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peared in 3 Henry VI, notably in the speeches of Richard, is not to be found. The style is highly, though not splendidly, rhetorical rather than poetic. It attains its greatest power where, as in many scenes, it becomes the inevitable expression of character, especially Richard's, or is perfectly adapted to reveal the intensity of a dramatic moment.
Stage History.1 That Richard III was extremely popular with Elizabethan audiences is beyond doubt. No direct record exists of a performance down to the closing of the theaters, in 1642, save that of Sir Henry Herbert's Office Book, under date of November 17, 1633. An indirect record is to be found in Manningham's Diary, under date of March 13, 1601. But the allusions and references of Weever's Epigram Ad Gulielmum Shakespeare, 1595–6, Meres' Palladis Tamia, 1598; the imitations and quotations in many plays, in the Epigrams and Elegies of J. B. and C. M. (1596?), England's Parnassus, 1600, The Return from Parnassus, 1601; the direct testimony to the popularity of the play, in Barnabe Barnes's Four Bookes of Office, 1606, and Nicholas Breton's Good and Badde, 1616; the clear influence of the play upon succeeding presentations of Richard's story, as in the Mirror for Magistrates; and, not least, the many editions, of which there were more down to 1640 than of any other of Shakespeare's plays, are sufficient to prove the eminent attractiveness of Richard III during the whole Elizabethan period. The actor who "created" the part of Richard was Burbadge. His fame in the part is attested by many con
1 See The Stage History of Shakespeare's King Richard the Third, Alice I. P. Wood, Ph.D., New York, 1910.
temporary references, notably the well-known allusion in Corbet's Iter Boreale, 1618.
During the Restoration period and down to 1700 Richard III disappeared from the stage. Richard himself, however, did not disappear. In Caryl's The English Princess, or The Death of Richard the Third, 1667, he plays the part of the heroic and villanous lover in rivalry with Richmond, much after the usual fashion of the "heroic" play. The rôle was Betterton's, who had in it a considerable success. In 1681 Richard appears again in Crowne's Henry the Sixth the Second Part, or the Misery of Civil War, a re-working, with additions, of 2 and 3 Henry VI.
Such revisions of Shakespeare's plays were frequent in this period; and on July 9, 1700, was presented at Drury Lane a version of Richard III by Colley Cibber. The changes made by Cibber may be summarized as follows. The new play is shorter than the old one by onethird, and much more of the original is excised to give place for Cibber's additions. Half of the original characters are dropped, including Clarence and Margaret, and fourteen whole scenes, largely narrative and lyric. The additions include the murder of Henry VI, from 3 Henry VI, the elaboration of pathetic and moving passages, such as the parting of the Queen and her sons, the murder of the Princes, now heard, if not seen, upon the stage, a scene in which Richard brutally reveals to Anne his purpose to procure her death, many new soliloquies and extensions of the old, and many asides calculated to make plainer the motives of the actors. Plot and character
remain essentially what they were in the original; but the action is concentrated, and Richard is made more fully the focus of attention. In the original he is absent from ten scenes; here he appears in all but three. The pathetic is made sensational, the dramatic is pressed into the realm of the melodramatic. The higher qualities of Shakespeare's play suffer eclipse, the lower are exaggerated; the illumination of motives tends to coarsen the subtler features of the characterization; the omissions blot out some of the most significant and interpretive passages, but, in the end, the piece gains, without question, in theatrical effectiveness, in adaptability to the modern stage, and in appeal to the modern audience. The proof of this is the fact that it, alone of all the Restoration revisions of Shakespeare, still keeps the stage.
The title rôle in his play was taken by Cibber himself, but with very moderate reward in reputation, until 1739. On October 19, 1741, Garrick made his début as Richard, instantly winning an enormous success, which he continued to enjoy down to his retirement in 1776. From the days of Garrick nearly every actor of prominence on the English stage has essayed the part. Among the most famous may be mentioned especially Kemble, J. B. Booth, Macready, and Edmund Kean, who in his long career from 1814 to 1833 was generally considered second only to Garrick. The most notable actresses who played Lady Anne were Mrs. Siddons and Peg Woffington. Kemble, Kean, Macready, and Phelps used versions differing more or less from that of Cibber, but in all cases the latter eventually triumphed. January
29, 1877, at the Lyceum theater in London, Henry Irving presented Shakespeare's original with some omissions, gaining instant reputation as a great actor, but he did not repeat the play till 1896, and never gave it out of England.
In America, where the presentation of this play by a native company on Mar. 5, 1750, at the theater in Nassau Street, New York, practically begins the history of our stage, Richard III in Cibber's version has always been popular. With the title rôle are connected such English names as those of Cooke, 1810–1812, Edmund Kean, 1820 and 1825, Charles Kean, 1830 and 1846, and Junius Brutus Booth, who in 1821 first appeared in the rôle, for which he remained famous for thirty years on the American stage. In 1827 appeared a native American, Edwin Forrest, a great actor, but never thoroughly successful as Richard. Other native actors-the Wallacks, McCullough, J. W. Keene, Barrett — obtained only respectable repute in the part. In 1847, Edwin Booth, son of Junius, made his début as Tressel to his father's Richard. He appeared as Richard in San Francisco, 1852, and first played the part in New York in 1857. In the long history of the rôle, Booth's presentation has probably never been surpassed in fineness and subtlety of interpretation, or in the completeness with which he realized the intellectual power of Shakespeare's hero. In 1878 Booth abandoned Cibber's version in favor of an adaptation of his own, in which the Shakespearean original was rearranged and certain parts omitted, but the text only very slightly altered. The cuts were far more drastic
than Irving's, thirteen of Shakespeare's characters, including the two princes, having been dropped. The adaptation may be said to have been successful; but since Booth's death Cibber's version has again held the stage. Interpretation. Richard III, if it is to be read with understanding, cannot be read alone. As the history of a period it is part of that greater story, the struggle of York and Lancaster for the throne of England, to which Shakespeare devotes eight of his ten history plays. As the tragedy of a man it is the continuation of a life story that begins in the fifth act of 2 Henry VI and is developed through 3 Henry VI. And, further, it is clear that the man's story is conceived as an epitome of the period, his tragedy as climactic example of all the tragedies of the struggle.
In the contest of York and Lancaster Shakespeare plainly found the gravest of warnings to monarch and counsellor of his own day he who ruleth England to his own profit destroyeth both himself and her. Upon the selfishness of both families rested a Nemesis like that of the house of Pelops. Throughout the years is handed down a terrible legacy of crime, and with it an equally terrible legacy of punishment. Each crime pays a penalty, and yet each penalty is itself a crime, which must in turn be punished. Dum punitur scelus, crescit. For many Richard is the agent of the divine justice. Yet in all his acts, he is supremely selfish, supremely criminal. No more secure than the rest, he falls at last by the hand of the one pure man, God's captain, the unselfish and conscious agent of the divine justice.