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This is the sum of Malone's argument, which Steevens has combated in notes appended to it. Malone conjectured that this piece, which we now call the First Part of King Henry VI., was, when first performed, called The Play of King Henry VI.; and he afterwards found his conjecture confirmed by an entry in the accounts of Henslowe, the proprietor of the Rose Theatre on the Bank Side. It must have been very popular, having been played no less than thirteen times in one season. The first entry of its performance by the lord Strange's company, at the Rose, is dated March 3, 1591. It is worthy of remark, that Shakspeare does not appear at any time to have had the smallest connection with that theatre, or the companies playing there; which affords additional argument in favor of Malone's position, that the play could not be his. "By whom it was written, (says Malone,) it is now, I fear, difficult to ascertain. It was not entered on the Stationers' books, nor printed till the year 1623; when it was registered with Shakspeare's undisputed plays by the editors of the first folio, and improperly entitled the Third Part of King Henry VI. In one sense it might be called so; for two plays on the subject of that reign had been printed before. But, considering the history of that king, and the period of time which the piece comprehends, it ought to have been called, what in fact it is, the First Part of King Henry VI. At this distance of time, it is impossible to ascertain on what principle it was that Heminge and Condell admitted it into their volume; but I suspect that they gave it a place as a necessary introduction to the two other parts; and because Shakspeare had made some slight alterations, and written a few lines in it.t
Mr. Malone's arguments have made many converts to his opinion; and perhaps Mr. Morgann, in his elegant Essay on the Dramatic Character of Falstaff, led the way, when he pronounced it "that-drum-and-trumpet thing, written, doubtless, or rather exhibited, long before Shakspeare was born, though afterwards repaired and furbished up by him with here and there a little sentiment and diction."
This applies only to the title in the Register of the Stationers' Company: in the first folio, it was called the First Part of King Henry VI.
Malone's Life of Shakspeare, p. 310, ed. 1821.
First published in 1777.
KING HENRY THE SIXTH.
Duke of Gloster, Uncle to the King, and Protector.
Duke of Bedford, Uncle to the King, and Regent of France. THOMAS BEAUFORT, Duke of Exeter, great Uncle to the King. HENRY BEAUFORT, great Uncle to the King, Bishop of Winchester, and afterwards Cardinal.
JOHN BEAUFORT, Earl of Somerset; afterwards Duke.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET, eldest Son of Richard, late Earl of Cambridge; afterwards Duke of York.
Earl of Warwick. Earl of Salisbury. Earl of Suffolk.
JOHN TALBOT, his Son.
EDMUND MORTIMER, Earl of March.
Mortimer's Keeper, and a Lawyer.
SIR JOHN FASTOLFE. SIR WILLIAM LUCY.
SIR WILLIAM GLANSDALE.
SIR THOMAS Gargrave.
Mayor of London. WOODVILLE, Lieutenant of the Tower.
VERNON, of the White Rose, or York Faction.
BASSET, of the Red Rose, or Lancaster Faction.
CHARLES, Dauphin, and afterwards King of France.
Governor of Paris. Bastard of Orleans.
A French Sergeant. A Porter.
An old Shepherd, Father to Joan la Pucelle.
MARGARET, Daughter to Reignier; afterwards married to 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 several Attendants both on the English and French.
SCENE, partly in England, and partly in France.
Corpse of King Henry the Fifth discovered, lying in state; attended on by the DUKES of BEDFORD, GLOSTER, and EXETER; the EARL of WARWICK,' the BISHOP of WINCHESTER, Heralds, &c.
Bedford. HUNG be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Glo. England ne'er had a king, until his time.
His brandished sword did blind men with his beams; His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;
1 Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, who is a character in King Henry V. The earl of Warwick, who appears in a subsequent part of this drama, is Richard Nevill, son to the earl of Salisbury, who came to the title in right of his wife, Anne, sister of Henry Beauchamp, duke of Warwick. Richard, the father of this Henry, was appointed governor to the king on the demise of Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, and died in 1439. There is no reason to think the author meant to confound the two characters.
2 Crystal is an epithet repeatedly bestowed on comets by our ancient writers.
3 Our ancestors had but one word to express consent, and concent, which meant accord and agreement, whether of persons or things.
His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
Exe. We mourn in black; why mourn we not in blood?
Henry is dead, and never shall revive.
Win. He was a king blessed of the King of kings.
His thread of life had not so soon decayed.
Win. Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art protector;
Bed. Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace!
Let's to the altar;-heralds, wait on us :
1 There was a notion long prevalent that life might be taken away by metrical charms.
Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms;
Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.-
When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck; Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,
And none but women left to wail the dead.-
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My honorable lords, health to you all!
Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.3
Bed. What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's corse?
Speak softly; or the loss of those great towns
If Henry were recalled to life again,
These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.
Exe. How were they lost? what treachery was used?
Mess. No treachery; but want of men and money. Among the soldiers this is muttered,—
That here you maintain several factions;
And, whilst a field should be despatched and fought,
1 Nurse was anciently spelled nouryce and noryshe; and, by Lydgate, even nourish.
2 Pope conjectured that this blank had been supplied by the name of Francis Drake, which, though a glaring anachronism, might have been a popular, though not judicious, mode of attracting plaudits in the theatre. Part of the arms of Drake was two blazing stars.
3 Capel proposed to complete this defective verse by the insertion of Rouen among the places lost, as Gloster infers that it had been mentioned with the rest.