William Shakespeare.

The plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 13) online

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Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 13) → online text (page 1 of 26)
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* KING HENRY VI. PART I.] The historical transactions
contained in this play, take in the compass of above thirty years.
I must observe, however, that our author, in the three parts of
Henry VI. has not been very precise to the date and disposition of
his facts ; but shuffled them, backwards and forwards, out of
time. 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 Henry VI. opens with
the marriage of the king, which was solemnized eight years be-
fore Talbot's death, in the year 1445. Again, in the Second
Part, dame Eleanor Cobham is introduced to insult Queen Mar-
garet ; though her penance and banishment for sorcery happened
three years before that princess came over to England. I could
point out many other transgressions against history, as far as the
order of time is concerned. Indeed, though there are several
master-strokes in these three plays, which incontestibly betray the
workmanship of Shakspeare ; yet I am almost doubtful, whe-
ther they were entirely of his writing. And unless they were
wrote by him very early, I should rather imagine them to have
been brought to him as a director of the stage ; and so have re-
ceived some finishing beauties at his hand. An accurate observer
will easily see, the diction of them is more obsolete, and the num-
bers more mean and prosaical, than in the generality of his
genuine compositions. THEOBALD.

Having given my opinion very fully relative to these plays at
the end of The Third Part of King Henry VI. it is here only
necessary to apprize the reader what my hypothesis is, that he
may be the better enabled, as he proceeds, to judge concerning
its probability. Like many others, I was long struck with the
many evident Shakspearianisms in these plays, which appeared
to me to carry such decisive weight, that I could scarcely bring
myself to examine with attention any of the arguments that have
been urged against his being the author of them. I am now sur-
prized, (and my readers perhaps may say the same thing of them-
selves,) that I should never have adverted to a very striking cir-
cumstance which distinguishes this^rs^ part from the other parts
of King Henry VI. This circumstance is, that none of these
Shaksperian passages are to be found here, though several are
scattered through the two other parts. I am therefore decisively
of opinion that this play was not written by Shakspeare. The
reasons on which that opinion is founded, are stated at large in
the Dissertation above referred to. But I would here request the
reader to attend particularly to the versification of this piece, (of
which almost every line has a pause at the end,) which is so
different from that of Shakspeare's undoubted plays, and of the
greater part of the two succeeding pieces as altered by him, and
so exactly corresponds with that of the tragedies written by others
before and about the time of his first commencing author, that

this alone might decide the question, without taking into the ac-
count the numerous classical allusions which are found in thisfirst
part. The reader will be enabled to judge how far this argument
deserves attention, from the several extracts from those ancient
pieces which he will find in the Essay on this subject.

With respect to the second and third parts of King Henry VI.
or, as they were originally called, The Contention of the Tvao
famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, they stand, in my ap-
prehension, on a very different ground from that of this first part,
or, as I believe it was anciently called, The Play of King
Henry VI. The Contention, &c. printed in two parts, in quarto,
1600, was, I conceive, the production of some playwright who
preceded, or was contemporary with Shakspeare ; and out of
that piece he formed the two plays which are now denominated
the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. ; as, out of the
old plays of King John and The Taming of the Shrew, he formed
two other plays with the same titles. For the reasons on which
this opinion is formed, I must again refer to my Essay on this

This old play of King Henry VI. now before us, or as our
author's editors have called it, \hejirst part of King Henry VI.
I suppose, to have been written in 1589, or before. See An At-
tempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.
The disposition of facts in these three plays, not always corre-
sponding with the dates, which Mr. Theobald mentions, and the
want of uniformity and consistency in the series of events exhi-
bited, may perhaps be in some measure accounted for by the
hypothesis now stated. As to our author's having accepted these
pieces as a Director of the stage, he had, I fear, no pretension
to such a situation at so early a period. MALONE.

The chief argument on which the first paragraph of the fore-
going note depends, is not, in my opinion, conclusive. This
historical play might have been one of our author's earliest dra-
matick efforts : and almost every young poet begins his career by
imitation. Shakspeare, therefore, till he felt his own strength,
perhaps servilely conformed to the style and manner of his pre-
decessors. Thus, the captive eaglet described by Rowe :

a while endures his cage and chains,

And like a prisoner with the clown remains :
But when his plumes shoot forth, his pinions swell,
He quits the rustick and his homely cell,
Breaks from his bonds, and in the face of day
" Full in the sun's bright beams he soars away."
What further remarks I may offer on this subject, will appear
in the form of notes to Mr. Malone's Essay, from which I do
not wantonly differ, though hardily, I confess, as far as my
sentiments may seem to militate against those of Dr. Farmer.


B 2


King Henry the Sixth.

Duke o/Gloster, Uncle to the King, and Protector.

Duke of Bedford, uncle to the King, and Regent of

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, great Uncle to

the King.
Henry Beaufort, great Uncle to the King, Bishop of

Winchester, and afterwards Cardinal.
John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset-, afterwards, Duke.
Richard Plantagenet, eldest Son of Richard late
Earl of Cambridge ; afterwards Duke of York.
Earl of Warwick. JSar/gf Salisbury. Earl of Suffolk.
Lord Talbot, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury :
John Talbot, his Son.
Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.
Mortimer's Keeper, and a Lawyer.
Sir John Fastolfe. Sir William Lucy.
Sir William Glansdale. Sir Thomas Gargrave.
Mayor of London. Woodville, Lieutenant of 'theTotver.
Vernon, of the White Rose, or York Faction.
Basset, of* the Red Rose, or Lancaster Faction.
Charles, Dauphin, and afterwards King of France.
Reignier,DwAreo/Anjou, and titular King of Naples.
Duke of Burgundy. Duke o/'Ale^on.
Governor of Paris. Bastard of Orleans.
Master-Gunner of Orleans, and his Son.
General of the French Forces in Bourdeaux.
A French Sergeant. A Porter.
An old Shepherd, Father to Joan la Pucelle.
Margaret, Daughter to Reignier ; afterwards mar-
ried to King Henry.
Countess of Auvergne.

Joan la Pucelle, commonly called Joan of Arc.
Fiends appearing to La Pucelle, Lords, Warders of the
Tower, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and
. .several Attendants both on the English and French.
SCENE, par tly in England, and partly in France.




Westminster Abbey.

Dead march. Corpse of King Henry the Fifth dis-
covered, tying in state; attended on by the Dukes
of BEDFORD, GLOSTER, and EXETER ; the Earl
of WARWICK, 1 the Bishop of Winchester, He-
ralds, fyc.

BED. Hung be the heavens with black, 2 yield

day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,

1 Earl of Warwick,] The Earl of Warwick who makes

his appearance in the first scene of this play is Richard Beau-
champ, who is a character in King Henry V. The Earl who
appears in the subsequent part of it, is Richard Nevil, son to the
Earl of Salisbury, who became possessed of the title in right of
his wife, Anne, sister of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick,
on the death of Anne his only child in 1449. Richard, the fa-
ther of this Henry, was appointed governor to the king, on the
demise of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, and died in 1 439.
There is no reason to think that the author meant to confound the
two characters. RITSON.

" Hung be the heavens with black,~] Alluding to our ancient
stage-practice when a tragedy was to be expected. So, in Sid-


Brandish your crystal tresses 3 in the sky ;
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars,
That have consented 4 unto Henry's death !

ney's Arcadia, Book II : " There arose, even with the sunne, a
vaile of darke cloudes before his face, which shortly had blacked
over all the face of heaven, preparing (as it were) a mournfull
stage for a tragedie to be played on." See also Mr. Malone's
Historical Account of the English Stage. STEEVENS.

3 Brandish your crystal tresses ] Crystal is an epithet re-
peatedly bestowed on comets by our ancient writers. So, in a
Sonnet, by Lord Sterline, 1604 :

" When as .those chrystal comets whiles appear."
Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, Book I. c. x. applies it to a lady's
face :

'* Like sunny beams threw from her chrystal face."
Again, in an ancient song entitled The falling out of Lovers isthe
renewing of Love :

" Y o\i chrystal planets shine all clear

" And light a lover's way."

" There is also a white comet with silver haires," says Pliny,
as translated by P. Holland, 1601. STEEVENS.

* That have consented ] If this expression means no more
than that the stars gave a bare consent, or agreed to let King
Henry die, it does no great honour to its author. I believe to
consent, in this instance, means to act in concert. Concentus,
Lat. Thus Erato the muse, applauding the song of Apollo, in
Lyly's Midas, 1592, cries out: " O sweet consent /" i. e. sweet
union of sounds. Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. ii:

" Such musick his wise words with time consented."
Again, in his translation of Virgil's Cul x :

" Chaunted their sundry notes with sweet concent."
Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Book of Homer's
Odyssey :

" all the sacred nine

" Of deathless muses, paid thee dues divine :
" By varied turns their heavenly voices venting ;
" All in deep passion for thy death consenting."
Consented, or, as it should be spelt, concented, means, have
thrown themselves into a malignant configuration, to promote
the death of Henry. Spenser, in more than one instance, spells
this word as it appears in the text of Shakspeare, as does Ben
Jonson, in his Epithalamion on Mr. Weston. The following


Henry the fifth, 5 too famous to live long ! 6
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

" shall we curse the planets of mishap,

" That plotted thus," &c.

seem to countenance my explanation ; and Falstaff says of Shal-
low's servants, that " they flock together in consent, like so

many wild geese." See also Tully de Natura Deorum, Lib. II.
ch. xlvi : " Nolo in stellarum ratione multus vobis videri, maxi-
meque earum quae errare dicuntur. Quarum tantus est concentus
ex dissimilibus motibus," &c.

Milton uses the word, and with the same meaning, in his
Penseroso :

" Whose power hath a true consent

" With planet, or with element." STEEVENS.

Steevens is right in his explanation of the word consented.
So, in The Knight of the burning Pestle, the Merchant says to
Merrythought :

too late, I well perceive,

" Thou art consenting to my daughter's loss."
and in The Chances, Antonio, speaking of the wench who robbed
him, says :

" And also the fiddler who was consenting with her."
meaning the fiddler that was her accomplice.

The word appears to be used in the same sense in the fifth
scene of this Act, where Talbot says to his troops:
" You all consented unto Salisbury's death,
" For none would strike a stroke in his revenge."


Consent, in all the books of the age of Elizabeth, and long
afterwards, is the usual spelling of the word concent. See
Vol. X. p. 96, n. 3 ; and K. Henry IV. P. II. Act V. sc. i. In
other places I have adopted the modern and more proper spell-
ing; but, in the present instance, I apprehend,, the word was
used in its ordinary sense. In the second Act, Talbot, reproach-
ing the soldiery, uses the same expression, certainly without
any idea of a malignant configuration :

" You all consented unto Salisbury's death" MALONE.

3 Henry thejifth y ~] Old copy, redundantly, King Henry &c.


6 too famous to live long /] So, in King Richard III :
" So wise so young, they say, do ne'er live long."



GLO. England ne'er had a king, until his time.
Virtue he had, deserving to command :
His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams;
His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings ; 7
His sparkling eyes replete with wrathful fire,
More dazzled and drove back his enemies,
Than mid-day sun, fierce bent against their faces.
What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:
He ne'er lift up his hand, but conquered.

EXE. We mourn in black ; Why mourn we not

in blood ?

Henry is dead, and never shall revive :
Upon a wooden coffin we attend ;
And death's dishonourable victory
We with our stately presence glorify,
Like captives bound to a triumphant car.
What ? shall we curse the planets of mishap,
That plotted thus our glory's overthrow ?
Or shall we think the subtle-witted French 8
Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
By magick verses have contriv'd his end ?

WIN. He was a kingbless'd of the King of kings.
Unto the French the dreadful judgment day

7 His arms spread voider than a dragon's wings;] So, in
Troilus and Cressida :

" The dragon iving of night overspreads the earth."


8 the subtle-tvitted French &c.] There was a notion pre-.

valent a long time, that life might be taken away by metrical
charms. As superstition grew weaker, these charms were ima-
gined only to have power on irrational animals. In our author's
time it was supposed that the Irish could kill rats by a song.


So, in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584:
' The Irishmen addict themselves, &c. yea they will not stioke
to affirme that they can rime either man or beast to death."



So dreadful will not be, as was his sight.
The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought :
The church's prayers made him so prosperous.

GLO. The church ! where is it ? Had not church-
men pray'd,

His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:
None do you like but an effeminate prince,
Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe.

WIN. Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art pro-
tector ;

And lookest to command the prince, and realm.
Thy wife is proud ; she holdeth thee in awe,
More than God, or religious churchmen, may.

GLO. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh ;
And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st,
Except it be to pray against thy foes.

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,
Whenat their mothers' moist eyes 9 babes shall suck;
Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears, 1

9 moist eyes ] Thus the second folio. The first, re-
dundantly, moisten'd. STEEVENS.

1 Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,"] Mr. Pope ma-
risk. All the old copies read, a nourish : and considering it is
said in the line immediately preceding, that babes shall suck at
their mothers' moist eyes, it seems very probable that our au-
thor wrote, a nourice, i. e. that the whole isle should be one com-
mon nurse, or nourisher, of tears : and those be the nourishment
of its miserable issue. THEOBALD.

Was there ever such nonsense ! But he did not know that ma-
rish is an old word for marsh or fen -, and therefore very judi-
ciously thus corrected by Mr. Pope. WARBURTON.


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 Caesar, or bright 2

We should certainly read marisk. So, in The Spanish Tra-
gedy t

" Made mountains marsh, with spring-tides of my tears."


I have been informed, that what we call at present a stew, in
which fish are preserved alive, was anciently called a nourish.
Nourice, however, Fr. a nurse, was anciently spelt many differ-
ent ways, among which nourish was one. So, in Syr Eglamour
of Artois, bl. 1. no date :

" Of that chylde she wasblyth,

" After noryshes she sent belive."

A nourish therefore in this passage of our author may signify a
nurse, as it apparently does in the Tragedies of John Bochas, by
Lydgate, B. I. c. xii :

" Athenes whan it was in his floures

" Was called nourish of philosophers wise.'*

Jubcs t'ellus general, leonum

Arida nutrix. STEEVENS.

Spenser, in his Ruins of Time, vises nourice as an English

" Chaucer, the nourice of antiquity." MALONE.

* Than Julius Ccesar, or bright 3 I can't guess the occa-
sion of the hemistich and imperfect sense in this place ; 'tis not
impossible it might have been filled up with Francis Drake,
though that were a terrible anachronism (as bad as Hector's
quoting Aristotle in Troilus and Cressida) ; yet perhaps at the
time that brave Englishman was in his glory, to an English-
hearted audience, and pronounced by some favourite actor, the
thing might be popular, though not judicious ; and, therefore,
by some critick in favour of the author, afterwards struck out.
But this is a mere slight conjecture. POPE.

To confute the slight conjecture of Pope, a whole page of ve-
hement opposition is annexed to this passage by Theobald. Sir
Thomas Ilanmer has stopped at Caesar perhaps more judicious-
ly. It might, however, have been written or bright Berenice.


90. /. KING HENRY VI. 11

Enter a Messenger.

MESS. My honourable lords, health to you all 1
Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
Of loss, of slaughter, and discomfiture :
Guienne, Champaigne, Rheims, Orleans, 3
Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.

BED. What say'st thou, man, before dead

Henry's corse ?

Speak softly ; or the loss of those great towns
Will make him burst his lead, and rise from death.

GLO. Is Paris lost ? is Rouen yielded up ?
If Henry were recalPd to life again,
These news would cause him once more yield the

EXE. How were they lost ? what treachery was

MESS. No treachery; but want of men and


Among the soldiers this is muttered,
That here you maintain several factions ;
And, whilst a field should be despatched and fought,

Pope's conjecture is confirmed by this peculiar circumstance,
that two blazing stars (the Julium sidus) are part of the arms of
the Drake family. It is well known that families and arms were
much more attended to in Shakspeare's time, than they are at
this day. M. MASON.

This blank undoubtedly arose from the transcriber's or com-
positor's not being able to make out the name. So, in a subse-
quent passage the word Nero was omitted for the same reason.
See the Dissertation at the end of the third part of King Henry

3 Guienne, Champaigne, Rheims, Orleans,'] This verse might
be completed by the insertion of Rouen among the places lost,
as Gloster in his next speech infers that it had been mentioned
with the rest. STEEVENS.


You are disputing of your generals.

One would have ling'ring wars, with little cost ;

Another would fly swift but wanteth wings ;

A third man thinks, 4 without expence at all,

By guileful fair words peace may be obtained.

Awake, awake, English nobility !

Let not sloth dim your honours, new-begot :

Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms ;

Of England's coat one half is cut away.

EXE. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
These tidings would call forth her flowing tides. 5

BED. Me they concern; regent lam of France:
Give me my steeled coat, I'll fight for France. <
Away with these disgraceful wailing robes !
Wounds I will lend the French, instead of eyes,
To weep their intermissive miseries. 6

Enter another Messenger.

2 MESS. Lords, view these letters, full of bad


France is revolted from the English quite ;
Except some petty towns of no import :
The Dauphin Charles is crowned king in Rheims j
The bastard of Orleans with him is join'd ;
Reignier, duke of Anjou, doth take his part ;
The duke of Alen9on flieth to his side.

. ' * A third man thinks,] Thus the second folio. The first omits
the word man, and consequently leaves the verse imperfect.


4 herjl&wing tides."] i. e. England's flowing tides.


6 their intermissive miseries.'} - e. their miseries, which
have had only a short intermission from Henry the Fifth's
death to my coming amongst them. WARBURTON.

sc. i. KING HENRY VI. 13

EXE. The Dauphin crowned king ! all fly to him !
O, whither shall we fly from this reproach ?

GLO. We will not fly, but to our enemies'

throats :
Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.

BED. Gloster, why doubt* st thou of my forward-
ness ?

An army have I muster'd in my thoughts,
Wherewith already France is over-run.

Enter a third Messenger.

3 MESS. My gracious lords, to add to your la-

Wherewith you now bedew king Henry's hearse,
I must inform you of a dismal right,
Betwixt the stout lord Talbot and the French.

WIN. What ! wherein Talbot overcame ? is't so ?

3 MESS. O, no ; wherein lord Talbot was o'er-

thrown :

The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
The tenth of August last, this dreadful lord,
Retiring from the siege of Orleans,
Having full scarce six thousand in his troop, 7
By three and twenty thousand of the French
Was round encompassed and set upon :
No leisure had he to enrank his men ;
He wanted pikes to set before his archers ;
Instead whereof, sharp stakes, pluck'd out of hedges,
They pitched in the ground confusedly,

7 Having full scarce &c.] The modern editors read scarce
full, but, I think, unnecessarily. So, in The Tempest ;

" Prospero, master of /# poor cell."



To keep the horsemen off from breaking in.
More than three hours the fight continued ;
Where valiant Talbot, above human thought,
Enacted wonders 8 with his sword and lance.
Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand him;
Here, there, and every where, enrag'd he slew : 9
The French exclaim'd, The devil was in arms ;
All the whole army stood agaz'd on him :
His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit,
A Talbot ! a Talbot ! cried out amain,
And rush'd into the bowels of the battle. 1
Here had the conquest fully been seaPd up,
If sir John Fastolfe 2 had not play'd the coward ;

above human thought,

Enacted wonders ] So, in King Richard III :
" The king enacts more wonders than a man."


he slew:] I suspect the author wrote fan.


1 And rush'd into the bowels of the battle.] Again, in the
fifth Act of this play:

" So, rushing in the bowels of the French."
The same phrase had occurred in the first part of Jeronimo,

Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 13) → online text (page 1 of 26)