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Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
Glou. England ne'er had a King until his time:
Exe. We mourn in black; why mourn we not in Henry is dead, and never shall revive:
[blood? Upon a wooden coffin we attend : And death's dishonourable victory We with our stately presence glorifie, Like captives bound to a triumphant car. What? 'fhall we curse the planets of mishap, That plotted thus our glory's overthrow? Or shall we think the subtle-witted French Conjʻrers and forc'rers, that, afraid of him, By magick verse have thus contriv'd his end?
Win. He was a king, blest of the King of Kings. Unto the French, the dreadful judgment-day
has not been very precise to the Date and Disposition of his Facts; but shufflled them, backwards and forwards, out of Time. For Instance ; The Lord Talbot is killd at the End of the 4th Act of this Play, who in reality did not fall till the 13th of July 1453: and the ad Part of Henry VI.
opens with the Marriage of the King, which was folemniz'd 8 Years before Talbot's Death, in the Year 1445. Again, in the zd Part, Dame Eleanor Cobham is introduc'd to insult Q. Margaret ; though her Penance and Banishment for Sorcery happen'd three Years before that Princess came over to England. I could point out many other Tranfgressions against History, as far as the Order of Time is concern'd. Indeed, tho there are several Master-Strokes in these three Plays, which inconteftibly betray the Workmanship of Shakespeare; yet I am almost doubtful, whether they were entirely of his Writing. And unless they were wrote by him very early, I hou'd rather imagine them to have been brought to him as a Director of the Stage; and so to have receiv'd some finishing Beauties at his hand, An accurate Observer will easily see, the Diction of them is more obfolete, and the Numbers more mean and profaical, than in the Generality of his genuine Compositions..
So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
Win, Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art Protector,
Glou. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh;
Bed. Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in
(2) Our ise be made a Marish of salt Tears,] Thus it is in both the Impressions by Mr. Pope : upon what Authority, I cannot fay. All the old Copies read, a Nourih: and confidering it is said in the Line immediately preceding, that Babes shall fuck at their Mothers moist Eyes, it seems very probable that our Author wrote, a Nourice: i. e. that the whole Ille Thould be one common Nurse, or Nouriser, of Tears : and those be the Nourishment of its miserable Issue. The Word, 'tis true, is purely French; but it had been adopted, long before our Author's Time, into our Tongue, and frequently used by Chaucer.
(3) A far more glorious Star thy foul will make Than Julius Cæsar, or bright
-) Whether this was a design'd Break of the Author's, occasion'd by the sudden and abrupt Entrance of the Messenger ; or whether the latter End of the Verse was
Enter a Messenger. Mel. My honourable lords, health to you all ; Sad tidings bring I to you out of France, loft, by its not being legible to the first Editors, is not very easy now to determine. Mr. Pope thinks (for Rhyme-fake, I suppose ;) that the Poet might possibly have fill'd up the Hemistich thus ;
or bright Sir Francis Drake. But there are more Objections than one to be made to this Conjecture. In the first place, Sir Francis Drake did not die till the Year 1595 ; before which time, I believe, this Play had made its Appearance. Befides, the Poet, as he mentioned the Star of Julius Cæfar, must be fupposed, to talk Sense in the Close of the Verse, to instance in some other deified Hero, and who had the Rule likewise of a Star. Mr. Pope has attempted to be smart upon' me for restoring a genuine Anachronism to our Poet; and yet is here for foifting a fictitious one upon him, which, I dare say, the Poet never on conceiv'd in his Imagination. In all Anachronisms, as in other Licences of Poetry, this Rule ought certainly to be observ'd ; that the Poet is to have Regard to Verisimilitude. But there is no Verifimilitude, when the Anachronism glares in the face of the common People. For this Falfhood is, like all other Falfhoods in Poetry, to be only tolerated, where the Fallhood is hid under, Verisimilitude. No sober Critick ever blamed Virgil, for instance, for making Dido and Æneas contemporary. (Such a Prolepsis may be justified by the Examples of the greatest Poets of Antiquity.) But had he made Æneds mention Hamilcar, what Man in his Senses would have thought of an Excuse for him? For the Name of Hamilcar, tho a Foreigner, was too recent in the Acquaintance of the People ; as he had for five Years together infested the Coast of Italy; and after that, begun the second Púnic War upon them. The Case of our Author differs in his mentioning Machiavel in some of his Plays, the Action of which was earlier than that Statesman's Birth. For Machiavel was a Foreigner, whose Age, we may - suppose, the common Audience not fo well acquainted with ; as being long before their time, and, indeed, very near the Time of the Action of those Plays. Besides, He having fo establish'd a Reputation,
in the time of our Author, amongst the Politicians ; might well be fuppos’d by those, who were not Chronologers, to be of much longer Standing than he was. This, therefore, was within the Rules of Licence; and if there was not Chronological Truth, there was at least
Chronological Likelihood : without which a Poet goes out of his Jurif'diction, and comes under the Penalty of the Criticks Laws. I have only' one further Remark to make upon the Topick in hand, and 'tis this : That where the Authority of all the Books makes the Poet commit a Blunder, (whose general Character it is, not to be very exact ;) 'tis the Duty of an Editor to thew him as he is ; and to detect all fraudulent tampering to make him better. But to fill up a Chasm by Conjecture, with an Anachronism that stares Sense out of Countenance ; this, with Submission to Mr. Pope, Nec homines, nec Dii, nec conceffere Columna.
Of lofs, of Naughter, and discomfigure ;
Glou. Is Paris loft, and Roan yielded up?
Exe. How were they loft? what 'treachery was us’d?
Mel. No treachery, but want of men and mony.
Exe. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
Bed. Me they concern, Regent I am of France ;
Enter to them another Messenger.
[Exit. Vol. IV.
Exe. The Dauphin crowned King? all fly to him? o, whither shall we fly from this reproach?
Glou. We will not fly but to our enemies throats.
forwardness? An army have I muster'd in my thoughts, Wherewith already France is over-run.
Enter a Third Messenger. 3 Mel. My gracious lords, to add to your laments, Wherewith you now bedew King Henry's hearse, I must inform you of a dismal fight Betwixt the stout lord Talbot and the French.
Win. What! wherein Talbot overcame? is't so?
3 Mel. O, no; wherein lord Talbot was o'erthrown. The circumstance I'll tell you more at large. The tenth of August laft, this dreadful lord Retiring from the siege of Orleans, Having scarce full fix thousand in his troop, By three and twenty thousand of the French Was round encompassed and set upon. No leisure had he to enrank his men ; He wanted pikes to set before his archers ; Instead whereof, sharp stakes, pluckt out of hedges, They pitched in the ground confusedly; To keep the horsemen off from breaking in. More than three hours the fight continued ; Where valiant Talbot above human thought Enacted wonders with his sword and lance. Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durft stand him ; Here, there, and every where, enrag'd he flew. The French exclaim'd, the devil was in arms! All the whole army stood agaz'd on him. His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit, A Talbot ! Talbot ! cried out amain, And rush'd into the bowels of the battel. Here had the Conqueft fully been seald up, If Sir John Fastolfe had not play'd the coward ; (4)
He (4). If Sir John Falstaffe) Mr. Pope has taken Notice, in a Note upon the third Act of this Play, " That Falfaffe is here introduc'd again,