Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

play, as well as in Hall's Chronicle, as the terror of the French.' Holinshed, who was Shakspeare's guide, omits the passage in Hall, in which Talbot is thus described ; and this is an additional proof that this play was not the production of our great poet.

There are other internal proofs of this :

1. The author does not seem to bave known precisely how old Henry VI. was at the time of his father's death. He supposed him to have passed the state of infancy before he lost his father, and even to have remembered some of his sayings. In the Fourth Act, Sc. 4, speaking of the famous Talbot, he says:

* When I was young (as yet I am not old),
I do remember how my father said,
A stouter champion never handled sword.'

But Shakspeare knew that Henry VI. could not possibly remember any thing of his father :-No sooner was I crept out of

my cradle, But I was made a king at nine months old.'

King Henry VI. Part 11. Act iv. Sc. 9.

• When I was crown'd I was but nine months old.'

King Henry VI. Part 111. Act i. Sc. 1.

The first of these passages is among the additions made by Shakspeare to the old play, according to Mr. Malone's hypothesis. The other passage does occur in the True Tragedie of Richard Duke of York; and therefore it is natural to conclude that neither Shakspeare nor the author of that piece could have written the First Part of King Henry VI.

2. In Act ii. Sc. v. of this play, it is said that the earl of Cambridge raised an army against his sovereign. But Shakspeare, in his play of King Henry V. has represented the matter truly as it was: the earl being in that piece, Act ii., condemned at Southampton for conspiring to assassinate Henry.

3. The author of this play knew the true pronunciation of the word Hecate, as it is used by the Roman writers :

'I speak not to that railing Hecaté.'

FE

But Shakspeare, in Macbeth, always uses Hecate as a dissyllable.

The second speech in this play ascertains the author to have been very familiar with Hall's Chronicle :

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

* What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech.'

cause.

This

This phrase is introduced upon almost every occasion by Hall when he means to be eloquent. Holinshed, not Hall, was Shakspeare's historian. Here then is an additional minute proof that this play was not Shakspeare's.

This is the sum of Malone's argument, which Steevens has but feebly combated in notes appended to it; and I am disposed to think more out of a spirit of opposition than from any other

Malone conjectured that this piece which we now call the First Part of King Henry VI. was, when first performed, called The Play of King Henry VI.; and he afterwards found his conjecture confirmed by an entry in the accounts of Henslowe, the proprietor of the Rose Theatre on the Bank Side. It must have been very popular, having been played no less than thirteen times in one season: the first entry of its performance by the Lord Strange's company, at the Rose, is dated March 3, 1591. It is worthy of remark that Shakspeare does not appear at any time to have had the smallest connexion with that theatre, or the companies playing there; which affords additional argument in favour of Malone's position, that the play could not be his. By whom it was written (says Malone), it is now, I fear, difficult to ascertain. It was not entered on the Stationers' books, nor printed till the year 1623; when it was registered with Shakspeare's undisputed plays by the editors of the first

lalone

folio, and improperly entitled the Third* Part of King Henry VI. In one sense it might be called so; for two plays on the subject of that reign had been printed before. But considering the history of that king, and the period of time which the piece com. prehends, it ought to have been called, what in fact it is, The First Part of King Henry VI. At this distance of time it is impossible to ascertain on what principle it was that Heminge and Condell admitted it into their volume; but I suspect that they gave it a place as a necessary introduction to the two other parts; and because Shakspeare had made some slight alterations, and written a few lines in it t.

Mr. Malone's arguments have made many converts to his opinion; and perhaps Mr. Morgann, in his elegant Essay on the Dramatic Character of Falstafft, led the way, when he pronounced it “That drum-and-trumpet thing,—written doubtless, or rather exhibited long before Shakspeare was born, though afterwards repaired and furbished up by him with here and there a little sentiment and diction.'

* This applies only to the title in the Register of the Stationers' Company: in the first folio it is called the First Part of King Henry VI.

+ Malone's Life of Shakspeare, p. 310, ed. 1821. # First published in 1777.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

1

KING HENRY THE SIXTH.
DUKE of GLOSTER, Uncle to the King, and Protector.
DUKE of BEDFORD, Uncle to the King, and Regent of France.
THOMAS BEAUFORT, Duke of Exeter, great Uncle to the King.
HENRY BEAUFORT, great Uncle to the King, Bishop of Win-

chester, and afterwards Cardinal.
JOAN BEAUFORT, Earl of Somerset; afterwards Duke.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET, eldest Son of Richard, late Earl of

Cambridge; afterwards Duke of York.
EARL of WARWICK. EARL of SALISBURY. EARL of SUFFOLK.
LORD TALBOT, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury.
JOHN TALBOT, his Son.
EDMUND MORTIMER, Earl of March.
Mortimer's Keeper, and a Lawyer.
SIR JOHN FASTOLFE. SIR WILLIAM LUCY.
SIR WILLIAM GLANSDALE. SIR THOMAS GARGRAVE.
Mayor of London. WOODVILLE, Lieutenant of the Tower.
VERNON, of the White Rose, or York Faction.
BASSET, of the Red Rose, or Lancaster Faction.
CHARLES, Dauphin, and afterwards King of France.
REIGNIER, Duke of Anjou, and titular King of Naples.
DUKE of BURGUNDY. DUKE of ALENÇON.
Governor of Paris. Bastard of Orleans.
Master-Gunner of Orleans, and his Son.
General of the French Forces in Bordeaux.
A French Sergeant. A Porter.
An old Shepherd, Father to Joan la Pucelle.
MARGARET, Daughter to Reignier : afterwards married to

King Henry.
COUNTESS of AUVERGNE.
JOAN LA PUCELLE, commonly called Joan of Arc.
Fiends appearing to La Pucelle, Lords, Warders of the

Tower, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and seve-
ral Attendants both on the English and French.

SCENE-partly in England, and partly in France.

FIRST PART OF

KING HENRY VI.

ACT I.

SCENE I. Westminster Abbey. Dead March. Corpse of King Henry the Fifth

discovered, lying in state; attended on by the Dukes of BedFORD, GLOSTER, and EXETER; the EARL of WARWICK', the Bishop of WINCHESTER, Heralds, 8c.

Bedford. HUNG be the heavens with black”, yield day to night! Comets, importing change of times and states, Brandish your crystal 3 tresses in the sky, And with them scourge the bad revolting stars,

| Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, who is a character in King Henry V. The earl of Warwick, who appears in a subsequent part of this drama, is Richard Nevill, son to the earl of Salisbury, who came to the title in right of his wife, Anne, sister of Henry Beauchamp, duke of Warwick. Richard, the father of this Henry, was appointed governor to the king on the demise of Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, and died in 1439. There is no reason to think the author meant to confound the two characters.

? Alluding to the ancient practice of hanging the stage with black when a tragedy was to be acted. See Malone's Account of the English Stage.

3 Crystal is an epithet repeatedly bestowed on comets by our ancient writers. Thus in a Sonnet by Lord Sterline, 1604 :

• When as those chrystal comets whiles appear.'

« AnteriorContinuar »