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" The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of Yorke,” was first printed in the folio of 1623, where it occupies twenty-six pages, in the division of “Histories," viz. from p. 147 to p. 172, inclusive, pages 165 and 166 being misprinted 167 and 168, so that these numbers are twice inserted. The error is corrected in the folio, 1632. The play is also contained in the folios of 1664 and 1685.
NONE of the commentators ever saw the first edition of the drama upon which, we may presume, Shakespeare founded his third part of "Henry VI.:" it bears the following title :"The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and the death of the good King Henrie the Sixt, with the whole contention betweene the two houses Lancaster and Yorke, as it was sundrie times acted by the Right Honourable the Earle of Pembrooke his servants. Printed at London by P. S. for Thomas Millington, and are to be sold at his shoppe under Saint Peters Church in Cornwal. 1595." 8vo. This play, like "the First Part of the Contention," was reprinted for the same bookseller in 1600, 4to. About the year 1619 a re-impression of both plays was published by T. P.; and the name of Shakespeare, as has been already observed in our Introduotion to " Henry VI.” part ii., first appears in connection with these “histories" in that edition.
Believing that Shakespeare was not the writer of "The First Part of the Contention,” 1594, nor of “ The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, 1595, and that Malone established his position, that Shakespeare only enlarged and altered them, it becomes a question by whom they were produced. Chalmers, who possessed the only known copy of “The True Tragedy,” 1595, without scruple assigned that piece to Christopher Marlowe. Although there is no ground whatever for giving it to Marlowe, there is some reason for supposing that it came from the pen of Robert Greene.
In the Introduction to “Henry VI." part i., we alluded, as far as was there necessary, to the language of Greene, when speaking of Shakespeare in his “Groats worth of Wit,” 1592. This tract was not published until after the death of its author in Sept. 1592, when it appeared under the editorship of Henry Chettle?; and what follows is the whole that relates to our
i Chettle acknowledges the important share he had in the publication of "The Groatsworth of Wit," in his “Kind-heart's Dream,” which was printed at the close of 1592, or in the beginning of 1593. See the excellent reprint of this very curious and interesting tract made for the Percy Society, under the editorial care of Mr. Rimbault. In his address to the “ Gentlemen Readers,” Chettle apologizes to Shakespeare (not by name) for having been instrumental in the publication of Greene's attack upon him.
great dramatist :-"Yes, trust them not; for there is an apstart crow beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart, wrapp'd in a player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shakescene in a country.”' (Dyce's Edit. of Greene's Works, I. Ixxxi.) In this extract, although Greene talks of
an upstart crow beautified with our feathers,” he seems to have referred principally to his own works, and to the manner in which Shakespeare had availed himself of them. This opinion is somewhat confirmed by two lines in a tract called “Greene's Funerals,” by R. B., 1594, where the writer is adverting to the obligations of other authors to Greene:
“Nay more, the men that so eclips'd his fame
Purloin'd'his plumes can they deny the same ?" Here R. B. nearly adopts Greene's words,“ beautified with our feathers," and applies to him individually what Greene, perhaps to avoid the charge of egotism and vanity, had stated more generally. It may be mentioned, also, as a confirmatory circumstance, that the words "tiger's heart, wrapp'd in a player's hide,” in our extract from the “Groatsworth of Wit,” are a repetition, with the omission of an interjection and the change of a word, of a line in “ The True Tragedy," 1595,
“O! tiger's heart, wrapp'd in a woman's hide." Thus Greene, when charging Shakespeare with having appropriated his plays, parodies a line of his own, as if to show the particular productions to which he alludeda.
Another fact tends to the same conclusion: it is a striking coir.cidence between a passage in "The True Tragedy" and some lines in one of Greene's acknowledged dramas, “ Alphonsus, King of Arragon," printed, in 1599, by Thomas Creed, the same printer whó, in 1594, had produced from his press an edition of “The First Part of the Contention.". In
Alphonsus” the hero kills Flaminius, his enemy, and thus addresses the dying man:
“Go, pack thee hence unto the Stygian lake,
And make report unto thy traitorous sire,
Alphonsus say, who now must wear thy crown."
There is a trifling fact connected with “Henry VI.” part i, a notice of which ought not to be omitted, when considering the question of the authorship of some yet undiscovered original, upon which that play might be founded. In Act v. sc. 3, these two lines occur :
“She's beautiful, and therefore to be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore to be won." The last of these lines is inserted in Greene's “Planetomachia," printed as early as 1585. In “The First Part of the Contention' a pirate is mentioned, who is introduced into another of Greene's productions.
"If any spark of life remain in thee,
Down, down to hell; and say I sent thee thither." Shakespeare, when altering “ The True Tragedy” for his own theatre, (for, as originally composed, it had been played by the Earl of Pembroke's servants, for whom Greene was in the habit of writing) adopted the line,
“O tiger's heart, wrapp'd in a woman's hide,” without the change of a letter, and the couplet last quoted with only a very slight variation ;
"If any spark of life be yet remaining,
Down, down to hell; and say I sent thee thither." As in “Henry VI.” part ii., Shakespeare availed himself of “The First Part of the Contention," 1594, so in " Henry VI." part iii., he applied to his own purposes much of “The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York,” 1595. He made, however, considerable omissions, as well as large additions, and in the last two Acts he sometimes varied materially from the conduct of the story as he found it in the older play. One improvement may be noticed, as it shows the extreme simplicity of our stage just before what we may consider Shakespeare's time; and it is to be ascertained by comparing two scenes of his " Henry VI." part iii,, (Act iv. sc. 2 and 3) with a portion of " The True Tragedy.” In the older play, Warwick, Oxford, and Clarence, aided by a party of soldiers, standing on one part of the stage, concert a plan for surprising Edward IV. in his tent on another part of the stage. Having resolved upon the enterprise, they merely cross the boards of Edward's encampment, the audience being required to suppose that the assailing party had travelled from their own quarters in order to arrive at Edward's tent. Shakespeare showed his superior judgment by changing the place, and by interposing a dialogue between the Watchmen, who guard the King's tent. Robert Greene, in his “Pinner of Wakefield,” (See “Hist. of Engl. Dram. Poetry and the Stage,” vol. iii. p. 368.) relied on the imagination of his auditors, exactly in the same way as the author of “The True Tragedy."
It is to be observed of “Henry VI." part iii., as was remarked in the Introduction to the second part of the same play, that a line, necessary to the sense, was omitted in the folio, 1623, and has been introduced into our text from “The True Tragedy,”' 1595. It occurs in Act ii. sc. 6, and it was, probably, accidentally omitted by the copyist of the manuscript from which Shakespeare's“ history,” as it appears in the folio, was printed.