« PreviousContinue »
THE FIRST PART OF KING HENRY VI.
First printed in the folio of 1623.—In this play little or nothing of Shakespeare is to be traced: but the fact of its being admitted into the folio may be regarded as a proof that he had touched it here and there. The “ Henery the vj,” which Henslowe mentions as first acted on March 3, 1591-2, and as frequently repeated afterwards (Diary, p. 22, sqq. Shakespeare Soc. ed.), was perhaps The First Part of King Henry the Sixth in its original state, and the play to which Nash alludes when he says, “ How would it haue ioyed braue Talbot (the terror of the French) to thinke that, after he had line two hundred yeares in his tombe, he should triumph againe on the stage, and haue his bones new embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least (at severall times), who in the tragedian that represents his person imagine they behold him fresh bleeding." Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Diuell, sig. F 3, ed. 1595.
1864. “ The Three Parts of King Henry the Sixth appear to me to have been written by Shakespeare in conjunction with others. Marlowe was probably one of his coadjutors. The Temple-Garden scene and those scenes which relate to the death of the Talbots were perhaps all that he contributed to the First Part. Possibly he may have also written the interview between Talbot and the Countess of Auvergne.
“ He seems to have written more of The Second and Third Parts.
“I believe that the first folio has given us all these three plays substantially as they were first written, but not without occasional errors, and even sophistications. As to The First Part of the Contention and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, I have little doubt that they are merely piratical depravations of The Second and Third Parts of King Henry the Sixth. These two pirated plays, however, with all their imperfections, and in the midst of every variety of corruption, seem here and there to have preserved the genuine text in passages which are incorrectly given in the folio, and consequently ought to be studied by modern editors.
"I have merely stated my opinions : to bring forward the reasons on which they are founded would carry me far beyond the limits of a note.” W. N. LETTSOM.
I must observe here, that I am far from agreeing with my friend Mr. Lettsom about The Three Parts of King Henry VI. I still believe that The First Part of King Henry VI. was not written by Shakespeare in conjunction with any other author or authors, but that it is a comparatively old drama, which he slightly altered and improved. Nor am I inclined to relinquish my opinion that he had no share in the composition of The First Part of the Contention, &c. and of The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York,—both of which I strongly suspect to have been wholly from the pen of Marlowe. See my Memoir of Shakespeare, vol. i. p. 48 and pp. 54-5; also the Introductions to The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI., in the present volume.
KING HENRY the Sixth.
wards duke of York.
MARGARET, daughter to Reignier, afterwards married to King Henry.
JOAN LA PUCELLE, commonly called Joan of Arc.
several Attendants both on the English and French.
Fiends appearing to La Pucelle.
SCENE-Partly in England, and partly in France.
* That there are properly tro Earls of Warwick in this play,—the Warwick of the opening scene (who is a mute) being Beauchamp, the Warwick of the later scenes Neville,-has been remarked by Ritson in his note on sc. 1, and by Courtenay in his Comment, on the list. Plays of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 213.
THE FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY VI.
SCENE I. Westminster Abbey.
Dead march. The corpse of King HENRY the Fifth, in state, is
brought in, 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, yield day to night!
Glo. England ne'er had a king until his time.
Exe. We mourn in black : why mourn we not in blood ?
Eike captives bound to a triumphant car.
Win. He was a king bless'd of the King of kings.
Glo. The church! where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd,
Win, Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art protector,
Glo. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh;
Bed. Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace! Let's to the altar :-heralds, wait on us : Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms; Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.Posterity, await for wretched years, When at their mothers' moist() eyes babes shall suck; Our isle be made a marish of salt tears, (*) And none but women left to wail the dead.Henry the Fifth! thy ghost I invocate; Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils ! Combat with adverse planets in the heavens ! A far more glorious star thy soul will make Than Julius Cæsar or bright Berenice.(4)
Enter a Messenger.
Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, Rouen, Orleans,"
Bed. What say'st thou, man! before dead Henry's corse
Glo. Is Paris lost? is Rouen yielded up ?
Exe. How were they lost? what treachery was us'd ?
Mess. No treachery; but want of men and money.
Exe. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
Enter a second Messenger. Sec. Mess. Lords, view these letters, full of bad mischance. France is revolted from the English quite, Except some petty towns of no import : The Dauphin Charles is crowned king in Rheims; The Bastard of Orleans with him is join'd; Reignier, duke of Anjou, doth take his part ;(8) The Duke of Alençon flieth to his side.
Exe. The Dauphin crowned king! all fly to him! 0, whither shall we fly from this reproach?