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are executed with lively colouring and striking features; but, excepting Margaret, they are exhibited indirectly; and are more fully known by the conduct of Richard towards them, than by their own demeanour. They give the sketch and outlines of their own actions; but the picture appears finished in the deportment of Richard. This, however, of itself, is a proof of very singular skill. The conduct of the story is not inferior to that in Shakespeare's other historical tragedies. It exhibits a natural progress of events, terminated by one interesting and complete catastrophe. Many of the episodes have uncommon excellence. Of this kind are, in general, all the speeches of Margaret. Their effect is awful: they coincide with the style of the tragedy; and by wearing the same gloomy complexion, her prophecies and imprecations suit and increase its horror. There was never in any poem a dream superior to that of Clarence. It pleases, like the prophecies of Margaret, by a solemn anticipation of future events, and by its consonance with the general tone of the tragedy. It pleases, by being so simple,
so natural, and so pathetic, that every reader seems to have felt the same or similar horrors; and is inclined to say with Brakenbury,
No marvel, Lord, that it affrighted you;
This tragedy, however, like every work of Shakespeare, has many faults; and, in particular, it seems to have been too hastily written. Some incidents are introduced without any apparent reason, or without apparent necessity. We are not, for instance, sufficiently informed of the motive that prompted Richard to marry the widow of Prince Edward. In other respects, as was observed, this scene possesses very singular merit. The scene towards the close of the tragedy, between the Queen and Richard, when he solicits her consent to marry her daughter Elizabeth, seems no other than a copy of that now mentioned. As such, it is faulty; and still more so, by being executed with less ability. Yet this incident is not liable to the objection made to the former. We see a good, prudential reason, for the mar
riage of Richard with Elizabeth; but none for his marriage with Lady Anne. almost wish that the first courtship had been omitted, and that the dialogue between Richard and Anne had been suited and appropriated to Richard and the Queen. Neither are we sufficiently informed of the motives that, on some occasions, influenced the conduct of Buckingham. We are not enough prepared for his animosity against the Queen and her kindred; nor can we pronounce, without hazarding conjecture, that it proceeded from envy of their sudden greatness, or from having his vanity flattered by the seeming deference of Richard. Yet these motives seem highly probable. The young Princes bear too great a share in the drama. It would seem the poet intended to interest us very much in their misfortunes. The representation, however, is not agreeable. The Princes have more smartness than simplicity; and we are more affected with Tyrrel's description of their death, than pleased with any thing in their own conversation. Nor does the scene of the ghosts, in the last act, seem equal inexe
cution to the design of Shakespeare. There is more delightful horror in the speech of Richard awakening from his dream, than in any of the predictions denounced against him. There seems, indeed, some impropriety in representing those spectres as actually appearing, which were only seen in a vision. Besides, Richard might have described them in the succeeding scene, to Ratcliffe, so as to have produced, at least in the perusal of the work, a much stronger effect. The representation of ghosts in this passage, is by no means so affecting, nor so awful, as the dream related by Clarence. Lastly, there is in this performance too much deviation in the dialogue from the dignity of the buskin; and deviations still more blameable, from the language of decent manners. Yet, with these imperfections, this tragedy is a striking monument of human genius; and the success of the poet, in delineating the character of Richard, has been as great as the singular boldness of the design.
DRAMATIC CHARACTER OF SIR JOHN FALSTAFF.
MY intention in the following Essay, is to explain and account for the pleasure we receive from the representation of Shakespeare's dramatic character of Sir John Falstaff. In treating this subject, I shall with as much brevity as possible mention the cause in which our pleasure depends; and then by a particular analysis of the character, endeavour to establish my theory.
No external object affects us in a more disagreeable manner, than the view of suf fering occasioned by cruelty; our uneasiness