William Shakespeare.

The dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 4) online

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Kneel down and take my blessing, good my girl.
Wilt thou not stoop ? Now cursed be the time
Of thy nativity ! I would the milk
Thy mother gave thee, when thou suck dst her breast,
Had been a little ratsbane for thy sake !
Or else, when thou didst keep my lambs a-field,
I wish some ravenous wolf had eaten thee !
Dost thou deny thv father, cursed drab ?
O, burn her, burn her ; hanging is too good. [Exit.

York. Take her away, for she hath lived too long,
To fill the world with vicious qualities.

Puc. First, let me tell you whom you have con

Not one begotten of a shepherd swain,
But issued from the progeny of kings ;
Virtuous and holy ; chosen from above,
By inspiration of celestial grace,

1 Miser, in this passage, simply means a miserable creature.

2 This vulgar corruption of obstinate has oddly lasted till now, says


To work exceeding miracles on earth.
I never had to do with wicked spirits ;
But you, that are polluted with your lusts,
Stained with the guiltless blood of innocents,
Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices,
Because you want the grace that others have,
You judge it straight a thing impossible
To compass wonders, but by help of devils.
No, misconceived ! 1 Joan of Arc hath been
A virgin from her tender infancy,
Chaste and immaculate in very thought ;
Whose maiden blood, thus rigorously effused,
Will cry for vengeance at the gates of heaven.

York. Ay, ay ; away with her to execution.

War. And hark ye, sirs ; because she is a maid,
Spare for no fagots ; let there be enough.
Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake,
That so her torture may be shortened.

Puc. Will nothing turn your unrelenting hearts ?
Then, Joan, discover thine infirmity ;
That warranteth by law to be thy privilege.
I am with child, ye bloody homicides ;
Murder not then the fruit within my womb,
Although ye hale me to a violent death.

York. Now Heaven forefend ! the holy maid with
child !

War. The greatest miracle that e er ye wrought.
Is all your strict preciseness come to this ?

York. She and the dauphin have been juggling ;
I did imagine what would be her refuge.

War. Well, go to: we will have no bastards liv

Especially, since Charles must father it.

Puc. You are deceived ; my child is none of his.
It was Alen^on, that enjoyed my love.

York. Alemjon ! that notorious Machiavel ! 2
It dies, an if it had a thousand lives.

1 No, ye misconceivers, ye who mistake me and my qualities.

2 The character of Machiavel seems to have made so very deep an im
pression on the dramatic writers of this age, that he is many times intro
duced without regard to anachronism.


Puc. O, give me leave, I have deluded you.
Twas neither Charles, nor yet the duke I named,
But Reignier, king of Naples, that prevailed.

War. A married man ! that s most intolerable.

York. Why, here s a girl ! 1 think she knows not

There were so many, whom she may accuse.

War. It s a sign, she hath been liberal and free.

York. And, yet, forsooth, she is a virgin pure.
Strumpet, thy words condemn thy brat, and thee ;
Use no entreaty, for it is in vain.

Puc. Then lead me hence ; with whom I leave my

curse :

May never glorious sun reflex his beams
Upon the country where you make abode !
But darkness and the gloomy shade of death
Environ you ; till mischief, and despair,
Drive you to break your necks, or hang yourselves !

[Exit, guarded.

York. Break thou in pieces, and consume to ashes,
Thou foul, accursed minister of hell !

Enter CARDINAL BEAUFORT, attended.

Car. Lord regent, I do greet your excellence
With letters of commission from the king.
For know, my lords, the states of Christendom,
Moved with remorse 1 of these outrageous broils,
Have earnestly implored a general peace
Betwixt our nation and the aspiring French ;
And here at hand the dauphin, and his train,
Approacheth, to confer about some matter.

York. Is all our travail turned to this effect ?
After the slaughter of so many peers,
So many captains, gentlemen and soldiers,
That in this quarrel have been overthrown,
And sold their bodies for their country s benefit,
Shall we at last conclude effeminate peace ?

1 Compassion, pity.
VOL. iv. 40


Have we not lost most part of all the towns,
By treason, falsehood, and by treachery,
Our great progenitors had conquered ?
O Warwick, Warwick ! I foresee with grief
The utter loss of all the realm of France.

War. Be patient, York ; if we conclude a peace,
It shall be with such strict and severe covenants,
As little shall the Frenchman gain thereby.

Enter CHARLES, attended; ALENCON, Bastard, REIG-
NIER, and others.

Char. Since, lords of England, it is thus agreed,
That peaceful truce shall be proclaimed in France,
We come to be informed by yourselves
What the conditions of that league must be.

York. Speak, Winchester ; for boiling choler chokes
The hollow passage of my poisoned voice,
By sight of these our baleful enemies.

Win. Charles, and the rest, it is enacted thus :
That in regard king Henry gives consent,
Of mere compassion, and of lenity,
To ease your country of distressful war,
And suffer you to breathe in fruitful peace,
You shall become true liegemen to his crown.
And, Charles, upon condition thou wilt swear
To pay him tribute, and submit thyself,
Thou shalt be placed as viceroy under him,
And still enjoy thy regal dignity.

Alen. Must he be then as shadow of himself?
Adorn his temples with a coronet ;
And yet, in substance and authority,
Retain but privilege of a private man ?
This proffer is absurd and reasonless.

Char. Tis known, already, that I am possessed
With more than half the Gallian territories,
And therein reverenced for their lawful king.


Shall I, for lucre of the rest unvanquished,
Detract so much from that prerogative,
As to be called but viceroy of the whole ?


No, lord ambassador ; I ll rather keep
That which I have, than, coveting for more,
Be cast from possibility of all.

York. Insulting Charles ! hast thou by secret means
Used intercession to obtain a league ;
And, now the matter grows to compromise,
Stand st thou aloof upon comparison ?
Either accept the title thou usurp st,
Of benefit l proceeding from our king,
And not of any challenge of desert,
Or we will plague thee with incessant wars.

Reig. My lord, you do not well in obstinacy
To cavil in the course of this contmct.
If once it be neglected, ten to one,
We shall not find like opportunity.

Alen. To say the truth, it is your policy,
To save your subjects from such massacre,
And ruthless slaughters, as are daily seen
By our proceeding in hostility.
And therefore take this compact of a truce,
Although you break it when your pleasure serves.

[Aside to CHARLES.

War. How say st thou, Charles ? shall our condition
stand ?

Char. It shall :

Only reserved, you claim no interest
In any of our towns of garrison.

York. Then swear allegiance to his majestv ;
As thou art knight, never to disobey,
Nor be rebellious to the crown of England,
Thou, nor thy nobles, to the crown of England.

[CHARLES, and the rest, give tokens of fealty.
So, now dismiss your army when ye please ;
Hang up your ensigns ; let your drums be still ;
For here we entertain a solemn peace. [Exeunt.

1 " Be content to live as the beneficiary of our king." Benefit is here a
term of law.


SCENE V. London. A Room in the Palace.

Enter KING HENRY, in conference with SUFFOLK;
GLOSTER and EXETER folloiving.

K. Hen. Your wondrous rare description, noble earl,
Of beauteous Margaret hath astonished me.


Her virtues, graced with external gifts,
Do breed love s settled passions in my heart ;
And, like as rigor in tempestuous gusts
Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide;
So am 1 driven, by breath of her renown,
Either to suffer shipwreck, or arrive
Where I may have fruition of her love.

Suff. Tush ! my good lord ! this superficial tale
Is but a preface of her worthy praise.
The chief perfections of that lovely dame
(Had I sufficient skill to utter them)
Would make a volume of enticing lines,
Able to ravish any dull conceit.
And, which is more, she is not so divine,
So full replete with choice of all delights,
But, with as humble lowliness of mind,
She is content to be at your command;
Command, I mean, of virtuous, chaste intents,
To love and honor Henry as her lord.

K. Hen. And otherwise will Henry ne er presume.
Therefore, my lord protector, give consent,
That Margaret may be England s royal queen.

Glo. So should I give consent to flatter sin.
You know, my lord, your highness is betrothed
Unto another lady of esteem ;
How shall we then dispense with that contract,
And not deface your honor with reproach ?

Suff. As doth a ruler with unlawful oaths ;
Or one, that, at a triumph l having vowed

1 A triumph then signified a public exhibition ; such as a tournament,
mask, or revel.


To try his strength, forsaketh yet the lists
By reason of his adversary s odds.
A poor earl s daughter is unequal odds ;
And therefore may be broke without offence.

Glo. Why, what, I pray, is Margaret more than


Her father is no better than an earl,
Although in glorious titles he excel.

Suff. Yes, my good lord, her father is a king,
The king of Naples, and Jerusalem ;
And of such great authority in France,
As his alliance will confirm our peace,
And keep the Frenchmen in allegiance.

Glo. And so the earl of Armagnac may do,
Because he is near kinsman unto Charles.

Exe. Beside, his wealth doth warrant liberal

dower ;
While Reignier sooner will receive than give.

Suff. A dower, my lords ! Disgrace not so your


That he should be so abject, base, and poor,
To choose for wealth, and not for perfect love.
Henry is able to enrich his queen,
And not to seek a queen to make him rich ;
So worthless peasants bargain for their wives,
As market-men for oxen, sheep, or horse.
Marriage is a matter of more worth,
Than to be dealt in by attorneyship : 1
Not whom we will, but whom his grace affects,
Must be companion of his nuptial bed :
And therefore, lords, since he affects her most,
It most of all these reasons bindeth us,
In our opinions she should be preferred.
For what is wedlock forced, but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife ?
Whereas the contrary bringeth forth bliss,
And is a pattern of celestial peace.
Whom should we match with Henry, being a king,

1 By the intervention of another man s choice.


But Margaret, that is daughter to a king?
Her peerless feature, joined with her birth,
Approves her fit for none, but for a king ;
Her valiant courage, and undaunted spirit,
(More than in women commonly is seen,)
Will answer our hope in issue of a king ;
For Henry, son unto a conqueror,
Is likely to beget more conquerors,
If with a lady of so high resolve,
As is fair Margaret, he be linked in love.
Then yield, my lords ; and here conclude with me,
That Margaret shall be queen, and none but she.
K. Hen. Whether it be through force of your


My noble lord of Suffolk, or for that
My tender youth was never yet attaint
With any passion of inflaming love,
I cannot tell ; but this I am assured,
I feel such sharp dissension in my breast,
Such fierce alarums both of hope and fear,
As I am sick with working of my thoughts.
Take, therefore, shipping ; post, my lord, to France ;
Agree to any covenants ; and procure
That lady Margaret do vouchsafe to come
To cross the seas to England, and be crowned
King Henry s faithful and anointed queen.
For your expenses and sufficient charge,
Among the people gather up a tenth.
Be gone, 1 say ; for, till you do return,
I rest perplexed with a thousand cares.
And you, good uncle, banish all offence ;
If you do censure 1 me by what you were,
Not what you are, I know it will excuse
This sudden execution of my will.
And so conduct me, where from company,
I may revolve and ruminate my grief. 2 [Exit.

1 To censure is here simply to judge.

2 Grief, in this line, stands for pam, uneasiness ; in the next following 1 ,
especially for sorrow.


Glo. Ay, grief, I fear me, both at first and last.


Suff. Thus Suffolk hath prevailed ; and thus he goes,
As did the youthful Paris once to Greece ;
With hope to find the like event in love,
But prosper better than the Trojan did.
Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king ;
But I will rule both her, the king, and realm. [Exit.


OF this play there is no copy earlier than that of the folio in 1623,
though the two succeeding parts are extant in two editions in quarto.
That the second and third parts were published without the first, may be
admitted as no weak proof that the copies were surreptitiously obtained,
and that the printers of that time gave the public those plays, not such as
the author designed, but such as they could get them. That this play was
written before the two others is indubitably collected from the series of
events ; that it was written and played before Henry the Fifth is apparent,
because in the epilogue there is mention made of this play, and not of the
other parts :

" Henry the Sixth in swaddling bands crowned king ;
Whose state so many had the managing,
That they lost France, and made his England bleed ;
Which oft our stage hath shown/

France is lost in this play. The two following contain, as the old title
imports, the contention of the houses of York and Lancaster.

The Second and Third Pails of Henry VI. were printed in 1GOO.
When Henry V. was written, we know not ; but it was printed likewise in
1(100, and therefore before the publication of the first and second parts.
The First Fait of Henry VI. had been often shown on the stage, and
would certainly have appeared in its place, had the author been the
publisher. JOHNSON.

THAT the second and third parts, as they are now called, were printed
without the first, is a proof, in my apprehension, that they were not written
by the same author; and the title of The Contention of the Houses of
York and Lancaster, being affixed to the two pieces which were printed
in quarto, is a proof that they were a distinct work, commencing where
the other ended, but not written at the same time ; and that this play was
never known by the title of The First Part of King Henry VI. till Heminge
and Condell gave it that name in their volume, to distinguish it from the
two subsequent plays ; which, being altered by Shakspeare, assumed the
new titles of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. that they
might not be confounded with the original pieces on which they Avere
formed. The first part was originally called The Historical Play of King





THIS and the Third Part of King Henry VI. contain that troublesome
period of this prince s reign, which took in the whole contention between
the houses of York and Lancaster ; and under that title were these two
plays first acted and published. The present play opens with king Henry s
marriage, which was in the twenty-third year of his reign [A. D. 1445],
and closes with the first battle fought at St. Albans, and won by the York
faction, in the thirty-third year of his reign [A. D. 1455] ; so that it com
prises the history and transactions often years.

The Contention of the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster
was published in quarto; the first part in 1594; the second, or True
Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, in 1595 ; and both were reprinted in
1600. In a dissertation annexed to these plays, Mr. Malone has endeav
ored to establish the fact, that these two dramas were not originally written
by Shakspeare, but by some preceding author or authors before the year
1590 ; and that upon them Shakspeare formed this and the following
drama, altering, retrenching, or amplifying, as he thought proper. We
will endeavor to give a brief abstract of the principal arguments : The
entry on the Stationers books, in 1594, does not mention the name of
Shakspeare ; nor are the plays printed with his name in the early editions ;
but, after the Poet s death, an edition was printed by one Pavier without
date, but really in 1619, with the name of Shakspeare on the title-page.
This is shown to be a common fraudulent practice of the booksellers of
that period. When Pavier republished The Contention of the Two
Houses, &c. in 1619, he omitted the words "as it was acted by the earl
of Pembrooke his servantes," which appeared on the original title-page,
just as, on the republication of the old play of King John, in two parts, in
1611, the words "as it was acted in the honorable city of London" were
omitted ; because the omitted words in both cases marked the respective
pieces not to be the production of Shakspeare. And as, in King John, the
letters W. Sh. were added, in 1611, to deceive the purchaser; so, in the
republication of The Avhole Contention, &c., Pavier, having dismissed the
words above-mentioned, inserted these " Newly corrected and enlarged
by William Shakspere ; " knowing that these pieces had been made the
groundwork of two other plays ; that they had in fact been corrected and
enlarged (though not in his copy, which was a mere reprint from the
edition of 1600), and exhibited under the titles of the Second and Third
Parts of King Henry VI. ; and hoping that this new edition of the original
plays would pass for those altered and augmented by Shakspeare, which
were then unpublished.

VOL. IV. 41


A passage from Greene s Groats worth of Wit, adduced by Mr. Tyr-
whitt, first suggested, and strongly supports, Malone s hypothesis. The
writer, Robert Greene, is supposed to address himself to his poetical friend,
George Pcele, in these words : " Yes, trust them not [alluding to the
players], for there is an upstart crowe beautified with our feathers, that,
with liis tygre s heart wrapt in a player s hide, supposes hee is well able
to bombaste out a blank verse as the best of you ; and, being an absolute
Joannes factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shakescene in a coun
try." " () tyger s heart wrapped in a woman s hide ! " is a line in the old
quarto play entitled The First Part of the Contention, &c. There seems
to be no doubt that the allusion is to Shakspeare ; that the old plays may
have been the production of Greene, Peele, and Marlowe, or some of them ;
and that Greene could not conceal his mortification, at the fame of him
self and his associates, old and established playwrights, being eclipsed by
a new, upstart writer (for so he calls the Poet), who had then perhaps first
attracted the notice of the public by exhibiting two plays formed upon old
dramas written by them, considerably enlarged and improved. The very
term that Greene uses, " to bombaste out a blank verse," exactly corre
sponds with what has been now suggested. This new poet, says he,
knows as well as any man how to amplify and swell out a blank verse.

Shakspeare did for the old plays, what Berni had before done to the
Orlando Innamorato of Boiardo. He wrote new beginnings to the acts ;
lie new versified, lie new modeled, he transposed many of the parts; and
greatly amplified and improved the whole. Many lines, however, and
whole speeches, which he thought sufficiently polished, he accepted, and
introduced, without any, or very slight, alterations.

Malone adopted the following expedient to mark these alterations and
adoptions, which has been followed in the present edition : All those lines
which the Poet adopted without any alteration, are printed in the usual
manner; those speeches which he altered or expanded, are distinguished
by inverted commas ; and to all lines entirely composed by himself aste
risks are prefixed.

The internal evidences upon which Malonc relies, to establish nis po
sition are, The variations between the old plays in quarto, and the cor
responding pieces in the folio edition of Shakspeare s dramatic works,
which are of so peculiar a nature as to mark two distinct hands. Some
circumstances are mentioned in the old quarto play.-, of which there is
not the least trace in the folio ; and many minute variations occur, that
prove the pieces in the quarto to have been original and distinct compo
sitions. No copyist or short-hand writer would invent circumstances
totally deferent from those which appear in Shakspoare s new-modeled
draughts, as exhibited in the first folio ; or insert ivhole speeches, of which
scarcely a trace is found in that edition. In some places, a speech in one,
of these quartos consists of ten or twelve lines; in Shakspeare s folio, the
same speech consists perhaps of only half the number. A copyist by the
ear, or an unskilful short-hand writer, might mutilate and exhibit a poet s
thoughts or expressions imperfectly ; but he would not dilate and amplify
them, or introduce totally new matter.

Malone then exhibits a sufficient number of instances to prove, beyond
the possibility of doubt, his position : so that (as he observes) we are com
pelled to admit, either that Shakspeare wrote two sets of plays on the story
which forms his Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI., hasty
sketches, and entirely distinct and more finished performances ; or else
we must acknowledge that he formed his pieces on a foundation laid by
another writer or writers, that is, upon the two parts of The Contention
of the Two Houses of York, & c. It is a striking circumstance, that almost
all the passages in the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. Avhich


resemble others in Shakspeare s undisputed plays, are not found in the ori
ginal pieces in quarto, but in his rifaccimento in folio. As these resem
blances to his other plays, and a peculiar Shakspearian phraseology, ascer
tain a considerable portion of these disputed dramas to be the production
of that Poet ; so, on the other hand, other passages, discordant, in matters
of fact, from his other plays, are proved by this discordancy not to have been
composed by him; and these discordant passages, being found in the
original quarto plays, prove that those pieces were composed by another

It is observable, that several portions of English history had been dram
atized before the time of Shakspeare. Thus we have King John, in two
parts, by an anonymous writer ; Edward L, by George Peele ; Edward II.,
by ChristopherMarlowe ; Edward III., anonymous ; Henry IV., containing
the deposition of Richard II., and the accession of Henry to the crown,
anonymous ; Henry V. and Richard III., both by anonymous authors. It
is therefore liighly probable, that the whole of the story of Henry VI. had
been brought on the scene ; and that the first of the plays here printed, for
merly called The Historical Play of King Henry VI., and now named The
First Part of King Henry VI., as well as the Two Parts of the Contention
of the Houses of York and Lancaster, were the compositions of some of
the authors who had produced the historical dramas above enumerated.

Mr. Bos well, speaking of the originals of the second and third of these
plays, says, " That Marlowe may have had some share in these composi
tions, I am not disposed to deny ; but I cannot persuade myself that they
entirely proceeded from his pen. Some passages are possessed of so much
merit, that they can scarcely be ascribed to any one except the most dis
tinguished of Shakspeare s predecessors ; but the tameness of the general
style is very different from the peculiar characteristics of that Poet s
mighty line, which are great energy both of thought and language, de
generating too frequently into tumor and extravagance. The versification
appears to me to be of a different color. That Marlowe, Peele, and
Greene, may all of them have had a share in these dramas, is consonant
to the frequent practice of the age ; of which ample proofs may be found
in the extracts from Henslowe s MS. printed by Mr. Malone."

From the passage alluding to these plays in Greene s Groatsworth of
Wit, it seems probable that they were produced previous to 1592, but
were not printed until they appeared in the folio of 1G23.

To Johnson s high panegyric of that impressive scene in this play, the
death of Cardinal Beaufort, we may add that Schlegel says, " It is sublime
beyond all praise. Can any other poet be named who has drawn aside the
curtain of eternity at the close of this life in such an overpowering and

Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 4) → online text (page 23 of 38)