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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

IX. “A Mirror for Magistrates”

§ 2. Contents of the parts

It appears from the end-links of Clarence (Quarto 1) and Shore’s Wife (Q 2) that Baldwin planned three parts or volumes: first to the end of Edward IV’s reign; then, to the end of Richard III; and, lastly, “to the ende of this King and Queene’s reigne” (Philip and Mary). It further appears, from a reference to “our queene because she is a woman, and our king because he is a straunger” in the Blacksmith’s endlink, that this tragedy was written at the same time, although it was not given to the public until 1563. In the Shore’s Wife end-link (Q2), the tragedy of Somerset was also mentioned, and, presumably, that also was in existence in the reign of Philip and Mary, for a place was left for it in the first quarto, although it was not published until the second quarto. As actually given to the public, part 1 contained nineteen tragedies—those of Tresilian, Mortimer, Gloucester, Mowbray, Richard 11, Owen Glendower, Northumberland, Cambridge, Salisbury, James 1 (of Scotland), Suffolk, Cade, York, Clifford, Worcester, Warwick, Henry VI, Clarence, Edward IV; in the prose links, mention is made of three others—those of the duchess Eleanor and duke Humphrey of Gloucester (printed in 1578) and that of Somerset (printed 1563). Part II contained only eight tragedies—those of Woodville, Hastings, Buckingham, Collingbourne, Richard III, Shore’s Wife, Somerset and the Blacksmith.

In 1574, Marsh issued The First parte of the Mirour for Magistrates, containing the falles of the first unfortunate Princes of this lande. From the comming of Brute to the incarnation of our saviour and redemer Jesu Christe. John Higgins, the editor, says he was moved to the work by the words of Baldwin in his address “To the Reader”: “the like infortunate princes offered themselves unto me as matter very meete for imitation, the like admonition, miter, and phrase.” He, accordingly, took the earliest period, up to the birth of Christ, and was inclined with time and leisure “t’accomplish the residue til I came to the Conquest.” His first edition included the lives of Albanact (B.C. 1085), Humber, Locrinus, Elstride, Sabrine, Madan, Malin, Mempricius, Bladud, Cordila, Morgan, Forrex, Porrex, Kimarus, Morindus, Nennius, and (in some copies) Irenglas (B.C. 51). These were all written by himself and were reprinted in 1575 without noteworthy change. Baldwin’s first and second parts were now combined as the last part and published by Marsh under that title in 1574 (Q4) and, again, in 1575 (Q 5). The sixth quarto (1578) is a reprint of the fifth, except that it includes the long promised tragedies of Eleanor Cobham and Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, by Ferrers.

The first and last parts were united in an edition published by Marsh in 1587, and edited by Higgins, who had rewritten his own legends of Bladud, Forrex and Porrex, and added to his list Iago, Pinnar, Stater, Rudacke, Brennus, Emerianus, Chirinnus, Varianus, Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, Guiderius, Hamo, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Londricus, Severus, Fulgentius, Geta, Caracalla, making forty lives in all, and bringing his part of the work down to A.D. 209. To the last part he added Sir Nicholas Burdet (1441), written by himself; two poems, “pende above fifty yeares agone,” by Francis Dingley of Munston—The Lamentation of James IV and Flodden Field—and Cardinal Wolsey, by Churchyard.

Meanwhile, Thomas Blenerhasset had set to work to fill the gap left by Higgins after B.C. 51, and published in 1578 the following tragedies, extending from A.D. 44 to 1066: Guidericus, Carassus, Helena, Vortiger, Uther Pendragon, Cadwallader, Sigebert, Lady Ebbe, Alurede, Egelrede, Edric, Harold. These were issued by a different printer (Richard Webster) and, therefore, were not included by Marsh in his edition of 1587, Higgins covering part of the same ground, and having promised in his address “To the Reader,” in 1574, to come down to the same point—the Conquest—that Blenerhasset actually reached.

The next editor, Niccols (1610) adopted the plan suggested by Sackville, and omitted the prose links. For the first part, he took Higgins’s Induction; for the second, Sackville’s; and, for the third, one of his own composition. The first part included the forty tragedies by Higgins and ten of Blenerhasset’s—omitting Guidericus (supplied, since Blenerhasset wrote, by Higgins) and Alurede (supplied by Niccols himself); for the latter reason, he omits Richard III in part II and he also leaves out James I, James IV and the Battle of Flodden, apparently out of consideration for the Scots; part III contains ten tragedies of his own—Arthur, Edmund Ironside, Alfred, Godwin, Robert Curthose, Richard I, John, Edward II, Edward V, Richard III. England’s Eliza, also his own, with a separate Induction, describes the reign of queen Elizabeth. Thus, the original design, projected in the reign of Edward VI, was completed in the reign of James; but the day of the Mirror had gone by. The new and complete edition did not sell, and the sheets were re-issued under fresh titles in 1619, 1620 and 1621.