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truth, because the will refuses to see it; moreover, the fundamental form of all evil is lying and hypocrisy, because evil cannot maintain itself except by the semblance and mask of what is good.

But the attainment of the object at which Richard had aimed, proves the turning-point in his fortunes; for tyranny cannot of course maintain anything, inasmuch as it is itself essentially destruction and annihilation, and accordingly cannot even maintain its own existence. When it has become realised, that is, when it has destroyed the organism of the state, it then cannot do otherwise than destroy itself, inasmuch as it has nothing else to destroy. This process of self-destruction which is represented in a personal form) in the further development of Richard's character, constitutes the further advance of the dramatic action. Richard's energy, his skill in dissembling, his self-control, and his self-confidence diminish in the same degree as circumstances become louder in their demands upon his activity to maintain the sovereignty which had been acquired by bloodshed. This demand he feels to be beyond his power, and for the first time he is conscious of a feeling of weakness and helplessness, which feeling awakens his conscience. But the destroying process of his existence has herein reached a height where it can no longer be checked. Richard is Richard only without a conscience; upon its awakening he is no longer himself, he has already perished. The death which, in his pangs of conscience he seeks and finds in the tumult of his victorious enemies, is but the outward sign of his already complete self-destruction.

Now tyranny can arise only from or in the time of civil war, which, although it may not be apparent in an outward form, is always present inwardly, that is, in the general state of moral corruption; it cannot arise except as a result of the total decay of social and political life. It is itself merelythe expression of the highest stage of disorganisation, and naturally increases when the strength of evil is broken, when the force of the desires and passions has so far exhausted the mind that it can no longer assert its own will, when the state and the people have become so helpless that they can no longer guide themselves. Tyranny then springs up either in order to lead to the complete annihilation of political independence (as was the case with the imperial power of Rome), or, as in the present instance where it forms a point of transition, in order to prepare a new historical era by the entire removal of the organic disturbance of history, by the punishment and destruction of all its promoters, and by correcting the rest. To carry out a punishment of this kind is, as it were, the task, as well as the historical and poetical significance, of tyranny; historically because it expresses the co-operation of the moral necessity with the human freedom of will, poetically because, when represented in this manner, it gives a direct view of the true significance of history.

All the other characters of the play are selected in accordance with this view: Margaret, the fury of the horrible past upon which the whole rests, the terrible prophetess whose predictions are so many curses, because the past hangs like a curse on the heads of all; by her side we have the Duchess of York, the mother of three royal brothers-she, it is true, stands nearer to the present, but like Margaret is destined only to witness the downfall of her guilty house, and to interfere in the action only in so far as, when hurling the terrible, overwhelming curse upon her own son, she calls forth the first stirrings of conscience in Richard's soul, and is thus the cause of his ruin; Edward IV., Clarence and Lady Anne are the representatives of the gloomy present—they, although not exactly eminent in virtue, are nevertheless too good for the corrupt state of the times, and are drawn into the great punishment because they arrogated to themselves a position to which they were not called ; lastly, the children of Edward and of Clarence are the representatives of a better future, which, however, cannot be realised by them, inasmuch as they are the off-shoots of a race burdened with the curse of the past. Hence they too perish by the hands of him who is carrying out the judgment of God; for the sins of the fathers bring destruction upon the children, the former perish because of the past, the latter because the future-which lives on in the past-refuses to let them live. The secondary characters, Rivers, Grey,


Vaughan, Hastings, and Buckingham are punished for the rashness with which they pressed towards the great; catastrophe ; Buckingham, also on account of his own transgressions.

The race of Henry IV. is ultimately quite rooted out; of the house of York, with the exception of the childless Richard,* there survives but one daughter of Edward IV., to connect the old with the new era. This had to be. The deliverer and founder of the new era had necessarily to be of a different blood ; yet his title had, at the same time, in some measure to mediate between the past and the future. Such was the case with Henry, duke of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII., and the husband of Elizabeth, the above-named daughter of Edward IV. of the House of Lancaster (Gaunt), it is true, but not a descendant of Henry IV. He appears a gentle, pious youth, not a distinguished or eminent person. For the age is so demoralised that it not only cannot offer any resistance to the tyrant Richard, but is also unable to provide a deliverer from within itself. Very justly, therefore, Henry considers himself God's captain,' and does not centre his hope in himself, in the prevailing circumstances or in the strength of his army; it is simply his consciousness that it is the will of God that gives him the energy he exhibits in the great enterprise. He is the man whom God sent, whom the age required, and who alone was entitled to act; the invisible hand, which ever guides the course of history, maintains and protects him. How beautifully the poet has contrived to express this is shown in that scene of the fifth act, so frequently censured, in which appear the ghosts of those members of the royal family whom Richard had murdered. Such spectral apparitions certainly do not properly belong to an historical play ; history knows nothing of them. The poet, however, conceives them but as forms which rise up vividly before the dreamer's imagination, and which in the one case proceed from an evil conscience, in the other from a pure conscience ; the spectral apparitions

* His son, whom Shakspeare does not mention, died one year before him.

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are to Richard merely the threatening admonishers called forth by the disturbed state of his mind, and his troubled conscience; to Richmond they are merely the encouraging messengers of victory presented to his mind's eye by his pure, trusting heart and his consciousness of right. Yet these figures do not appear only to the dreamers, they are also seen by the spectators; hence they are no mere visionary forms, but have their full poetic reality ; to have introduced them as mere dreams would not have excused the poet. Shakspeare therefore must have had some other special object for inventing this scene. And his object is sufficiently obvious if only it be looked at properly. For the dramatist does not describe history simply with the accuracy of a portrait painter, he also invents it, and this invention is the inner nucleus of history—the ideal nature of events not actually or directly manifested—because it coincides with the first and invisible motives of the course of history. On this account the drama must exhibit 'externally what, in history, exists only internally and is hidden beneath the veil of its often unimportant consequences and effects. This seeming violation of history in the poet proves itself an excellence, as the best because the simplest—means for giving a clear elucidation of the ideal truth of his representation, the substance of which, here as everywhere in Shakspeare, is a view of history from the aspect of its inner connection with that higher, ethical guidance of events spoken of above-a view moreover which Shakspeare expresses emphatically in the words uttered by Henry, in prayer, shortly before the appearance of the spirits (v. 3):

"O Thou ! whose captain I account myself,

Look on my forces with a gracious eye;
Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath,
That they may crush down with a heavy fall
The usurping helmets of our adversaries !
Make us thy ministers of chastisement,
That we may praise Thee in thy victory!
To Thee I do commend my watchful soul,
Ere I let fall the windows of mine eyes;
Sleeping, and wakiny, 0 defend me still !”

That his prayer is heard is then confirmed by the ghost of Buckingham, whose speech coucludes with the words :

“God and good angels fight on Richmond's side;

And Richard falls in height of all his pride.” This forms the close not only of the tragedy bearing the name of · Richard III.,' but of the whole great tragedy which begins with Richard II.,' and ends with the Third of that name.

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