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Helmet, Shield, and Saddle, of Henry V ............. 383
ILLUSTRATIONS OF ACT V.
John (Sans Peur) Duke of Burgundy.
Isabella of Bavaria, Queen of France
Banners used in the Battle of Agincourt............ 390
STATE OF THE TEXT, AND CHRONOLOGY, OF KING John. The King John, of Shakspere, was first printed in the folio cullection of his plays, in 1623. We have followed the text of this edition almost literally; and in nearly every case where we have found it necessary to deviate from that text (the exceptions being those passages which are undoubted corrections of merely typographical errors), we have stated a reason for the deviation. Malone has observed that “King John is the only one of our poet's uncontested plays that is not entered in the books of the Stationers' Company."
King John is one of the plays of Shakspere enumerated by Francis Meres, in 1598. We have carefully considered the reasons which have led Malone to fix the date of its composition as 1596, and Chalmers as 1598; and we cannot avoid regarding them as far from satisfactory.
There can be no doubt, as we shall have to shew in detail, that Shakspere's King John is founded on a former play. That play, which consists of two parts, is entitled “The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England, with the Discoverie of King Richard Cordelion's base son, vulgarly named the Bastard Fauconbridge ; also the death of King John at Swinstead Abbey.”This play was first printed in 1591. The first edition has no author's name in the title-page ; the second, of 1611, has, “Written by W. Sh.";—and the third, of 1622, gives the name of “ William Shakspeare." We think there can be little hesitation in affirming that the attempt to fix this play upon Shakspere was fraudulent; yet Steevens, in his valuable collection of " Twenty of the Plays” that were printed in quarto, says, “the author (meaning Shakspere) seems to have been so thoroughly dissatisfied with this play as to have written it almost entirely anow.” Steevens afterwards receded from this opinion. Coleridge, too, in the classification which he attempted in 1802, speaks of the old King John as one of Shakspere's “transition-works-not his, yet of him.” The German critics concur in giving the original authorship to Shakspere. Tieck holds that the play first printed in the folio of 1623 is amongst the poet's latest works—not produced before 1611; and that production, he considers, called forth a new edition of the older play, which he determines to have been one of the earliest works of Shakspere. Ulrici holds that The Troublesome Reign of King Jobn' was written very soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which is shown by its zeal against Catholicism, which he describes as fanatical, by its glowing patriotism and warlike feelings; and he also assigns it for the most part to Shakspere. But he believes that the poet here wrought upon even an older production, or that it was written in companionship with some other dramatic author. We must, for our own parts, hold to the opinion that the old 'King John' was not either "his or of him."
Shakspere's son, Hamnet, died in August, 1596, at the age of twelve. Hence the inspiration, according to Malone, of the deep pathos of the grief of Constance on the probable death of Arthur. We doubt this. The dramatic poetry of Shakspere was built upon deeper and broader foundations than his own personal feelings and experiences. His sense of individuality is entirely swallowed up in the perfectly distinct individuality of the manifold characters which he has painted. From the first to the last of his plays, as far as we can discover, we have no " moods