinctness and precision, more perfectly articulated in every part. Perhaps indeed there is too much of what is technically called execution. When we first saw this celebrated actor in the part, we thought he sometimes failed from an