Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

а

of countenance amiable; eloquent and grave was his speech, and of great grace and power to persuade : for conclusion, a majesty was he, that both lived and died a pattern in prince-hood, a load-star in honour, and mirror of magnificence. The more highly exalted in his life, the more deeply lamented at his death, and famous to the world alway."

This is taken from “Maister Hall,” but his authority is not stated. Monstrelet, in much less detail, and more moderation, gives a similar character; as does also the contemporary Walsingham. None of these writers say anything more unfavourable of Henry than that he was severe justicer;" and as it is not alleged that his judgments were unjust, this is not a very heavy charge.

In this first scene we have a commencement of the bickerings between Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort, which occupy so much of the play. The Cardinal ascribes Henry's success to the prayers of the church which he favoured; Gloucester maligns both the church and the Cardinal, who rejoins :

Cardinal. Whate'er we are, thou art protector ;
And lookest to command the prince and realm.
Thy wife is proud ; she holdeth thee in awe,

More than God, or religious churchmen may.' A succession of messengers now enter, announcing "sad tidings out of France"—the loss of Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, and Orleans, Paris, Gisors, and Poictiers ; the coronation of the dauphin (Charles the Seventh) as King of France; and lastly, the defeat and capture of Lord 'Talbot at the siege of Orleans; and the weak state of the army under the Earl of Salisbury.t And one of the messengers charges the losses in France upon the divisions in the English council.

“ Among the soldiers this is muttered ;-
That here you maintain several factions,
And whilst a field should be dispatch'd and fought,
You are disputing of your generals.
One would have lingering wars with little cost;
Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings.
A third thinks, without expense at all,

By guileful fair words peace may be maintained."
The dialogue then gives a variety of circumstances :

Exeter. Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn,
Either to quell the dauphin utterly,
Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.

Gloucester. I'll to the Tower with all the haste I can,
To view the artillery and munition,
And then I will proclaim young Henry king.

Exeter. To Eltham will I, where the young king is,
Being ordained his special governor ;.
And for his safety there I'll best devise.

Winchester. Each hath his place and function to attend;
I am left out, for me nothing remains,
But long I will not be Jack-out-of-office;
The king from Eltham I intend to send,

And sit at chiefest stern of public weal." Henry's dying injunctions, to which Exeter alludes, are properly given from Holinshed.

* Hol, iji., 133. + Thomas de Montacute, seventh Earl.

“ When he saw them (the lords who attended him) pensive for his sickness and great danger of life wherein he presently lay, he with many grave, courteous, and pithy words re-comforted them the best he could, and therewith exhorted them to be trusty and faithful unto his son, and to see that he might be well and virtuously brought up. And as concerning the rule and governance of his realms during the minority and young years of his said son, he willed them to join together in friendly love and concord, keeping continual peace and amity with the Duke of Burgundy, and never to make treaty with Charles that called himself the Dauphin of Vienne, by the which any part either of the crown of France, or of the duchies of Normandy and Guienne, may be lessened or diminished, and further, that the Duke of Orleans and other princes should still remain prisoners, till his son came to lawful age, lest returning home again, they might kindle more fire in one day than might be quenched in three.

“He further advised them, that if they thought it necessary that it should be good to have his brother Humphry, Duke of Gloucester, to be protector of England during the non-age of his son ; and his brother the Duke of Bedford, with the help of the Duke of Burgundy, to rule and to be Regent of France, commanding him with fire and sword to persecute the dauphin, till he had either brought him to reason and obeisance, or else to drive and expel him out of the realm of France. And here he protested to them, that neither the ambitious desire to enlarge his dominions, neither to purchase even renown and worldly fame, nor any other consideration had moved bim to take the wars in hand, but only that in prosecuting his just title, he might in the end attain to a perfect peace, and come to enjoy those pieces of his inheritance which to him of right belonged: and that before the beginning of the same wars, he was fully persuaded by men both wise and of great holiness of life, that upon such intent he might and ought both begin the same wars and follow them till he had brought them to an end justly and rightly; and that without all danger of God's displeasure or peril of soul."*

These dying declarations, and the religious exercises which, as we learn from the same authority, attended the death-bed of Henry, might have extended Exeter's speech with good effect. But it must be observed, that the injunctions to persevering hostility are not to be found in the contemporary historians, who dwell much more upon the disclaimers of inordinate ambition, and the submission to God's will. The injunction, however, not to release the Duke of Orleans was subsequently cited by Gloucester.

The anachronisms of the scene are great. It is true that Gloucester, on the death of his brother, assumed the administration of affairs; and was afterwards confirmed in it by parliament, with the title of protector. It is also matter of record that there were differences between him and the cardinal.

His colleagues in the council and in parliament put restrictions upon his power; and Beaufort, it is believed, was among those who opposed him. Here, therefore, there is only a little anticipation; I suspect that in the following lines, addressed by Beaufort to Gloucester, Shakspeare alluded to the second wife of the Duke, of whom we shall hear much presently.

* Hol., 132.

+ Holinshed refers to Titus Livius, who does not bear him out (p. 95.); but Monstrelet and Polydore Virgil (not a contemporary) support him hetter; but see Elmhain, 332. There is nothing in the Crosiand continuation. I do not know whence Mr. Tyler (ii. 304) takes his version, which contains no charge against making peace with the dauphin.

Thy wife is proud, she holdeth thee in awe,

More than God or religious churchmen may." But it was only about this time, and probably not so soon as the funeral, that Gloucester married his first wife, a lady whose adventures, and those which she occasioned, are unnoticed by our dramatist, though more dramatic than those of Eleanor Cobham.

The first wife of Gloucester was Jacqueline of Hainault, niece to the Duke of Bavaria, and married to the Duke of Brabant., Not liking her husband, she ran away from him, and came to England on speculation; where Gloucester married her, and got possession of her vast inheritance. A quarrel ensued between the two dukes; the Duke of Burgundy assisted Brabant, who was his cousin; the people of Mons gave Jacqueline up to Burgundy, but she got away to Holland, “where she was obeyed as countess of the country.' All this involved that duke in a quarrel with Gloucester, whom he challenged to single combat; the Duke of Bedford, whose wife was sister to the Duchess of Burgundy, and who desired much to retain Burgundy as a friend, in vain endeavoured to conciliate; and the English parliament thought proper to interfere, to prevent the duel.* As Shakspeare alludes to none of these transactions, I shall only add, that they unquestionably tended to estrange the Duke of Burgundy from the English alliance.t

The greater part of the events which are announced by the messengers took place long afterwards. King Charles the Sixth did not die, nor did his son assume the title, until October. Nor were the places enumerated lost at this time, or all at once: indeed, the events of the war were for some time favourable to England. The surprise of Port Meulan, on the Seine, was followed by more important successes under Salisbury ;t and the two important battles of Crevant and Verneuil were gained by the Duke of Bedford in the summer of 1424; of these, Shakspeare takes no notice, though they are fully described by Holinshed; and the French army was so signally defeated at the latter, that it was compared to the battles of Crecy and Agincourt. It was not until the bastard of Orleans (Dunois) gained the battle of Montargis, that the French had

any

material advantage. Above all, Talbot was not taken prisoner till the year 1429, when he was defeated at Patay.||

No trace of divisions affecting the success of the war at this period is to be found in Shakspeare's usual authority.

“The Duke of Gloucester was ordained protector of England, who, taking upon him that office, called to him wise and grave counsellors, by whose advice he provided and took order as well for the good government of the realm, and subjects of the same at home, as also for the maintenance of the wars abroad and further conquest to be made in France, appointing valiant and expert captains, which should be ready when need required."

The same authority says, T that Winchester was appointed jointly with * Rolls, iv. 277. See Sismondi, xiii. 126. Barante, v. 128. † Monstrelet, 307, 406, 428, &c.

| It may be noted that Lord Poynings, and Sir John Fastolfe are mentioned among the officers who served under Salisbury. Hol., 137.

Hol., 142. Sismondi, xiii. 20, 34. Monst., ii., 419, 471. See Mackintosh's Hist. of England, i. 369. The Duke of Alençon was taken prisoner; and not ransomed until 1426. | Hol., 165.

- P. 106.

Exeter, to the custody of the young king's person. Shakspeare's usual authority, therefore, does not justify the complaint of Beaufort that he is the only “ Jack-out-of-office." But, I believe, that in this instance, the play is more correct than the chronicle; and that, at least in the first instance, Exeter was sole guardian of the minor king, or assisted only by some officers of the royal household.*

The Duke of Bedford correctly styles himself Regent of France; but I know not why he mentions St. George's day. Henry the Fifth died in August; and though some time must have elapsed in bringing the body with great ceremony to Westminster, the funeral must have been over long before the following April.

We have now, with the same contempt of dates, the French before Orleans"; the Dauphin, Alençon,t and Reignier, rejoice at the capture of Talbot; they are then beaten by Salisbury, and the Maid of Orleans is introduced. The battle of Patay was, in truth, fought in 1429 some time after Joan's appearance in the field.

Salisbury came over in 14289 (after the death of the Duke of Exeter), obtained some successes before Orleans, which are those mentioned in scene iii., and was killed, with Sir Thomas Gargrave, by a shot from the town, in the manner described in scene iv.|| Talbot was present, apparently under the command of Salisbury, who was succeeded by Suffolk ; but the congratulations of the General on the delivery of the gallant soldier from a French prison are imaginary, as Talbot was not taken until after Salisbury's death, nor released until the year 1431.

Shakspeare takes from Holinshed the story with which everybody is familiar of Joan knowing the Dauphin, whom she had never seen before, and choosing out a sword by description, from a chest of old iron.

In the delivery of Orleans by this mysterious person,** there is no very material departure from the chronicle, except in the poetical license almost always adopted in such cases, of bringing Talbot and Joan into personal conflict. She entered into Orleans, and, after various conflicts, the English raised the siege.tt

But the recovery of Orleans by Talbot, with which the second act opens, is a stretch of the imagination, for it was not long after the abandonment of Orleans that that eminent commander was defeated and taken, ti as I have said.

The story of the French being surprised, and leaping from the walls in their shirts, is, by Shakspeare, transferred to Orleans from Mans, where it happened, according to Holinshed. It would have been more fair to mention a somewhat similar occurrence, when the English were 80“ unready," as to be obliged “ to flee in their pumps."S$ From the circumstance of the French being made to fly by a soldier who cries out Talbot! Malone infers that this play was founded on Hall, and other authorities, besides Holivshed, who was usually Shakspeare's. But, in truth, Holinshed says enough to justify the poet.

* Tit. Liv., 95 ; Elmham, 333.
+ John, son of John who was killed at Agincourt."

Duke of Anjou, of the royal family of France, and nominal King of Naples. § Monst., ii. 484.

ll Ibid., 488.

P. 163. ** The siege was raised on the 8th of May, 1429.

ff Hol., 164. 11 June 18th, 1429.

$$ Hol., ii. 158-160.

“ His only name was and yet is dreadful to the French nation, and much renowned amongst all other people.***

I do not know where Shakspeare found the story of Talbot and the Countess of Auvergne.f There is nothing of it in Holinshed.

We next meet with the French before Rouen, into which important city the Maid of Orleans obtains entrance by the stratagem of disguising her soldiers as peasants bringing corn to market. For this improbable story I find no foundation, unless it be a story which Holinshed relates of the capture of Evreux, some time afterwards, by six strong fellows, apparelled like men of the country, with sacks and baskets, as carriers of corn and victnals. Monstrelet|| says that, after Joan's death, Rouen was nearly lost by treachery.

The next scene brings in the Duke of Bedford, sick: after a good deal of improbable and unprofitable talk, an action is fought, in which the English are victorious, and Rouen is recovered. Bedford dies, in his chair, at the moment of victory. Of all this I find no trace in the chronicle, except that this brave duke died in September, 1435, and was buried at Rouen. I The Duke of Burgundy is made to cheer him in his dying moments : but the defection of that prince had, in truth, occurred, upon inducements connected with the English part of our history to which I have referred, before the Duke of Bedford's death.** There is, therefore, a compound anachronism in the following scene, in which Joan is made to persuade Burgundy to separate himself from the English cause; and she asks, by way of exciting Burgundy to leave the English

“ Was not the Duke of Orleans thy foe?

And was he not in England prisoner ?
But, when he heard he was thine enemy,
They set him free, without his ransom paid,

In spite of Burgundy and all his friends." Now the release of the Duke of Orleans was an important occurrence in this reign, but it was not effected until some years after the defection of the Duke of Burgundy. And this is clearly stated in Holinshed.

“So long as the Duke of Burgundy continued faithful to the King of England, it was not thought necessary to suffer the Duke of Orleans to be ransomed, lest, upon his deliverance, he would seek means to be revenged upon the Duke of Burgundy, for the old grudge and displeasure between their two families; and, therefore, such ransom was demanded from him as he was never able to pay. But, ufter the Duke of Burgundy had broken his promise, and was turned to the French part, the council of the King of England devised how to deliver the Duke of Orleans, that thereby they might displeasure the Duke of Burgundy.”

The liberation of the Duke of Orleans was a symptom of the decreasing influence of the Duke of Gloucester, whose protest against it is recorded.tf Modern historians have considered this as a trial of strength between Gloucester and the Cardinal ;ff and, it may fairly be inferred, that Beaufort was one of those who overruled the duke; but I know of no more particular authority. Monstrelet says, that Burgundy and

* P. 158. + Act ii. Sc. 2 and 3. Act iii. Sc. 2. g Hol., 198, || Vol. iii. 30.

Hol., 184.

** Hol., 183 ; Monstr., iii. 92. tt Rymer, X.; and see Paston Letters, i. 5. 1 Lingard, New Edit. v. 115.

« PredošláPokračovať »