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nor very important. The plays on which the Contention and True Tragedy were founded did not radically differ from the two parts of Henry VI. But some revision and enlargement took place. Very probably The Contention was the original title, altered by Shakespeare to Henry VI. at the time of this revision. In 1602 the publisher to whom the Contention had been transferred (Pavier) seems to have designed to get credit for it by adopting the new name, for he entered it in the Stationers' Register (Apr. 19) under the title of 1 and 2 Henry VI.
This has an important bearing upon the second and graver question of the authorship. That Shake- Authorship. speare had some share in H is universally allowed. But controversy rages round two further questions: (1) whether he was also concerned in CT, and (2) whether any one else was also concerned in H. Older English criticism, represented by Malone, tended to deny Shakespeare any part in CT. The Contention was simply an 'old play,' like the Famous Victories of Henry V. or The Troublesome reign of King John, which he took over wholesale, with additions of his own. In a highly elaborated form the Malonian view is still recognisable in the ambitious construction of Miss Lee, who supposed Shakespeare to have had Marlowe's aid in revising old work of which Marlowe had himself been joint author with Greene and Peele. Miss Lee's immense industry and great acumen rendered undoubted service to Shakespearean criticism ; but she made too little allowance for the corruptions of CT, and attacked problems of style discrimination to which, with the evidence before us, no criticism is competent. Nor did she any more than Malone meet the difficulty raised by the occurrence in CT of some 1 Transactions of the New Shakespeare Society, 1876.
of the most Shakespearean passages in H. Thus the Cade scene in 2 H. iv. 2 is such a foretaste of the popular scenes in Julius Cæsar and Coriolanus as nothing else in the English drama up to 1592 remotely approaches.
The view which these facts suggest, that Shakespeare was already part author of the old play' (CT) was put forward in its naivest form by Charles Knight, who held that CT was a wholly Shakespearean ‘first sketch,' and H a wholly Shakespearean revision of it.
A desire to vindicate Shakespeare from the aspersions of Greene contributed to lead Grant White to a more complex theory related to this view somewhat as Miss Lee's to Malone's. He assigned to Shakespeare the portions common to CT and H, holding Shakespeare to have worked at CT in conjunction with Marlowe and Greene, and then to have rounded them off with new work of his own in H. This theory, however, fails to account for the new Marlowan passages in H, such as the powerful but quite un-Shakespearean lines which open act iv. I. 1-11:
The gaudy, blabbing and remorseful day
Is crept into the bosom of the sea . . or those in which Richard conveys his Mephistophilean appeal to York to seize the crown in spite of his oath :
And, father, do but think
(3 Henry VI. i. 2. 28).
The great invective of the doomed York after Wakefield is probably Marlowe's, as the spectacular
1 Pictorial Shakspere.
and rhetorical character of the whole scene points to him ; but if not his it must be Shakespeare's; and as this speech is verbally reproduced in CT one of the two crucial questions in dispute must be answered in the affirmative ; if Shakespeare was not concerned in the True Tragedy, Marlowe must have been concerned in 3 Henry VI. and vice versa.
But while there are some clearly Marlowesque passages in H, the extent and date of Marlowe's participation in the play remains obscure. No quite decisive evidence can be given of his having shared in the revision ;1 the bits that seem to betray him are either wholly wanting in CT, and may thence have been simply omitted there, or are already given there in their final form. It is unwise to go beyond the extremely strong presumption that Marlowe, at one point or other in the development of the play, impressed his genius on the materials and helped to give them their present shape. The characters of Margaret, of Suffolk, of York, of Richard, perhaps owe as much in execution to Shakespeare's dramatic grip as to Marlowe's fiery rhetoric; but their first conception was almost certainly Marlowe's. The boldness with which the portentous figure of Richard is made to dominate the entire latter half of the action in defiance of chronology and of his traditional character is in keeping with the splendid lawlessness of Marlowe in his dealings with history. Above all, Marlowe must be credited with the powerful tragic motive
i Greene's attempt to excite Yet in numerous scenes Miss Marlowe's sympathy with him- Lee supposes Greene's work self and animosity against to have been revised by MarShakespeare is difficult to unde lowe and Shakespeare (e.g. stand if Marlowe had, no less 2 Henry VI. iv. 10), or by than Shakespeare, beautified Marlowe alone (e.g. 3 Henry VI. himself with Greene's feathers. v. 3).
of Suffolk's intrigue with the queen, of which Holinshed says no word. To Shakespeare such a situation was at all times unattractive; but the recent painter of the guilty loves of Isabel the queen and young Mortimer was keenly alive to its tragic force.
Admitting the two contentions here urged, that Shakespeare had some share in the text corruptedly reproduced in the Quartos, and that this text was not identical with that of our 2 and 3 Henry VI., it is difficult to avoid a third conclusion: viz. that the text reproduced in the Quartos was itself based upon a yet earlier History mainly the work of Robert Greene. Greene's gibe at the upstart crow, and the anonymous R. B.'s indignant assurance that the men that so eclipst his fame Purloined his plumes ; can they deny the same,' compel us to suppose that Greene had done unpopular work on the story of Henry VI. before Shakespeare touched it, and that Greene was not concerned in the revision which made it famous. We should thus have to recognise three stages instead of two in the evolution of our Henry VI., and probably the traces of the earliest were by no means obliterated in the far
from perfectly organised structure of the last. Sources and The principal source of all three Parts of Henry Composition.
VI. is the Chronicle of Holinshed, supplemented by details from his authority Halle, and a few facts from other sources. But this material is adapted with extreme freedom to the needs of the dramatist and the taste of his audience. Many of the deviations from the Chronicle suggest sheer carelessness, confusion or imperfect understanding, such
1 Thus Halle describes in 2 Mr. Stone makes it probable detail, Holinshed only sum- that Stowe was consulted (Hol. marily, the debate between
pp. 253, 261). None of these Talbot and his before Chroniclers mention the titles of their death (iv. 7.).
Talbot (iv. 7.).
as we can very rarely bring home to Shakespeare.1 We are here only concerned with deliberate fictions for dramatic purposes.
These seem to belong to two classes, due probably to different writers. A whole series of legendary exploits are devised in the interest of the military glory of England, in particular of the popular hero Talbot. When taken prisoner at Patay, he is made to defy his captors with Marlowesque extravagance of valour (i. 4. 40 f.). Orleans, which the English besieged without success, yields to Talbot (ii. 1.). Immediately afterwards a legendary countess of Auvergne is made to emulate in vain the role of the Scythian queen Tamyris, still to the glory of Talbot, who baffled the cunning to which Cyrus succumbed. If the Pucelle is permitted by a ruse to capture Rouen (which never was captured, but voluntarily opened its gates seventeen years after her death), it is only that Talbot may recover it by sheer valour.2 Joan herself is a counterfoil to Talbot.
The national conviction that only witchcraft could have turned back the tide of English triumph is reflected clearly enough in the sober pages of Holinshed; but the author of Henry VI. (in particular of the odious scene v. 4.) has malignantly fastened upon and amplified the worst suggestions of the record, and capped them with others of which even the least friendly tradition was silent. It is only in the
1 Thus two Warwicks' are the introduction of soldiers confounded in
person : disguised peasants with Richard Beauchamp, Governor sacks), though unhistorical as of France 1437, whose prowess applied to Rouen, was appar. in the war is referred to in ently suggested by a stratagem 2 Henry VI. i. 119-20 (though actually practised, according to he did not win Anjou and Halle, in order to gain entrance Maine'), and Richard Neville, to the French castle of Cornill' the · Kingmaker.'
(Stone's Hol. p. 224). 2 The ruse in question (viz. VOL. V