The Tragical History Of King Richard Iii, Alter'd From Shakespeare "Perish The Thought!"

Colley Cibber

"Perish The Thought!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Lovers of Shakespearean plays have almost to a man detested the liberties which Restoration and eighteenth century writers took with the plays of the master dramatist. Colley Cibber's rewritten, or as he called it, "alter'd" version of Richard III is often regarded as one of the worst examples of what has been done to a Shakespearean play. As in the original, Cibber has Richard fall asleep the night before the Battle of Bosworth Field, only to have his fitful rest troubled by the appearance of some of his victims: Henry VI; Lady Anne, Richard's wife; and the little princes, his newphews, whom Richard had murdered in the Tower of London. Catesby, Richard's servant, comes to waken his master shortly after one o'clock, so that he will have ample time to don his armor for the next day's battle. Richard tells Catesby of his horrid dream, saying it causes as much terror as an opposing army of ten thousand men. Catesby tries to reassure his master and hearten him:


CATESBY
Be more yourself, my Lord: consider, Sir,
Were it but known a dream had frighted you,
How wou'd your animated foes presume on't?
RICHARD
Perish that thought!–No, never be it said
That Fate itself could awe the soul of Richard.