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KING HENRY the Sixth.
chester, and afterwards Cardinal. JOHN BEAUFORT, Earl, afterwards Duke, of Somerset. RICHARD PLANTAGENET, son of Richard late Earl of Cam.
bridge, afterwards Duke of York. EARL OF WARWICK. EARL OF SALISBURY. EARL OF SUFFOLK. LORD TALBOT, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury. JOHN TALBOT, his son. EDMUND MORTIMER, Earl of March. SIR JOHN FASTOLFE. SIR WILLIAM LUCY. SIR WILLIAM GLANSDALE. SIR THOMAS GARGRAVE. Mayor of London. WOODVILE, Lieutenant of the Tower. VERNON, of the White-Rose or York faction. BASSET, of the Red-Rose or Lancaster faction A Lawyer. Mortimer's Keepers. CHARLES, Dauphin, and afterwards King, of France. REIGNIER, Duke of Anjou, and titular King of Naples. DUKE OF BURGUNDY. DUKE OF ALENÇON. BASTARD OF ORLEANS. Governor of Paris. Master-Gunner of Orleans, and his Son. General of the French forces in Bourdeaux. A French Sergeant. A Porter. An old Shepherd, father to Joan la Pucelle. MARGARET, daughter to Reignier, afterwards married to King Henry.
COUNTESS OF AUVERGNE.
Lords, Warders of the Tower, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers,
Messengers, and Attendants.
SCENE : Partly in England, and partly in France.
DURATION OF TIME I. Dramatic Time.—The time actually represented on the stage is eight days, with intervals.
II. Historic Time. --The historic period represented is from the death of Henry V., August 31, 1422, to the death of Talbot, July 17, 1453 But the latter event is made to precede the treaty of marriage between Henry VI. and Margaret of Anjou, 1444, with which the action closes.
Daniel, New Shakesp. Soc. Transactions (1877-79).
In the Folio of 1623, where it was first completely printed, Henry VI. is presented as a kind of Trilogy. But it is evident that its three Parts have not the same continuity and coherence as e.g. the two Parts of Henry IV. The most colossal tragic theme in English history looms uncertainly through a surface intersected by the sharpest divergences of style, intention, and power. Hardly any critic now contends that Shakespeare was the author of the whole; but the evidences of his hand are very unevenly distributed In particular, the First Part clearly stands apart from the other two. It deals mainly with the war in France, they with the Civil War; it contains a far larger mass of utterly un-Shakespearean work; it diverges far more recklessly from history; it is connected with the second and third
; parts by slighter and looser links of action than they with each other. It was printed, moreover, to all appearance, for the first time in the Folio of 1623, while the substance of the other two parts had appeared, under other titles, nearly twenty years before, in Quarto editions, the relation of which to the Folio texts presents one of the most crucial problems in Shakespeare.
The substance of all three parts of Henry VI. was already familiar to the stage in 1592. But they
were probably not yet united in a single drama under that name.
1. The First Part. In a famous passage of his Piers Penniless (1592) Thomas Nash defends the representations of our forefathers’ valiant acts' on the stage with a telling allusion to what was clearly the dramatic sensation of the hour. How would it have joyed brave Talbot, the terror of the French, to think that after he had lien two hundred year in his tomb, he should triumph again on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with the tears of ten thousand spectators at least, at several times, who in the tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding.' This was probably written in the summer of 1592, the pamphlet being entered in the Stationers' Register on August the 8th. From another source (Henslowe's Diary) we know that a play which he calls Henry (or Harey) the Sixth was acted that summer fourteen times, by Lord Strange's company, at the Rose, and for the first time, as a new play, on March
There is very little doubt that Nash's Talbot tragedy and Henslowe’s Henry VI. were the
And since the play was new on March the 3rd, and the company that to which Shakespeare belonged, it is tolerably certain that his participation in it, whatever that amounted to, must be dated in 1591-2.
2. The Second and Third Parts.—These were also already familiar on the stage by 1592.
Greene's often - quoted death - bed reference to Shakespeare as the 'upstart crow beautified with our feathers, that, with his Tyger's heart wrapt in a Player's hide, supposes
he is as well able to bombast out a blank 1 The verse occurs both in the True Tragedy and in 3 Henry VI. i. 4. 138.
verse as the best of you,'1 makes it certain that before May of that year (when Greene died) Shakespeare had written or rewritten plays on the subject of Henry VI., and the bitterness of Greene's tone suggests that the offence was recent. On the other hand, it is impossible to separate the three Parts of Henry VI. from their climax and culmination, Richard III. Hence Shakespeare's participation in the Second and Third as well as the First Parts of Henry VI. may be probably dated in 1591-2.
It remains to ask what the nature and extent of his participation was.
1. The First Part — The view that i Henry VI. was wholly the work of Shakespeare is now probably extinct in England. It is still orthodox, however, in Germany, where the Shakespearean canon has, since Tieck, never been excessively rigid; it has had the sanction of Delius, and quite recently that of Professor Brandl.2 Its defenders rely upon a single argument: the inclusion of the play among Shakespeare's works by the editors of the First Folio. The world owes a vast debt to Hemyng and Condell; but it is impossible to regard them as ideal editors, or to credit them with either an exact knowledge of what Shakespeare wrote, critical skill in discerning it, or even, in many cases, decent care in protecting it from errors. It is beyond question, further, that they included in the Folio plays of which Shakespeare was not sole author, like the Taming of the Shrew, Timon of Athens, and Henry VIII., to say nothing of the still-debated Titus Andronicus. Their inclusion of Henry VI. proves, it may be allowed,
? A Groat's Worth of Wit: • To those gentlemen his quondam acquaintance.'
2 I call attention here to his
valuable new edition of Schlegel and Tieck's Translation, with original introductions and notes
to each play.