Of Cooke's performance, theatre goers were said to have come away with the idea that Richard III was
'a very wicked man, and kills little children in their beds, with something like the pleasure which the giants
and ogres in children’s books are represented to have taken in that practice'
"Do we feel anything like disgust, as we do at that butcher-like representation of him that passes for him on the stage? A horror at his crimes blends with the effect which we feel, but how is it qualified, how is it carried off, by the rich intellect which he displays, his resources, his wit, his buoyant spirits, his vast knowledge and insight into characters, the poetry of his
part—not an atom of all which is made perceivable in Mr. C.’s way of acting it. Nothing but his crimes, his actions, is visible; they are prominent and staring; the murderer stands out, but where is the lofty genius, the man of vast capacity,
the profound, the witty the accomplished Richard?"
I like to take from Lambs writings some sort of support for the real Richard III, the Richard III I have come to know, but it is more that likely that Lamb writes in defense of Shakespeare's plays themselves for he argues that Shakespeare should be 'read, rather than performed, in order to protect Shakespeare from butchering by mass commercial performances.'
Is he right?