« VorigeDoorgaan »
from “The First Part of the Contention to the Second, and as no doubt has ever existed of these two Parts being by the same hand, when we trace the action and the characterization onward to the · Richard III.' we equally establish the unity between the two Parts and the Richard III.' Of the principal characters, then, in the Richard III.,' which are found in “The Second Part of the Contention,' beside Margaret, already mentioned, there are Edward IV., Elizabeth his queen, the Duke of Clarence, and the Duke of Gloster. It is not with the real succession of events that we have here to deal. The poet, in the first scenes of 'Richard III.,' gives us the committal of Clarence to the Tower, the funeral of Henry VI., and the fatal sickness of Edward IV. But this play, in its dramatic action, is as closely allied to the preceding play, 'The Second Part of the Contention, as if it were one and the same play. “The Second Part of the Contention' thus concludes :
“And now what rests, but that we spend the time
Such as befit the pleasures of the court?"
“ Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths ;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments ;
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.' The last scene but one in · The Second Part of the Contention' is the murder of Henry VI. ; the second scene of the 'Richard III.' is the funeral of Henry VI. But the poet is not satisfied with this marked connexion of the dramatic action of the two plays. He,Shakspere,—scatters over his ‘Richard III.' allusions to very minute circumstances in the former play, which he is alleged not to have written. We will select some of these. In the first act of "Richard III.' the Duke of Gloster thus addresses Anne:
“ These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear,
No, when my father York and Edward wept
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear." Compare this with York's speech in The Second Part of the Contention '-(Act I., Scene 4) :
“Wouldst have me weep? why so, thou hast thy wish.
For raging winds blow up a storm of tears,
On thee, fell Clifford, and thee, false Frenchwoman,"
“ I cannot weep, for all my breast's moisture
Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning hate." Richard thus addresses Margaret, in the third • Richard III.':
“ Glo. The curse my noble father laid on thee,
And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed.”
“ Here, take the crown, and with the crown my curse ;
As now I reap at thy too cruel hands.” Reproaching Margaret with the death of Rutland, Buckingham, in * Richard III.,' says
“Northumberland then present wept to see it." Margaret in the “Contention’exclaims at Northumberland's tears
“What, weeping ripe, my lord Northumberland ?” The very minuteness of these allusions is a proof to us that the author was perpetually mindful of his own preceding work. If the passages to which they refer had not been found in the “Contention, but only in the remodelled play, Malone's arithmetic might have gone for something.
But we now approach the character of Richard himself. And to us it seems the most extraordinary marvel that the world, for half a century, should have consented to believe that the man who absolutely created that most wonderful character, in all its essential lineaments, in “The Second Part of the Contention,' was not the man who continued it in the Richard III. In the fourth act of • Richard' his mother thus describes him :
A grievous burthen was thy birth to me;
Thy age confirm'd proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred." The author of the Contention' anticipates the “manhood” of Richard, and shows him a “daring, bold, and venturous” soldier. A single line tells his character when he originally comes upon the scene in “The First Part of the Contention.' When York asks his sons whether they will be “ bail” for their father, Edward replies,
“ Yes, noble father, if our words will serve.” But Richard answers,
“ And if our words will not, our swords shall." In the fight of St. Alban’s Richard kills Somerset; and although Clifford denounces him as a “ crook’d-back villain,” his thoughts are those of a most gallant knight when he describes the bearing of old Salisbury :
“ Rich. My lord, I saw him in the thickest throng,
The boldest spirited man that e'er mine eyes beheld.” We have no doubt that the poet brought Richard thus early upon the scene, in “ The First Part of the Contention,' with distinct regard to the important character he was to sustain in the succeeding plays. In · The Second Part of the Contention' his “ daring, bold, and venturous” spirit is most prominent in the parliament scene :
“ Arm’d as we be, let 's stay within this house."
Father, tear the crown from the usurper's head."
“Sound drums and trumpets, and the king will fly." His mother's description still holds on :“ Thy age
onfirm’d, proud, subtle, sly."
- An oath is of no moment,
And yet your grace stands bound to him by oath.” The second act of The Second Part of the Contention' continues to represent the young Richard as the daring soldier, with courage excelled only by his acuteness ; but gradually becoming “ bloody," and exhibiting that sarcastic humour in his revenge which is identified with his after character. When Clifford is found dead, who but Richard could have uttered these words?
“ Rich. What, not an oath? Nay, then I know he's dead :
Stifle the villain."
“subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful is developed. We request the reader carefully to compare the fol. lowing passages of The Second Part of the Contention and of the · Richard III.;' and resolve us whether it is more easy to believe that the man who wrote the first passage was not also the author of the second passage in all essentials an amplification of the first); or that the man who wrote the second passage—and that man Shakspere—was an impudent plagiarist of the characterization and the style of some unknown contemporary, who has left nothing like it in any other work, and whose very name Shakspere, by adoption and imitation, has thus swamped with posterity ?-
RICHARD III., Act I., Scene 1.
“ But I, that am not shap'd for sportive
tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking
SECOND PART OF THE CONTENTION, Act III.,
to harbour such a
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's
And that so lamely and unfashionable
When Cibber concocted the medley which he called · Richard III.,' he, not having the fear before his eyes of the critics who succeeded him, adopted the scene in which Richard murders Henry VI., as the work of Shakspere. We request our readers to turn to that scene. ("Henry VI., Part III. ;' Act V., Scene 6.) It will amply repay their perusal, being in its whole conception distinguished by that truth of characterization and that energy of language which we have agreed to call Shaksperian. But, according to Malone, and to those who adopt the theory that what Shakspere contributed to the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI.' includes nothing which is found in The Second Part of the Contention,' Shakspere only wrote five lines of this scene. They are as follow :
“ And both preposterous; therefore, not good lord.
Glo. Sirrah, leave us to ourselves : we must confer.
K. Hen. So flies the reckless shepherd from the wolf:
And next his throat unto the butcher's knife.” If the reader will turn to The Second Part of the Contention' he will see that these five lines are wanting at the beginning of the
All the rest of the scene is essentially the same (with the exception of a few verbal alterations) in “The Second Part of the Contention' and The Third Part of Henry VI.' We leave the decision in the reader's hands, perfectly satisfied that he will arrive at the conviction that, if Shakspere did not write this scene as it originally stood, neither did he write · Richard III.'
§ III. The argument whose course we have followed up to this point has sought to establish the unity of action and of characterization—incidentally noticing also the similarity of manner-between “The First Part of Henry VI.,' the First and Second Parts of the Contention,' and the ‘Richard III.' In the exhibition of these unities between • The First Part of Henry VI.' and the two Parts of the Contention,' we have endeavoured to prove that these three dramas, of which it is maintained that Shakspere wrote not a single line, were the work of one mind. Having thus linked these together, we carried on the link to the “Richard III.,' and thus attempted to demonstrate that the four dramas, as well as the three, were the work of one mind, and that mind Shakspere's. Upon the great dramatic characteristics of this series of plays we have only slightly touched. It will remain for us to show that, in all the higher attributes of