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already observed, the conversation between Edmund and Richard is indispensable.
The most flagrant offences against chronology are: that the peace between Philip of Burgundy and Charles VII. was not concluded till 1435, hence that Joan of Arc (who was burnt in 1431) could not
ave taken any part in it; that Talbot's death did not occur before, but eight years after the marriage of Henry VI. with Margaret of Anjou, and that, conversely, the punishment and banishment of the Duchess Eleanor of Gloster took place three years before Margaret's arrival in England, so that the former could not possibly have been insulted by the latter. Yet these very anachronisms do not really disturb the truth of history; and they appear justified in so far as Shakspeare required a definite centre for the war represented in the First Part of · Henry VI.,' which centre was after all furnished historically * by the life and death of Talbot; moreover, the manifold changes of the war could not possibly have been dragged through several dramas. For the same reason, that is, for the sake of the artistic arrangement of the whole, the poet could not break the connection between the principal events of the internal history of England, and therefore was obliged to introduce Margaret's arrival and Eleanor's punishment in the same play. The scene in which the Queen boxes the ears of the Duchess throws great light upon the important character of Queen Margaret, her arrogance and love of dominion, her violence and inconsiderate harshness, and is also the motive of the subsequent behaviour of the Duchess, so that even this poetical licence may well be excused. Lastly, the dramatic economy required a centre and a leader for the royal or Lancastrian party-which indeed was represented by Henry VI., but which he was utterly incapable to direct. On this account Shakspeare not only makes Margaret take the reins of government into her own
* In order to bring this centre more prominently forward, and to throw more glory upon the English popular hero, Shakspeare has also interwoven the story of the Countess of Auvergne, which the Chronicles have left unreported, but which popular traditior probably put into the poet's hands. At all events the story has quite the character of a traditional anecdote.
hands earlier than was historically the case, but also implicates her in the intrigues and conspiracy formed against the life of the Duke of Gloster.*
The greatest anachronism, however, unquestionably lies in the appearance of Richard (afterwards the Third), as early as the time of the battles of St. Albans, Wakefield, and Saxton. For towards 1455 Richard was only between two and three years of age, and therefore in 1460 and 1461 somewhere about nine years old. But this very point is the clearest proof of the poet's intention to place the chief incidents in · Henry VI.' in direct connection with the following drama, the fifth act of the great tragedy. Without some such purpose it would be inexplicable why he introduced Richard in · Henry VI.' at all. For it is, indeed, historically certain that young Edward, Henry's son, was murdered by Richard and his brother George (Clarence); and it is still the general belief that Henry VI. himself fell by Richard's dagger. But as regards the first case, Shakspeare might have simply required the person of Clarence, and in the second might, without being untrne to history, have also left Richard out of the question. At all events there was no necessity for making him take part in the earlier transactions of the war. If, on the other hand, we maintain it to have been the poet's clearly expressed intention to form the different dramas into one great whole, then in `Henry VI. he certainly was
* When Gervinus not only acquits the Queen of this crime, but even maintains that it has not been historically proved that Gloster was murdered by Suffolk and the Bishop of Winchester, he is right, in so far as Holinshed clearly accuses Cardinal Winchester of all kinds of secret plots against the voble Duke lïumphrey, which in the end prove his death,
Holinshed further says: The Queen, persuaded by these means, first of all excluded the duke of Glocester from all rule and governance, not prohibiting such as she knew to be his mortal foes to invent and imagine causes and griefs against him and his, insomuch that by his procurement, diverse noblemen conspired agaiust him. Of which diverse writers affirm the Marquis of Suffolk, and the Duke of Buckingham to be the chief, not unprocured by the Cardinal of Winchester and the Archbishop York.' Ayain, after giving an account of Suffolk's death, he adds: “This end nad William de la Poole, Duke of Suffolk (as men judge by Guil's Providence), for that he had procured the death of that good duke of Gioces ter, as before is partly touched.'
obliged gradually to unfold Richard's character, mor especially to set forth his military courage and bravery, qualities which were a foil to his tyranny, and indispensable to him in his subsequent office as the man who was to carry out the divine judgment, but which did not manifest themselves at a later period, during the reign of Edward IV. Accordingly, the historical error becomes a poetical excellence.
I have already stated the reasons why Shakspeare, in Richard III.,' makes the murder of Clarence happen about the same time as the death of Henry VI., although it occurred almost eight years later; further, why he causes Clarence to be put to death without trial, principally at the instigation of Richard and at his direct inference, although the one statement is false, and the other, at least, not certain :* again, why he makes Richard's wooing the Lady Anne contemporaneous with Clarence's death, although in reality two years intervened ; and why he allows Queen Margaret—who, weknow, was kept a prisoner in the Tower till 1475, and then sent back to France-to go about at liberty and to take part in the events, even though she is wholly powerless. The person of Margaret was necessary in order to keep alive the remembrance of the past in the present. Clarence had to fall through Richard's intrigues because it was dramatically indispensable that Richard should be represented as the principal instrument of the general retribution which met the past in the present, that is, which connected the whole with its several parts, and conversely. Only in this way could the drama, bearing the name of Richard III.,' be linked to those preceding it, as the last act of the great tragedy. The long proceedings of a legal trial would, comparatively, have given too much prominence to Clarence's death. The whole affair had to be briefly dismissed in order not further to retard the progress of the action, which was slow enough in itself; the undramatic interval between the
* And yet Richard's participation in the murder of Clarence is by no means a free 'invention of Shakspeare's, as Courtenay and others maintain. Hulinshed mentions it as the express opinion of eminent persons, that Richard was the cause of Clarence's death, in order to pave the way for his own accession to the throne.—(Oechelhäuser, 1.c.)
death of Henry VI. and Clarence's murder, as well as between the iatter and the marriage of the Lady Anne, had to be wholly removed. For the same reason Shakspeare gives merely gentle intimations of the origin and course of the conspiracy which was being hatched against Richard, the leaders of which, according to Holinshed, were the Duchess of Richmond (the mother of Henry VI.) and the Bishop of Ely. In Shakspeare this conspiracy is represented only by the Queen Elizabeth and Lord Stanley, who, in reality, played but subordinate parts in the plot. This deviation seems justified by the fact, that according to Shakspeare's ethical as well as artistic intention, Richard's fall was to appear as the close of the great cyclic whole, and therefore not merely as the work of man, but more as the consequence of the higher divine guidance of history.
I have discussed the obvious internal and external unity of the eight dramas more fully, in order at the same time to expose the utterly uncritical procedure of most English critics. For although, from the preceding examination, it must be perfectly evident that all these well-connected, organically arranged parts of one great whole can only have been the work of one hand, it has nevertheless been supposed-by Theobald, Malone, Drake, and others down to the recent times — that the three parts of Henry VI.' were not originally Shakspeare's.* He is said to have had but a very small or no hand in the First Part, and to have only improved the Second and Third Parts, or rather to have only remodelled the two old plays, The First Part of the Contention of the two famous Houses of York and Lancaster, and The true Tragedie of Richard, Duke of York, and to have made use of these for
Hi Among the most eminent German critics it is only Gervinus and Kressig who have adopted the English opinion—which, however, is beginning to show strong symptoms of giving way even in England. However, Gervinus only repeats the (weak) arguments of the English scholars, without entering into a refutation of the (much stronger) arguments of their German opponents. Kressig, who here again morely follows Gervinus, only increases the weakness of the untenable position, inasmuch as he immensely exaggerates the-undeniabledefects and errors in the three parts of Henry VI. and finds fau!' with things that are inet with in all Shakspeare's undoubtedly genuine plays; hence, in trying to prove too much, he proves nothing.
the Second and Third Parts of his ‘Henry VI. I shall here confine myself to the question, what could have induced Shakspeare, when writing his · Henry V.'--that is, when already in the zenith of his celebrity as a poet, to place this, his undisputed and unquestionably genuine work, and his no less unquestionably genuine play of
Richard III.,' into so close a connection with the production of a subordinate poet, nay, of his decided opponent, Greene - a connection so obvious that no one has ever yet ventured to question it? As long as this inconceivable and senseless proceeding on the part of the poet is not explained, the reasons adduced against the genuineness of · Henry VI.' will prove of little avail. I shall reserve the examination and consideration of these points for my next Book, as they are inseparable from the question as to whether and how far the above-mentioned plays, The First Part of the Contention, dc., and The True Tragedie of Richard, Duke of York, were written by Shakspeare. To enter into this discussion here would lead us too far from our path into the thicket of critical details.
As regards the date of the three parts of Henry VI.' and · Richard III.,' all critics are unanimous that the four dramas must have been written before the second great tetralogy of English history which commences with Richard II. For it is evident that the eight dramas which form one great whole, are subdivided into two qual halves of four each. The first half closes with Henry V' and shows us the elevation of the House of Lancaster to the English throne, the manner in which it managed to maintain the unlawful possession, and, finally, its highest prosperity in the fame of Henry V. The second comprises the three parts of Henry VI' and • Richard III.,' and describes the fall of the Lancastrian party, the fruitless struggles of the Yorkists to uphold their claim, and the final reconciliation of history, under the sceptre of Henry VII. Shakspeare took up the second alf first; for that · Henry VI.,' in its first form, must have ;xisted at the time when Greene wrote his “Groatsworth of Wit,' i.e. as early as the end of 1591 or the beginning of 1592, is proved by the celebrated and often-quoted passage in this pamphlet where we have a line taken from