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Historic Time. From the defeat of Mortimer by Glendower, June 22, 1402,1 to the battle of Shrewsbury, July 21, 1403.
THE First Part of King Henry IV. was first published Early in a quarto edition of 1598, bearing the title :
The History of | Henrie the | Fourth; | with the battell at Shrewsburie, | betweene the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed | Henrie Hotspur of the North. With the humorous conceits of Sir | John Falstalffe. At London. Printed by P. S. for Andrew Wise. . . . 1598.
Five other quartos were issued before the appearance of the First Folio, each described on the titlepage as 'newly corrected by W. Shakespeare.' They are dated 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622. Two more appeared in 1632 and 1639. Each appears to have been printed from its predecessor. The title in the First Folio ran: "The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry sirnamed Hot-spurre.' It was printed, in the view of the Cambridge editors, from a partially corrected copy of the Fifth Quarto, with occasional reference to the earlier quartos.
The Second Part from the outset never rivalled the fame of the First. A single edition only was issued in quarto, in 1600, with the title :
The Second Part of Henrie | the fourth, continuing to his death, and coronation of Henrie | the fift. With the humours of Sir John Fal-staffe, and
swaggering Pistoll. | As it hath been sundrie times publikely acted by the right honorable, the Lord Chamberlaine his servants. Written by William Shakspeare. London. Printed by V. S. for Andrew Wise and William Aspley. 1600.
In some copies of this Quarto, the first scene of Act III. was omitted; the omission being afterwards rectified by inserting two new leaves and resetting part of the type.
The Folio text of the Second Part was apparently derived from a transcript of the original MS. It contains several striking passages not found in the Quarto, yet clearly inseparable from the context. The text of both parts in the Folio has been rigorously purified of all profane oaths and biblical allusions.
The First Part was entered in the Stationers' Composi- Register under date of Feb. 25, 1597-8, as 'The Historye of Henry the iiiith.' Critics are unanimous in regarding it as the work of one of the two previous years 1596-7. Some slight allusions have been detected to events of 1596; while the perfect uniformity of manner which connects this play with the Second Part, and both with Henry V., favours the later year. For the Second Part was clearly unknown and presumably unwritten when the First Part of the History was entered as 'The History,' i.e. in Feb. 1598.
But the Second Part must have been produced before the close of the year, for a few months later the character of Silence was already famous enough to point an allusion in Jonson's second comedy, performed in 1599.1 Henry V. is fixed with equal 1 In Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour (1599), v. 2, where Saviolina asks Fastidious Brisk
Who is he, gentle monsieur Brisk?
Fast. No, lady, this (i.e. Fungoso)
is a kinsman to justice Silence. The first allusion to Falstaff occurs at the close of the same play: You may in time make lean Macilente as fat as Sir John Falstaff.'
definiteness to 1599. The three plays thus composed
ambled up and down
(1 Henry IV. iii. 2. 60 f.)
The quality of the verse is still more decisive. Even in the most intense and dramatic situations of Richard II. it rarely escapes a suggestion of the lilting rhetoric, the wanton and self-indulgent sweetness, the highly poetised and somewhat abstract ornateness of phrase, by which the lyric Shakespeare had won renown. In Henry IV. this manner is no longer Shakespeare's
1 In I Hen. IV., 1464 out of 3170 lines; in 2 Hen. IV.,
1860 out of 3446; in Hen. V., 1531 out of 3379.
own, but only the dramatically expressive utterance of lyrical natures like Glendower (who had 'framed to the harp many an English ditty lovely well '), and his daughter, whose beautiful love-lyric (interpreted by Glendower) in 1 iii. 1. 214-222 was admired and imitated by later dramatists. Here we have for the first time the mature dramatic verse of Shakespeare with its wonderful capacity of wedding itself with the character of each speaker and the matter of each speech; so that it seems as natural a vehicle for Hotspur, vowing that he
had rather live
With cheese and garlic in a windmill, far,
as for the king's solemn expostulations, or Vernon's dazzling description of 'young Harry, with his beaver
The plot-structure, finally, shows a radically changed appreciation of the dramatic elements of history. Richard III., Richard II., and John are in effect tragedies; they carry us through crimes or follies to a ruin weighted with Nemesis; they represent a struggle carried on by move and counter-move through situations of ever-heightened intensity to the mortal catastrophe. In Henry IV., on the contrary, the interest is not criminal but heroic. If the king broods remorsefully over his crime, and sees its Nemesis in his riotous son and his rebellious subjects, it is only that the prince may gloriously shatter the illusion. The guilt of the House of Lancaster, though confessed by both kings, falls altogether into the background as a dramatic motif, and Henry V., no longer the head of a usurping dynasty, but the 'star of England,' king and brother to all the peoples of the English nation, reigns by the title of merit. And, to judge from the Epilogue to Henry V., even the subsequent ruin of