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KING HENRY IV-PARTS I AND II
THE EARLY EDITIONS. The First Part of King Henry the Fourth entered on the Stationers' Registers, under date of February 25, 1597-98 appeared for the first time in a Quarto edition, with the following title-page: "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 humourous conceits of Sir Iohn Falstalffe. At London. Printed by P. S. for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paules Churchyard, at the signe of the Angell. 1598."1 No less than five subsequent Quarto editions appeared before the publication of the play in the first Folio, being severally issued in 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622. Other Quartos belong to the years 1632 and 1639; each edition seems to have been derived from its predecessor. The title of the play in the Folio is, "The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry Surnamed Hotspurre." The Cambridge editors refer the Folio text to a partially corrected copy of the fifth Quarto; the earlier Quartos were, however, probably consulted by the corrector.
1 See Grigg's Facsimile edition.
The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth was first published in Quarto in 1600, with the following titlepage: The Second part of Henrie the fourth, continuing to his death, and coronation of Henry the fifth. With the humours of Sir John Falstaffe, and swaggering Pistoll. As it hath been sundry times publikely 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 The play was entered by the publishers upon the Stationers' Registers on the 23d of August of the same year.
By some accident the first scene of Act iii. was omitted entirely from some copies of the Quarto. As soon as discovered, and before the edition was completed, the error was rectified by inserting two new leaves, the type of some of the preceding and following leaves being used; hence there are two different impressions of the latter part of Act ii. and the beginning of Act iii. Scene 2.
The text of this Second Part in the first Folio was probably ultimately derived from a transcript of the original Ms. It contains passages which evidently had been omitted from the Ms. from which the Quarto edition was printed, in order to shorten the play for the stage. "Some of these,” as the Cambridge editors truly remark, "are 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." They further observe that "the Folio in other places affords occasional readings which seem preferable to those of the
1 See Grigg's Facsimile edition.
Quarto, but for the most part the Quarto is to be regarded as having the higher critical value."
DATE OF COMPOSITION. There is almost unanimity among scholars in assigning 1 Henry IV. to the year. 1596-1597. According to Chalmers, the opening lines of the play "plainly allude" to the expedition against Spain in 1596. Similarly the expression in ii. 1. 11, 12, "Poor fellow, never joyed since the price of oats rose,' may be connected with the Proclamation for the Dearth of Corn, etc., issued in the same year. The introduction of the word "valiant," detrimental to the metre of the line, in v. 4. 40, 41,
Of valiant Shirley, Stafford, Blunt, are in my arms,'
may perhaps also point to 1596-1597 as the original date of composition. The Shirleys were knighted by the
The earliest reference to the play occurs in Meres' Palladis Tamia, 1598; while Ben Jonson ends his Every Man Out of His Humour with the words, "You may in time make lean Macilente as fat as Sir John Falstaff." In the Pilgrimage to Parnassus, acted at St. John's College, Cambridge, Christmas, 1598, there are what seem to be obvious reminiscences of the tapster's "Anon, anon, sir," in ii. 4. 35, et seq.1 The point is of special interest in view of H. P. Stokes's suggestion that 1 Henry IV. was itself originally a Christmas play of the previous year, 1597.
General considerations of style corroborate these pieces of external evidence; its subtle characterisation, "its 1 Compare "I shall no sooner open this pint pot but the word like a knave-tapster will cry Anon, anon, sir.'"
reckless ease and full creative power," its commingling of the serious and the comic, its free use of verse and prose, make the play, as Verplanck well says, "a splendid and varied historic tragi-comedy" rather than a mere “history,' "historic in its personages and its spirit, yet blending the high heroic poetry of chivalry with the most original inventions of broad humour." Henry IV. bears, in fact, the same relationship to Richard III., King John, and Richard II. that The Merchant of Venice does to such early comedies as Love's Labour's Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, etc. The simple plots of the earlier histories gave place to the more complex Henry IV., much in the same way as the simple love-comedies were succeeded by the polymythic method of The Merchant of Venice.
So far as the introduction of prose is concerned, the case of the present play is specially remarkable; 1 the earlier historical pieces, following the example of Marlowe's Edward II., contained practically no prose at all. Similarly, in his avoidance of rhyme as a trick of dramatic rhetoric, Shakespeare shows, in Henry IV., that he has learned to differentiate between his lyrical and dramatic gifts. His earlier work in the department of history was indeed largely experimental, and bore many marks of Shakespeare's apprentice hand; none of these previous efforts produced a typically Shakespearian drama; in Henry IV., however, Shakespeare, as it were, discovered himself.
The Second Part of Henry IV., "at once the supplement and epilogue of the first part, and the preparation for the ensuing dramatic history of Henry V.," may with
1 There are 1464 lines of prose in 1 Henry IV., and 1860 lines in 2 Henry IV., out of a total of 3170 and 3437 lines respectively.
certainty be dated 1598-99. Ben Jonson's Every Man Out of his Humour, acted in 1599, contains an early allusion to Justice Silence. It was probably not written, as has been maintained on insufficient ground, before the Stationers' entry of 1 Henry IV. in 1598; the titlepage of the first Quarto of Part I., as well as the entry, imply that no second part was then in existence. Christmas, 1598, may perhaps be the actual date of its first production.
THE SOURCES OF THE PLOT. The materials of both parts of Henry IV. were derived from, first, Hall's and Holinshed's Chronicles; second, from the old play of The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, which was acted before 1588, and of which editions appeared in 1594 and 1597.2
1. On the whole, Shakespeare has followed history closely in this play; among the most striking deviations is, perhaps, Shakespeare's intentional change in making Hotspur and the Prince of the same age, in order to heighten the contrast between them. The characters of Glendower, Northumberland, Mowbray, the Archbishop, and Prince John, as well as that of Hotspur, have all undergone slight changes at Shakespeare's hands. Noteworthy errors (due to the original Chronicles), are - the calling the Earl of Fife son to the beaten Douglas, an error due to the omission of a comma in Holinshed; the confounding Edward Mortimer, prisoner, and afterwards son-in-law of Glendower and second son of the first Earl of March, with his nephew the Earl of March, entitled
1 Savi. What's he, gentle Mons. Brisk? Not that gentleman ? Fasl. No, lady; this is a kinsman to Justice Silence.
* See Hazlitt's Shakespeare Library, pt. ii. vol. i. p. 323.