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is well varied by Richard's sudden transition to a state of ambitious exultation, and from thence to a struggle with conscience, which appears to lodge a constant thorn in his breast.
In the beginning of the fourth act, our feellings are turned upon objects of real strong pity; our tears which have ceased since the first, are here called forth again judiciously in behalf of an unhappy mother and her helpless infants ; the characters introduced to furnish fresh matter for concern are well brought forward, and the
Queen’s grief is wrought up in an affecting manner ; however, I must be of opinion, that the scene is not near so interesting as it might have been made ; that lady Ann and the dutchess of York are here mere non-essentials, that the children do not affect us as they ought, and that all the Queen's speeches, except the last three, are far too unimportant for her heart-rending Situation.
Richard, now discovered as King, works upon Buckingham, by diftant infinuation, to effect his main purpose, that of destroying the children ; his cautious earnestness, and the duke's consciencious diffidence, are extremely well contrafted; the King's impatience at Buckingham's coldness, his indifference at the news brought by lord Stanley, his enquiry after, and remarks on his wife Ann, with his subsequent contemptuous treatment of his lukewarm cousin, exhibit great and mafterly diversification of action.
The scene between Tirrel, Dighton and Forest, should for two reasons have been made longer'; first to have raised our pity more, even by the immediate murderers ; next, to have given Richard more time for his appearance at the Tower : there are but ten lines from going to meet Tirrel in his closet, before that impious tool comes on with his followers quite prepared : had he mentioned the premium and the King's favour to lull their scruples, the business would have been conducted more consistently.
The King's foliloquy is masterly ; anxious hope and guilty ambition quiver in every fyllable ; nor is the succeeding scene less characteristic; Catesby's entrance is well contrived, and gives a good opportunity for that fiery spirit breaking out, which so much animates the remainder of the piece ; Richard's interview with the ladies, tho' not essential, in some measure deserves its place, as in it the cyrant is devoted to destruction by a mother's curse : the following part of this act is as rapid, and as well a conducted feries of interesting events as ever was exhibited in any drama, and it concludes with a very bold, Atriking climax of passion.
The three first scenes of the fifth act are merely preparatory to what follows, and therefore judiciously short ; Richmond shews himself sufficiently, and stands well contrasted to his antagonist. Richard's scene in the tent is as well imagined, to engage the feelings of spectators and to thew the power of action as possible; nor may, Cibber
could ghosts ever be more juftifiable than here ; however we must offer a doubt whether such false Creations of the brain; should ever be called to view ; lince it is most certain that they play upon our passions in flat and absurd contradiction to our reafon ; let this point be determined as it Thewed just critical judgment in rejecting the second introduction of those imaginary existences; which we find in Shakespear's Richard ; because in reprefentation one would have flattened the other, and both must have consequently palled : after many martial excursions, in which the leading character is very happily exhibited ; the catastrophe is wrought up to a most pleasing event in his death ; a circumftance as consonant to strict poetical justice, as it is to historical truth : Richmond's conclusive scene displays a generous, patriotic disposition, and is as agreeable as the place it stands in will admit.
Having thus given a general delineation of the plot and arrangement of scenes ; it becomes necessary to enquire for the moral, without which no dramatic piece can have intrinsic worth ; in historical plays we cannot expect much social instruction, as they chiefly appeal to national transactions ; however from Richard the Third we may draw this useful conclusion, that no degree of success and grandeur ; no gratification of lawless ambition, however splendid ; can still the voice of conscience ; which though unheard by the world, speaks in thunder to the guilty wretch, who bears such a painsul monitor in his bosom, с
The characters of this piece are many in number, yet exhibit no great variety of contrast: after Richard, Henry, Richmond, the Queen and Children; all the rest are of a similar complexion : Richard is truly in point of figure, sentiments, language and conduct himself alone ; however historical relation admits doubts of that monarch's personal deformity, it was certainly well judged to make his external appearance, on the stage, emblematic of his mind ; and for sake of fingularity dressing him only in the habit of the times may be detena lible; but what excuse can be made for shewing him, at his first entrance, in as elegant a dress, as when king, I am at a loss to suggest ; does he not after his scene with Lady Ann, profess a design of ornamenting his person more advantageouly? Macbeth when king is always distinguished by a second dress, why not Richard ? a still greater breach of propriety appears in putting mourning upon none of the persons at court but the ladies and the children ; though Richard pays all other external respect ca the circumstance of his brother's death,
Through three acts Richard appears the close diffembling politician, and affords no great variety of action ; indeed his soliloquys are so long and so frequent ; that very few who attempt to represenc him avoid falling into an insipid sameness,
In the fourth and fifth acts he breaks out like a fame which has been long smothered and through the impetuosity of agitating circumstances betrays many performers into the error of out Heroding Herod.
The Public have set up Mr. GARRICK as a standard of perfection in this' laborious, difficule part; and if we consider the essentials, his claim to such distinction will immediately appear indilputable; a very deformed person never rises above, and seldom up to the middle stature ; it is generally attended with an acuteness of features and sprightliness of eyes; in these three natural points our Roscius ftands unexceptionable; variations of voice, and climax of expression, in both which he stands without an equal ; graceful attitudes, nervous action, with a well-regulated spirit, to animate within natural bounds every paflage, even from the coldest up to the most inflamed.
Mr. GARRICK also preserves a happy medium, and dwindles neither into the buffoon or brute ; one, or both of which this character is made by most other performers : 'tis true, there are many passages which have a ludicrous turn, yet we may rest assured, that he who occasions least laughter is most right; in respect of marking particular places with pecue Jiar emphasis, some exceptions may be taken, or doubts raised against every person I have ever seen in the part; however, tracing minute lapses of this kind, which after all may be mere matter of opinion, would occasion too great a digression; I shall therefore only mention three which strike me most; the first is.--I am myself alone-which words I have heard expressed in a tone of-confidenc exultation, as if he was fingularly above the rest of mankind whereas adverting to his own unhappy composicion, it should be uttered with heart-felt discontent ; and