« PreviousContinue »
Bur. They are then excused, my lord, when they see not what they do.
K. Hen. Then, good my lord, teach your cousin to consent to winking.
Bur. I will wink on her to consent, my lord, if you will teach her to know my meaning; for maids, well summered and warm kept, are like flies at Bartholomew-tide, blind, though they have their eyes; and then they will endure handling, which before would not abide looking on.
K. Hen. This moral ties me over to time, and a hot summer; and so I will catch the fly, your cousin, in the latter end, and she must be blind too.
Bur. As love is, my lord, before it loves.
K. Hen. It is so; and you may, some of you, thank love for my blindness; who cannot see many a fair French city, for one fair French maid that stands in my way
Fr. King. Yes, my lord, you see them perspectively, the cities turned into a maid ;? for they are all girdled with maiden walls, that war hath never entered.
K. Hen. Shall Kate be my wife?
K. Hen. I am content; so the maiden cities you talk of, may wait on her: so the maid, that stood in the way of my wish, shall show me the way to my will.
Fr. King. We have consented to all terms of
K. Hen. Is’t so, my lords of England ?
West. The king hath granted every article: His daughter, first; and then, in sequel, all, According to their firm, proposed natures.
Exe. Only, he hath not yet subscribed this :where your majesty demands,—that the king -- France, having any occasion to write for matter of grant, shall name your highness in this form, and with this addition, in French,- Notre très cher filz Henry roy d'Angleterre, héritier de France; and thus in Latin,-Præclarissi
1 A moral is the meaning or application of a fable. 2 A perspective meant a glass that assisted the sight in any way. 1 Præclarissimus for Præcarissimus. Shakspeare followed Holinshed, in whose Chronicle it stands thus. Indeed, all the old historians have the same blunder. In the original treaty of Troyes, printed in Rymer, it is præcarissimus.
mus? filius noster Henricus rex Angliæ, et hæres Francia.
Fr. King. Nor this I have not, brother, so denied, But your request shall make me let it pass.
K. Hen. I pray you then, in love and dear alliance, Let that one article rank with the rest: And, thereupon, give me your daughter.
Fr. King. Take her, fair son ; and from her blood
Issue to me; that the contending kingdoms
ness all, That here I kiss her as my sovereign queen. [Flourish.
Q. Isa. God, the best maker of all marriages,
K. Hen. Prepare we for our marriage:-on which day, My lord of Burgundy, we'll take your oath, And all the peers', for surety of our leagues. Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me; And may our oaths well kept and prosperous be!
Thus far, with rough, and all unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursued the story; In little room confining mighty men,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.? Small time, but, in that small, most greatly lived
This star of England: fortune made his sword;
And of it left his son imperial lord.
Of France and England, did this king succeed ;
That they lost France, and made his England bleed; Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their sake, In your fair minds let this acceptance take. [Exit.
1 "Our bending author;" that is, unequal to the weight of his subject, and bending beneath it.
2 “ Mangling by starts the full course of their glory;" that is, by touching only on their select parts.
i. e. France. A similar distinction is bestowed on Lombardy in the Taming of The Shrew :
“ The pleasant garden of great Italy.”
This play has many scenes of high dignity, and many of easy merriment. The character of the king. is well supported, except in his courtship, where he has neither the vivacity of Hal, nor the grandeur of Henry. The humor of Pistol is very happily continued; his character has, perhaps, been the model of all the bullies that have yet appeared on the English stage.
The lines given to the Chorus have many admirers; but the truth is, that in them a little may be praised, and much must be forgiven; nor can it be easily discovered why the intelligence given by the Chorus is more necessary in this play than in many others where it is omitted. The great defect of this play is the emptiness and narrowness of the last act, which a very little diligence might have easily avoided.
FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY THE
The historical transactions in this play take in the compass of above thirty years. In the three parts of King Henry VI. there is no very precise attention to the date and disposition of facts. For instance, 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 King Henry VI. opens with the marriage of the king, which was solemnized eight years before Talbot's death, in the year 1445. Again, in the second part, dame Eleanor Cobham is introduced to insult queen Margaret; though her penance and banishment for sorcery happened three years before that princess came over to England. There are other transgressions against history, as far as the order of time is concerned.
Mr. Malone has written a dissertation to prove that the First Part of King Henry VI. was not written by Shakspeare; and that the Second and Third Parts were only altered by him from the old play, entitled “ The Contention of the Two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster," printed in two parts, in quarto, in 1594 and 1595. The substance of his argument, as far as regards this play, is as follows:
1. The diction, versification, and allusions in it, are all different from the diction, versification, and allusions, of Shakspeare, and corresponding with those of Greene, Peele, Lodge, Marlowe, and others who preceded him. There are more allusions to mythology, to classical authors, and to ancient and modern history, than are found in any one piece of Shakspeare's written on an English story: they are such as do not naturally rise out of the subject, but seem to be inserted merely to show the writer's learning. These allusions, and many particular expressions, seem more likely to have been used by the authors already named than by Shakspeare. He points out many of the allusions, and instances the words proditor and immanity, which are not to be found in any of the Poet's undisputed works. The versification he thinks clearly of a different color from that of Shakspeare's genuine dramas; while at the same time it resembles that of many of the plays produced before his time. The sense concludes or pauses almost uniformly at the end of every line; and the verse has scarcely ever a redundant syllable. He produces numerous instances from the works of Lodge, Peele, Greene, and others, of similar versification.
2. A passage in a pamphlet written by Thomas Nashe, an intimate friend of Greene, Peele, Marlowe, &c., shows that the First Part of King Henry VI. had been on the stage before 1592; and his favorable mention of the piece may induce a belief that it was written by a friend of his :- How would it have joyed brave Talbot, the terror of the French, to thinke that, after he had lyen two hundred yeare in his tombe, he should triumph again
on the stage ; and have his bones new embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least, (at several times,) who in the tragedian that represents his person behold him fresh bleeding.”—Pierce Penniless, his Supplication to the Devil, 1592.
That this passage related to the old play of King Henry VI., or, as it is now called, the First Part of King Henry VI., can hardly be doubted. Talbot appears in the First Part, and not in the Second or Third Part, and is expressly spoken of in the 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 have 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,)
But Shakspeare knew that Henry VI. could not possibly remember any thing of his father :
“ No sooner was 1 crept out of my cradle,
King Henry VI., Part II. Act iv. Sc. 9.
"When I was crowned I was but nine months old."
King Henry VI., Part III. 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. 5, 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."
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 :
6 What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech.”
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.