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(Fluellen.] It is not well done, mark you now, to take the
tales out of my mouth, ere it is made an end, and finished. I speak but in the figures and comparisons of it. As Alexander is kill his friend Clitus, being in his ales and his cups, so also Harry Monmouth, being in his right wits and goot judgements, is turn away the fat knight with the great pelly doublet; he was full of jests, and gypes, and knaveries, and mocks ;-I am
forget his name. [Gower.] Sir John Falstaff. [Fluellen.] That is he.- I tell you there is good men porn
King Henry and others enter :
Until this instant.—Take a trumpet, Herald ;
Go, tell them so. [Ereter.] Here comes the herald of the French, my liege : His eyes are humbler than they us'd to be.
[thou not [K. Henry.] How now? What means this herald ? know'st
That I have fin’d these bones for ransom?
Com'st thou again for ransom ? [Montjoy.] No, great king :
I come to thee for charitable licence,
--woe the while!
blood : O, give us leave great king, to view the field, And to dispose the dead.
[K. Henry.] I tell thee, Herald,
I know not if the day be ours or not:
What is this castle call’d, that stands hard by ?
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.
Before we reach scenes approaching in excellence to those which have preceded, we must pass ever thirty years of history. Six of these still belong to the reign of the fifth Henry. After the battle of Azincour, he continued his march to Calais, and then crossed the Channel; nor was it till August, 1418, that he returned, and once more landed in France at the head of an army. The dissensions of the French princes seconded the terror of his name: and the success which attended him at length reached its summit in the celebrated treaty of Troyes, concluded in 1420, by which he stipulated that the princess Catherine should be given him in marriage, and that he should be declared heir of the French monarchy, and intrusted with the actual administration of the government. The dauphin, afterwards Charles VII., was not a party in this treaty; and, still holding out for rights which none could seriously doubt, he gave Henry sufficient employment for the remaining two years of his life.
Henry died in 1422, and left for his successor the sixth HENRY, then nine months old, under the care of the earl of Warwick; devolving on his brother John Duke of Bedford, along with the name of Regent of France, the government of that kingdom during the minority, together with the war against the dauphin which it entailed; while to the other brother, Humphrey duke of Gloucester, under the name at first of Regent, afterwards of Protector, was intrusted the government of England. These historical facts are shadowed with
sufficient accuracy in the last act of Shakspeare’s Henry V., and the opening of the first part of Henry VI.; but excepting some passages in which the fictitious characters figure, there is nothing, in the scenes referred to, equal in poetical merit to what precedes : the sameness of some of the events, and the unpoetic nature of others, (the treaty for instance,) which fill up the time to the death of Henry, may be the cause that the poet is less happy. With regard to the following twenty-four years, which are a part of the reign of the sixth Henry, it may still more safely be asserted, that the scenes which include them want the poetical merit which strikes us in other
Yet the events are far from being of a nature unfit for poetry, and far from being uninteresting by any sameness, as compared with what precedes. There are indeed many battles; but the circumstances attending them, or growing out of them, are novel and striking. The talents of the duke of Bedford, and the courage of Talbot, are proper themes of admiration, and to these some justice is done ; to Talbot at some expense of historical truth, for he is made to die in battle eight years before his time, which was not till 1453. But justice is not done to Joan of Arc. One is inclined to say, she is delineated by an eye that could not penetrate the mist of lowminded prejudice and bigotry, by which, to the English, even perhaps down to the days of Elizabeth, the natural splendor of her character was obscured. Could that eye be Shakspeare's? That he was partially concerned with the two plays called the Second and the Third parts of Henry the Sixth is undoubted; but the general opinion is, that he adopted, without or with little emendation, the First part, merely because it served as an introduction to the others. Passing, therefore, over all the scenes which are contained in this play, we come to the era 1445.
THE FACTIONS AND ANIMOSITIES WHICH DISTURBED THE ENGLISH
COURT PREVIOUSLY TO THE BREAKING OUT OF THE CIVIL WARS IN
June, 1432, when she had fallen into their hands, did not recover their affairs: on the contrary, it drove many of the French, who had previously been well-disposed subjects of the English monarch, to join the standard of their native prince. The regent Bedford died in 1435; and was succeeded in his office by Richard duke of York, the head of that house which afterwards set itself in opposition to the reigning family. Richard, though a commander of talent, was not able to stem the tide of ill success abroad; and the mild, inoffensive, conscientious king was incapable, by his character, of composing the differences which agitated the council-chamber at home. The two principal persons in these dissensions were, the duke of Gloucester, and Cardinal Beaufort, till the murder of the former, in Feb. 1447, and the death of the latter six weeks afterwards. Glo'ster was called the good duke Humphrey, from his popular manners and straightforward, though often imprudent conduct : Cardinal Beaufort was one of the natural sons of John of Gaunt, and therefore uncle of Humphrey, and great uncle of the king. Glo'ster, in his policy, always opposed concessions to the French; the cardinal was disposed to concede when something secure could be gained by treaty. The English at about this time (1440) had lost all in France except Guienne, Normandy, Anjou, and Maine ;, in ten years more, they were wholly expelled. Midway between these periods, Suffolk had been sent to France to negotiate a marriage for the king with Margaret of Anjou, daughter of Reignier, titular king of Sicily, Naples, and Jerusalemn, which magnificent tiiles, without any real power or possession, he inherited from a Count of Anjou, brother of the French king, Charles V.; and it is said that Suffolk, without authority from the council at large, but at the instigation of the cardinal and his party in it, engaged, by a secret article, that Maine should be ceded to Charles of Anjou, Margaret's uncle.
In the Chronicle Plays, we ofien hear of certain taxes under the name of tenths, fifteenths, and subsidies: the former were laid on movables or personal property; the latter was on persons for their reputed estates. Originally the proportion indicated by tenth, or fifteenth, was actually levied, but a fifteenth was afterwards fixed at £29,000, of which each township had to pay its established quota. So a subsidy, nominally at 4s. in the pound, was only £70,000.
We are to imagine a chamber of state in the palace at London. The king has just met, and received, from the hands of Suffolk, his queen Margaret ; and has left the chamber, accompanied by her and Suffolk. They are no sooner gone than Glo'ster uddresses the other lords of the council.
[Gloster.] Brave peers of England, pillars of the state,
To you duke Humphrey must unload his grief,
His grief, your grief, the grief of all the land.
Undoing all as all had never been ! [Car. Beaufort.] Nephew, what means this passionate dis
For France, 'tis ours, and we will keep it still. [course ? [Gloster.] Ay, uncle, we will keep it if we can;
But now it is impossible we should.