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She is the only one character that runs through all the four plays. In the First Part of Henry VI. she is painted in slight but brilliant colours,-beautiful, haughty, ambitious, and somewhat free. In the 'First Part of the Contention' we find her, eager for power, revengeful, tyrannous, unfaithful, and bloody. Energy and decision essentially belong to her character, with indomitable courage. In the Second Part of the Contention' her evil qualities put on a more heroic attitude; but she is still the "she-wolf of France." In the Richard III., where the poet has kept her on the stage against the fact of history, but with the very highest truth of art, her retrospects of the past and her prophecies of the future are as sublime as anything in the compass of poetry. There she stands, widowed, childless, outcast, surrounded by her enemies ;-but the miseries which she has felt are they also doomed to feel, and she rings in their ears the bitter memory of what they are and what they were, as if she were herself the minister of offended justice. We will select a passage from the 'Second Part of the Contention,' and another from the Richard III., and we will ask, without hesitation, if they are not both written by Shakspere?
SECOND PART OF THE CONTENTION.
66 Queen. Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumber-
Come, make him stand upon this mole-hill here,
Or, 'mongst the rest, where is your darling Rutland?
This is he that took king Henry's chair,
Is crown'd so soon, and broke his holy oath?
And will you impale your head with Henry's glory,
And rob his temples of the diadem,
Now in his life, against your holy oath?
RICHARD THE THIRD.
"Q. Mar. If ancient sorrow be most reverent, Give mine the benefit of seniory,
And let my griefs frown on the upper hand.
[Sitting down with them.
Duch. I had a Richard too, and thou didst kill
I had a Rutland too, thou holp'st to kill him.
From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept
Q. Mar. Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
Oh, 'tis a fault too, too unpardonable.
Off with the crown; and with the crown his head;
Untimely smother'd in their dusky graves.
Can any one here doubt of the absolute identity of character,-of the similarity of manner, even to the nicest structure of the verse? If the reader will compare the speech of Margaret to York, as printed above from the 'Contention,' with the text of the same speech in the Third Part of Henry VI., he will find that three lines are omitted.
"What! was it you that would be England's king?"
They are these:
Malone, by his arithmetic, has shown that these are the only three lines of the speech of Margaret that were written by Shakspere!
Of the characters which fill the 'First Part of the Contention,' only three, Margaret, Edward (afterwards Edward IV.), and Richard (afterwards Duke of Gloster), are found in the play of Richard III. They have all been swept away, for the most part by the course of those fearful events which these dramas record. Nor are there any allusions in the play of Richard III. to circumstances which had occurred in the First Part of the Contention.' But as the unity of action and character is completely carried on from the 'First Part of the Contention' to the Second, and as no doubt has ever existed of these two Parts being by the same hand, when we trace the action and the characterization onward to the Richard III. we equally establish the unity between the two Parts and the Richard III. Of the principal characters, then, in the Richard III., which are found in the Second Part of the Contention,' beside Margaret, already mentioned, there are Edward IV., Elizabeth his queen, the Duke of Clarence, and the Duke of Gloster. It is not with the real succession of events that we have here to deal. The poet, in the first scenes of Richard III., gives us the committal of Clarence to the Tower, the funeral of Henry VI., and the fatal sickness of Edward IV. But this play, in its dramatic action, is as closely allied to the preceding play, the Second Part of the Contention,' as if it were one and the same play. The 'Second Part of the Contention' thus concludes:
"And now what rests, but that we spend the time
The Richard III. thus opens:
"Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
The last scene but one in the Second Part of the Contention' is the murder of Henry VI.; the second scene of the Richard III. is the funeral of Henry VI. But the poet is not satisfied with this marked connexion of the dramatic action of the two plays. He,-Shakspere,— scatters over his Richard III. allusions to very minute circumstances in the former play, which he is alleged not to have written. We will select some of these. In the first act of Richard III. the Duke of Gloster thus addresses Anne: :
"These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear,
No, when my father York and Edward wept
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made,
And twenty times made pause, to sob and weep,
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks,
Like trees bedash'd with rain: in that sad time,
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear."
Compare this with York's speech in the 'Second Part of the Contention.'-(Act I., Scene IV.)
"Would'st have me weep? why, so: thou hast thy wish;
For raging winds blow up a storm of tears,
And when the rage allays the rain begins.
These tears are my sweet Rutland's obsequies;
And every drop begs vengeance as it falls,
On thee, fell Clifford, and thee, false Frenchwoman."
And with Richard's exclamation in the second act :
"I cannot weep, for all my breast's moisture
Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning hate.”
Richard thus addresses Margaret, in the second scene of Richard III. :—
"Glo. The curse my noble father laid on thee,
When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper,
The curse is found in the first act of the Contention :’—
Reproaching Margaret with the death of Rutland, Buckingham, in Richard III., says— "Northumberland then present wept to see it."
Margaret in the 'Contention' exclaims at Northumberland's tears
"What, weeping ripe, my lord Northumberland?"
The very minuteness of these allusions is a proof to us that the author was perpetually mindful of his own preceding work. If the passages to which they refer had not been found in the 'Contention,' but only in the remodelled play, Malone's arithmetic might have gone for something.
But we now approach the character of Richard himself. And to us it seems the most extraordinary marvel that the world, for half a century, should have consented to believe that the man who absolutely created that most wonderful character, in all its essential lineaments, in the Second Part of the Contention,' was not the man who continued it in the Richard III. In the fourth act of Richard his mother thus describes him :"A grievous burthen was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious;
The author of the 'Contention' anticipates the "manhood" of Richard, and shows him a“ daring, bold, and venturous" soldier. A single line tells his character when he originally comes upon the scene in the First Part of the Contention.' When York asks his sons whether they will be "bail" for their father, Edward replies,
But Richard answers,
"Yes, noble father, if our words will serve."
"And if our words will not, our swords shall."
In the fight of St. Alban's Richard kills Somerset ; and although Clifford denounces him as a "crook'd-back villain," his thoughts are those of a most gallant knight when he describes the bearing of old Salisbury:--
“Rich. My lord, I saw him in the thickest throng, Charging his lance with his old weary arms;
And thrice I saw him beaten from his horse,
And thrice this hand did set him up again,
And still he fought with courage 'gainst his foes,
The boldest spirited man that e'er mine eyes beheld."
We have no doubt that the poet brought Richard thus early upon the scene, in the 'First Part of the Contention,' with distinct regard to the important character he was to sustain in the succeeding plays. In the Second Part of the Contention' his "daring, bold, and venturous" spirit is most prominent in the parliament scene:
"Arm'd as we be, let's stay within this house."
His mother's description still holds on :—
"Thy age confirm'd, proud, subtle, sly."
Witness his counsel to his father to break his oath :
"An oath is of no moment,
Being not sworn before a lawful magistrate.
And yet your grace stands bound to him by oath."
The second act of the 'Second Part of the Contention' continues to represent the young Richard as the daring soldier, with courage excelled only by his acuteness; but gradually becoming "bloody," and exhibiting that sarcastic humour in his revenge which is identified with his after character. When Clifford is found dead, who but Richard could have uttered these words?-
"Rich. What, not an oath? Nay, then I know he's dead :
"Tis hard when Clifford cannot 'ford his friend an oath :
But in the third act the complete Richard
"subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful ”—
is developed. We request the reader carefully to compare the following passages of the • Second Part of the Contention' and of the Richard III.; and resolve us whether it is more easy to believe that the man who wrote the first passage was not also the author of the second passage (in all essentials an amplification of the first); or that the man who wrote
the second passage-and that man Shakspere was an impudent plagiarist of the characterization and the style of some unknown contemporary, who has left nothing like it in any other work, and whose very name Shakspere, by adoption and imitation, has thus swamped with posterity?—
SECOND PART OF THE CONTENTION, ACT III., Sc. II.
"I will go clad my body in gay ornaments,
And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.
RICHARD III., ACT 1., Sc. 1.
"But I, that am not shap'd for sportive tricks,
I am determined to prove a villain,
When Cibber concocted the medley which he called Richard III., he, not having the fear before his eyes of the critics who succeeded him, adopted the scene in which Richard murders Henry VI., as the work of Shakspere. We request our readers to turn to that scene. (Henry VI., Part III.; Act v., Scene vi.) It will amply repay their perusal, being, in its whole conception distinguished by that truth of characterization and that energy of language which we have agreed to call Shaksperian. But, according to Malone, and to those who adopt the theory that what Shakspere contributed to the Second and Third Parts of Henry VI. includes nothing which is found in the 'Second Part of the Contention,' Shakspere only wrote five lines of this scene. They are as follow:
"And both preposterous; therefore, not good lord.
Glo. Sirrah, leave us to ourselves: we must confer.
And next his throat unto the butcher's knife."
If the reader will turn to the Second Part of the Contention' he will see that these five lines are wanting at the beginning of the scene. All the rest of the scene is essentially the same (with the exception of a few verbal alterations), in the Second Part of the Contention' and the Third Part of Henry VI. We leave the decision in the reader's hands, perfectly satisfied that he will arrive at the conviction that, if Shakspere did not write this scene as it originally stood, neither did he write Richard III.