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Written by Emmeline
(8/22/2004 8:07 a.m.)
1 there seems to have been an Austen family joke about the name Richard. See Letters (15 Sept 1790): 'Mr Richard Harvey's match is put off till he has got a Better Christian name, of which he has great Hopes' (p. 15). Also see the beginning of Northanger Abbey, where Catherine Morland's father is 'a very respectable man, though his name was Richard' (p. 1).
2 Whig history found it necessary to depict Richard III as a villain, since he was replaced by the Tudors, the family which brought about English Protestantism and expansion into the New World. Horace Walpole, in Historic Doubts, was the most vocal eighteenth-century opponent of the Tudors and defender of Richard III. He writes: 'It occurred to me some years ago, that the picture of Richard the third, as drawn by historians, was a character formed by prejudice and invention. I did not take Shakespeare's tragedy for a genuine representation.... Many of the crimes imputed to Richard seemed improbable; and what was stronger, contrary to his interest.... [A]s it was easy to perceive, under all the glare of encomiums which historians have heaped on the wisdom of Henry the Seventh, that he was a mean and unfeeling tyrant, I suspected that they had blackened his rival, till Henry, by the contrast, should appear in a kind of amiable light' (pp. xiii-xiv). [Oxford]
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