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FIRST PART OF KING HENRY VI.
THE FIRST PART OF KING HENRY VI.
First printed in the folio of 1623.- In this play little or nothing of Shakespeare is to be traced : but the fact of its being admitted into the folio may be regarded as a proof that he had touched it here and there.—The " Henery the vj," which Henslowe mentions as first acted on March 3, 1591–2, and as frequently repeated afterwards (Diary, p. 22, sqq., Shakespeare Soc. ed.), was perhaps The First Part of King Henry the Sixth in its original state, and the play to which Nash alludes when he says, 'How would it haue ioyed braue Talbot (the terror of the French) to thinke that, after he had line two hundred yeares in his tombe, he should triumph againe on the stage, and haue his bones new embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least (at seuerall times), who in the tragedian that represents his person imagine they behold him fresh bleeding.” Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Diuell, sig. F 3, ed. 1595.
1864. “The Three Parts of King Henry the Sixth appear to me to have been written by Shakespeare in conjunction with others. Marlowe was probably one of his coadjutors. The Temple-Garden scene and those scenes which relate to the death of the Talbots were perhaps all that he contributed to the First Part. Possibly he may have also written the interview between Talbot and the Countess of Auvergne.
“He seems to have written more of The Second and Third Parts.
“I believe that the first folio has given us all these three plays substantially as they were first written, but not without occasional errors, and even sophistications. As to The First Part of the Contention and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, I have little doubt that they are merely piratical depravations of The Second and Third Parts of King Henry the Sixth. These two pirated plays, however, with all their imperfections, and in the midst of every variety of corruption, seem here and there to have preserved the genuine text in passages which are incorrectly given in the folio, and consequently ought to be studied by modern editors.
"I have merely stated my opinions : to bring forward the reasons on which they are founded would carry me far beyond the limits of a note.” W. N. LETTSOM.
I must observe here, that I am far from agreeing with my friend Mr. Lettsom about The Three Parts of King llenry VI. I still believe that The First Part of King Henry VI. was not written by Shakespeare in con. junction with any other author or authors, but that it is a comparatively old drama, which he slightly altered and improved. Nor am I inclined to relinquish my opinion that he had no share in the composition of The First Part of the Contention, &c., and of The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York,-both of which I strongly suspect to have been wholly from the pen of Marlowe. See my Memoir of Shakespeare, vol. i. p. 68 and pp. 74-5; also the Introductions to The Second and Third Parts of King Henry VI., in the present volume.