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than Shakespeare's; the editor did his work with insufficient caution, though comparatively few changes for the worse are intentionally his. He probably had a third or sixth Quarto collated with an unabridged Ms., ordering an untrustworthy assistant to correct the printed copy, and to add the omitted passages; subsequently he prob ably read through the whole, amending here and there, and not troubling to consult the Ms. too often, — and hence the genuineness of most of the added passages, and the doubtful character of so many of the smaller changes.
THE DATE OF COMPOSITION. Authorities are agreed in assigning Richard III. to 1594 or thereabout, relying mainly on the internal evidence of style, especially the manifest influence of Marlowe. In considering this influence it must be borne in mind that the play belongs naturally to the group of History plays dealing with the House of York, and links itself intimately to 2 Henry V1. and 3 Henry VI. Noteworthy Marlowean characteristics are the following: (1) Richard, like Tamburlaine, or Faustus, or Barabas, monopolises the whole action of the Drama; (2) the characters of this play of passion seem intended, for the most part, merely to set off the hero's "ideal villainy;" (3) the absence of evolution of character in the hero; (4) the hero's consciousness and
1 For example: i. 1. 65. ·
(Folio) "That tempts him to this harsh extremity."
Spedding held that there is nothing to choose between the readings of the Folio and the Quarto, but to us there seems all the difference in the world between them.
avowal of his villainy; (5) the tone of the play is often lyrical or epical rather than dramatic (for example, the lamentation of the women in ii. 2. 34-88, and iv. 1. 34104); (6) blank verse is used throughout, while prose and the lyrical forms found in the earlier plays are conspicuously absent.
The play of Richard III. was evidently Shakespeare's experiment his only experiment-in the Marlowean method of tragedy; but in one respect, at least, Shakespeare shows himself no blind follower of Marlowe. He weaves Nemesis into the play, and shows its consummation in Richard's fall; hence the significance of Margaret's fateful presence, haunting the scenes like some prophetic Chorus of ancient Drama.
In John Weever's Epigrammes,-printed in 1599, but written in 1595,- the 22d Epigram, addressed "Ad Gulielmum Shakespeare," makes mention of Romeo and Richard as well known characters; 1 and this reference is evidently to Richard III., not to Richard II. Possibly, too, the wooing of Estrild in the old play of Locrine is imitated (as Mr. Fleay in his Shakespeare Manual has suggested) from Richard III. i. 2. 49-224, where Richard wooes Anne. Locrine was first printed in 1595.
THE SOURCE OF THE PLOT. Sir Thomas More's Life of Richard the Third, incorporated by Hall and Holinshed in their Histories, is the chief source of the play. Shakespeare evidently used the second edition of Holinshed, copying a mistake which occurs only in that edition. The wooing of Queen Anne (alluded to above),
1"Romen. Richard; more, whose names I know not."
as well as Queen Margaret's part, are, however, purely imaginary.1
Possibly Shakespeare borrowed a few hints from an earlier play, written before 1588 and published in 1594, entitled, The True Tragedie of Richard the Third, etc.2 To Dr. Legge's Latin play (acted at Cambridge before 1583) Shakespeare certainly owed nothing.
There were several other plays on this subject, probably wholly or in part by Ben Jonson, called Richard Crookback; and another, now lost, perhaps more intimately connected with Shakespeare's.
DURATION OF ACTION. The time of Richard III., as analysed by Mr. Daniel, covers eleven days represented on the stage; with intervals. The total dramatic time is probably within one month.
1 See Courtenay's Commentaries on the Historical Plays, ii. 60-117.
2 Reprinted by the Shakespeare Society, 1844, from the only perfect copy extant. In this old play we find "A horse, a horse! a fresh horse!" also, Richard's reference to the ghosts of his victims "crying for revenge." The same Society printed Richard's Vision, a seventeenth century poem founded on Shakespeare's play, containing an interesting reference thereto.
See Henslowe's Diary, June 22, 1602.
• See New Shakspere Society's Transactions, 1877–79, p. 336.
Act iv. 2-5. Interval; Richard's march to
Day 9. Act v. 1. Interval; Richard's march from
Act v. 2 and first half of 3.
Act v. 3, second half, and 4 and 5.
The historic time is from about the date of Henry the Sixth's obsequies, May, 1471,-to the Battle of Bosworth Field, Aug. 22, 1485.