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A passage from Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, adduced by Mr. Tyr. whitt, first suggested, and strongly supports, Malone's hypothesis. The writer, Robert Greene, is supposed to address himself to his poetical friend, George Peele, in these words :-“ Yes, trust them not (alluding to the players), for there is an upstart crowe beautified with our feathers, that, with his tygre's heart wrapt in a player's hide, supposes hee is well able to bombaste out a blank verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute Joannes factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shakescene in a country.”_“O tyger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide!” is a line in the old quarto play entitled The First Part of the Contention, &c. There seems to be no doubt that the allusion is to Shakspeare; that the old plays may have been the production of Greene, Peele, and Marlowe, or some of them; and that Greene could not conceal his mortification, at the fame of himself and his associates, old and established playwrights, being eclipsed by a new, upstart writer (for so he calls the Poet), who had then perhaps first attracted the notice of the public by exhibiting two plays formed upon old dramas written by them, considerably enlarged and improved. The very term that Greene uses,“ to bombaste out a blank verse,” exactly corresponds with what has been now suggested. This new poet, says he, knows as well as any man how to amplify and swell out a blank verse.
Shakspeare did for the old plays, what Berni had before done to the Orlando Innamorato of Boiardo. He wrote new beginnings to the acts; he new versified, he new modeled, he transposed many of the parts; and greatly amplified and improved the whole. Many lines, however, and whole speeches, which he thought sufficiently polished, he accepted, and introduced, without any, or very slight, alterations.
Malone adopted the following expedient to mark these alterations and adoptions, which has been followed in the present edition :-All those lines which the Poet adopted without any alteration, are printed in the usual manner; those speeches which he altered or expanded, are distinguished by inverted commas; and to all lines entirely composed by himself asterisks are prefixed.
The internal evidences upon which Malone relies, to establish his position are,—The variations between the old plays in quarto, and the corresponding pieces in the folio edition of Shakspeare's dramatic works, which are of so peculiar a nature as to mark two distinct hands. Some circumstances are mentioned in the old quarto plays, of which there is not the least trace in the folio; and many minute variations occur, that prove the pieces in the quarto to have been original and distinct compositions. No copyist or short-hand writer would invent circumstances totally different from those which appear in Shakspeare's new-modeled draughts, as exhibited in the first folio; or insert whole speeches, of which scarcely a trace is found in that edition. In some places, a speech in one, of these quartos consists of ten or twelve lines; in Shakspeare's folio, the same speech consists perhaps of only half the number. A copyist by the ear, or an unskilful short-hand writer, might mutilate and exhibit a poet's thoughts or expressions imperfectly ; but he would not dilate and amplify them, or introduce totally new matter.
Malone then exhibits a sufficient number of instances to prove, beyond the possibility of doubt, his position : so that (as he observes) we are compelled to admit, either that Shakspeare wrote two sets of plays on the story which forms his Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI., hasty sketches, and entirely distinct and more finished performances; or else we must acknowledge that he formed his pieces on a foundation laid by another writer or writers, that is, upon the two parts of The Contention of the Two Houses of York, &c. It is a striking circumstance, that almost all the passages in the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. which resemble others in Shakspeare's undisputed plays, are not found in the original pieces in quarto, but in his rifaccimento in folio. As these resemblances to his other plays, and a peculiar Shakspearian phraseology, ascertain a considerable portion of these disputed dramas to be the production of that Poet; so, on the other hand, other passages, discordant, in matters of fact, from his other plays, are proved by this discordancy not to have been composed by him; and these discordant passages, being found in the original quarto plays, prove that those pieces were composed by another writer.
It is observable, that several portions of English history had been dramatized before the time of Shakspeare. Thus we have King John, in two parts, by an anonymous writer; Edward I., by George Peele; Edward II., by Christopher Marlowe; Edward III., anonymous; Henry IV., containing the deposition of Richard II., and the accession of Henry to the crown, anonymous ; Henry V. and Richard III., both by anonymous authors. It is therefore highly probable, that the whole of the story of Henry VI. had been brought on the scene; and that the first of the plays here printed, formerly called The Historical Play of King Henry Ví., and now named The First Part of King Henry VI., as well as the Two Parts of the Contention of the Houses of York and Lancaster, were the compositions of some of the authors who had produced the historical dramas above enumerated.
Mr. Boswell, speaking of the originals of the second and third of these plays, says, “ That Marlowe may have had some share in these compositions, I am not disposed to deny ; but I cannot persuade myself that they entirely proceeded from his pen. Some passages are possessed of so much merit, that they can scarcely be ascribed to any one except the most distinguished of Shakspeare's predecessors; but the tameness of the general style is very different from the peculiar characteristics of that Poets mighty line, which are great energy both of thought and language, degenerating too frequently into tumor and extravagance. The versification appears to me to be of a different color.—That Marlowe, Peele, and Greene, may all of them have had a share in these dramas, is consonant to the frequent practice of the age; of which ample proofs may be found in the extracts from Henslowe's MS. printed by Mr. Malone.”
From the passage alluding to these plays in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, it seems probable that they were produced previous to 1592, but were not printed until they appeared in the folio of 1623.
To Johnson's high panegyric of that impressive scene in this play, the death of Cardinal Beaufort, we may add that Schlegel says, “ It is sublime beyond all praise. Can any other poet be named who has drawn aside the curtain of eternity at the close of this life in such an overpowering and awful manner ? And yet it is not mere horror with which we are filled, but solemn emotion; we have an exemplification of a blessing and a curse in close proximity; the pious king is an image of the heavenly mercy, which, even in his last moments, labors to enter into the soul of the sinner.”
} of the York Faction.
King HENRY THE Sixtu:
Uncle to the King.
WHITMORE. Two Gentlemen, Prisoners with Suffolk. A Herald. Vaux. Hume and SOUTHWELL, two Priests. BOLING BROKE, a Conjuror. A Spirit raised by him. Thomas Horner, an Armorer: Peter, his Man. Clerk of Chatham. Mayor of St. Albans. Simpcox, an Impostor. Two Murderers. Jack Cade, a Rebel : George, John, Dick, Smith the Weaver, MICHAEL,
fc., his Followers.
MARGARET, Queen to King Henry.
Lords, Ladies, and Attendants; Petitioners, Aldermen, a
Beadle, Sheriff, and Officers; Citizens, Prentices,
SCENE, dispersedly in various parts of England.
SECOND PART OF
KING HENRY THE SIXTH.
SCENE I. London. A Room of State in the
Flourish of trumpets; then hautboys. Enter, on one
side, King HENRY, DUKE of GLOSTER, SALISBURY, WARWICK, and CARDINAL BEAUFORT; on the other, QUEEN MARGARET, led in by SUFFOLK; YORK, SOMERSET, BUCKINGHAM, and others, following.
Suffolk. As by your high, imperial majesty, I had in charge at my depart for France, As procurator to your excellence, To marry princess Margaret for your grace ; So, in the famous ancient city, Tours, In presence of the kings of France and Sicil, The dukes of Orleans, Calaber, Bretaigne, and Alençon, Seven earls, twelve barons, twenty reverend bishops,I have performed my task, and was espoused; And humbly now upon my bended knee, In sight of England and her lordly peers, Deliver up my title in the queen
1 «The marquesse of Suffolk, as procurator to king Henry, espoused the said ladie in the church of St. Martins. At the which marriage were present, the father and mother of the bride ; the French king himself, that was uncle to the husband; and the French queen also, that was aunt to the wife. There were also the dukes of Orleance, of Calabre, of Alanson, and of Britaine ; seven earles, twelve barons, twenty bishops.”—Hall and Holinshed.
To your most gracious hands, that are the substance ?
· Q. Mar. Great king of England, and my gracious
• The mutual conference that my mind hath had ? By day, by night; waking, and in my
dreams; • In courtly company, or at my beads, • With you mine alder-liefest 3 sovereign, • Makes me the bolder to salute my king • With ruder terms; such as my wit affords, * And over-joy of heart doth minister. · K. Hen. Her sight did ravish ; but her grace in
speech, · Her words y-clad with wisdom's majesty, • Makes me, from wondering, fall to weeping joys;
Such is the fulness of my heart's content.• Lords, with one cheerful voice welcome my love. All. Long live queen Margaret, England's hap
piness! Q. Mar. We thank you all.
[Flourish. Suff. My lord protector, so it please your grace, Here are the articles of contracted peace,
1 i. e. to the gracious hands of you, my sovereign, who are, &c. In the old play the line stands :
“ Unto your gracious excellence, that are." 2 I am the bolder to address you, having already familiarized you to my imagination.
*3 i. e. most beloved of all ; from alder, of all; formerly used in composition with adjectives of the superlative degree; and liefest, dearest, or most loved.