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HE “Third Part of Henry VI,” which carries on the action without
break from that of the Second Part, follows the “True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and
the Death of Good King Henrie T the Sixt,” so closely that the altera
tions contained in the later play may be said to consist only of details, and of the insertion of additional speeches or parts of speeches. The narrative of the “True Tragedie” itself is derived from Halle
and Holinshed ; a single detail, the knighting of Prince Edward, being apparently taken from Stowe, the single instance of any importance in which he is directly utilised in either of the two old plays. Several incidents in the “ True Tragedie ” occur in Holinshed only,– -viz., the oath imposed on York (Act I, sc. i, 11. 196–201); the mention of Lord Cobham (ib., sc. ii, 1. 35); the mole-hill on which Richard of York is made to stand (ib., sc. iv, l. 67), and the taunts addressed to him. The other mole-hill, on which King Henry afterwards meditates (Act II, sc. v, l. 14), is not,
however, in the “ True Tragedie.” Holinshed, too, points out that the Lancastrians lost all the battles at which Henry was present (Act II, sc. ii, 1. 73, and “ True Tragedie ”).
From Halle are likewise derived details not found elsewhere. Thus, perhaps, Act I, sc. i, 1. 155, though the strength of Warwick in the counties named might be matter of common knowledge ; and the numbers given in Act I, sc. ii, 11. 66, 68, 71, seem to be suggested by Halle's assertion that the Duke rashly hurried with 5000 against 18,000, or some say, 22,000, in contempt for a woman. Halle, or possibly his imitator the “ Mirror,” is responsible for the ascription of cruelty to Clifford, “the blood-supper,” and for the myth of his slaughter of the child. The Earl of Rutland was a young man with an establishment of his own, from whom adhesion to his father's oath of loyalty had been required. Clifford's cry,“ thy father slew mine,” etc., is from Halle. The vivid picture of the battle of Towton is likewise, all of it, in Halle, even to a hint of son fighting against father. Further items taken over are Clarence's complaint (made, however, to the Earl of Warwick) as to his brother's unfair assignment of heiresses, “ three marriages more meeter for his two brethren and kin than for such new foundlings,” – though, as a matter of fact, Clarence was married before Edward Halle comments on Henry's unhappy fate (cf. Act IV, sc. vi, 11. 18–25), and tells how he was left alone, "as an host that should be sacrificed. in the bishop's palace of London ” (cf. Act IV, sc. viii), mentioning Oxford's imprisonment in Hammes Castle.
Perhaps the proverb to which King Henry alludes (Act II, sc. ii, 1. 48) needs no specific authority ; it is, however, twice used by Latimer in his published sermons."
1 In his Third Sermon, preached before Edward the Sixth, it appears in the succinct form : Happy is the child whose father goeth to the devil.
These and all the other details of the play, which are to be found in their exact form in both Halle and Holinshed, are taken over from the “ True Tragedie ;” but from a number of small corrections it would seem clear that the passages in question were verified by the author or authors of Part III. Thus, the character of Cumberland is omitted: there was no such earldom at the time, although the “ True Tragedie” obviously intends him for a Clifford. In Act III, sc. ii, 1. 2, Grey's name is correctly given as “ John ” (“ Richard” in the “ True Tragedie "); but the statement of his dying on behalf of the Yorkists is, for obvious reasons, not corrected. So, again, in Act II, sc. ïï, l. 15, the incorrect “ father” of the “ True Tragedie' is changed into " brother ;” “ the bastard of Salisbury, brother to the Earl of Warwick,” say Halle and Holinshed. In Act IV, sc. i, 11. 52–57, the brides are correctly assigned - apparently with the help of Stowe; and in Act IV. sc. i, 1. 27, Somerset (in the “True Tragedie ” Hastings) is, quite plausibly, intended for the Duke, who submitted to Edward after Towton, but afterwards revolted : two dukes are in the play compressed into one.
In Act I, sc. i, 1. 238, “ Warwick is chancellor and lord of Calais ” is a correct addition; and such is also “Scotland hath will to help, but cannot help” (Act III, sc. iii, 11. 34– 35), which would seem to come from Monstrelet. Lastly, the slight alterations of the names of places on the roads to Coventry indicate a close accuracy which would possibly be instinctive in a writer personally acquainted with those roads.
The remaining additions to the “ True Tragedie” consist of a few amplifications of the speeches,- of which one at least (Act IV, sc. vii, 11. 10–12) can hardly be thought a felicitous change, — and of considerable additions, of which the