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And what then has Malone to urge against the dependence, the unity of action, the identity of characterization, the similarity of manner, which all prove, as far as such a subject is capable of internal proof, that “The First Part of Henry VI. and the two Parts of the Contention' were written by one and the same man, whoever he be? We will endeavour to state his argument with becoming gravity:-1st. The author of The First Part of Henry VI.' does not seem to have known how old Henry VI. was at the time of his father's death. In the third act he makes the King say, speaking of Talbot
“ When I was young (as yet I am not old),
I do remember how my father said,
A stouter champion never handled sword." Shakspere, it appears from a passage introduced by him in the revised copy of The Second Part of Henry VI.,' did know that Henry VI. could not have remembered what his father said; and therefore he could not have been the author of "The First Part of Henry VI. But in “The Second Part of the Contention there is an evidence of similar knowledge by the author of that play :
“When I was crown'd I was but nine months old;" and this is a “decisive proof” that the two plays could not have been written by the same person 2nd. "The First Part of Henry VI.' exhibits Mortimer dying in the Tower a state prisoner. “The First Part of the Contention' makes Salisbury say that Owen Glendower
“ Kept him in captivity till he died." Furthermore, “The First Part of Henry VI.' correctly states the issue of Edward III., and the title of Mortimer to the crown; whereas · The First Part of the Contention' incorrectly states these circumstances. This is literally the whole of Malone's evidence in proof of his assertion; and he thus triumphantly concludes: “ Those two plays, therefore, could not have been the work of one hand." It is scarcely necessary to attempt a reply. All readers of Shakspere are perfectly aware of the occurrence of such slight inaccuracies, even in the same play. In The First Part of Henry VI.' Malone himself points out that Winchester is called “ cardinal” in the first act; while in the fifth act surprise is expressed that he is “call’d unto a cardinal's degree.” According to this reasoning, therefore, the fifth act could not have been the work of the same hand as that which produced the first act. “The First Part of Henry VI.,' we see, states correctly the title of Mortimer to the crown; the next play of the series states it incorrectly. But the argument may be carried a step further. The First Part of Henry IV.' mistakes even the person of this Mortimer, confounding the Earl of March, a child, with Hotspur's brother-in-law. Shakspere wrote “The First Part of Henry IV.,' but according to Malone he did not write either of the older plays in which we find correct and incorrect genealogy. But if the argument is to be pursued to its conclusion, he did write “The First Part of the Contention, which is inaccurate in this particular, because he did write “The First Part of Henry IV.,' which is also inaccurate. One more example of the fallacy of such reasoning. In the · Richard II.,' after the King has been deposed—after Bolingbroke has said,
“In God's name, I 'll ascend the regal throne," — Richard thus addresses Northumberland :
« Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal
The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne.” There was no one present but Richard, the Queen, and Northumberland. Shakspere, of course, wrote the “Richard II. But, in • The Second Part of Henry IV.,' Bolingbroke, then king, uses these words, speaking to Warwick :
“ But which of you was by,
Though, then, Heaven knows, I had no such intent." Here are two important differences. When the words were spoken “cousin Nevil” was not by; and before the words were spoken Henry had actually ascended the throne, instead of having “no such intent.” Upon Malone's argument, then, these extraordinary contradictions furnish “ a decisive proof” that the Richard II.' and · The Second Part of Henry IV.' “could not have been the work of one hand.” Which shall we give up?
§ II. The line of inquiry which we have pursued up to this point, with reference to the question whether The First Part of Henry VI.' and the two Parts of the · Contention’ were written by one and the same person, we shall now follow up by a parallel course of inquiry whether these three plays were written by the author of Richard
III.' And here we may pause for a moment to observe that the argument upon which Shakspere has been held, in England, during the last fifty years, to be one of the most unblushing plagiarists that ever put pen to paper, has been conducted throughout in a spirit of disingenuousness almost unequalled in literary history. Malone, indeed, cannot be accused, as Lauder was, of having falsified quotations, or invented passages that had no existence; but he is certainly open to the charge of having suppressed minute facts with which he must have been perfectly acquainted, because they made against his theory. Of these hereafter. We impute not to his dishonesty, but to the weakness of his intellectual grasp, that it never occurred to him to institute a comparison between the two Parts of the “Contention'-we mean the original plays, and not the remodelled ones—and the “Richard III. of Shakspere. He chose to isolate the two Parts of the Contention' from the play which preceded them and the play which followed them. By this process he was disencumbered from the troublesome necessity-fatal, as we think, to his theory-of looking at the four plays as one great whole-one drama of four parts. The · Richard III.' stands at the end of the series as the avowed completion of that long tragic history. The scenes of that drama are as intimately blended with the previous scenes of the other dramas, as the scenes that belong to the separate dramas are blended amongst themselves. Its story not only naturally grows out of the previous story,—its characters are not only, wherever possible, the same characters as in the preceding dramas,—but it is even more palpably linked with them by constant retrospection to the events which they had exhibited. If Malone could have shown by his array of figures,-his enumeration of original lines, of lines altered, and lines added, that the resemblances between the • Richard III.' and the two previous plays had been confined to the passages which are not found in the original copies of those plays, or even if he could have established that there was a more marked similarity in the passages added,- he would probably have rendered the present Essay perfectly unnecessary. But he has not even made the attempt to compare together, in the slightest manner, the work which he alleges to be spurious and the work which all men hold to be genuine. Let us endeavour to supply the omission.
The dramas which we now propose to compare are the First and Second Parts of the Contention,' as printed by us in this edition, and the 'Richard III.' as given in our own text.* In any inci
* There are passages in the folio edition which are not found in the quartos ;
dental notice of The First Part of Henry VI.' we shall now assume that it is written by the author of the two Parts of the Contention.'
There is a remarkable link between the first of this series of plays and the last, in the continuance of Margaret of Anjou upon the scene, almost to the conclusion of · Richard III. She is the only one character that runs through all the four plays. In "The First Part of Henry VI. she is painted in slight but brilliant colours,-beautiful, haughty, ambitious, and somewhat free. In “The First Part of the Contention' we find her eager for power, revengeful, tyrannous, unfaithful, and bloody. Energy and decision essentially belong to her character, with indomitable courage. In · The Second Part of the Contention' her evil qualities put on a more heroic attitude; but she is still the 6 she-wolf of France." In the · Richard III.,' where the poet has kept her on the stage against the fact of history, but with the very highest truth of art, her retrospects of the past and her prophecies of the future are as sublime as anything in the compass of poetry. There she stands, widowed, childless, outcast, surrounded by her enemies ;—but the miseries which she has felt are they also doomed to feel, and she rings in their ears the bitter memory of what they are and what they were, as if she were herself the minister of offended justice. We will select a passage from “The Second Part of the Contention,' and another from the · Richard III.,' and we will ask, without hesitation, if they are not both written by Shakspere ?-Second PART OF THE CONTENTION.
RICHARD III. " Queen. Brave warriors, Clifford and “ Q. Mar. If ancient sorrow be most reNorthumberland,
verent, Come, make him stand upon this mole-hill Give mine the benefit of seniory, here,
And let my griefs frown on the upper hand. That aim'd at mountains with outstretched If sorrow can admit society,
[Sitting down with them. And parted but the shadow with his hand. Tell o'er your woes again by viewing mine :Was it you that reveli'd in our parliament, I had an Edward, till a Richard kill'd him ; And made a preachment of your high de I had a husband, till a Richard kill'd him : scent?
Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill'd Where are your mess of sons to back you now? The wanton Edward, and the lusty George? Thou hadst a Richard, till a Richard kill'd Or where is that valiant crook-back'd prodigy,
him. Dicky, your boy, that, with his grumbling Duch. I had a Richard too, and thou didst voice,
kill him; Was wont to cheer his dad in mutinies ? I had a Rutland too, thou holp'st to kill him. Or, amongst the rest, where is your darling Q. Mar. Thou hadst a Clarence too, and Rutland ?
Richard kill'd him. Look, York, I dipp'd this napkin in the blood From forth the kennel of thy womb hath That valiant Clifford, with his rapier's point,
crept Made issue from the bosom of thy boy:
A hell-hound, that doth hunt us all to death : And, if thine eyes can water for his death, I That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes
and many lines of the quartos have been remodelled. But these minute differences are not important in the present inquiry.
I give thee this to dry thy cheeks withal. To worry lambs, and lap their gentle blood;
That reigns in galled eyes of weeping souls; I prithee grieve to make me merry, York; That excellent grand tyrant of the earth, Stamp, rave, and fret, that I may sing and Thy womb let loose, to chase us to our graves. dance.
O upright, just, and true-disposing God, What, hath thy fiery heart so parch'd thine How do I thank thee, that this carnal cur entrails
Preys on the issue of his mother's body, That not a tear can fall for Rutland's death? And makes her pew-fellow with others' moan! Thou wouldst be fee'd, I see, to make me Duch. O, Harry's wife, triumph not in my sport;
woes; York cannot speak unless he wear a crown. God witness with me, I have wept for thine. A crown for York! and, lords, bow low to him. Q. Mar. Bear with me; I am hungry for So, hold you his hands whilst I do set it on.
revenge, Ay, now looks he like a king!
And now I cloy me with beholding it. This is he that took king Henry's chair,
Thy Edward he is dead that kill'd my EdAnd this is he was his adopted heir.
ward; But how is it that great Plantagenet
The other Edward dead, to quit my Edward; Is crown'd so soon, and broke his holy oath? Young York he is but boot, because both they As I bethink me, you should not be king Match not the high perfection of my loss. Till our Henry had shook hands with death. Thy Clarence he is dead that stabb’d my And will you impale your head with Henry's
Edward ; glory,
And the beholders of this frantic play, And rob his temples of the diadem,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Now in his life, against your holy oath ?
Grey, Oh, 't is a fault too, too un pardonable,
Untimely smother'd in their dusky graves. Off with the crown; and with the crown his Richard yet lives, hell's black intelligencer; head;
Only reserv'd their factor, to buy souls, And whilst we breathe take time to do him And send them thither: But at hand, at hand, dead."
Ensues his piteous and un pitied end :
That I may live to say, the dog is dead !' Can any one here doubt of the absolute identity of character,of the similarity of manner, even to the nicest structure of the verse ? If the reader will compare the speech of Margaret to York, as printed above from the Contention,' with the text of the same speech in "The Third Part of Henry VI.,' he will find that three lines are omitted. They are these :
“What! was it you that would be England's king ?”
And I, to make thee mad, do mock thee thus." Malone, by his arithmetic, has shown that these are the only three lines of the speech of Margaret that were written by Shakspere!
Of the characters which fill “The First Part of the Contention;" only three, Margaret, Edward (afterwards Edward IV.), and Richard (afterwards Duke of Gloster), are found in the play of * Richard III.' They have all been swept away, for the most part by the course of those fearful events which these dramas record. Nor are there any allusions in the play of Richard III.' to circumstances which had occurred in The First Part of the Contention.' But as the unity of action and character is completely carried on