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FIRST PART OF

KING HENRY VI.

ACT I. SCENE I.

Westminster Abbey.

Dead march. Corpse of King Henry the Fifth discovered, lying in state; attended on by the Dukes of BEDFORD, GLOSTER, and EXETER; the Earl of WARWICK,' the Bishop of Winchester, Heralds, &c.

BED. Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!

Comets, importing change of times and states,

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Earl of Warwick,] The Earl of Warwick who makes his appearance in the first scene of this play is Richard Beauchamp, who is a character in King Henry V. The Earl who appears in the subsequent part of it, is Richard Nevil, son to the Earl of Salisbury, who became possessed of the title in right of his wife, Anne, sister of Henry Beauchamp, Duke of Warwick, on the death of Anne his only child in 1449. Richard, the father of this Henry, was appointed governor to the king, on the demise of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, and died in 1439. There is no reason to think that the author meant to confound the two characters. RITSON.

2

Hung be the heavens with black,] Alluding to our ancient stage-practice when a tragedy was to be expected. So, in Sid

Brandish your crystal tresses3 in the sky;
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars,
That have consented unto Henry's death!

ney's Arcadia, Book II: "There arose, even with the sunne, a vaile of darke cloudes before his face, which shortly had blacked over all the face of heaven, preparing (as it were) a mournfull stage for a tragedie to be played on." See also Mr. Malone's Historical Account of the English Stage. STEEVENS.

3 Brandish your crystal tresses-] Crystal is an epithet repeatedly bestowed on comets by our ancient writers. So, in a Sonnet, by Lord Sterline, 1604:

"When as those chrystal comets whiles appear." Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, Book I. c. x. applies it to a lady's face:

"Like sunny beams threw from her chrystal face." Again, in an ancient song entitled The falling out of Lovers is the renewing of Love:

"You chrystal planets shine all clear

"And light a lover's way."

"There is also a white comet with silver haires," says Pliny, as translated by P. Holland, 1601. STEEVENS.

That have consented-] If this expression means no more than that the stars gave a bare consent, or agreed to let King Henry die, it does no great honour to its author. I believe to consent, in this instance, means to act in concert. Concentus, Lat. Thus Erato the muse, applauding the song of Apollo, in Lyly's Midas, 1592, cries out: "O sweet consent!" i. e. sweet union of sounds. Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV. c. ii: "Such musick his wise words with time consented." Again, in his translation of Virgil's Culex:

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"Chaunted their sundry notes with sweet concent.' Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Book of Homer's Odyssey:

all the sacred nine

"Of deathless muses, paid thee dues divine:

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By varied turns their heavenly voices venting "All in deep passion for thy death consenting.

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Consented, or, as it should be spelt, concented, means, have thrown themselves into a malignant configuration, to promote the death of Henry. Spenser, in more than one instance, spells this word as it appears in the text of Shakspeare, as does Ben Jonson, in his Epithalamion on Mr. Weston. The following lines,

Henry the fifth, too famous to live long !"
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

"shall we curse the planets of mishap,

"That plotted thus," &c.

seem to countenance my explanation; and Falstaff says of Shallow's servants, that “ they flock together in consent, like so many wild geese." See also Tully de Natura Deorum, Lib. II. ch. xlvi: "Nolo in stellarum ratione multus vobis videri, maximéque earum quæ errare dicuntur. Quarum tantus est concentus ex dissimilibus motibus," &c.

Milton uses the word, and with the same meaning, in his Penseroso:

"Whose power hath a true consent
"With planet, or with element."

STEEVENS.

Steevens is right in his explanation of the word consented. So, in The Knight of the burning Pestle, the Merchant says to Merrythought:

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too late, I well perceive,

"Thou art consenting to my daughter's loss."

and in The Chances, Antonio, speaking of the wench who robbed him, says:

"And also the fiddler who was consenting with her." meaning the fiddler that was her accomplice.

The word appears to be used in the same sense in the fifth scene of this Act, where Talbot says to his troops:

"You all consented unto Salisbury's death,

"For none would strike a stroke in his revenge."
M. MASON.

See

In

Consent, in all the books of the age of Elizabeth, and long afterwards, is the usual spelling of the word concent. Vol. X. p. 96, n. 3; and K. Henry IV. P. II. Act V. sc. i. other places I have adopted the modern and more proper spelling; but, in the present instance, I apprehend, the word was used in its ordinary sense. In the second Act, Talbot, reproaching the soldiery, uses the same expression, certainly without any idea of a malignant configuration:

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"You all consented unto Salisbury's death." MALONE. Henry the fifth,] Old copy, redundantly,-King Henry &c. STEEVENS.

too famous to live long !] So, in King Richard III: "So wise so young, they say, do ne'er live long." STEEVENS.

GLO. England ne'er had a king, until his time. Virtue he had, deserving to command: His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams; His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;7 His sparkling eyes replete with wrathful fire, More dazzled and drove back his enemies, Than mid-day sun, fierce bent against their faces. What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:. He ne'er lift up his hand, but conquered.

EXE. We mourn in black; Why mourn we not in blood?

Henry is dead, and never shall revive:
Upon a wooden coffin we attend;
And death's dishonourable victory
We with our stately presence glorify,
Like captives bound to a triumphant car.
What? shall we curse the planets of mishap,
That plotted thus our glory's overthrow?
Or shall we think the subtle-witted French®
Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
By magick verses have contriv'd his end?

WIN. He was a king bless'd of the King of kings. Unto the French the dreadful judgment day

7 His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;] So, in Troilus and Cressida :

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"The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the earth.”

STEEVENS,

the subtle-witted French &c.] There was a notion prevalent a long time, that life might be taken away by metrical charms. As superstition grew weaker, these charms were imagined only to have power on irrational animals. In our author's time it was supposed that the Irish could kill rats by a song. JOHNSON.

So, in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584: "The Irishmen addict themselves, &c. yea they will not sticke to affirme that they can rime either man or beast to death."

STEEVENS.

So dreadful will not be, as was his sight.
The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought:
The church's prayers made him so prosperous.

GLO. The church! where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd,

His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:
None do you like but an effeminate prince,
Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe.
WIN. Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art pro-
tector;

And lookest to command the prince, and realm.
Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe,
More than God, or religious churchmen, may.

GLO. Name not religion, for thou loy'st the flesh; And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st, Except it be to pray against thy foes.

BED. Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace!

Let's to the altar :-Heralds, wait on us :-
Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms;
Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.-
Posterity, await for wretched years,

When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck;
Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,'

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moist eyes-] Thus the second folio. The first, redundantly,-moisten'd. STEEvens.

:

Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,] Mr. Pope-marish. All the old copies read, a nourish and considering it is said in the line immediately preceding, that babes shall suck at their mothers' moist eyes, it seems very probable that our author wrote, a nourice, i. e. that the whole isle should be one common nurse, or nourisher, of tears: and those be the nourishment of its miserable issue. THEobald.

Was there ever such nonsense! But he did not know that marish is an old word for marsh or fen; and therefore very judiciously thus corrected by Mr. Pope. WARBURTON.

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