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THIS play was writ (as appears from a passage in the chorus to the fifth Act) at the time of the earl of Essex's commanding the forces in Ireland in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and not till after Henry the Sixth had been played, as may be seen by the conclusion of this play. POPE.
The transactions comprized in this historical play commence about the latter end of the first and terminate in the eighth year of this king's reign when he married Katharine princess of France, and closed up the differences betwixt England and that crown. THEOBALD.
This play, in the quarto edition, 1608, is styled The Chronicle History of Henry, &c. which seems to have been the title anciently appropriated to all Shakspeare's historical dramas. So, in The Antipodes, a comedy, by R. Brome, 1638 :
"These lads can act the emperor's lives all over, And Shakspeare's Chronicled Histories to boot." The players likewise, in the folio edition, 1623, rank these pieces under the title of Histories.
It is evident that a play on this subject had been performed before the year 1592. Nash, in Pierce Penniless his Supplication to the Devil, dated 1592, says, "What a glorious thing it is to have Henry the Fifth represented on the stage, leading the French king prisoner, and forcing both him and the Dolphin to sweare fealtie."
Perhaps this is the same play as was thus entered in the books of the Stationers' Company: "Tho. Strode] May 2, 1594. A booke intituled The famous Victories of Henry the Fift, containing the honorable Battle of Agin
There are two more entries of a play of Henry V. viz. between 1596 and 1615, and one August 14th, 1600. I have two copies of it in my possession; one without date (which seems much the elder of the two), and another (apparently printed from it), dated 1617, though printed by Bernard Alsop (who was printer of the other edition), and sold by the same person, and at the same place. Alsop appears to have been a printer before the year 1600, and was afterwards one of the twenty appointed by decree of the Star-chamber to print for this kingdom. I believe, however, this piece to have been prior to that of Shakspeare for several reasons. First, because it is highly probable that it is the very "displeasing play" alluded to in the epilogue to The Second Part of King Henry V.-for Oldcastle died a martyr. Oldcastle is the Falstaff of the piece, which is despicable, and full of ribaldry and impiety from the first scene to the last.-Secondly, because Shakspeare seems to have taken not a few hints from it; for it comprehends, in some measure, the story of the two Parts of Henry IV. as well as, of Henry V.: and no ignorance, ] think, could debase the gold of Shakspeare into such dross; though no chemistry but that of Shakspeare could exalt such base metal into gold. When the Prince of Wales, in Henry IV. calls Falstaff my old lad of the Castle, it is probably but a sneering allusion to the deserved fate which this performance met with; for there is no proof that our poet was ever obliged to change the name of Oldcastle into that of Falstaff, though there is an absolute certainty that this piece must have been condemned by any audience before whom it was ever repre
sented. Lastly, because it appears (as Dr. Farmer has observed) from the Jests of the famous comedian, Tarlton, 4to. 1611, that he had been particularly celebrated in the part of the Clown,* in Henry V, and though his character does not exist in our play, we find it in the other, which, for the reasons already enumerated, I suppose to have been prior to this.
This anonymous play of Henry V. is neither divided into Acts or Scenes, is uncommonly short, and has all the appearance of having been imperfectly taken down during the representation. As much of it appears to have been omitted, we may suppose that the author did not think it convenient for his reputation to publish a more ample copy.
There is, indeed, a play, called Sir John Oldcastle, published in 1600, with the name of William Shakspeare prefixed to it. The pro
Mr. Oldys, in a manuscript note in his copy of Langbaine, says, that Tarleton appeared in the character of the Judge who receives the box on the ear. This judge is likewise a character in the old play. I may add, on the authority of the books at Stationer's Hall, that Tarleton published what he called his Farewell, a ballad, in Sept. 1588. In Oct. 1589, was entered "Tarleton's Repentance, and his Farewell to his Friends in his Sickness a little before his Death;" in 1590, "Tarleton's Newes out of Purgatorie," and in the same year, "A pleasaunt Dilly Dialogue-ise between Tarleton's Ghost and Robyn Good-fellowe." STEEVENS.
logue being very short, I shall quote it, as it serves to prove that a former piece, in which the character of Oldcastle was introduced, had given great offence:
"The doubtfull title (gentlemen) prefixt Upon the argument we have in hand, May breed suspense, and wrongfully disturbe "The peaceful quiet of your settled thoughts. To stop which scruple, let this breefe suffice: "It is no pamper'd glutton we present, "Nor aged councellour to youthful sinne; But one, whose vertue shone above the rest, "A valiant martyr, and a vertuous peere; "In whose true faith and loyalty exprest Unto his soveraigne, and his countries weale, "We strive to pay that tribute of our love "Your favours merit: let fair truth be grac'd. "Since forg'd invention former time defac'd."
The piece to which Nash alludes is the old anonymous play of King Henry V., which had been exhibited before the year 1589. Tarlton, the comedian, who performed in it both the parts of the chief justice and the clown, having died in that year. It was entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and, I believe, printed in that year, though I have not met with a copy of that date. An edition of it, printed in 1598, was in the valuable collection of Dr. Wright.
The play before us appears to have been writ ten in the middle of the year 1599.
The old King Henry V. may be found among Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. printed by S. Leacrost, 1778 MALONE.
KING HENRY V.
This play has many scenes of high dignity, and many of easy merriment. The character of the king is well supported, except in his courtship, where he has neither the vivacity of Hal, nor the grandeur of Henry. The humour of Pistol is very happily continued: his character has perhaps been the model of all the bullies that have yet appeared On the English stage.
The lines given to the chorus have many admirers; but the truth is, in them a little may be praised, and much must be forgiven; nor can it be easily discovered, why the intelligence given by the chorus is more necessary in this play, than in many others where it is omitted. The great defect of this play is, the emptiness and narrowness of the last act, which a very little diligence might have easily avoided.
KING HENRY THE FIFTH.
DUKE OF GLOSTER,
DUKE OF BEDFORD,
Brothers to the King.
DUKE OF EXETER, Uncle to the King.
DUKE OF YORK. Cousin to the King.
EARLS OF SALISBURY, WESTMORELAND, and
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
EARL OF CAMBRIDGE, Conspirators against the
SIR THOMAS GREY
SIR THOMAS ERPINGHAM, GOWER, FLUELLEN, MACMORRIS, JAMY, Officers in King Henry's Army.
BATES, COURT, WILLIAMS, Soldiers in the same. NYM, BARDOLPH. PISTOL, formerly Servants to Falstaff, now Soldiers in the same.
Boy, Servant to them. A Herald.
CHARLES THE SIXTH, King of France. LEWIS, the Dauphin.
DUKE OF BURGUNDY, ORLEANS, and BOURBON.
RAMBURES and GRANDPREE, French Lords.
MONTJOY, a French Herald.
Ambassadors to the King of England.
ISABEL, Queen of France.
KATHARINE, Daughter of Charles and Isabel.
ALICE, a Lady attending on the Princess Katharine.
Lords, Ladies, Officer, French and English Soldiers,
The SCENE, at the beginning of the Play, lies in England; but afterwards wholly in France.
O, for amuse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention !
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
Suppose, within the girdle of these walls
Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Did push it out of further question.
Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now? Cant. It must be thought on. If it pass against us, We lose the better half of our possession: For all the temporal lands, which men devout By testament have given to the church, Would they strip from us; being valued thus,As much as would maintain, to the king's honour, Full fifteen earls, and fifteen hundred knights; Six thousand and two hundred good esquires; And, to relief of lazars, and weak age, Of indigent faint souls, past corporal toil, A hundred alms-houses, right well supplied; And to the coffers of the king beside,
A thousand pounds by the year: Thus runs the bill. Ely. This would drink deep.
Twould drink the cup and all. Ely. But what prevention?
Cant. The king is full of grace, and fair regard.
And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him;
And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears,
To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences
Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle;
Cant. It must be so: for miracles are ceas'd;
He seems indifferent;
Or, rather, swaying more upon our part,
And in regard of causes now in hand,
Ely. How did this offer seem receiv'd, my lord?
Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms;
It is. Cant. Then go we in, to know his embassy; Which I could, with a ready guess, declare, Before the Frenchman speak a word of it. Ely. I'll wait upon you; and I long to hear it.
SCENE 11.-The same.
A Room of State in the
Enter King HENRY, GLOSTER, BEDFORD, EXETER,
K. Hen. Send for him, good uncle.
Before we hear him, of some things of weight,
Cant. God, and his angels, guard your sacred And make you long become it! [throne,
K. Hen. Sure, we thank you. My learned lord, we pray you to proceed; And justly and religiously unfold, Why the law Salique, that they have in France, Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim. And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord, That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your reading, Or nicely charge your understanding soul With opening titles miscreate, whose right Suits not in native colour with the truth:
For God doth know, how many, now in health
That make such waste in brief mortality.
Where Charles the great, having subdued the
There left behind and settled certain French,
Of Blithild, which was daughter to king Clothair,
Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorain
K. Hen. May I, with right and conscience, make | To spoil and havock more than she can eat.
Cant. The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!
For in the book of Numbers is it writ,
When the son dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter. Gracious lord,
Go, my dread lord, to your great grandsire's tomb,
O noble English, that could entertain
Ely. Awake remembrance of these valiant dead,
Exe. Your brother kings and monarchs of the earth Do all expect that you should rouse yourself, As did the former lions of your blood.
West. They know, your grace hath cause, and means, and might;
So hath your highness; never king of England
Cant. O, let their bodies follow, my dear liege,
K. Hen. We must not only arm to invade the But lay down our proportions to defend Against the Scot, who will make road upon us With all advantages.
Cant. They of those marches, gracious sovereign, Shall be a wall sufficient to defend Our inland from the pilfering borderers.
K. Hen. We do not mean the coursing snatchers But fear the main intendment of the Scot, Who hath been still a giddy neighbour to us: For you shall read, that my great grandfather Never went with his forces into France, But that the Scot on his unfurnish'd kingdom Came pouring, like the tide into a breach, With ample and brim fulness of his force; Gailing the gleaned land with hot essays; Girding, with grievous siege, castles and towns; That England, being empty of defence,
Hath shook, and trembled at the ill-neighbourhood. Cant. She hath been then more fear'd than harm'd, my liege:
For bear her but exampled by herself,-
The king of Scots; whom she did send to France,
Exe. It follows then, the cat must stay at home: Yet that is but a curs'd necessity;
Since we have locks to safeguard necessaries,
And pretty traps to catch the petty thieves.
True: therefore doth heaven divide
The lazy yawning drone. I this infer,-
As many several ways meet in one town;
[Dauphin. K. Hen. Call in the messengers sent from the [Exit an Attendant. The King ascends his
Now are we well resolv'd: and,-by God's help;
Enter Ambassadors of France.
K. Hen. We are no tyrant, but a Christian king: Unto whose grace our passion is as subject, As are our wretches fetter'd in our prisons: Therefore, with frank and with uncurbed plainess, Tell us the Dauphin's mind.
Thus then, in few.