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Tais “history” is an alteration of a play printed in 1594, 4to, under the following title: "The First part of the Contention betwixt the two famous houses of Yorke and Lancaster, with the death of the good Duke Humphrey : And the banishment and death of the Duke of Suffolke, and the Tragicall end of the proud Cardinall of Winchester, with the notable Rebellion of Iacke Cade: And the Duke of Yorkes first claime unto the Crowne. London Printed by Thomas Creed, for Thomas Millington, and are to be sold at his shop under St. Peters Church in Cornwall. 1594.” By whom it was written we have no information; but it was entered on the Stationers' Registers on the 12th March, 1593-4. Millington published a second edition of it in 1600, some copies purporting to have been printed by W. W., and others by Valentine Simmes : on the 19th April, 1602, it was assigned by Millington to Tho. Pavier, and we hear of it again, in the Stationers' Registers, merely as “ Yorke and Lancaster,” on the 8th November, 1630. A reprint of this play, from the unique copy in the Bodleian Library, 4to, 1594, was made by the Shakespeare Society in 1843.
The name of Shakespeare was not connected with “ the first part of the Contention " until about the year 1619, when T. P. (Thomas Pavier) printed a new edition of the first, and what he called " the second, part” of the same play, with “ Written by William Shakespeare, Gent." upon the general title-page. The object of Pavier was no doubt fraudulent: he wished to have it believed, that the old play was the production of our great dramatist. Shakespeare's property, according to our present notions, was
in the additions and improvements he introduced, which are included in the folio of 1623. In Act iv. sc. 1, is a line necessarily taken from “ the first part of the Contention,” as the sense, without it, is incomplete; but the old play has many passages which Shakespeare rejected, and the murder of Duke Humphrey is somewhat differently managed. In general, however, Shakespeare adopted the whole conduct of the story, and did not think it necessary to correct the obvious historical errors of the original.
It is impossible to assign a date to this play excepting by conjecture. Its success, perhaps, led to the entry at Stationers' Hall of the older play in March, 1593-4, and to its appearance from the press in 1594.
KING HENRY THE SIXTH.
BUCKINGHAM, LORD CLIFFORD, and his Son, -of the
King's Party. EARL OF SALISBURY, EARL OF WARWICK,-of the
York Faction. LORD SCALES, Governor of the Tower. LORD SAY. SIR
HUMPHREY STAFFORD, and his Brother. SIR JOHN
STANLEY WALTER WHITMORE, and a Sea-captain, Master, and Master's
Mate. Two Gentlemen, Prisoners with SUFFOLK. VAUX. HUME and SOUTH WELL, Priests. BOLINGBROKE, a Conjurer. A Spirit raised by him. THOMAS HORNER, an Armourer. PETER, his Man. Clerk of Chatham. Mayor of St. Alban's. SIMPCOX, an Impostor. Two Murderers. JACK CADE, and GEORGE, JOHN, DICK, SMITH the
Weaver, MICHAEL, &c., bis Followers. ALEXANDER IDEN, a Kentish Gentleman.
MARGARET, Queen to King Henry.
Beadle, Sheriff, and Officers; Citizens, Prentices, Falconers,
SCENE, in various Parts of England.
| First made and prefixed by Rowe.
KING HENRY VI.
ACT I. SCENE I.
London. A Room: of State in the Palace.
Flourish of Trumpets : then Hautboys. Enter, on one side,
King HENRY, Duke of GLOSTER, SALISBURY, WARWICK, and Cardinal BEAUFORT ; on the other, Queen MARGARET, led in by SUFFOLK; YORK, SOMERSET, BUCKINGHAM, and others, following.
Suf. As by your high imperial majesty
TWENTY reverend bishops,] So Holinshed, and Hall whom he copied. The 4to, 1594, of “ The first Part of the Contention," reads erroneously, probably from mishearing, “and then the reverend bishops ;" but the edition 1619 of the same play corrects it to "twenty," as in the chronicles and folios.
The happiest gift that ever marquess gave,
K. Hen. Suffolk, arise. - Welcome, queen Margaret :
Q. Mar. Great king of England, and my gracious lord,
K. Hen. Her sight did ravish, but her grace in speech,
Al. Long live queen Margaret, England's happiness!
Glo. [Reads.] “Imprimis : it is agreed between the French king Charles, and William de la Poole, marquess of Suffolk, ambassador for Henry king of England,—that the said Henry
? The fairest queen that ever king RECEIV'D.] '" That ever king possess'd” is the word in the old “ Contention,” 1594. The reason for the change was, of course, that “receiv'd” is a better antithesis to “ gave,” than the older word possess'd.
3 With you mine ALDERLIEVEST sovereign,] “ Alderlievest ” is a compound word, which does not occur in “The First Part of the Contention," where the whole speech is different. It is derived from alder or aller, as Tyrwhitt states, the genitive case plural, and the superlative of lieve : it means dearest of all, or all-dearest. In the German translation of Professor Mommsen it is allerliebster Herr. In English, " alderlievest” is met with in Chaucer, Gascoigne, and in Marston ; but the latter gives it to his Dutch Courtesan. It is not of frequent occurrence; but we find it, in the comparative degree, in “The Cobbler of Canterbury,” 4to, 1590 :
“ An alder liefer swaine, I weene,
In the barge there was not seene."
shall espouse the lady Margaret, daughter unto Reignier king of Naples, Sicilia, and Jerusalem; and crown her queen of England ere the thirtieth of May next ensuing.– Item, That the duchy of Anjou and the county of Maine, shall be released and delivered to the king her father"
[He lets the treaty fall. K. Hen. Uncle, how now? Glo.
Pardon me, gracious lord ;
K. Hen. Uncle of Winchester, I pray, read on.
Win. Item,—“It is farther agreed between them,—that the duchies of Anjou and Maine shall be released and delivered over to the king her father; and she sent over of the king of England's own proper cost and charges, without having any dowry.” K. Hen. They please us well.-Lord
well.—Lord marquess, kneel down': We here create thee the first duke of Suffolk, And girt thee with the sword.—Cousin of York, We here discharge your grace from being regent I'the parts of France, till term of eighteen months Be full expir'd.-
Thanks, uncle Winchester,
[Exeunt King, Queen, and SUFFOLK.
and delivered to the king her father”] In the 4to. “Contention," 1594, Gloster breaks off at the first syllable of the word “father," and a stage-direction is added, “ Duke Humphrey lets it fall.” No such intimation is given in the folio, 1623, and we are to suppose that Winchester picks up the treaty, and that the King, in consequence, requires him to continue the perusal of it. The corr. fo. 1632 adds Pausing as a stage-direction after the word “father." There is a verbal variation between what Gloster has read, as part of the document, and the words Winchester reads: possibly it was not meant that Gloster should give the exact words, on account of the state of his mind; but still he is more particular on some points than Winchester.
* They please us well. --Lord marQUESS, kneel down :] Unless we read "marquess” as three syllables the line is incomplete, and the corr. fo. 1632 in. serts thee after “ kneel,” in order to make out the measure ; but nothing of the sort is found in the old “Contention” where the passage is exactly as in the folio, 1623, and we make no change.