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THIS and the Third Part of King Henry VI. contain that troublesome period of this prince's reign, which took in the whole contention between the houses of York and Lancaster; and under that title were these two plays first acted and published. The present play opens with king Henry's marriage, which was in the twenty-third year of his reign [A. D. 1445], and closes with the first battle fought at St. Albans, and won by the York faction, in the thirty-third year of his reign [A. D. 1455]; so that it coinprises the history and transactions of ten years.

The Contention of the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster was published in quarto; the first part in 1594; the second, or True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, in 1595; and both were reprinted in 1600. In a dissertation annexed to these plays, Mr. Malone has endeavored to establish the fact, that these two dramas were not originally written by Shakspeare, but by some preceding author or authors before the year 1590; and that upon them Shakspeare formed this and the following drama, altering, retrenching, or amplifying, as he thought proper. We will endeavor to give a brief abstract of the principal arguments :-The entry on the Stationers' books, in 1594, does not mention the name of Shakspeare; nor are the plays printed with his name in the early editions ; but, after the Poet's death, an edition was printed by one Pavier without date, but really in 1619, with the name of Shakspeare on the title-page. This is shown to be a common fraudulent practice of the booksellers of that period. When Pavier republished The Contention of the Two Houses, &c. in 1619, he omitted the words "as it was acted by the earl of Pembrooke his servantes," which appeared on the original title-page,-just as, on the republication of the old play of King John, in two parts, in 1611, the words "as it was acted in the honorable 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 Shakspere;" knowing that these pieces had been made the groundwork of two other plays; that they had in fact been corrected and enlarged (though not in his copy, which was a mere reprint from the edition of 1600), and exhibited under the titles of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI.; and hoping that this new edition of the original plays would pass for those altered and augmented by Shal.speare, which were then unpublished.

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