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VOLUME THE THIRTEENTH.
KING HENRY VI. PART I.
KING HENRY VI. PART II.
Printed for J. Johnson, R. Baldwin, H. L. Gardner, W. J. and J. Richardson,
*KING HENRY VI. PART I.] The hiftorical transaction contained in this play, take in the compass of above thirty years. I muft obferve, 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 V1. opens with the marriage of the king, which was folemnized eight years before Talbot's death, in the year 1445. Again, in the Second Part, dame Eleanor Cobham is introduced to infult Queen Margaret; though her penance and banishment for forcery happened three years before that princess came over to England. I could point out many other tranfgreffions against history, as far as the order of time is concerned. Indeed, though there are several master-ftrokes in these three plays, which inconteftibly betray the workmanship of Shakspeare; yet I am almoft doubtful, whether they were entirely of his writing. And unless they were wrote by him very early, I fhould rather imagine them to have been brought to him as a director of the ftage; and so have received fome finishing beauties at his hand. An accurate observer will eafily fee, the diction of them is more obfolete, and the numbers more mean and profaical, than in the generality of his genuine compofitions. 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 neceffary to apprize the reader what my hypothefis is, that he may be the better enabled, as he proceeds, to judge concerning its probability. Like many others, I was long ftruck with the many evident Shakspearianifms in these plays, which appeared to me to carry fuch decifive 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 furprized, (and my readers perhaps may fay the fame thing of themfelves,) that I fhould never have adverted to a very striking circumstance which diftinguishes this first part from the other parts of King Henry VI. This circumftance is, that none of these Shaksperian paffages are to be found here, though feveral are fcattered through the two other parts. I am therefore decifively of opinion that this play was not written by Shakspeare. The reafons on which that opinion is founded, are stated at large in the Differtation above referred to. But I would here request the reader to attend particularly to the verfification of this piece, (of which almost every line has a pause at the end,) which is fo different from that of Shakspeare's undoubted plays, and of the greater part of the two fucceeding pieces as altered by him, and fo exactly correfponds with that of the tragedies written by others before and about the time of his first commencing author, that