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THE three parts of King Henry VI. are suspec ted, by Mr. Theobald, of being supposititious, and are declared, by Dr. Warburton, to be certainly not Shakspeare's. Mr. Theo bald's suspicion arises from some obsolete words ; but the phraseology is like the rest of our author's style, and single words, of which however I do not observe more than two, can conclude little. Dr. Warburton gives no reason, but I suppose him to judge upon deeper principles and more comprehensive views, and to draw his opinion from the general effect and spirit of the composition, which he thinks inferior to the other historical plays.
From mere inferiority nothing can be inferred ; in the productions of wit there will be inequality. Sometimes judgment will err, and sometimes the matter itself will defeat the artist. Of every author's works, one will be the best, and one will be the worst. The colours are not equally pleasing, nor the attitudes equally graceful, in all the pictures of Titian or Reynolds.
Dissimilitude of style, and heterogeneousness of sentiment, may sufficiently show that a work does not really belong to the reputed author. But in these plays no such marks of spuriousness are found. The diction, the versification, and the figures, are Shakspeare's. These plays, considered, without regard to characters and incidents, merely as narratives in verse, are more happily conceived, and more accurately finished than those of K. John, Richard II. or the tragick scenes of King Henry IV and V If we take these plays from Shakspeare, to whom shall they be given ? What author of that age had the same easiness of expression, and fluency of numbers ?
Having considered the evidence given by the plays themselves, and found it in their favour, let us now inquire what corroboration can be gained from other testimony. They are ascribed to Shakspeare by the first editors, whose attestation may be received in questions of fact, however unskilfully they superintended their edition. They seem to be declared genuine by the voice of Shakspeare himself, who refers to the second play in his epilogue to King Henry V. and apparently connects the first Act of King Richard III. with the last of The Third Part of King Henry VI. If it be objected that the plays were popular, and that therefore he alluded to them as well known ; it may be answered, with equal probability, that the natural passions of a poet would have disposed him to separate his own works from those of an inferior hand. And, indeed, if an author's own testimony is to be overthrown by speculative criticism, no man can be any longer secure of literary reputation.
King HENRY the Sixth:
Eari of Oxford. Earl of NORTHUM- K. Henry'e
of the duke of York's party.
uncles to the duke of York. HENRY, earl of Richmond, a youth. Lord RIVERS, brother to Lady Grey. Sir WILLIAM
STANLEY. Sir JOHN MONTGOMERY. Sir JOHN SOMERVILLE. Tutor to RUTLAND. Mayor of York. Lieutenant of the Tower. A Nobleman. Two Keepers. A Huntsman. A Son that has killed his Father. A Father that has killed his Son.
king Edward, Messengers, Watchmen, &c. SCENE, during part of the third Act, in France ;
during all the rest of the Play, in England.
The Third Part of King Henry the VI -The action of this play (which was at first printed under this title, The true Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, and the good King Henry the Sixth ; or, The Second Part of the Contention of York and Lancaster) opens just after the first battle at St. Albans, ( May 23, 1455,) wherein the York faction carried the day ; and closes with the murder of King Henry VI. and the birth of prince Edward, afterwards king. Edward V. (November 4, 1471,) So that this history takes in the space of full sixteen yearse THEOBALD,
THIRD PART OF
KING HENRY VI.
SCENE I.-London. The Parliament-House. Drums. Some
Soldiers of YORK's Party break in. Then, enter the Duke of York, EDWARD, RICHARD, NORFOLK, MONTAGUE, WARWICK, and others, with white Roses in their Hats."
WONDER, how the king escap'd our hands.
York. While we pursu'd the horsemen of the north, He slily stole away, and left his men : Whereat the great lord of Northumberland, Whose warlike ears could never brook retreat, Cheer'd up the drooping army; and himself, Lord Clifford, and lord Stafford, all a-breast, Charg'd our main battle's front, and, breaking in, Were by the swords of common soldiers slain.
Edw. Lord Stafford's father, duke of Buckingham, Is either slain, or wounded dangerous : I cleft his beaver with a downright blow ; That this is true, father, behold his blood.
[Showing his bloody sword. Mont. And, brother, here's the earl of Wiltshire's blood,
[T. YORK, showing his. Whom I encountered as the battles join'd. Rich. Speak thou for me, and tell them what I did.2
[Throwing down the Duke of SOMERSET's Head. York. Richard hath best deserv'd of all my sons. What, is your grace dead, my lord of Somerset ?
Norf. Such hope have all the line of John of Gaunt ! [!] This play is only divided from the former for the convenience of ex. hibition ; for the series of action is continued without interruption, nor are any two scenes of any play more closely connected than the first scene of this play with the last of the former. JOHNS.
 Here, as Mr. Elderton has observed to me, is a gross anachorism. At the time of the first battle of Saint Albans, at which Richard is represented in the last scene of the preceding play to have fought, he was, according to that gentleman's calculation, not one year old, having (as he conceives been born at Frocheringay Castle, October 21, 1454. MAL.
18 VOL. V.
Rich. Thus do I hope to shake king Henry's head.
War. And so do I.- Victorious prince of York,
York. Assist me then, sweet Warwick, and I will ; For hither we have broken in by force.
Norf. We'll all assist you ; he, that flies, shall die.
York. Thanks, gentle Norfolk.-Stay by me, my lords ; -And, soldiers, stay, and lodge by me this night.
War. And, when the king comes,offer him no violence, Unless he seek to thrust you out by force. [They retire.
York. The queen, this day, here holds her parliament,
War. The bloody parliament shall this be call'd,
York. Then leave me not, my lords ; be resolute ; I mean to take possession of my right.
War. Neither the king, nor he that loves him best, The proudest he that holds up Lancaster, Dare stir a wing, if Warwick shake his bells. 3 I'll plant Plantagenet, root him up who dares :Resolve thee, Richard ; claim the English crown. [WARWICK lead: York to the throne, who seats himself. Flourish. Enter King HENRY, CLIFFORD, NORTH
UMBERLAND, WESTMORELAND, EXETER, and others, with red Roses in their Hats.
K.Hen. My lords, look where the sturdy rebel sits, Even in the chair of state ! belike, he means, (Back'd by the power of Warwick, that false peer,) To aspire unto the crown, and reign as king. Earl of Northumberland, he slew thy father ;And thine, lord Clifford ; and you both have vow'd
revenge On him, his sons, his favourites, and his friends.
(3] The allusion is to falconry. The hawk had sometimes little bells hong upon them, perhaps to dare the birds ; that is, to fright them from rising
North. If I be not, heavens, be reveng'd on me !
West. What,shall we suffer this ? let's pluck him down; My heart for anger burns, I cannot brook it.
K.Hen. Be patient, gentle earl of Westmoreland.
Clif. Patience is for poltroons, and such as he ;
North. Well hast thou spoken, cousin ; be it so.
K.Hen. Ah, know you not, the city favours them, And they have troops of soldiers at their beck ?
Exe. But when the duke is slain, they'll quickly fiy.
K. Hen. Far be the thought of this from Henry's heart, To make a shambles of the parliament-house! Cousin of Exeter, frowns, words, and threats, Shall be the war that Henry means to use.-
[They advance to the Duke.
York. Thou art deceiv'd, I am thine.
of York. York. 'Twas my inheritance, as the earldom was.“ Exe. Thy father was a traitor to the crown.
War. Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown,
Clif. Whom should he follow, but his natural king?
West. He is both king and duke of Lancaster;
War. And Warwick shall disprove it. You forget, That we are those, which chas'd you from the field, And slew your fathers, and with colours spread March'd through the city to the palace gates.
North. Yes, Warwick, I remember it to my grief ; And, by his soul, thou and thy house shall rue it.
 York means, I suppose, that the dukedom of York was his inheritance from his father, as the earldom of March was his inheritance from his moth. er, Anne Mortimer, the wife of the Earl of Cambridge ; and by naming the earldom, he covertly asserts his right to the crown ; for his title to the crown was not as Duke of York, but Earl of March.