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To try his strength, forsaketh yet the lists
A poor earl's daughter is unequal odds ;
Glo. Why, what, I pray, is Margaret more than that?
Her father is no better than an earl,
Suff. Yes, my good lord, her father is a king,
Glo. And so the earl of Armagnac may do,
Exe. Beside, his wealth doth warrant liberal dower;
While Reignier sooner will receive than give.
Suff. A dower, my lords! Disgrace not so your king.
That he should be so abject, base, and poor,
1 By the intervention of another man's choice.
But Margaret, that is daughter to a king?
K. Hen. Whether it be through force of your
My noble lord of Suffolk, or for that
1 To censure is here simply to judge.
2 Grief, in this line, stands for pain, uneasiness; in the next following, especially for sorrow.
Glo. Ay, grief, I fear me, both at first and last. [Exeunt GLOSTER and EXETER. Suff. Thus Suffolk hath prevailed; and thus he goes, As did the youthful Paris once to Greece; With hope to find the like event in love, But prosper better than the Trojan did. Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king; But I will rule both her, the king, and realm.
Or this play there is no copy earlier than that of the folio in 1623, though the two succeeding parts are extant in two editions in quarto. That the second and third parts were published without the first, may be admitted as no weak proof that the copies were surreptitiously obtained, and that the printers of that time gave the public those plays, not such as the author designed, but such as they could get them. That this play was written before the two others is indubitably collected from the series of events; that it was written and played before Henry the Fifth is apparent, because in the epilogue there is mention made of this play, and not of the other parts:
Henry the Sixth in swaddling bands crowned king;
That they lost France, and made his England bleed;
France is lost in this play. The two following contain, as the old title imports, the contention of the houses of York and Lancaster.
The Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. were printed in 1600. When Henry V. was written, we know not; but it was printed likewise in 1600, and therefore before the publication of the first and second parts. The First Part of Henry VI. had been often shown on the stage, and would certainly have appeared in its place, had the author been the publisher. JOHNSON.
THAT the second and third parts, as they are now called, were printed without the first, is a proof, in my apprehension, that they were not written by the same author; and the title of The Contention of the Houses of York and Lancaster, being affixed to the two pieces which were printed in quarto, is a proof that they were a distinct work, commencing where the other ended, but not written at the same time; and that this play was never known by the title of The First Part of King Henry VI. till Heminge and Condell gave it that name in their volume, to distinguish it from the two subsequent plays; which, being altered by Shakspeare, assumed the new titles of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. that they might not be confounded with the original pieces on which they were formed. The first part was originally called The Historical Play of King Henry VI. MALONE.
SECOND PART OF
KING HENRY THE SIXTH.
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 comprises 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 Shakspeare, which were then unpublished.