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LADY ANN E.
“O would to God that the inclusive vergo
And die ere men can say—God save the Queen !" In Richard III. concludes the fearful strife, which Shakspeare has depicted in the previous plays, as carried on between the houses of York and Lancaster. By his brilliant genius, the details of history are produced in such freshness of outline, as to impress on our minds facts and incidents that otherwise would have only a dry historical value.
LADY ANNE appears on the scene, as mourning for the death of Henry VI. She is interrupted by GLOUCESTER, who abruptly enters, and a “keen encounter" of words takes place between them. He confesses to having caused the death of Henry, for the sake of her beauty; but all his entreaties are at first scornfully rejected by her. At last she yields; and he, having gained his object, determines to convert her into a means of satisfying his wretched ambition.
MARGARET next appears, bitterly reminding GLOUCESTER of his crimes in slaying her husband and son, and exhausting language in depicting his villany. By the murder of CLARENCE, his brother, GLOUCESTER has removed one hindrance to his progress to the throne.
In describing this act, Shakspeare draws a painfully interesting picture of the death of CLARENCE in the Tower. Anne has now become the Duchess of Gloucester; and, in the fourth act, we notice that, accompanied by ELIZABETH, she proceeds to the Tower to visit the young princes, who are closely imprisoned by order of the DUKE. She is there informed that RICHARD is shortly to be crowned at Westminster, and is urged to join her husband, so that she may
share his elevation. She shows great unwillingness, and deprecates the “honied words” and deceit by which GLOUCESTER (now RICHARD III.) had taken captive her “woman's heart.” ELIZABETH, not permitted to see her babes in the Tower, with a piteous mother's affection, bids its stones, within which they are immured, farewell; and, shortly after, the two young princes are cruelly murdered, by order of RICHARD.
His villany does not end here. He gives out that Anne, the “Queen, is sick, and like to die,” and meanwhile endeavours to ally himself to his brother's daughter. QUEEN ELIZABETH reproaches him with the murder of her sons; and when he would engage her kind offices in persuading her daughter to marry him, she asks him, in bitter irony, if she shall
“Tell her thou mad'st away with uncle Clarence,
Mad'st quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne." Thus we see the last of Lady Anne, who, with a woman's heart of tenderness, was beguiled from the happiness of retired life, and linked with the fortunes of a man whose iron soul knew no bounds in sin. Fallen a victim to relentless and unscrupulous ambition, the dramatist revives her in another form. He presents before the troubled mind of RICHARD the ghosts of each of his victims; that of QUEEN ANNE at last rises . before him, and, in prophecy, cries—
"To-morrow in the battle think on me,
LADY ANN E.
Anne. Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell!
Gloucester. Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
Anne. Foul devil, for God's sake, hence, and trouble us not; For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell, Fill'd it with cursing cries, and deep exclaims. If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds, Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry's wounds Open their congeald mouths, and bleed afresh ! — Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity; For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells: Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural, Provokes this deluge most unnatural. O God, which this blood mad'st, revenge his death! O earth, which this blood drink'st, revenge his death! Either, heaven, with lightning strike the murderer dead, Or, earth, gape open wide, and eat him quick; As thou dost swallow up this good king's blood, Which his hell-govern'd arm had butchered !
King RICHARD III.-Act I. Scene II.