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KING HENRY. I pray you then, in love and dear alliance,

Let that one article rank with the rest;

And thereupon give me your daughter.


FRENCH KING. Take her, fair son; and from her blood raise up

Issue to me; that the contending kingdoms

Of France and England, whose very shores look pale
With envy of each other's happiness,

May cease their hatred, and this dear conjunction
Plant neighbourhood and Christian-like accord

In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance


His bleeding sword 'twixt England and fair France. 368 ALL. Amen!

KING HENRY. Now, welcome, Kate: and bear me witness all,

That here I kiss her as my sovereign queen.




QUEEN ISABEL. God, the best maker of all marriages, Combine your hearts in one, your realms in one! As man and wife, being two, are one in love, So be there 'twixt your kingdoms such a spousal That never may ill office, or fell jealousy, Which troubles oft the bed of blessed marriage, Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms, To make divorce of their incorporate league; That English may as French, French Englishmen, Receive each other! God speak this Amen!

ALL. Amen!

which day,


Prepare we for our marriage: on

My Lord of Burgundy, we'll take your oath,
And all the peers', for surety of our leagues.
Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me;
And may our oaths well kept and prosperous be!

Enter Chorus.

Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursu'd the story;

In little room confining mighty men,



Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.


Small time, but in that small most greatly liv'd

This star of England: Fortune made his sword,
By which the world's best garden he achiev'd,
And of it left his son imperial lord.
Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crown'd King

Of France and England, did this king succeed;
Whose state so many had the managing,



That they lost France and made his England bleed: Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their sake, In your fair minds let this acceptance take.






'I NOW Come,' writes Courtenay in his Commentaries, 'to the worst of the historical plays, the three parts of Henry the Sixth.' There will be little difference of opinion as to the writer's estimate of these plays; there can be no difference of opinion in placing the First Part of King Henry VI on a much lower level than we place the two later parts. It is some satisfaction to reflect that the most perplexing questions of Shakespearean scholarship are connected not with the great dramas but with the worst of the historical plays'. The three parts do not stand with respect to these scholarly questions upon the same footing. The second and third parts are closely connected with two old plays, of which we possess early quartos; the first is known to us only through the folio of 1623. The problem here is, accordingly, a simpler one; have no questions of revision of an earlier drama known to us, and how and by whom that revision was made, though we may imagine, if we please, that Part Í existed in some earlier form than that which we possess. Here our chief questions are: Did Shakespeare write the whole of this play? and, if not the whole, did he write any parts of it?


The style of the greater part of the play indicates that, whoever may be the author, it is of early date. In Henslowe's Diary mention is made, March 3, 1591 [1592], of a 'harey the VI' and the letters 'Ne', meaning 'New', are prefixed to the entry. Whether the play was that which we possess, and whether it was then wholly new, or had been made in part new by additions, we cannot say. It was evidently popular, for it reappears in the Diary on many occasions during

some ten or eleven months. Nashe in his Pierce Pennilesse (1592) seems to allude to the play which we find in the folio: How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French) to thinke that after he had lyen two hundred yeare in his Toomb, he should triumphe againe on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least (at severall times) who, in the Tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding.' Talbot, in our play (Act 1, Scene iv, 1. 42), is styled, in a phrase caught from the chronicler Hall, 'the terror of the French.' In the Epilogue to King Henry V Shakespeare (if the Epilogue be from his hand) refers to King Henry VI and his state of which so many had the managing :

That they lost France and made his England bleed:
Which oft our stage hath shown.

Meres, in 1598, does not name Henry VI among Shakespeare's plays, but his list does not profess to be complete. The inclusion of Henry VI in the first folio raises a strong presumption that Shakespeare was not unconnected with the trilogy of that name, and perhaps with each part of the trilogy.

There have been critics-among others Charles Knight and Hudson-who maintain that the First Part of Henry VI is rightly ascribed to Shakespeare, and to Shakespeare alone. It is, of course, very difficult to decide such a matter by the evidence of style, inasmuch as we have no standard of comparison, or anything like a test, of his work in historical drama as early as 1591, or perhaps as early as 1589-90. The fact, however, is remarkable that from the time of Theobald to the present day scholars have doubted that Shakespeare did more than (in Theobald's words) 'add some finishing beauties' to the piece. Malone was of a decided opinion that the play could not be the work of Shakespeare. He held that the versification is unlike that of the second and third parts, and exactly corresponds with that of the tragedies written by

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