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Schiller had been left in the house one washing day, while the others were out on some excursion.
Schiller lived with the Körners. for two years, writing and studying with great diligence; he commenced the History of the Netherlands during this time, a subject which attracted his interest while he was seeking information for his Don Carlos. At the end of two years he accepted a pressing invitation from the Duke of Weimar to visit his court, where Goethe and other men of mark had been settled for some time, and Schiller, after much consideration, decided to take up his abode among them.
The Duke gave him an appointment with a salary which more than covered his modest wants, and in course of time he married, and had a happy home of his own. He never forgot the Körners, but kept up a regular correspondence with them, and they interchanged visits. The Körners hoped much for their children from intercourse with a mind like that of Schiller ; but this was not to be, for the children were still quite young when, to the inexpressible grief of all his friends, his life on earth was terminated by a short illness. Schiller died in 1805, at the comparatively early age of forty-six.
(To be continued.)
SHAKSPERE TALKS WITH UNCRITICAL PEOPLE.
IX.-RICHARD THE THIRD.
WITHOUT intending any disparagement to the various matters of interest connected with the Henry VI. series of plays, it must be confessed that there is a certain relief in turning from them to undoubted Shaksperian ground. Especially to us 'uncritical people, who cannot be expected to feel much interest in disputed points of authorship and questions of style, it is pleasant to pass from the confusions of our last three plays to the clear definiteness of Richard III. Here we find, for the first time, one great character dominating all the others, giving the tone to the whole, one man who really is the play, everybody else being merely there to set him off. Not that these secondary people are made too faint to show their individualities—far from it; but they are artistically kept in the background, while the full light is thrown on the central figure of Richard himself. I need hardly remind any one how many of Shakspere's greatest works are arranged on this plan; not all, of course, but perhaps those which have taken deepest hold on the minds of men. This is the first we have had of this sort, and certainly we appreciate the concentrated interest after the disjointed style of Henry VI. Perhaps it is hardly fair to contrast this series of patched up and altered plays with Richard III., where Shakspere had free play, and could bring forward the living creations of his own brains, instead of galvanising the puppets of other folks. Rather, it may be, we should go back to the other Richard for a comparison, and if we do so, I think we shall find that everything here is more intense, more real, and much more dramatic than in Richard II. It may be that this subject lends itself better, that there is more action and interest in the history, but certainly this play is far more exciting even to read to oneself. The characters really act instead of talking all the time, so that they work up our interest and carry us along with them.
As before, Shakspere got his foundation for his historical play from Holinshed's Chronicle, in which Richard's history is taken from that written by Sir Thomas More. With one or two bold deviations, he has kept pretty close to his authority, and the conception of Richard's character exactly corresponds to the view of him presented in the Chronicle. Shakspere was not the first to put Richard's story on to the stage. In 1594 some one of name unknown published The true Tragedie of Richard III., a curious production, in which Clarence's ghost comes crying out for blood ! One or two passages may have helped Shakspere to an idea, as, for instance, one where King Richard raves in mad despair, and suddenly comes back to reason -something like his soliloquy in the famous tent scene. Also the line, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse !' comes from this play; yet in most points the two dramas are as different as possible.
It does not do to read Richard III. as we read a novel. We lose half the effect if we do not at least try to fancy it on the stage, it is so essentially dramatic throughout. And yet, not being tied down by the actual limits of stage representation, we can indulge our fancy so far as to supply such background as the real historical scenes may be supposed to require. Take the opening scene, for example, and fill up the curt stage direction, London : a street,' with pointed roofs and tiny paned windows, deep shadowed eaves and overhanging stories ; let an angle of tower show in the distance, with Edward IV.'s three-sunned banner waving from the summit, and then let Richard come down between the houses in the sunshine, and begin to tell us about the winter of our discontent. At once we recognise the man who stabbed King Henry, as the same train of ideas which he expressed over the body is resumed now, his own bitterness against the fate which has made him deformed and unlovely, and his fierce determination to gain something in compensation. Shakspere has not quite left off yet that convenient but provoking plan of making his villains tell us how villainous they are going to be for the future, which is tiresome, because unnatural, and superfluous here, as we certainly do not credit Richard with being anything else, so he need not talk about it. So many scenes and passages in this play must needs be noticed, that to bring our talk on it within reasonable limits, we must pause as little as possible on merely the story, which is, or ought to be, familiar to us all.
It brings before us Richard in three phases of fortune, ambitiously struggling, succeeding triumphantly, and falling in despair. himself indicates the first object of his efforts, the removal of Clarence from his path, and now we see how this is being effected. As Clarence passes by to the Tower, we notice the perfect ease with which Richard assumes the part he chooses to play for the time, for the versatility of his powers is one of the most remarkable points about him. Here he plays the affectionate brother so naturally, so easily, that we might be as much deceived as simple plain Clarence, if we did not know better, and if Richard did not drop the mask when left alone with a grim chuckle at his own hypocrisy. We must not overlook the hard, grim sort of humour which shows in his iron nature from time to time, elicited mostly by his supreme contempt for the people around him. He despises his enemies rather than hates them, and just sweeps them out of his way with a fiendish laugh at their weakness. Certainly, till Richmond appears, Richard has no opponent fit to cope with him, for Clarence, Hastings, &c., are easily befooled.
But now (Act i. sc. 2) comes Lady Anne to give us one of the most striking scenes of the whole play. Of course, to bring in Henry VI.'s corpse still bleeding, just before Edward IV.'s death, is to make very free with history; but this is a trifle to Shakspere, as we know. Lady Anne is at such a white heat of wrath and grief as she lamentation over Henry's corpse, that we do not get much idea of her natural character, we only see an excitable and impulsive creature carried by her feelings beyond all bounds of moderation, curiously weak and strong by turns. How she faces Richard like a true Nevil, while her escort tremble and shrink! The whole dialogue demands to be read aloud to bring home the wonderful effect of Richard's soft, slippery persuasion coiling round Anne's fierce passion, till it makes one feel choked. It is like seeing some fair struggling creature in the folds of a snake ; do what she will she cannot escape, for now we begin to see Richard's extraordinary powers. How many influences he brings to bear on her! His assumption of intense devotion to her, of repentance, and of pride which only she can bend, his subtle flattery, now of her beauty, now of her influence over him, all combine with his mingled audacity and deference to bowitch Anne. As if a spell were working on her, her passionate resistance melts away, while he redoubles his fawning and wiles.
* Look how this ring encompasseth thy finger,
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.' Then, as she leaves him, we are electrified by the sudden change, expressed first in the curt orders to the bearers of the corpse, and then the outburst of savage triumph when he is alone over his success. For
once, Richard is astonished at himself, as if he had not known his own powers before, and was surprised to find how he could triumph, in spite of his bodily defects.
Now (Act i. sc. 3) we plunge into the confusion of the court, and may notice the difference between this and similar bits in Henry VI. Here we certainly know that plots and intrigues are on foot, but it is all intelligible, and kept subordinate to the main story. Queen Elizabeth, who now appears, is not a very interesting person, she passionately loves her children by both marriages, and tries to protect them as best she can, yet there is no real strength in her. It is not quite clear whether Richard is in a real fury or a pretended one, when he bursts storming into her presence; at all events, he means to gain the credit of great concern at Clarence's imprisonment. Does he not enjoy hurling his fierce taunts at the Queen and her people, especially when Rivers feebly interposes? There is a savage snarl in the 'She may, Lord Rivers ? why, who knows not so ?' and the scornful word play • What, marry, may she ? marry with a king. And then the matchless impudence of the assertion, 'I am too childish-foolish for this world !'
It may be, as some of our critics say, all wrong to introduce Queen Margaret at this point, but surely her figure is very striking, coming in like a ghost of the past among the fierce combatants of the present. She presents an unmitigatedly painful picture of old age, all desolation, grief, and hatred, unrelieved by any softer touch, with nobody left to love, nothing even left to fight for, only the old fierce spirit blazing out in curses. All these smooth courtiers and upstarts shrink back from her tremendous invocations, while Richard, in the careless pride of a royal York, listens unmoved, sarcastically bidding Dorset learn Margaret's counsel. With his fiendish coolness he can take advantage of this awful apparition to pass off some of his pious hypocrisy op Buckingham and Hastings, even with the warrant for Clarence's execution lying in his pocket. When Richard is out of view for a little (Act i. sc. 4) this poor Clarence absorbs all our attention, less by his individuality than by the famous dreamdescription which everybody is supposed to know. I doubt whether any of Shakspere's actually supernatural scenos give one a feeling of greater horror than Clarence's ghastly visions, because they suggest so much. Every one has felt the horrible sensation of falling in a dream, and then the choking, the sudden changes, as one idea leads to another. Then the intense vividness of the sights under the sea, and worst of all to the guilty man, that 'shadow like an angel, with bright bair,' calling on the fiends to avenge his murder! It brings over one a sense of nightmare only to read it! Sbakspere must have had awful dreams himself sometimes to know it all so frightfully well !
Clarence used to be utterly despicable in the other plays, but something better comes out in him here, his deep repentance and the touching
prayer for his guiltless wife and his poor children. Whether Shakspere meant to bring out Richard into stronger relief it is not possible to say, but it is curious that into all the other characters, however base they may be, he has thrown some redeeming point of love, or pity, or repentance, as here in Clarence. We may notice it again in Edward, Hastings, Buckingham, even in Richard's lowest tools, as the murderers whom he has to employ so often. The very men who come to slaughter Clarence have some reluctance to get over. Still I never can see the point of the long argument between him and them, which stops the action, and really leads to nothing, for all poor Clarence's eloquent pleadings fail before Richard's money.
We should pause for an instant over that first scene of the second act, King Edward's dying effort to compose the strifes and jealousies of his court, by making the rivals swear friendship! How terribly hollow all these protestations of friendship sound from Hastings, Buckingham, and all of them, when we know what is to follow so soon. Unconsciously, they are calling down their own doom in spite of Edward's solemn warning ; especially in Buckingham's case, his feigned prayer prophecies his fate.
. When I have most need to employ a friend,
When I am cold in love to you or yours.' But the hypocrisy of the nobles is child's play to Richard's when he comes for his part in the matter. Notice the difference between his former roughness to the Queen and his silky deference to Edward ; and then his professions, which absolutely take one's breath away in their audacity. He looks at us with such a solemn face, and yet we know he is secretly chuckling. Now that Clarence is dead, and Edward dying, Richard's next point is the ruin of the Queen and her friends; and how cleverly he turns everything that way, boldly flinging on them the guilt of Clarence's death, and using their natural consternation as a weapon against them. It is a relief to turn from him to Edward, in his passionate outburst of remorse, illogically angry with other people, yet bitterly conscious of his own fault, and full of the old brotherly feeling for Clarence, the 'poor soul' who had been so unjustly slain. These reminiscences of Edward's put both him and Clarence in quite a new light; there was more in both than we should have credited them with. Why should the scene between the old Duchess of York and her grandchildren (Act ii. sc. 2) be so stiff and cold? Even the entrance of Queen Elizabeth in the grief of her widowhood does not stir us out of indifference; the whole effect is of a scene made to ordera bit of padding, in short, till Richard reappears to bewilder and puzzle all these simpler minds. It suits him now to drop his brutality to Elizabeth ; and just observe how he adapts his manner to