More emphatically than all, in the next act, the sons of York connect the marriage of Margaret not only with the loss of France, but with the whole course of the civil wars of England :

Rich. Iron of Naples, hid with English gilt,
Thy father bears the title of a king,
As if a channel should be call'd the sea :
Sham`st thou not, knowing from whence thou art deriv‘d,
To parley thus with England's lawful heirs ?

Edw. A wisp of straw were worth a thousand crowns,
To make that shameless callet know herself.
Thy husband's father revell’d in the heart of France,
And tam'd the French, and made the dauphin stoop :
And had he match'd according to his state,
He might have kept that glory till this day.
But when he took a beggar to his bed,
And grac'd thy poor sire with his bridal day,
Then that sunshine bred a shower for him,
Which wash'd his father's fortunes out of France,
And heap'd seditions on his crown at home.
For what hath mov'd these tumults, but thy pride ?
Hadst thou been meek, our title yet had slept :
And we, in pity of the gentle king,

Had slipp'd our claim until another age.” We have no hesitation in expressing our belief that, except for the purposes of continuation, the wooing of Margaret by Suffolk, and the intrigue by which he induces Henry to consent to the marriage, would have formed no portion of · The First Part of Henry VI.' These scenes come at the end of that drama, if it is to be regarded as a whole, as an episode entirely out of place. But the devotion of Suffolk to Margaret, as exhibited in “The First Part of Henry VI.,' is essentially connected with their unholy love, as shown in The First Part of the Contention. We will give a portion of each of these scenes, in apposition, not only as furnishing an example of the unity of action, but of the identity of characterisation and of manner :

First PART OF HENRY VI., Act V., Scene 3.

Suf. Be what thou wilt, thou art my

[Gazes on her.
O fairest beauty, do not fear, nor fly;
For I will touch thee but with reverent hands.
I kiss these fingers [kissing her hand] for eter-

nal peace,


Scene 2.
Queen. Sweet Suffolk, hie thee hence to

For if the king do come, thou sure must die.
Suf. And if I go I cannot live: but here

to die,
What were it else,
But like a pleasant slumber in thy lap?
Here could I breathe my soul into the air,
As mild and gentle as the new-born babe,
That dies with mother's dug between his lips.
Where from my (thy) sight I should be

raging mad,
And call for thee to close mine eyes,

And lay them gently on thy tender side.
Who art thou ? say, that I may honour thee.
Mar. Margaret my name,

daughter to
a king,
The king of Naples; whosoe'er thou art.

Suf. An earl I am, and Suffolk am I call'd. Be not offended, nature's miracle,

Thou art allotted to be ta'en by me :

Or with thy lips to stop my dying soul, So doth the swan her downy cygnets save, That I might breathe it so into thy body, Keeping them prisoner underneath her And then it liv'd in sweet Elysium. wings.

By thee to die, were but to die in jest; Yet if this servile usage once offend,

From thee to die, were torment more than Go, and be free again, as Suffolk's friend.

death : [She turns away as going. Oh, let me stay, befall what may befall. O, stay!—I have no power to let her pass; Queen. Oh, mightst thou stay with safety My hand would free her, but my heart says

of thy life, no.

Then shouldst thou stay; but Heavens deny As plays the sun upon the glassy streams,

it, Twinkling another counterfeited beam, And therefore go, but hope ere long to be So seems this gorgeous beauty to mine eyes."

Suf. I go.
Queen. And take my heart with thee.

[She kisses him.
Suf. A jewel lock' into the woefull'st cask
That ever yet contain'd a thing of worth.
Thus, like a splitted bark, so sunder we;
This way fall I to death. [Exit SUFFOLK.

Queen. This way for me. [Erit QUEEN.” We now proceed to the secondary action of “The First Part of Henry VI.,'--the growth of civil discord in England. And here, as it appears to us, the unity of action and of characterisation in this play and the two parts of the Contention' are so manifest, that we incur the risk of attempting to prove what is self-evident. It is still, however, necessary that we should conduct this inquiry, even with the danger of being tedious, by regular advances.

The quarrels of Gloster and Beaufort commence even over the bier of Henry V. Bedford here restrains the rivals :-“ Cease, cease these jars.” In the third scene their hatred breaks out into open violence. The forced reconciliation of these angry peers, in the third act, terminates the quarrel, as far as it proceeds in The First Part of Henry VI. Can we imagine that, if this play had been written without regard to a continuation, this part of the action would have thus terminated ? Exeter, in this scene, anticipates the consequences of these dissentions. But it is in The First Part of the Contention' that they are carried forward to a catastrophe. Let us compare portions of the scene in the parliament-house, in The First Part of Henry VI.,' and the scene at St. Alban's in The First Part of the Contention :' FIRST PART OF HENRY VI., Act III., Scene 1. FIRST PART OF THE CONTENTION, Act II., Is there, or is there not, unity of action in these scenes of two different plays ? Is there not unity of characterisation? Is there not identity of manner? The angry passions which, in The First Part of Henry VI.,' are unrestrained even by the immediate presence of funereal solemnity, are only terminated in "The First Part of the Contention' by the murder of Gloster and the terrible deathbed of Beaufort.

Scene 1. “ Win. Com'st thou with deep premedi- “ Suf. My lord protector's hawks do tower tated lines,

so well; With written pamphlets studiously devis’d, They know their master soars a falcon's pitch. Humphrey of Gloster? if thou canst accuse, Hum. Faith, my lord, it's but a base mind Or aught intend'st to lay unto my charge, That soars no higher than a bird can soar. Do it without invention suddenly;

Card. I thought your grace would be above As I with sudden and extemporal speech

the clouds. Purpose to answer what thou canst object. Hum. Ay, my lord cardinal, were it not Glo. Presumptuous priest ! this place com

good mands my patience,


grace could fly to heaven?

Or thou shouldst find thou hast dishonour'd


Think not, although in writing I preferr'd The manner of thy vile outrageous crimes, That therefore I have forg’d, or am not able Verbatim to rehearse the method of my pen : No, prelate; such is thy audacions wicked

ness, Thy lewd, pestiferous, and dissentious pranks, As very infants prattle of thy pride. Thou art a most pernicious usurer; Froward by nature, enemy to peace; Lascivious, wanton, more than well beseems A man of thy profession and degree; And for thy treachery, what's more manifest ? In that thou laid'st a trap to take my life, As well at London bridge, as at the Tower ? Beside, I fear me, if thy thoughts were sifted, The king, thy sovereign, is not quite exempt From en vious malice of thy swelling heart. Win. Gloster, I do defy thee. Lords,

vouchsafe To give me hearing what I shall reply. If I were covetous, ambitious, or perverse, As he will have me, how am I so poor? Or how haps it I seek not to advance Or raise myself, but keep my wonted calling ? And for dissention, who preferreth peace More than I do,-except I be provok'd ? No, my good lords, it is not that offends; It is not that that hath incens'd the duke: It is, because no one should sway but he; No one but he should be about the king; And that engenders thunder in his breast, And makes him roar these accusations forth. But he shall know, I am as goodGlo.

As good? Thou bastard of my grandfather! Win. Ay, lordly sir: For what are you, I

But one imperious in another's throne ?

Glo. Am I not protector, saucy priest ?
Win. And am I not a prelate of the church?

Glo. Yes, as an outlaw in a castle keeps,
And useth it to patronage his theft.

Win. Unreverent Gloster!

Thou art reverent, Touching thy spiritual function, not thy life.”

Card. Thy heaven is on earth, thy words

and thoughts Beat on a crown, proud protector, dangerous

peer, To smooth it thus with king and common

wealth. Hum. How now, my lord ? why, this is more

than needs! Churchmen so hot? Good uncle, can you

do 't? Suf. Why not, having so good a quarrel, And so bad a cause ?

Hum. As how, my lord ?
Suf. As you, my lord, an 't like your

lordly lord's protectorship. Hum. Why, Suffolk, England knows thy

insolence. Queen. And thy ambition, Gloster.

King. Cease, gentle queen, And whet not on these furious lords to wrath, For blessed are the peacemakers on earth. Card. Let me be blessed for the peace I

make Against this proud protector with my sword. Hum. Faith, holy uncle, I would it were

come to that. Card. Even when thou dar'st.

Hum. Dare? I tell thee, priest, Plantagenets could never brook the dare.

Card. I am Plantagenet as well as thou, And son to John of Gaunt.

Hum. In bastardy.
Card. I scorn thy words.

Hum. Make up no factious numbers,
But even in thine own person meet me at the

east end of the grove. Card. Here 's my hand, I will. King. Why, how now, lords?

Card. Faith, cousin Gloster, Had not your man cast off so soon, we had had More sport to-day. Come with thy sword

and buckler, Hum. God's mother, priest, I 'll shave your


Card. Protector, protect thyself well.”

In the mean while, nourished by these dissentions, a fiercer contest is about to begin, whose catastrophe is far distant.

The scene in the Temple-garden of · The First Part of Henry VI.' is the cloud before the storm. Connected with the future conduct of the story, it is thrown thus early into the series of plays with wonderful dramatic skill. Standing by itself it has no issue but in the quarrel of Vernon and Bassett in the fourth act. With the same dramatic skill, with reference to a continuation, is the early scene between Plantagenet and Mortimer. The object of the poet in the introduction of these scenes is most emphatically marked in several presaging passages of this play. At the close of the Temple-garden scene Warwick thus exclaims :

“ And here I prophesy,—This brawl to-day,

Grown to this faction, in the Temple garden,
Shall send, between the red rose and the white,

A thousand souls to death and deailly night." After Henry has taken his pacific course in the quarrel between Vernon and Bassett, Exeter leads us onward to some undeveloped result of the fearful tragedy to which these quarrels are but the prologue:

“ Well didst thou, Richard, to suppress thy voice :

For had the passions of thy heart burst out,
I fear we should have seen decipher’d there
More rancorous spite, more furious raging broils,
Than yet can be imagin'd or suppos’d.
But howsoe'er, no simple man that sees
This jarring discord of nobility,
This should'ring of each other in the court,
This factious bandying of their favourites,
But that it doth presage some ill event.
'T is much, when sceptres are in children's hands ;
But more, when envy breeds unkind division ;

There comes the ruin, there begins confusion.” The speech of York in the first scene of “The First Part of the Contention' knits all these circumstances together, linking that play and the preceding one as closely as if the action had been continued without any division of the entire drama into separate portions :

“ Anjou and Maine both given unto the French!

Cold news for me, for I had hope of France,
Even as I have of fertile England.
A day will come when York shall claim his own,
And therefore I will take the Nevils' parts,
And make a show of love to proud duke Humphrey :
And, when I spy advantage, claim the crown,
For that 's the golden mark I seek to hit;
Nor shall proud Lancaster usurp my right,
Nor hold the sceptre in his childish fist,

Nor wear the diadem upon his head,
Vol. VII.


Whose church-like humours fit not for a crown.
Then, York, be still awhile till time do serve:
Watch thou, and wake, when others be asleep,
To pry into the secrets of the state ;
Till Henry, surfeiting in joys of love,
With his new bride and England's dear-bought queen,
And Humphrey with the peers be fall’n at jars.
Then will I raise aloft the milk-white rose,
With whose sweet smell the air shall be perfum'd,
And in my standard bear the arms of York,
To grapple with the house of Lancaster :
And, force perforce, I 'll make him yield the crown,

Whose bookish rule hath pulld fair England down.” The connexion which we have thus endeavoured to establish between The First Part of Henry VI.' and “The First Part of the Contention' had been already briefly noticed by Dr. Johnson :“It is apparent that this play (Henry VI., Part II.') begins where the former ends, and continues the series of transactions of which it presupposes the first part already known. This is a sufficient proof that the Second and Third Parts were not written without dependence on the First, though they were printed as containing a complete period of history.” To this, Malone thus replies :—“Dr. Johnson observes very justly that these two Parts were not written without a dependence on the First. Undoubtedly not: the old play of King Henry VI.' (or, as it is now called, the First Part) certainly had been exhibited before these were written in any form. But it does not follow from this concession, either that the “Contention of the Two Houses,' &c., in two Parts, was written by the author of the former play, or that Shakspeare was the author of these two pieces as they originally appeared.This, to our minds, is an evasion, and not an answer. If the author of the two parts of the Contention' had merely taken up the thread of the story where it is dropped in “ The First Part of Henry VI.,' we should have had no proof that the three plays were written by one and the same author. But not only does the author of the Contention' continue the story, with perfect unity of action, of character, and of manner, but the author of “The First Part of Henry VI.' has written entire scenes for the express purpose of continuation-scenes incomplete in themselves, and excrescences upon his drama if it is to be regarded as a whole. We have shown these points, we trust, with sufficient distinctness. Upon the identity of manner we have the less dwelt, because, in the versification especially, each of the plays is admitted by Malone to be constructed upon the same model.*

* Dissertation, p. 564, Boswell's edition.

« VorigeDoorgaan »