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And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood?
If the reader wishes to compare The First Part of the Contention of the Two Houses, &c. with The Second Part of King Henry VI.. which was formed upon it, he will find various passages quoted from the elder drama in the notes on that play. The two celebrated scenes, in which the dead body of the Duke of Gloster is described, and the death of Cardinal Beaufort is represented, may be worth examining with this view; and will sufficiently ascertain how our author proceeded in new-modelling that play;
* Compare also the account of the death of the Duke of York (p. 405) and King Henry's soliloquy (p. 431) with the old play as quoted in the notes.-Sometimes our author new-versified the old, without the addition of any new matter. See p. 496, n. 7.
with what expression, animation, and splendour of colouring, he filled up the outline that had been sketched by a preceding writer *.
Shakspeare having thus given celebrity to these two old dramas, by altering and writing several parts of them over again, the bookseller, Millington, to avail himself of the popularity of the new and admired poet, got, perhaps from Peele, who was then living, or from the author, whoever he was, or from some of the comedians belonging to the Earl of Pembroke, the original play on which The Second Part of King Henry VI. was founded; and printed it either with a view to lead the common reader to suppose that he should purchase two plays as altered and new-modelled by Shakspeare, or, without any such fraudulent intention, to derive a profit from the exhibition of a work that so great a writer had thought proper to retouch, and form into those dramas which for several years had without doubt been performed with considerable applause. In the same manner the old Taming of a Shrew, on which our author formed a play, had been entered at Stationers' Hall in 1594, and was printed in 1607†, without doubt with a view to pass it on the publick as the production of Shakspeare.
When William Pavier republished The Contention of the Two Houses, &c. in 1619, he omitted the words in the original titlepage,- "as it was acted by the earl of Pembrooke his servantes;" -just as, on the republication of King John in two parts, in 1611, the words," as it was acted in the honourable 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 Whole Contention, &c. Pavier, having dismissed the words above mentioned: inserted these, "Newly corrected and enlarged by William Shakspeare;" knowing that these pieces had been made the ground work of
* See p. 262, n. 6; and p. 276, n. 8. Compare also Clifford's speech to the rebels in p. 323, Buckingham's address to King Henry in p. 212, and Iden's speech in p. 331, with the old play, as quoted in the notes.
Also, as it has lately been discovered, by Cuthbert Burbie, in 1596. REED.
Pavier's edition has no date, but it is ascertained to have been printed in 1619, by the signatures; the last of which is Q. The play of Pericles was printed in 1619, for the same bookseller, and its first signature is R. The undated copy, therefore, of The Whole Contention, &c. and Pericles must have been printed at the same time.
§ See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ii. article, King John.
-two other plays that they had in fact been corrected and enAarged, (though not in that copy which Pavier printed, which is a mere republication from the edition of 1600,) and exhibited under the titles of The Second and Third Part 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.
If Shakspeare had originally written these three plays of King Henry VI. would they not probably have been found by the bookseller in the same MS? Would not the three parts have been procured, whether surreptitiously or otherwise, all together? Would they not in that MS. have borne the titles of The First 1and Second and Third Part of King Henry VI.? And would not the bookseller have entered them on the Stationers' books, and published such of them as he did publish, under those titles, and with the name of Shakspeare? On the other hand, if that which is now distinguished by the name of The First Part of King Henry VI: but which I suppose in those times was only called
The Historical Play of King Henry VI." if this was the production of some old dramatist, if it had appeared on the stage some years before 1591, (as from Nashe's mention of it seems to be implied,) perhaps in 1587 or 1588, if its popularity was in 1594 in its wane, and the attention of the publick was entirely taken up by Shakspeare's alteration of two other plays which had likewise appeared before 1591, would not the superior popularity of these two pieces, altered by such a poet, attract the notice of the booksellers? and finding themselves unable to procure them from the theatre, would they not gladly seize on the originals on which this new and admired writer had worked, and publish them as soon as they could, neglecting entirely the preceding old play, or First Part of Hing Henry VI. (as it is now called,) which Shakspeare had not embellished with his pen?-Such, as we have seen, was ac'tually the process; for Thomas Millington, neglecting entirely The First Part of King Henry VI. entered the original of The Second Part of King Henry VI. at Stationers' Hall in 1593-4, and published the originals of both that and The Third part together in 1600. When Heminge and Condell printed these three pieces in folio, they were necessarily obliged to name the old play of King Henry VI. the first part, to distinguish it from the two following historical dramas, founded on a later period of the same king's reign.
Having examined such external evidence as time has left us concerning these two plays, now denominated The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. let us see whether we cannot by internal marks ascertain how far Shakspeare was concerned in their composition.
It has long been a received opinion that the two quarto plays, one of which was published under the title of The First Part of VOL. XVIII. 2 P
the Contention of the Two Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and the other under the title of The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. were spurious and imperfect copies of Shakspeare's Second and Third Part of King Henry VI.; and many passages have been quoted in the notes to the late editions of Shakspeare, as containing merely the various readings of the quartos and the folio: the passages being supposed to be in substance the same, only variously exhibited in different copies. The variations have been accounted for, by supposing that the imperfect and spurious copies (as they were called) were taken down either by an unskilful short-hand writer, or by some auditor who picked up "during the representation what the time would permit, then filled up some of his omissions at a second or third hearing, and when he had by this method formed something like a play, sent it to the printer." To this opinion, I with others for a long time subscribed: two of Heywood's pieces furnishing indubitable proofs that plays in the time of our author were sometimes imperfectly copied during the representation, by the ear, or by short-hand writers*. But a minute examination of the two pieces in question, and a careful comparison of them with Shakspeare's Second and Third Part of King Henry VI. have convinced me that this could not have been the case with respect to them. No fraudulent copyist or short-hand writer would invent circumstances totally different from those which appear in Shakspeare's new-modelled draughts as exhibited in the first folio; or insert whole speeches, of which scarcely a trace is found in that edition. In the course of the foregoing notes many of these have been particularly pointed out. I shall now bring into one point of view all those internal circumstances which prove in my apprehension decisively, that the quarto plays were not spurious and imperfect copies of Shakspeare's pieces, but elder dramas on which he formed his Second and Third Part of King Henry VI.
1. In some places a speech in one of these quartos consists of ten or twelve lines. In Shakspeare's folio the same speech consists of perhaps 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 would he dilate and amplify them, or introduce totally new matter? Assuredly he would
2. Some circumstances are mentioned in the old quarto plays, of which there is not the least trace in the folio; and many minute variations are found between them and the folio, that prove the pieces in quarto to have been original and distinct compositions.
* See p. 549.
† See p. 183, n. 8; p. 219, n. 3.
In the last Act of The First Part of the Contention, &c. the Duke of Buckingham after the battle of Saint Albans, is brought in wounded, and carried to his tent; but in Shakspeare's play he is not introduced on the stage after that battle.
In one of the original scenes between Jack Cade and his followers, which Shakspeare has made the seventh scene of the fourth Act of his Second Part of King Henry VI. Dick Butcher drags a serjeant, that is, a catch-pole, on the stage, and a dialogue consisting of seventeen lines passes between Cade, &c. at the conclusion of which it is determined that the serjeant shall be “brain'd with his own mace." Of this not one word appears in our author's play*. In the same piece Jack Cade, hearing that a knight, called Sir Humphrey Stafford, was coming at the head of an army against him, to put himself on a par with him makes himself a knight; and finding that Stafford's brother was also a knight, he dubs Dick Butcher also. But in Shakspeare's play the latter circumstance is omitted.
In the old play Somerset goes out immediately after he is appointed regent of France. In Shakspeare's Second Part of King Henry VI. he continues on the stage with Henry to the end of the scene, (Act I. Sc. III.) and the King addresses him as they go out.
In the old play, the Duchess of Gloster enters with Hume, Bolingbroke, and Margery Jourdain, and after some conversation with them, tells them that while they perform their rites, she will go to the top of an adjoining tower, and there write down such answers as the spirits, that they are to raise, shall give to her questions. But in Shakspeare's play, Hume, Southwell (who is not introduced in the elder drama), and Bolingbroke, &c. enter without the Duchess; and after some conversation the Duchess appears above, (that is, on the tower,) and encourages them to proceed t.
In Shakspeare's play, when the Duke of York enters, and finds the Duchess of Gloster, &c. and her co-adjutors performing their magick rites, (p. 201,) the Duke seizes the paper in which the answers of the spirit to certain questions are written down, and reads them aloud. In the old play the answers are not here recited by York; but in a subsequent scene Buckingham reads them to the King; (see p. 201, n. 7; and p. 212, n. 1;) and this is one of the many transpositions that Shakspeare made in newmodelling these pieces, of which I shall speak more fully hereafter.
In the old play, when the King pronounces sentence on the Duchess of Gloster, he particularly mentions the mode of her
* See p. 320, n. 4; and The First Part of the Contention, &c. 1600, sign. G 3.
See p. 196, n. 8.