Page images
PDF
EPUB

and therefore Shakspeare could not have been the author of the first part.

“ No sooner was I crept out of my cradle,
“ But I was made a king at nine months old."

King Henry VI, P. II, Act IV, sc. ix. “ When I was crown'd, I was but nine months old."

King Henry VI, P. III, Act I, sc. i. The first of these passages is found in the folio copy of The Second Part of King Henry VI, and not in The First Part of the Contention, &c. printed in quarto; and according to my hypothesis was one of Shakspeare's additions to the old play. This therefore does not prove that the original author, whoever he was, was not likewise the author of The First Part of King Henry VI; but, what is more material to our present question, it proves that Shakspeare could not be the author of that play. The second of these passages is found in The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, &c. and is a decisive proof that The First Part of King Henry VI was written neither by the author of that tragedy, nor by Shakspeare.

2. A second internal proof that Shakspeare was not the author of the first part of these three plays, is furnished by that scene, (Act II, sc. v, p. 56,) in which it is said, that the Earl of Cam. bridge 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 the second Act of that historical piece condemned at Southampton for conspiring to assassinate Henry.

3. I may likewise add, that the author of The First Part of King Henry VI knew the true pronunciation of the word Hecate, and has used it as it is used by the Roman writers :

“ I speak not to that railing Heca-." But Shakspeare in his Macbeth always uses Hecate as a dissyllable; and therefore could not have been the author of the other piece.*

* It may perhaps appear a minute remark, but I cannot help observing that the second speech in this play ascertains the writer to have been very conversant with Hall's Chronicle:

What should I say at his deeds exceed all speech." This phrase is introduced on almost every occasion by that writer, when he means to be eloquent. Holinshed, and not Hall, was Shakspeare's historian (as has been already observed); this therefore is an additional proof that this play was not our author's.

Shakspeare in his Macbeth always uses Hecate as a diss'llable ; and therefore could not have been the author of the other piece. ) By similar reasoning we might infer that Shakspeare was not author of The Tempest; for in this play Stephăno is properly accented, but erroneously [Stephāno) in The Merchant of Venice; and that

| What should I say?] In page 611 of Mr. Malone's edition of King Richard II1, Vol. VI, this very phrase occurs:

What shall I say more than I have inferr’d?" Steerens. VOL.X..

Ra

a

Having now, as I conceive, vindicated Shakspeare from being the writer of The First part of King Henry VI, it may seem unnecessary to enquire who was the author; or whether it was the production of the same person or persons who wrote the two peices, entitled, The First Part of the Contention of the two Houses, &c. and The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, &c. However, I shall add a word or two on that point.

We have already seen that the author of the play last named .could not have written The First Part of King Henry VI. The following circumstances prove that it could not have been writ. ten by the author of The First Part of the Contention, &c, suppos. ing for a moment that piece, and The true Tragedie of the Duke of Yorke, &c. to have been the work of different hands.

1. The writer of The First Part of the Contention, &c. makes Salisbury say to Richard Duke of York, that the person from whom the Duke derived his title, (he means his maternal uncle Edmund Mortimer, though he ignorantly gives him a different appellation,) was “ done to death by that monstrous rebel Owen Glendower;" and Shakspeare in this has followed him:

Sal This Edmund, in the reign of Bolingbroke,
“ As I have read, laid claim unto the crown;
“ And, but for Owen Glendower, had been king,

“ Who kept him in captivity, till he died.” On this false assertion the Duke of York makes no remark. But the author of The First Part of King Henry VI has represented this Edmund Mortimer, not as put to death, or kept in captivity to the time of his death, by Owen Glendower, (who himself died in the second year of King Henry V) but as a state prisoner, who died in the Tower in the reign of King Henry VI, in the presence of this very Duke of York, who was then only Richard Plantagenet.*

2. A correct statement of the issue of King Edward the Third, and of the title of Edmund Mortimer to the crown, is given in The First Part of King Henry VI But in The First Part of the Contention, &c. we find a very incorrect and false statement of Ed.

becausc Prosper occurs in one scene, and Prospero in another, that both scenes were not of Shakspeare's composition. The same might be said of Antony and Cleopatra, in which both Enobarbe and Enobarbus are found. This argument also might lead us to imagine that part of the Iliad which passes under the name of Mr. Pope, was not in reality translated by him; because in one book we have Idöneneus, Meriones, and Cebriones, and in another adómen, Merion, and Cebrion. Most certainly, both Shakspeare Ind Pope occasionally accommodated their proper names to the structure of their verses. The abbreviation-Hecat' is therefore no proof of our author's ignorance that Hecaté was usually a trisyllable. Steevens.

See The First Part of King Henry VI, p. 57, and The Second Part, p. 165.

*

a

ward's issue, and of the title of Mortimer, whose father, Roger Mortimer, the author of that piece ignorantly calls the fifth son of that monarch. Those two plays therefore could not have been the work of one hand.

On all these grounds it appears to me clear, that neither Shakspeare, nor the author of The First Part of the Contention, &c. or The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, &c. could have been the author of The First Part of King Henry VI.

It is observable that in The Second and Third Part of King Henry VI, many thoughts and many modes of expression are found, which likewise occur in Shakspeare's other dramas: but in the First Part I recollect but one marked expression, that is also found in one of his undisputed performances:

“As I am sick with working of my thoughts." So, in King Henry V:

Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege." But surely this is too slight a circumstance to overturn all the other arguments that have now been urged to prove this play not the production of our author. The co-incidence might be acci. dental, for it is a co-incidence not of thought but of language ;or the expression might have remained in his mind in consequence of his having often seen this play; (we know that he has borrowed many other expressions from preceding writers ;) - or lastly, this might have been one of the very few lines that he wrote on revising this piece; which, however few they were, might, with other reasons, have induced the first publishers of his works in folio to print it with the second and third part, and to ascribe it to Shakspeare.

Before I quit this part of the subject, it may be proper to men. tion one other circumstance that renders it very improbable that Shakspeare should have been the author of The First Part of King Henry VI. In this play, though one scene is entirely in rhyme, there are very few rhymes dispersed through the piece, and no alternate rhymes; both of which abound in our author's undis. puted early plays. This observation indeed may likewise be extended to the second and third part of these historical dramas; and perhaps it may be urged, that if this argument has any weight, it will prove that lie had no hand in the composition of those plays. But there being no alternate rhymes in those two plays may be accounted for, by recollecting that in 1591, Shakspeare had not written lis Venus and Adonis, or his Rape of Lucrece; the mea. sures of which perhaps insensibly led him to employ a similar kind of metre occasionally in the dramas that he wrote shortly afier he had composed those poems. The paucity of regular rhymes must be accounted for differently. My solution is, that working up the materials which were furnished by a preceding writer, he naturally followed his mode: and in the original plays from which these two were formed very few rhymes are found. Nearly the same argument will apply to the first part; for its date also, were that piece Shakspeare's, would account for the want of alternate rhymes. The paucity of regular rhymes indeed cannot be accounted for by saying that here too our author was fol.

lowing the track of another poet; but the solution is unnecessary; for from the beginning to the end of that play, except perhaps in some scenes of the fourth Act, there is not a single print of the footsteps of Shakspeare.

I have already observed, that it is highly improbable that The First Part of the Contention of the Two Houses of York and Lancaster, &c. and The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. printed in 1600, were written by the author of The First Part of King Henry VI. By whom these two plays were written, it is not bere necessary to inquire; it is sufficient, if probable reasons can be produced for supposing this two-part piece not to have been the composition of Shakspeare, but the work of some preceding writer, on which he formed those two plays which appear in the first folio edition of his works, comprehending a period of twen. ty-six years, froin the time of Henry's marriage to that of his death.

II. I now therefore proceed to state my opinion concerning The Second and Third Part of King Henry VI.

A book entituled, The First Part of the Contention of the Two famous Houses of Worke and Lancaster, with the Death of the good Duke Humphrie, and the Banishment and Deathe of the Duke of Yurke, and the trigical Ende of the proud Cardinali of Winchester, quith the notable Rebellion of Fack Cade, and the Duke of Porke's first Claime unto the Crown," was entered at StationersHall, by Thomas Millington, March 12, 1593-4. This play, however, (on which The Second Part of King Henry VI is formed) was not then printed; nor was the true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and the Death of good King Henry Sixt, &c. on which Shakspeare's Third Part of King Henry the VI is founded) entered at Station. ers' Hall at the same time; but they were both printed for T. Millington in 1600.*

The first thing that strikes us in this entry is, that the name of Shakspeare is riot mentioned; nor, when the two plays were pub. lished in 1600, did the printer ascribe them to our author in the title-page, (though his reputation was then at the highest) as surely he would have done, had they been his compositions.

In a subsequent edition indeed of the same pieces, printed by one Pavier, without date, but in reality in 1619, after our great poet's death, the name of Shakspeare appears; but this was a bookseller's trick, founded upon our author's celebrity; on his having new-modelled these plays; and on the proprietors of the Globe and Blackfriars' theatre not having published Shakspeare's Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. The very same deception was practised with respect to King John. The old play (written perhaps by the same person who was the author of The Contention of the two famous Houses, &c.) was printed in 1591, like that

* They were probably printed in 1600, because Shakspeare's alterations of them were then popular, as King Leir and his Three Daughters was printed in 1605, because our author's play was pro. bably at that time first produced.

piece, anonymously. In 1611, (Shakspeare's King Fohn, founded on the same story, having been probably often acted and admired,) the old piece in two parts was re-printed; and, in order to de. ceive the purchaser, was said in the title page to be written by W. Sh. A subsequent printer in 1622 grew more bold, and affixed Shakspeare's name to it at full length.

It is observable that Millington, the bookseller, by whom The first Part of the Contention of the Two famous Houses, &c. was entered at Stationers' Hall, in 1593.4, and for whom that piece and The Tragedie of the Duke of Yorke, &c. were printed in 1600, was not the proprietor of any one of Shakspeare's undisputed plays, except King Henry V, of which he published a spurious copy, that, I think, must bave been imperfectly taken down in short hand in the play-house.

The next observable circumstance, with respect to these two quarto plays, is, that they are said, in their title-pages, to have been “sundry times acted by the earle of Pembrooke his servantes.” Titus Andronicus and The old Taming of a Shrew were acted by the same company of comedians; but not one of our author's plays is said, in its title-page, to have been acted by any. but the Lord Chamberlain's, or the Queen's, or King's servants. This circumstance alone, in my opinion, might almost decide the question.

This much appears on the first superficial view of these pieces ; but the passage quoted by Mr. Tyrwhitt from an old pamphlets entitled Greene's Groatsworth of Witte, &c. affords a still more decisive support to the hypothesis that I am endeavouring to maintain; which, indeed, that pamphlet first suggested to me. As this passage is the chief hinge of my argument, though it has already been printed in a preceding page, it is necessary to Jay it again before the reader." Yes,” says the writer, Robert Greene, (addressing himself, as Mr Tyrwhitt conjectures, with great probability, to his poetical friend, George Peele,) “trust them (the players) not; for there is an upstart crowe BEAUTI. FIED WITH OUR FEATHERS, that with his tygres heart wrapt in a player's hide supposes hee is as well able to bombaste out a blanke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shake-scene in a country. “O tyger's heart, wrapt in a woman's bide !" is a line of the old quarto play, entitled The first Part of the Contention of the two Houses, &c.

That Shakspeare is here alluded to, cannot, I think, be doubted. But what does the writer mean by calling him “a crow beautifieri with our feathers ?" My sol tion is, that GreenE and Peele were the joint authors of the two quarto plays, entitled The first Puri of the Contention of the Two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. or that

[ocr errors]

* The first edition of Romeo and Juliet, 1597, is said in its ti. tle-page to have been acted “ By the right honourable the 1.06 Hunsdon his servants.” Steevens.

« PreviousContinue »