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King Henry the Sixth.
chester, and afterwards Cardinal. John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset; afterwards, Duke. Richard Plantagenet, eldeft fon of Richard late Earl of
Cambridge; afterwards Duke of York.
Sir William Lucy.
of the Tower,
King Henry. Countess of Auvergne. Joan la Pucelle, commonly called, Joan of Arc. Fiends appearing to La Pucelle, Lords, Warders of the
Tower, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and fee veral Attendants both on the English and French. SCENE, partly in England, and partly in France.
K I N G
A CT I. SCENE I.
covered, lying in fate; attended on by the dukes of
WARWICK ; the Bishop of Winchefter, heralds, &c. Bed. Hung be the heavens with black, yield day tonight! Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish · The historical transactions contained in this play, take in the com. pass of above thirty years. I must observe, however, that our author, in the three parts of K. 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 I he Second Part of Henry VI. opens with the mare riage of the king, which was solemnized eight years before Talbot's death, in the year 1445. Again, in the second part, dame Eleanor Cobham is introduced to insult 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 transgressions against history, as far as the order of time is concerned. Indeed, though there are several master-Atrokes in these three plays, which incontestably betray the workmanship of Shakspeare; yet I am almost doubtful, whether they were entirely of his writing. And unless they were wrote by him very early, I thould rather imagine them to have been brought to bim as a director of the stage; and to have received some finishing beauties at his hand. An accurate observer will easily fee, the diction of them is more obsolete, and the numbers more mean and prosaical, shan in the generality of his genuine compositions. THEOBALD.
Having given my opinion very fully relative to these plays at the end of the third part of King Henry VI., it is bere only necetrary to apprize the reader what my hypothesis is, that he may be the better enabled, as he proceeds, to judge concerning its probability. Like many others, I was long struck with the many evident Sbakspearianisms in these plays, which appeared to me to carry such decisive weight, that I could scarce. ly bring myself to examine with attention any of the arguments that have been urged against his being the author of them. I am now suro prised, (and my readers perhaps may say the same thiz of themselves,)
Brandith your crystal tresses ? in the sky; And with them scourge the bad revolting stars, that I should never have adverted to a very striking circumstance which diftinguishes this first part from the other parts of King Henry VI. This circumstance is, that none of these Shakspearian passages are to be found here, though several are scattered through the two other parts. I am therefore decifively of opinion that ibis play was not written by Shakspeare. The reasons of which that opinion is founded, are stated at large in the Dissertation above referred to. But I would here requeft the reader to attend particularly to the versification of this piece, (of which almost every line has a pause at the end,) which is so different from that of Shakspeare's undoubted plays, and of the greater part of the two succeeding pieces as altered by him, and so exactly corresponds with that of the tragedies written by others before and about the time of his first commencing author, that this alone might decide the question, without taking into the account the numerous classical allufions which are found in this first part. The reader will be enabled to judge how far this argument deserves attention, from the several extracts from those ancient pieces which he will find in the Effay on this subject.
With respect to the second and third parts of K. Henry VI. or, as they were originally called, The Contention of be two famous boules of Yerke and Lancaser, they stand, in my apprehension, on a very different ground from that of this first part, or, as I believe it was anciently called, The Play of K.Henry VI.-The Contention, &c. printed in two parts, in quarto, 1600, was, I conceive, the production of some playwright who preceded, or was contemporary wich, Shakspeare; and out of that piece he formed the two plays which are now denominated the Second and Tbird Parts of King Henry VI. ; as, out of the old plays of King Jobn and obe Taming of a Sbrew, he formed two other plays with the same titles. For the reasons on which this opinion is formed, I must again refer to my Ellay on this subject.
This old play of King Henry VI. now before us, or as our author's editors have called it, the first part of King Henry VI. I suppose, to have been written in 1589, or before. See An Attempt to ascertain tbe order of Sbakspeare's plays, Vol. I. The dispofition of facts in these three plays, not always corresponding with the dates, which Mr. Theobald mentions, and the want of uniformity and consistency in the series of events exhibited, may perhaps be in some measure accounted for by the hypothefis now ftated. As to our author's having accepted these pieces as a Director of the ttage, he had, I fear, no pretension to such a situation at so early a period. MALONE.
2 Brandish your cryftal trefjes-] Cbrystal is an epithet repeatedly bestowed on comets by our ancient writers. So, in a Sonnet by Lord Sterline, 1604:
" When as those cbryfi al comets whiles appear.” « There is also a wbire comet with silver haires," says Pliny, as translated by P. Holland, 1601, STEEVEN 6.