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have mentioned that I do not believe The First Part of King Henry VI. to have been the composition of Shakspeare; or that at most he wrote but one or two scenes in it. It is unnecessary here to repeat the circumstances on which that opinion is founded. Not being Shakspeare's play, (as I conceive,) at. whatever time it might have been first exhibited, it does not interfere with the supposition already ftated, that he had not produced any dramatick piece before 1590.
The First Part of King Henry VI. which, I imagine, was formerly known by the name of The historical Play of King Henry VI. had, I suspect, been a very popular piece for some years before 1592, and perhaps was first exhibited in 1588 or in 1589. Nashe, in a tract entitled Pierce Pennilelle his Supplication to the Devill, which was first published in 1592,' expressly mentions one of the characters in it, John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who dies in the fourth act of the piece, and who is not, I believe, introduced in any other play of that, time. “How” (says he) " would it have joyed brave Talbot, the terror of the French,8, to think that after he had lain two hundred years in his
Pierce Pennile se his Supplication, &c. was first published in that
year, being entered for the first time on the Stationers' books by Richard Jones, Aug. 1592. There was a second edition in the fame year, printed by Abell Jeffes for Jobn Busbie,
8 Thus Talbot is described in The First Part of King Henry VI. Act I. sc. iii :
6 Here, said they, is the terror of the French."
“ Is Talbot lain, the Frenchman's only fcourge,
tomb, he should triumph again on the stage, and
In the Differtation above referred to, I have en-
At this distance of time it is impossible to ascertain on what principle it was that our author's friends, Heminge and Condell, admitted The First Part of King Henry VI. into their volume: but I suspect they gave it a place as a necessary introducțion to the two other parts, and because Shakspeare had made some slight alterations, and written a few new lines in it.
Titus Andronicus, as well as The First Part of King Henry VI. may be referred to the year 1589, or to an earlier period; but not being in the preen t edition admitted into the regular series of our
author's dramas, I have not given it a place in the preceding table of his plays. In a note prefixed to that play, which may be found in Vol. XIX. p. 249, & seq. I have declared my opinion that Andronicus was not written by Shakspeare, or that at most a very few lines in it were written by him;' and have stated the reasons on which that opinion is founded. From Ben Jonson's Induction to Bartholomew Fair, 1614, we learn that this piece had been exhibited on the stage twenty-five or thirty years before, that is, at the lowest computation, in 1589; or, taking a middle period, (which is perhaps more just,) in 1587. " A booke entitled a Noble Roman History of Titus Andronicus," (without any author's name,) was entered at Stationers' Hall by John Danter, Feb. 6, 1593-4. This was undoubtedly the play, as it was printed in that year, according to Langbaine, who alone appears to have seen the first edition, and acted by the servants of the earls of Pembroke, Derby, and Suflex. Of this play there was a second edition in quarto in 1611, in the title-page of which neither the name of Shakspeare, (though he was in the zenith of his reputation,) nor of any author, is found, and therefore we may presume that the title-page of the first edition also (like the entry on the Stationers' books) was anonymous.
Marlowe's King Edward II, and some other old plays were performed by the servants of the earl of Pembroke, by whom not one of Shakspeare's undisputed dramas was exhibited.
2. SECOND AND THIRD PARTS OF K. HENRY VI. 3.)
1591. In a Dissertation annexed to these plays, I have endeavoured to prove that they were not written originally by Shakspeare, but formed by him on two preceding dramas, one of which is entitled The first part of the Contention of the two famous houses of Yorke and Lancaster, &c. and the other The true tragedie of Richard duke of Yorke, &c. My principal object in that dissertation was, to fhew from various circumstances that those two old plays, which were printed in 1600, were written by some writer or writers who' preceded Shakspeare, and moulded by him, with many alterations and additions, into the shape in which they at present appear in his works under the titles of The Second and Third Part of K. Henry VI; and if I have proved that point, I have obtained my end. I ventured, however, to go somewhat further, and to hazard a conjecture concerning the persons by whom they were composed : but this was not at all material to my principal arguinent, which, ,whether my conjectures on that head were well or ill founded, will remain the same.
The passage which has been already quoted from Greene's pamphlet, led me to suspect that these old plays were the production of either him, or Peele, br both of them. I too hastily supposed that the words which have been printed in a former page, -"Yes, trust them not; for there is an upstart crow beautified with our feathers," &c. as they immediately followed a paragraph addressed to George Peele, were addressed to him particularly; and consequently that the word our meant
Peele and Greene, the writer of the pamphlet: but thele words manifestly relate equally to the three perfons previoully addressed, and 'allude to the theatrical compositions of Marlowe, Lodge, Peele, and Gieene; whether we consider the writer to lament in general that players avail themselves of the labours of authors, and derive more profit from them than the authors themselves, or suppose him to allude to some particular dramatick performances, which had been originally composed by himself or one of his friends, and thrown into a new form by some other diamatist, who was also a player. The two old plays therefore on which The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI. were formed, may have been written by any one or more of the authors above enumerated. Towards the end of the Ellay I haye produced a passage from the old King John, 1591, from which it appeared to me probable that the two elder dramas, which compichend the greater part of the reign of King Henry VI. were written by the author of King Juhn, who ever he was; and some circumflances which, have lately struck me, confirm an opinion which I formerly hazarded, that Christopher Marlowe was the author of that play. A pallage in his historical drama of King Edward II. which Dr. Farmer has pointed out to me since the Dissertation was printed, also inclines me to believe, with him, that Marlowe was the author of one, if not both, of the old dramas on which Siiakspeare formed the two plays which in the first folio edition of his works are distinguished by the titles of The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI.
Two lines in The Third Part of King Henry VI. have been produced as a decisive and incontro