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ly to the queen and her friends to defend him
"Gloucester. They do me wrong, and I will not endure it.
Cannot a plain man live, and think no harm,
With silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
Gray. To whom in all this presence speaks your grace ?
Nothing can be more characteristick than the turbulent pretensions to meekness and simplicity in this address. Again, the versatility and adroitness of Richard is admirably described in the following ironical conversation with Brakenbury :
"Brakenbury. I beseech your graces both to pardon me.
Gloucester. E'en so, and please your worship, Brakenbury,
You may partake of any thing we say :
Brakenbury. With this, my lord, myself have nought to do. Gloucester. What, fellow, naught to do with mistress Shore? I tell you, sir, he that doth naught with her,
Excepting one, were best to do it secretly alone.
Brakenbury. What one, my lord?
Gloucester. Her husband, knave-would'st thou betray me ?"
The feigned reconciliation of Gloucester with the queen's kinsmen is also a masterpiece. One of the finest strokes in the play, and which serves to shew as much as any thing, the deep, plausible manners of Richard, is the unsuspecting security of Hastings, at the very time when the former is plotting his death, and when that very appearance of cordiality and good humour, on which Hastings builds his confidence, arises from Richard's consciousness of having betrayed him to his ruin. This, with the whole character of Hastings, is omitted.
Perhaps the two most beautiful passages in the original play are the farewell apostrophe of the queen to the tower, where her children are shut up from her, and Tyrrel's description of their death. We will finish our quotations with them.
"Queen. Stay, yet look back with me unto the Tower; Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes,
Whom envy hath immured within your walls;
Rough cradle for such little pretty ones,
Rude, rugged nurse, old sullen playfellow,
The other passage is the account of their death by
"Dighton and Forrest, whom I did suborn
Albeit they were flesh'd villains, bloody dogs,
O thus! quoth Dighton, lay the gentle babes ;
Their lips were four red roses on a stalk,
And in that summer beauty kissed each other;
Which once, quoth Forrest, almost changed my mind:
These are some of those wonderful bursts of feeling, done to the life, to the very height of fancy and nature, which our Shakspeare alone could give. We do not insist on the repetition of these last passages as proper for the stage: we should indeed be loth to trust them in the mouth of almost any actor: but we should wish them to be retained in preference at least to the fantoccini exhibition of the young princes, Edward and York, bandying childish wit with their uncle,
THIS play contains little action or violence of passion, yet it has considerable interest of a more mild and thoughtful cast, and some of the most striking passages in the author's works. The character of Queen Katherine is the most perfect delineation of matronly dignity, sweetness, and resignation, that can be conceived. Her appeals to the protection of the king, her remonstrances to the cardinals, her conversations with her women, shew a noble and generous spirit accompanied with the utmost gentleness of nature. What can be more affecting than her answer to Campeius and Wolsey, who come to visit her as pretended friends.
"Nay, forsooth, my friends,
They that my trust must grow to, live not here;
Dr. Johnson observes of this play, that "the meek sorrows and virtuous distress of Katherine have furnished some scenes, which may be justly numbered among the greatest efforts of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Katheri ne. Every other part may be easily conceived
and easily written." This is easily said; but with
all due deference to so great a reputed authority as that of Johnson, it is not true. For instance, the scene of Buckingham led to execution is one of the most affecting and natural in Shakspeare, and one to which there is hardly an approach in any other author. Again, the character of Wolsey, the description of his pride and of his fall, are inimitable, and have, besides their gorgeousness of effect, a pathos, which only the genius of Shakspeare could lend to the distresses of a proud, bad man, like Wolsey. There is a sort of child-like simplicity in the very helplessness of his situation, arising from the recollection of his past overbearing ambition. After the cutting sarcasms of his enemies on his disgrace, against which he bears up with a spirit conscious of his own superiority, he breaks out into that fine apostrophe
"Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!