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*KING HENRY VI. PART I.] The hiftorical tranfaction contained in this play, take in the compafs of above thirty years. I muft obferve, however, that our author, in the three parts of Henry VI. has not been very precise to the date and difpofition of his facts; but fhuffled them, backwards and forwards, out of time. For inftance; the lord Talbot is killed at the end of the fourth Act of this play, who in reality did not fall till the 13th of July, 1453 and The Second Part of Henry V1. opens with the marriage of the king, which was folemnized eight years before Talbot's death, in the year 1445. Again, in the Second Part, dame Eleanor Cobham is introduced to infult Queen Margaret; though her penance and banishment for forcery happened three years before that princess came over to England. I could point out many other tranfgreffions against history, as far as the order of time is concerned. Indeed, though there are feveral mafter-strokes in these three plays, which inconteftibly betray the workmanship of Shakspeare; yet I am almost doubtful, whether they were entirely of his writing. And unless they were wrote by him very early, I fhould rather imagine them to have been brought to him as a director of the stage; and fo have received fome finishing beauties at his hand. An accurate obferver will eafily fee, the diction of them is more obfolete, and the numbers more mean and profaical, than in the generality of his genuine compofitions. THEOBALD,
Having given my opinion very fully relative to these plays at the end of The Third Part of King Henry VI. it is here only neceffary to apprize the reader what my hypothesis is, that he may be the better enabled, as he proceeds, to judge concerning its probability. Like many others, I was long ftruck with the many evident Shakspearianifms in these plays, which appeared to me to carry fuch decifive weight, that I could scarcely bring myself to examine with attention any of the arguments that have been urged against his being the author of them. I am now furprized, (and my readers perhaps may say the fame thing of themfelves,) that I fhould never have adverted to a very striking circumftance which distinguishes this first part from the other parts of King Henry VI. This circumftance is, that none of these Shakfperian paffages are to be found here, though feveral are fcattered through the two other parts. I am therefore decifively of opinion that this play was not written by Shakspeare. The reafons on which that opinion is founded, are stated at large in the Differtation above referred to. But I would here request the reader to attend particularly to the verfification of this piece, (of which almoft every line has a pause at the end,) which is fo different from that of Shakspeare's undoubted plays, and of the greater part of the two fucceeding pieces as altered by him, and fo exactly correfponds with that of the tragedies written by others before and about the time of his first commencing author, that
this alone might decide the queftion, without taking into the account the numerous claffical allufions which are found in this first part. The reader will be enabled to judge how far this argument deferves attention, from the feveral extracts from those ancient pieces which he will find in the Effay on this fubject.
With refpect to the fecond and third parts of King Henry VI. or, as they were originally called, The Contention of the Two famous Houfes of Yorke and Lancaster, they ftand, in my apprehenfion, on a very different ground from that of this first part, or, as I believe it was anciently called, The Play of King Henry VI.-The Contention, &c. printed in two parts, in quarto, 1600, was, I conceive, the production of fome playwright whopreceded, or was contemporary with Shakspeare; and out of that piece he formed the two plays which are now denominated the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI.; as, out of the old plays of King John and The Taming of the Shrew, he formed two other plays with the fame titles. For the reasons on which this opinion is formed, I muft again refer to my Effay on this fubject.
This old play of King Henry VI. now before us, or as our author's editors have called it, the first part of King Henry VI. I suppose, to have been written in 1589, or before. See An Attempt to afcertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II. The difpofition of facts in these three plays, not always correfponding with the dates, which Mr. Theobald mentions, and the want of uniformity and confiftency in the feries of events exhibited, may perhaps be in fome measure accounted for by the hypothefis now ftated. As to our author's having accepted these pieces as a Director of the ftage, he had, I fear, no pretenfion to fuch a fituation at so early a period. MALONE.
The chief argument on which the first paragraph of the foregoing note depends, is not, in my opinion, conclufive. This hiftorical play might have been one of our author's earliest dramatick efforts and almoft every young poet begins his career by imitation. Shakspeare, therefore, till he felt his own strength, perhaps fervilely conformed to the ftyle and manner of his predeceffors. Thus, the captive eaglet described by Rowe : a while endures his cage and chains, "And like a prifoner with the clown remains : "But when his plumes fhoot forth, his pinions fwell, "He quits the ruftick and his homely cell,
"Breaks from his bonds, and in the face of day
What further remarks I may offer on this fubject, will appear in the form of notes to Mr. Malone's Effay, from which I do not wantonly differ,-though hardily, I confefs, as far as my fentiments may feem to militate against those of Dr. Farmer.
King Henry the Sixth.
Duke of Glofter, Uncle to the King, and Protector.
Henry Beaufort, great Uncle to the King, Bishop of
Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.
Sir John Faftolfe. Sir William Lucy.
Charles, Dauphin, and afterwards King of France.
Countess of Auvergne.
Joan la Pucelle, commonly called Joan of Arc.
FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY VI.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Dead march. Corpfe of King Henry the Fifth dif covered, lying in ftate; attended on by the Dukes. of BEDFORD, GLOSTER, and EXETER; the Earl of WARWICK,' the Bishop of Winchester, Heralds, &c.
BED. Hung be the heavens with black,2 yield day to night! Comets, importing change of times and states,
earl of Warwick;] The Earl of Warwick who makes his appearance in the firft fcene of this play is Richard Beauchamp, who is a character in King Henry V. The Earl who appears in the fubfequent part of it, is Richard Nevil, fon to the Earl of Salisbury, who became poffeffed of the title in right of his wife, Anne, fifter of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, on the death of Anne his only child in 1449. Richard, the father of this Henry, was appointed governor to the king, on the demife of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, and died in 1439. There is no reason to think that the author meant to confound the two characters.
"Hung be the heavens with black,] Alluding to our ancient ftage-practice when a tragedy was to be expected. So, in Sid
ney's Arcadia, Book II: "There arofe, even with the funne, a vaile of darke cloudes before his face, which fhortly had blacked over all the face of heaven, preparing (as it were) a mournfull ftage for a tragedie to be played on.' See alfo Mr. Malone's Hiftorical Account of the English Stage. STEEVENS,
3 Brandifh your crystal treffès-] Crystal is an epithet repeatedly bestowed on comets by our ancient writers. So, in a Sonnet, by Lord Sterline, 1604 :
"When as thofe chrystal comets whiles appear." Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, Book I. c. x. applies it to a lady's face:
"Like funny beams threw from her chrystal face." Again, in an ancient fong entitled The falling out of Lovers is the renewing of Love:
"You chryftal planets fhine all clear
"There is alfo a white comet with filver haires," fays Pliny, as tranflated by P. Holland, 1601. STEEVENS.
4 That have confented-] If this expreffion means no more than that the stars gave a bare confent, or agreed to let King Henry die, it does no great honour to its author. I believe to confent, in this inftance, means to act in concert. Concentus, Lat. Thus Erato the muse, applauding the song of Apollo, in Lyly's Midas, 1592, cries out: "O fweet confent!" i. e. fweet union of founds. Again, in Spenfer's Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. ii: "Such mufick his wife words with time confented.”, Again, in his tranflation of Virgil's Culex:
"Chaunted their fundry notes with fweet concent.” Again, in Chapman's verfion of the 24th Book of Homer's Ody fey:
- all the facred nine
"Of deathlefs muses, paid thee dues divine:
By varied turns their heavenly voices venting; "All in deep paffion for thy death confenting. Confented, or as it fhould be fpelt, concented, means, have thrown themselves into a malignant configuration, to promote the death of Henry. Spenfer, in more than one instance, spells this word as it appears in the text of Shakspeare, as does Ben Jonfon, in his Epithalamion on Mr. Wefton. The following lines,