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Greene was the author of one, and Peele of the other. Greene's pamphlet, from whence the foregoing passage is extracted, was writien recently before his death, which happened in September, 1592. How long he and Peele had been dramatick writers, is not precisely asceriained. Peele took the degree of Master of Arts at Oxford, in 1579: Greene took the same degree in Cambridge, in 1583. Each of them has left four or five plays, and they wrote several others, which have not been published. The earliest of Peele's printed pieces, The Arraignment of Paris, appeared in 1584; and one of Greene's pamphlets was printed in 1583. Between that year and 1591 it is highly probable that the two plays in question were written. I suspect they were produced in 1588 or 1589. We have undoubted proofs that Shakspeare was not above working on the materials of other men. His Taming of the Shrew, his King John, and other plays, render any arguments on that point unnecessary. Having iherefore, probably not long before the year 1592, when Greene wrote his Dying Exhortation to a Friend, newmodelled and amplified these two pieces, and produced on the stage what, in the folio edition of his works, are called The Second and Third Part of King Henry VI, and having acquired considerable reputation by them, Greene could not conceal the mor. tification that he felt at his own fame and that of his associate, both of them old and admired play-wrights, being eclipsed by a new upstart writer, (for so he calls our great poet) who had then first, perhaps, attracted the notice of the publick' by exhibiting two plays, formed upon old dramas written by them, considerably enlarged and improved. He therefore, in direct terms, charges him with having acted like the crow in the fable, beautified himself with their feathers ; in other words, with having acquires fame furtivis coloribus, by new-modelling a work originally produced by them: and wishing to depreciate our author, he very naturally quotes a line from one of the pieces which Shakspeare had thus re written; a proceeding which the authors of the original plays considered as an invasion both of their literary property and character. This line, with many others, Shakspeare adopted without any alteration. The very term that Greene uses “to bombast out a blank verse,” exactly corresponds 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. Bumbast was a soft stuff of a loose texture, by which garments were rendered more swelling and protuberant.
Several years after the death of Boiardo, Francesco Berni undertook to new.versify Boiardo's poem, entitled ORLANDO INNA
“ Berni (as Baretti observes) was not satisfied with merely making the versification of that poem better; he interspersed it with many stanzas of his own, and changed almost all the beginning of the cantos, introducing each of them with some moral reflection arising from the canto foregoing.” What Berni did to Boiardo's poem after the death of its author, and niore, I slippose Shakspeare to have done to The First Part of the Contention of the Two Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. in the life time of Greene
and Peele, their literary parents; and this Rifacimento (as the Italians call it) of these two plays I suppose to have been executed by Shakspeare, and exhibited at the Globe or Blackfriars' theatre, in the year 1591.
I have said Shakspeare did what Berni did, and more. He did not content himself with writing new beginnings to the acts; he new-versified, he new-modelled, he transposed many of the parts, and greatly amplified and improved the whole. Several lines, however, and even whole speeches which he thought sufficiently polished, he accepted, and introduced into his own work, with out any, or with very slight, alterations.
In the present edition, all those lines which he 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 the lines entirely composed by himself, asterisks are prefixed. The total number of lines in our author's Second and Third Part of King Henry VI, is Sıx THOUSAND AND ForTY-THREE: of these, as I conceive, 1771 lines were written by some author who preceded Shakspeare; 2373 were formed by him on the foundation laid by his predecessors; and 1899 lines were entirely his own composition.
That the reader may have the whole of the subject before him, I shall here transcribe the fourth scene of the fourth Act of The Third Part of King Henry VI, (which happens to be a short one) together with the corresponding scene in the original play; and also a speech of Queen Margaret, in the fifth Act, with the ori. ginal speech on which it is formed. The first specimen will serve to show the method taken by Shakspeare, were he only new-polished the language of the old play, rejecting some part of the dialogue, and making some slight additions to the part which he retained; the second is a striking proof of his facility and vigour of composition, which has happily expanded a thought comprized originally in a very short speech, into thirty-seven lines, none of which appear feeble or superfluous.
THE TRUE TRAGEDIE OF RICHARDE DUKE OF YORKE, &c.
Sign. F. 4. edit 1600.
Enter the Queene, and the Lord Rivers.
Queene. Why, brother Rivers, heare you not the news
Riv. What? losse of some pitcht battaile against Warwick? Tush; fear not, faire queen, but cast these cares aside. King Edwards noble minde his honours doth' display ; And Warwicke may lose, though then he got the day.
Queene. If that were all, my griefes were at an end; But greater troubles will, I feare, befall.
Riv. What? is he taken prisoner by the foe, To the danger of his royal person then?
Queene. I, there's my griefe; king Edward is surprisde,
Riv. The newes is passing strange, I must confesse;
Queene. God grant they may! but gentle brother, come,
KING HENRY VI. Part III. Act IV. SCENE IV.
Enter the QUEEN and RIVERS.
Queen. Why, brother Rivers, are you yet to learn,
Rio. What, loss of some pitch'd battle against Warwick!
Queen. Ay, almost slain, for he is taken prisoner;
Riv. These news, I must confess, are full of grief:
Queen. Till then, fiir hope must hinder life's decay.
Riv. But, madam, where is Warwick then become?
Queen. I am informed, that he comes towards London
Exeura THE TRUE TRAGEDIE OF RICHARDE DUKE OF YORKE, &c.
Sign. G 4. edit. 1600.
Enter the Queene, Prince Edward, Oxford, Somerset, with
drumme and souldiers.
KING HENRY VI. PART III. Act V. Scene IV.
OXFORD, and Solliers.
Bestride the rock; the tide will wash you off,
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 autho. proceeded in new-modelling that play; with what expression, animation, and splendour of colouring, he filled up the outline that had been sketched by a preceding writer.f
Shakspeare having thus given celebrity to these two old dramas, by altering and writing several parts of them over again, the bookseller, Millington, in 1593-4, to avail bimself 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 entered on the Stationers' books, certainly with an intention to publish it. Why it did not then appear, cannot be. now ascertained. But both that, and the other piece on which The Third Part of King Henry VI was formed, was printed by the same bookseller in 1600, either with a view to lead the commin reader to suppose that he should purchase two plays as alterel and new-modelled by Shakspeare, or, without any such frauidulent intention, to derive a profit from the exhibition of a work that so great a writer bad thought proper to retouch, and form into those dramas which for several years before 1600 had with. out doubt been performed with considerable applause. In the same manner The old Taming of a Shreu, 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.
Compare also the account of the death of the Duke of York (p. 316) and king Henry's soliloquy (p. 337) 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. 390, n. 7.
+ See p. 201, n. 5; and p. 213, n. 7. Compare also Clifford's speech to the rebels in p. 250, Buckingham's address to King Henry in p. 162, and Iden's speech in p. 256, with the old play, as quoted in the notes.
# Also, as it has lately been discovered, by Cuthbert Burbie, iny 1596. Reed.