« AnteriorContinua »
THIS tragedy, though it is called the Life and Death of this Prince, comprizes, at most, but the last eight years of his time; for it opens with George Duke of Clarence being clapped up in the Tower, which happened in the beginning of the year 1477; and closes with the death of Richard at Bosworth field, which battle was fought on the 22d of August, in the year 1485.
It appears that several dramas on the present subject had been written before Shakspeare attempted it. See the notes at the conclusion of this play, which was first entered at Stationers' Hall by Andrew Wise, Oct. 20, 1597, under the title of The Tragedie of King Richard the Third, with the Death of the Duke of Clarence. Before this, viz. Aug. 15th, 1586, was entered, A tragical Report of King Richard the Third, a Ballad. It may be necessary to remark that the words, song, ballad, enterlude, and play, were often synonymously used. STEEVens.
The notes referred to by Mr. Steevens, and printed at the end of his edition of the play, I shall here subjoin, for the purpose of bringing what has been said on this subject into one point of view. MALONE.
The oldest known edition of this tragedy is printed for Andrew Wise, 1597 but Harrington, in his Apologie for Poetrie, written in 1590, and prefixed to the translation of Ariosto, says, that a tragedy of Richard the Third had been acted at Cambridge. His words are, "For tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies, that which was played at St. John's in Cambridge, of Richard the Third, would move, I think, Phalaris the tyrant, and terrifie all tyrannous minded men," &c. He most probably means Shakspeare's; and if so, we may argue, that there is some more ancient edition of this play than what I have mentioned; at least this shows how early Shakspeare's play appeared; or if some other Richard the Third is here alluded to by Harrington, that a play on this subject preceded our author's. T. WARTON.
It appears from the following passage in the preface to Nashe's Have With You to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is Up, 1596, that a Latin tragedy of King Richard III. had been acted at Trinity College, Cambridge: "or his fellow codshead, that in the Latine tragedie of King Richard, cried-Ad urbs, ad urbs, ad urbs, when his whole part was no more than—Urbs, urbs, ad arma, ad arma." STEEVENS.
The play on this subject mentioned by Sir John Harrington in