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By ISRAEL GOLLANCZ, M.A.
The earliest edition of King Henry the Fifth is a quarto published in 1600, with the following title:
"The Chronicle | History of Henry the Fifth with his battell fought at Agin Court in France. Together with Auntient Pistoll. As it hath bene sundry times played by the Right honorable the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. LONDON Printed by Thomas Creede, for Tho. Millington, and Iohn Busby. And are to be sold at his house in Carter Lane, next the Powle head. 1600.
This quarto was reprinted in 1602 and 1608.
In the First Folio the title of the play is The Life of Henry the Fift.1
The text of the quarto edition differs in many important respects from that of the folio; (i) it omits all the prologues and the epilogue; (ii) some five hundred lines besides are in no wise represented therein; (iii) the speeches of certain characters are transferred to other characters, so that the actors are fewer; 2 confusion in time-indications; (iv) corruptions, obscurities, and minor discrepancies abound.3 The Quarto is obviously derived from an edition abridged for acting purposes, evidently an imperfect and
1 Edited by W. G. Stone, New Shak. Soc., 1880.
2 Ely, Westmoreland, Bedford, Britany, Rambures, Erpingham, Grandpré, Macmorris, Jamy, Messenger, II. iv., and IV. ii., and the French Queen, have no speeches assigned to them in the Quarto. 3 Cp. Henry V, Parallel Texts, ed. Nicholson, with Introduction, by P. A. Daniel; New Shak. Soc.
unauthorized version made up from shorthand notes taken at the theater, and afterwards amplified. The original of this abridged edition was in all probability the Folio text, more or less, as we know it. This view of the question is now generally accepted, and few scholars are inclined to maintain that "the original of the Quarto was an earlier one without choruses, and following the Chronicle historians much more closely." 1
THE DATE OF COMPOSITION
The reference to Essex in the Prologue to Act V (vide Note) shows that Henry the Fifth must have been acted between March 27 and September 28, 1599; 2 the play is not mentioned by Meres in his Palladis Tamia, 1598, though Henry IV is included in this list; the Epilogue to 2 Henry IV makes promise of Henry V, but "our humble author" has modified his original conception; this change of plan is intimately connected with the composition of The Merry Wives of Windsor; the play is found in the Stationers' Register under August 4, 1600 (together with
1 Vide Fleay, Life and Work of Shakespeare, p. 206. Besides thus differentiating the two editions, Mr. Fleay takes the scene with the Scotch and Irish captains (III. ii. l. 69 to the end of the scene) to be an insertion for the Court performance, Christmas, 1605, to please King James, who had been annoyed that year by depreciation of the Scots on the stage.
This scene is certainly a contrast to the anti-Scottish feeling in Act I. sc. ii. The late Richard Simpson made some interesting, though doubtful, observations on the political teaching of Henry V in a paper dealing with The politics of Shakespeare's Historical Plays (New Shak. Soc., 1874).
2 It is fair to assume that the choruses were written for the first performances, though Pope, Warburton, and others held that these were inserted at a later period; they must, however, have formed an integral portion of Shakespeare's original scheme; considerations of time may have necessitated their omission in the abridged acting edition.
3 "Our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katharine of France; where, for anything I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat,” etc.
As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour), marked, "to be staied," though ten days afterwards it is again entered among the copies assigned to Thomas Pavyer; in the same year we have the publication of the Quarto edition; finally, the Globe Theater, built by Burbage in 1599, is somewhat emphatically referred to in the Prologue; all these considerations seem to fix with certainty the year 1599 as the date of this play.
The main authority for the history of Henry V was the second edition of Holinshed's Chronicles, published in 1587, though he departs occasionally from his original for the sake of dramatic effect. For two or three minor points Shakespeare was indebted to the old play of The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth1 (e. g., a few touches in Act I, sc. ii; the episode of Pistol and the French soldier; the wooing scene, etc.).2
DURATION OF ACTION
The time of Henry V covers ten days, with intervals, embracing altogether a period of about six years, from the opening of the Parliament at Leicester, April 30, 1414, to Henry's betrothal to Katherine, May 20, 1420:
1st Chorus. Prologue, "sets forth the claims of the dramatist on the imagination of the audience.”
Day 1. Act I, sc. i and ii.
palace; the presence-chamber.
Ante-chamber in the King's
1 The Famous Victories was licensed in 1594; in 1592 Nash, in Pierce Pennilesse, alludes to this or some other play on the same subject:-"What a glorious thing it is to have Henry the Fifth represented on the stage, leading the French King prisoner," etc.
2 Cp. W. G. Stone's Introduction to Henry the Fifth (New Shak. Soc.); an exhaustive study of the historical aspect of the play; also, Courtenay's Historical Plays of Shakespeare; Warner's English History in Shakespeare.
2nd Chorus; "tells of the preparations for war; of the discovery of the plot against the king, who is set from London, and that the scene is to be transported to London." Interval.
Day 2. Act II, sc. i. London (? Eastcheap). Interval.
Day 3. Act II, sc. ii. Southampton; scene iii, London (Falstaff is dead). Interval.
Day 4. Act II, sc. iv. France, the King's Palace.
3rd Chorus; "tells of the King's departure from Hampton; his arrival at Harfleur, and of the return of his Ambassador with proposals." Interval.
Day 5. Act III, sc. i to iii. Before Harfleur. Interval. [Act III, sc. iv. Interval, following Day 4]. Rouen. Interval.
Day 6. Act III, sc. v.
Day 7. Act III, sc. vi; [Interval] first part of scene vii; Blangy.
Day 8. Act III, sc. vii. (French camp near Agincourt.)
4th Chorus (Interval). Act IV, sc. i-viii (with Intervals); English camp.
5th Chorus; "tells of Henry's journey to England and of his reception by his people; then, with excuses for passing over time and history, brings his audience straight back again to France. The historic period thus passed over dates from October 1415 to Henry's betrothal to Katherine, May 1420." Interval.
Day 9. Act V, sc. ii; (perhaps, better, the last scene should reckon as the tenth day, vide W. G. Stone, p. ciii).
6th Chorus. Epilogue. (cp. Daniel's Time Analysis; Trans. Shak. Soc. 1877-79.)
In no other play has Shakespeare attempted so bold an experiment in the dramatization of war; nowhere else has