Imagini ale paginilor

how far he has trespassed on the order of events, why, in certain cases, he has been so compelled, and what license he has taken in the connection of separated scenes. It will be found on collating this with the original Play that (excepting his interview with Edward IV.) no incident whatever, bearing upon the character of Richard, is withheld from the audience, nor has any liberty been used with the history of the times, in crowding together such occurrences as compose it. In the original Play the first Act is of a most disproportionate length; this was one among other reasons for transferring the courtship of Lady Anne to the second. The curtailment of Margaret's scenes was reluctantly made, under the apprehension that the cause of her grief, being so very remote, would prevent the audience from commiserating or sympathising with its expression. The absolute necessity of introducing passages from Henry VI. illustrating part of Richard's character, must, it is thought, be allowed, as Richard III. is but the superstructure, of which the foundation is laid in the two previous Plays. Wherever it has appeared expedient to blend or omit scenes, or narrate in few words actions, which occupy pages in the original, Shakspeare's language has been selected to supply the deficiencies; where that has not been available, Cibber's lines have been retained, but with what jealousy the subjoined calculation will prove:

Cibber's Play consists of moro than .... 1990 lines
Of which Cibber's own aomposition
amounts nearly to.......

Leaving of Shakspeare about

In very many of which Cibber has made alterations.
The Play as now printed consists of .... 1960 lines
Of which are Cibber's not more than 200
Making an acquisition of about...... 860 lines

of Shakspeare

It is by no means the design of the arranger of this drama to detract from Cibber the just praise of having formed a very clever Play from his great materials; but he must regret that he should have been such a niggard in employing them, so lavish of his own amendments, and so regardless of the history, which he professed to dramatize.*-Shakspeare's. Richard is a play of character, of which it will not be denied that Cibber constantly lost sight;that his Richard is neither that of the historian or poet—that it is distinct in its characteristics from the description of Sir Thomas More, and the living portrait of Shakspeare. In the words of the Chronicler he is represented as “ close and secret, a deepe dissembler, lowlie of countenance, arrogant of heart, outwardly companionable where he inwardly hated, not letting to kiss whome he thought to kill, despitious and cruell, not for euill

* In the two instances of Richard's treatment of Lady Anne, and the Queen, Cibber has dirntly violated the truth of history, vide Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. 3. pages 429, 430, which all subsequent historians have followed.

will alway, but ofter for ambition, and either for the suertie or increase of his estate." His hypocrisy in part, his malice and cruelty are preserved by Cibber, but he is moody, and wanton in his mischiefs, stopping to sneer at every object, past which Shakspeare hurries him with a contemptuous indifference, as if the great and pressing purpose of his soul did not give his frowardness leisure for such indulgence. That “ alacritie and mirth of mind" instanced by More, which is prominent throughout Shakspeare, is hardly any where discernible in Cibber. He is there compunctious and self-examining, with an occasional cast of thought, that in Shakspeare never checks the constitutional activity of his spirit, until the eve of the battle, when coming events seem to “throw their shadows before," and shed a prophetic gloom over his mind. To apply on this occasion the words of one of the best critics that ever loved, and taught others to love the beauties of Shakspeare, in Cibber's alteration we seek in vain for “ the rich intellect which Richard displays; for his wit, his resources, his buoyant spirits, his vast knowledge, and insight into character."* The bold originality of thought and expression, which so perfectly individualizes his character, is rejected by the taste of Cibber for sentiments and phrases more accordant to his nstions of the dignity of Tragedy. Thus he compares the young Elizabeth

* See Lamb on Sbakspeare's Tragedies.

to a new morn lighting onward,” (does this sound like Richard's language ?) in place of going to her “a jolly thriving wooer," he substitutes a formal harangue for the expressive line of cordial welcome with which Gloster deceives his nephew ;but it would be tedious, and only terminate with the play itself, to enumerate the instances wherein Cibber has interfered to impoverish the rich and racy language of Shakspeare. He has brought him down from the fifteenth to the eighteenth Century; or rather he is of no time nor country; the marks of his identity are effaced, and where the original text is expunged, he issues his mandates, and reasons on his crimes as other tyrants and villains of the French, or our own stage are wont to do. Under this impression of Cibber's causeless innovations on the character, but with a full and perfect sense of his great skill in retrenching and reducing the play to a representable form, the present effort has been made to bring back the original character of Richard in all its bearingshis original language, and the fidelity of the action to history. If in this attempt no more shall have been done, than the suggesting to one better suited to the task, a more complete restoration of Shakspeare throughout the other persons of the drama, the present adapter will not think his time altogether mispent,


Mr. Egerton.

[ocr errors]

Edward, Prince of Wales,

Sons to Kings Miss Boden. Richard, Duke of York,.. Edward IV.

E. Boden. George, Duke of Clarence, Brothers to Richard, Duke of Gloster, Edward IV. Macready. Duke of Buckingham...

Yates, Duke of Norfolk ...

Jefferies. Henry, Earl of Richmond

Abbott. Marquis of Dorset...... 2 Sons of Elizabeth Parsloe, Lord Grey

$ Edward's Queen Grant. Earl Rivers, her Brother.

J. Isaacs. Lord Hastings

Connor. Lord Stanley

Chapman. Morton, Bishop of Ely.

George. Lord Mayor

Atkins. Sir William Catesby

Comer. Sir Richard Ratcliff

King. Sir William Brandon

Mears. Sir James Tyrrel

Hunt. Sir R. Brakenbury


S Norris. Officers

Crumpton. Dighton

Louis. Forest

Heath. Page.....

.Master Parsloe Elizabeth, Queen of Edward IV....... Mrs. Faucit. Margaret of Anjou, Widow of Henry VI.. Bunn. Duchess of York

Connor. Lady Anne



[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »