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or a lawless romance, or boldly embroidered with imaginary character and incident like the remote reign of King John.

The task of bringing these two conflicting lines of interest and sympathy into focus was not insuperable. But it may well have been hard enough, with material not of gossamer romance but of intractable history, to check the impetus of an imagination which, to judge by even the finest work in this drama, had already lost something of its shaping power, something of its marvellous mastery of soulcharacter. The fragment was abandoned, and passed, probably in company with the twin fragment of The Two Noble Kinsmen, into the hands of Shakespeare's brilliant successor, whose facile pen and lax artistic conscience lightly dared the problem which Shakespeare had declined, piecing out the interrupted destinies of his persons with death-scenes of a ready and fluent pathos, but contriving to lift into prominence all the lurking weaknesses of the plot. It was reserved for Fletcher to render Shakespeare's work fairly liable to Hertzberg's summary of it as 'a chronicle-history with three and a half catastrophes, varied by a marriage and a coronation-pageant,' and to mingle the memory of the English Hermione's unavenged and unrepented wrongs with the dazzling coronation of her rival and exuberant prophecies over the cradle of her rival's child.




I COME no more to make you laugh: things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,

Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,
Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,
We now present. Those that can pity, here
May, if they think it well, let fall a tear;
The subject will deserve it. Such as give
Their money out of hope they may believe,
May here find truth too. Those that come to see
Only a show or two, and so agree

The play may pass, if they be still and willing,
I'll undertake may see away their shilling

Richly in two short hours. Only they
That come to hear a merry bawdy play,
A noise of targets, or to see a fellow

In a long motley coat guarded with yellow,
Will be deceived; for, gentle hearers, know,

3. working, moving.

12. their shilling, the usual price for a seat on the stage, the most privileged place in the

Elizabethan theatre.


16. guarded, faced. The yellow-faced motley coat was the garb of the Fool.

To rank our chosen truth with such a show
As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting

Our own brains, and the opinion that we bring,
To make that only true we now intend,
Will leave us never an understanding friend.
Therefore, for goodness' sake, and as you are

The first and happiest hearers of the town,
Be sad, as we would make ye: think ye see
The very persons of our noble story

As they were living; think you see them great,
And follow'd with the general throng and sweat
Of thousand friends; then in a moment, see
How soon this mightiness meets misery:
And, if you can be merry then, I'll say
A man may weep upon his wedding-day.


SCENE I. London,


An ante-chamber in the


Enter the DUKE OF NORFOLK at one door; at the other, the DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM and the LORD ABERGAVENNY.

Buck. Good morrow, and well met. How have ye done

Since last we saw in France?


20. the opinion that we bring, the reputation we bring (of making our ensuing play in strict accordance with truth).

I thank your grace,

24. happiest, best disposed, readiest to seize and respond to the dramatist's intention.

2. saw, met.

Healthful; and ever since a fresh admirer
Of what I saw there.


An untimely ague

Stay'd me a prisoner in my chamber when
Those suns of glory, those two lights of men,
Met in the vale of Andren.


'Twixt Guynes and Arde: I was then present, saw them salute on horseback ; Beheld them, when they lighted, how they clung In their embracement, as they grew together; Which had they, what four throned ones could have weigh'd

Such a compounded one?


All the whole time

I was my chamber's prisoner.


Then you lost

The view of earthly glory: men might say,
Till this time pomp was single, but now married
To one above itself. Each following day
Became the next day's master, till the last
Made former wonders its. To-day the French,
All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,
Shone down the English; and, to-morrow, they

4. An untimely ague stay'd me a prisoner, etc. The historic Duke of Buckingham (Edward Stafford, d. 1521) took an important part in the meeting. On June 17 he formed part of the English escort of the French king (so Holinshed, iii. 860). The Duke of Norfolk on the other hand was in England (Cal. Hen. VIII. iii. 1. 873, cit. Stone, p. 425); but it does not appear that Shakespeare could have known this.

7. 'Twixt Guynes and Arde; these places being respectively VOL. VII




in English and French territory, both in Picardy.

17. Became the next day's master, taught and transmitted its triumphs to the next day.

18. its, its own. One of the rare undoubted occurrences of the word in Shakespeare's text. The Ff print it 'it's.'

19. clinquant, glittering with gold. The word was properly used of thin sheets of gold, and hence already suggests the golden sheen made more definite by the next words.


Made Britain India: every man that stood
Show'd like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were
As cherubins, all gilt: the madams too,
Not used to toil, did almost sweat to bear
The pride upon them, that their very labour
Was to them as a painting: now this masque
Was cried incomparable; and the ensuing night
Made it a fool and beggar. The two kings,
Equal in lustre, were now best, now worst,
As presence did present them; him in eye,
Still him in praise: and, being present both,
'Twas said they saw but one; and no discerner
Durst wag his tongue in censure. When these


For so they phrase 'em-by their heralds challenged

The noble spirits to arms, they did perform

Beyond thought's compass; that former fabulous


Being now seen possible enough, got credit,
That Bevis was believed.


O, you go far.

Nor. As I belong to worship and affect
In honour honesty, the tract of every thing
Would by a good discourser lose some life,
Which action's self was tongue to. All was royal;
To the disposing of it nought rebell'd,
Order gave each thing view;

25. pride, splendid vesture.

ib. their very labour was to them as a painting; i.e. the exertion inflamed their cheeks.

32. saw but one; their appearance was indistinguishable.

33. in censure, in drawing comparisons.

38. Bevis; Bevis of Hamp

the office did



ton, the hero of the famous Middle English romance of that name. His battle with the giant Ascapart is referred to in the Contention (passage corresponding to 2 Hen. VI. ii. 3. 93).

40. tract, course.

44. office, officers, the officials charged with the arrangement of procedure.

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