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SHARESPEARE's Henry V has been edited so many times that there is nothing novel to say about it. The task of any editor of the play nowadays must consist chiefly in sifting the materials accumulated by the labors of previous investigators. I wish, therefore, freely to acknowledge my general indebtedness to former editors and to the chief authorities on Shakespeare, and to express my special obligation to the edition of Henry V edited by Dr. W. J. Rolfe, and to that edited by Mr. G. C. Moore Smith.
In preparing this little volume I have tried constantly to keep before me the needs of secondary school boys and girls, and to put into introduction and notes the information that will help them to understand Shakespeare's place in literature, something of the man and his work, and to assist them to read and enjoy the play intelligently. I have omitted all discussion of verse and grammar because I believe it to be out of place in a school edition. With trifling exceptions the text is that
of the Globe edition, and in the references to other plays of Shakespeare, the line numbering of that edition has been followed. Teachers should be glad that Henry V has been placed among the college requirements. It is a wholesome, vigorous play, with a strong appeal to the manly instincts, and King Henry is a hero whom every rightly constituted boy and girl can respect and admire.
I. THE ENGLISH DRAMA
SHAKESPEARE occupies so unique a place in the minds and hearts of the English-speaking peoples that we are apt to think of him as a solitary genius, whose appearance in the world of letters was sudden and astonishing, and whose extraordinary work owes nothing either to earlier or to contemporary influences. Such a view is, of course, erroneous. The laws of cause and effect hold as rigidly true in the world of thought as in the domain of physical science. Great writers do not appear sporadically, owing nothing to previous workers in their field, nor are they uninfluenced by the period in which they live. On the contrary, their ripened genius owes its development to the labors of many predecessors, and in them the various tendencies of the times seem to be crystallized into final form. This is emphatically true of Shakespeare. He was not in any sense a pioneer. He did not invent the English drama. He merely took it as he found it, modi