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ON THE

HISTORICAL P L AYS

OF

SHAKSPEARE.

BY THE RIGHT HON.

THOMAS PEREGRINE COURTENAY.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

Ź ONDON:

HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER,

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.

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Printed by J. L. Cox and Sons, 75, Great Queen Street,

Lincoln's Inn Fields.

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HENRY VI.-Part III.

This play opens with the Yorkists* breaking into the parliament-house, and each chief boasting (how inaccurately I have already shown in the case of York's children) of his prowess in the battle of St. Alban’s. At the suggestion of Warwick the duke takes possession of the regal throne. Henry enters with his followers, t to whose vows of revenge he appeals, but presently retires into “ frowns, words, and threats.” He then alternately boasts of the superiority of his title, and acknowledges its weakness :

* Duke of York, his sons Edward and Richard, Norfolk, Montagu, Warwick, and others. Among these the only new character is Montagu, This was John Neville, third son of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and younger brother of Warwick. But he had not, at this time, received his first title of peerage, and was not created marquis until 1470, fifteen years later. Nicolas, ii. 434.

† John, Lord Clifford, and Henry, Earl of Northumberland, whose fathers were killed at St. Alban's; Ralph, second Earl of Westmoreland; Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter.

VOL II.

“ Think'st thou that I will leave my kingly throne, Wherein my grandsire and my father sat? No: first shall war unpeople this my realm, Ay, and their colours often borne in France, And now in England to our heart's great sorrow, Shall be my winding-sheet.—Why faint you, lords : My title's good, and better far than his.” Yet, in a moment“I know not what to say ; my title's weak.” And when he endeavours to satisfy his conscience, that Henry IV. was lawful king, as the adopted heir of Richard II., Exeter turns against him, and gives an opinion in favour of York.

Warwick then summons the soldiers who were without. York bargains with the king, Confirm the crown to me, and to mine heirs, And thou shalt reign in quiet whilst thou liv'st.

K. Hen. I am content. Richard Plantagenet, Enjoy the kingdom after my decease.”

Here we have an anticipation of five years. This compromise was made in 1460, after an interval full of important events, which I must briefly relate; though I am aware that not even a play in three parts could, with any regard either to theatrical propriety, or human patience, dramatize

After the battle of St. Alban's the parliament met,* in which that occurrence was treated as an affray occasioned by the treason of Somerset, who had kept back the letters which the complainants had addressed to the king. York and his friends were solemnly acquitted of disloyalty.t

Before the next session | the king suffered a relapse, and York was appointed to open the parliament as his lieutenant. He was afterwards appointed protector, when he gave to Salisbury the great seal, and to Warwick the government of Calais. On the recovery of Henry, York relinquished the protectorate,g and Salisbury the great seal.

About two years after the battle, parliament began to exhibit a feeling of discontent at the ambitious practices of York, who, be it nevertheless observed, had not even now put forward his claim to the crown: complaints against him came principally from the lords whose fathers were killed at St. Alban's; and Buckingham, on the part of the peers, besought the king that such conduct as that of the duke might not go unpunished. ||

* Westm., May 26, 1455. Parl. Hist., i. 396. Rolls, v. 278. Lingard, v. 150. Hol., 242.

f Rolls, 280, 282; Wheth., 369.
| Parl. Hist., 398; Rolls, 284.
§ Feb. 25, 1556, Rolls, 421; Hol., 243.

Il Lingard, 342; but this is all from the Lancastrian recital. See p. 307. Leland, ii. 496.

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