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SECOND PART OF
KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
The transactions comprised in this play take up about nine years. The action commences with the account of Hotspur's being defeated and killed , and closes with the death of king Henry IV. and the coronation of king Henry V. [1412–13]. “Upton thinks these two plays improperly called The First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. ‘The first play ends (he says) with the peaceful settlement of Henry in the kingdom by the defeats of the rebels.” This is hardly true; for the rebels are not yet finally suppressed. The second, he tells us, shows Henry the Fifth in the various lights of a good-natured rake, till, on his father's death, he assumes a more manly character. This is true; but this representation gives us no idea of a dramatic action. These two plays will appear to every reader, who shall peruse them without ambition of critical discoveries, to be so connected, that the second is merely a sequel to the first; to be two only to be one.”—Johnson.
This play was entered at Stationers' Hall, August 23, 1600. There are two copies, in quarto, printed in that year; but it is doubtful whether they are different editions, or the one only a corrected impression of the other.
Malone supposes it to have been composed in 1598.