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In accordance with the general plan of the Arden Shakespeare, the objects that have been principally aimed at in the preparation of this edition of The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth have been (1) to give a sound text of the play; (2) to exhibit the sources of the text and to record all variants of interest in the earliest editions; and (3) to elucidate obscure passages, with illustrations from contemporary literature.
The text will be found to be conservative; it adheres, for the sake of uniformity, to the arrangement, etc., of the Cambridge editors, except where cause could be shown for departing from the text of that edition. Similarly a preference has been given, in doubtful cases, to readings of the earliest edition of the play, the Quarto of 1600, over those of the Folio. The text of the Folio, however, has been followed in iv. iv. 32, where Boswell-Stone (The Old Spelling Shakespeare) retains the Quarto reading "meeting,” and in IV. v. 81, where, again, Boswell-Stone prefers to read with the Quarto “Sicknesse hands" [ – Sickness's hands]. In another instance a Folio read
a ing has been adopted, where the restoration of the reading of the Quarto would have involved the excision of a half-line which was probably an interpolation, but which time has invested with authority (IV. v. 75). In Act II. Scene ii. I have ventured to depart from the arrangement of the text, as it has been generally received since Sir Thomas Hanmer first adopted it, by giving to the Prince the reading of Falstaff's letter, and assigning the comments upon it to Poins, to whom their flippancy seemed especially appropriate. The arrangement offered in the present text depends to some extent upon a punning use of the word "writes," but it finds at the same time support in the Quarto, which is without the stage-direction, which, I
1 In connection with the introduction in the Folio (1. 104) of the stagedirection “Letter," it may be observed that the printer of the Folio had dropped the small but not insignificant word "how" in line 102. I have suggested a pun on “writes" in line 103, but this sense is not absolutely material to the argument in favour of the rearrangement of the text.
think, misled Hanmer. Here, and elsewhere, I have given full weight to the authority of the Quarto, which, in spite of its many errors in typography, I agree with the Cambridge editors in believing to be of higher critical value than the Folio.
I have collated for this edition the text of the Quarto with that of the First Folio. For readings from the later Folios and from modern editions I have relied largely upon the excellent collation of the Cambridge editors; I have, however, verified all readings of importance. I have recorded some variants unnoticed by the Cambridge editors, including a few from individual copies of the Quarto.
In 1600 the Chamberlain's servants, the theatrical company to which Shakespeare belonged, sold The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth to the publishers, Andrew Wise and William Aspley, partly, it would seem, because they had reason to fear piracy, and partly owing to an Order in Council of June 22, restricting their performances to two a week. See A. W. Pollard, Shakespeare's Fight with the Pirates, ed. 1920, p. 49.
The play was entered in the Stationers' Register, together with Much Ado About Nothing, by Andrew Wise and William Aspley on August 23, 1600:
(1600) 23 AUGUSTI Andrewe Wyse Entred for their copies vnder the handes of William Aspley the wardens Two bookes. the one called
Muche a Doo about Nothinge. Thother the
Arber's Transcript, iii. 170. The Second part of Henry the Fourth was published in Quarto later in the same year, with the following title-page:
THE | Second part of Henrie | the fourth, continuing to his death, I and coronation of Henrie | the fift. With the humours of sir Iohn Fals | staffe, and swaggering | Pistoll. As it hath been sundrie times publikely I acted by the right
honourable, the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. | Written by William Shakespeare. | LONDON | Printed by V. S. for Andrew Wise, and William Aspley. | 1600. 1
. In a first impression of this the earliest edition of the play the first scene of Act III. was omitted, whether by accident or as the result of some defect or confusion in the printer's copy. The omission was afterwards rectified, room being found for the missing scene by taking to pieces the type in leaves 3 and 4 of sheet E, and adding two new leaves, 5 and 6, to the sheet. The earlier and later forms of the portions of sheet E which were reset, comprising the latter part of Act IL Scene iv. (from line 334) and the beginning of Act III. Scene ii. (to "young” in line 104) are hereafter described as Q, and Q, respectively. The Quarto, for the rest of the play is designated Q.
Slight variations of text appear in individual copies of the Quarto,—a result of the practice of revising the sheets while in the press. Variants from the Bodleian, Capell, Devonshire, British Museum, Halliwell-Phillipps (Q 1) and Steevens copies are cited in the Textual Notes.
From internal evidence it is apparent that the Quarto version was derived from a theatre copy which had been cut, and negligently “cut,” for representation on the stage. Passages, -amounting in the aggregate to 171 lines,—which afterwards appeared in the First Folio, are wanting in the Quarto. Some of these passages are, as the Cambridge editors remark, “among the finest in the play, and are too closely connected with the context to allow of the supposition that they were later additions inserted by the author after the publication of the Quarto.” In three or four instances, at least, the sense of a speech in the Quarto is incomplete in the absence of the context supplied by the Folio (cf. 1. i. 189-209; I. iii. 34-62; II. iii. 9-50; iv. i. 99-140). The intrusion into the Quarto text, here and there, of what are evidently a prompter's notes, points to the conclusion that the original of the Quarto had been used as a prompt-copy-presumably by the Chamberlain's men, who sold the play to the publishers of the Quarto in 1600.
The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth next appeared in the Folio of 1623, in which the text of the play occupies twenty-seven pages (pp. 74-100). The lower half of the page containing the conclusion of the last scene is filled out with the
word “Finis” and a tail-piece. The Epilogue occupies the next page, which is unnumbered, and on the back of this is printed a list of the characters.
Editors differ in opinion as to the source and therefore as to the critical value of the version of the Folio. The Cambridge editors conclude that it was “probably" printed from a transcript of the original MS. Mr. F. W. Clarke (The Old Spelling Shakespeare) would refer it to an independent source, somewhat more complete than the theatre copy from which the Quarto was printed, but not the manuscript of Shakespeare. Mr. W. J. Rolfe conjectured that the version of the Folio was taken either from a transcript of the author's manuscript, or from a complete copy of the Quarto collated with such a transcript. Mr. H. A. Evans (Shakspere Quarto Facsimiles) argues from the presence of passages omitted in the Quarto and from the absence of a few scattered Quarto lines throughout the play and the numerous minor variations in the text, that the editors of the Folio “had to content themselves with a more or less faulty transcript—itself perhaps two or three degrees removed from the original.”
Finally, Mr. A. W. Pollard expresses the opinion that 'the Quarto prints an earlier acting version and the Folio a later one” (Shakespeare's Fight with the Pirates, ed. 1920, p. 47). It is not clear what Mr. Pollard means here by a "later version, whether a corrected copy of the Quarto, or a fresh transcript of the original text. If the latter, it is not evident for what purpose, or by whom, the transcript would have been made. The Chamberlain's men sold, in 1600, the MS. of the play to the publishers, Wise and Aspley, whose printed text, the Quarto of 1600, would henceforth serve all the uses of the stage. Nor is it probable that the fuller text of the Folio would derive from a late acting version. The tendency in successive versions would rather be in the direction of curtailment. With greater probability it might be conjectured that the Quarto prints a later acting version, and the Folio an earlier one.
The present editor has himself arrived at the following conclusions, which he states with all diffidence :
(1) That the Folio text was printed from a copy of the Quarto, carefully edited, though not on modern scientific lines, and collated with an early MS., probably that from which the Quarto itself was printed. Cf. Act I. Scene iii. 11. 78-80,