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THE FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
«The History of Henrie the Fovrth ; With the battell at Shrewsburie, betweene the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henrie Hotspur of the North. With the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstalffe. At London, Printed by P. S. for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paules Churchyard, at the signe of the Angell. 1598." Such is the title of the first and best edition of this famous historic drama. A second edition was issued in 1599, which was followed by a third in 1604, a fourth in 1608, a fifth in 1613, and a sixth in 1622. That six distinct impressions of it should have been published before its incorporation in the folio of 1623, is proof of its enduring popularity.
The First Part of King Henry IV. was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in 1597, to which year Malone ascribes its production. Chalmers and Drake assign it to 1596, but the evidence for either date is so extremely vague and unsubstantial that no dependance can be placed upon it. All we really know is, that the play was written before 1598, because Meres, in his list published that year, enumerates “ Henry the IVth.” as one of our poet's works. Shakespeare, it is thought, selected the stirring period of our history comprehended in the reigns of Henry IV. and V. for dramatic illustration, in consequence of the success achieved by an old and worthless piece which had long retained possession of the stage, called “ The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth ; ” though Dr. Johnson conceived that he'd planned a regular connexion of these dramatic histories from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. From a similarity in some of the incidents and in the names of two or three of the characters, it is quite clear that he was acquainted with “ The Famous Victories,” and the circumstance of his having chosen the same events for representation, may have occasioned the revival of that old piece by Henslowe's company in 1595, and its re-publication in 1598. As Mr. Collier observes, “It is impossible to institute any parallel between The Famous Victories' and Shakespeare's dramas; for, besides that the former has reached us evidently in an imperfect shape, the immeasurable superiority of the latter is such, as to render any attempt to trace resemblance a matter of contrast rather than of comparison."
In the year 1844, a manuscript copy of the play of Henry the Fourth was found among the family papers of Sir Edward Dering, Bart., of Surrenden, Kent. Mr. Halliwell, who edited the MS. for the Shakespeare Society, observes, in his Introduction to the volume, that it “ does not contain the whole of Shakespeare's Henry IV., but the two parts condensed into one, and, as we · may presume, for the purpose of representation.” And he goes on to say that “the variations are so numerous, that we can hardly believe the MS. was transcribed from any printed edition. At all events, we cannot discover any which contains them. If the adapter was a player, there seems to be no preponderating reason why the MS. should not originally have been the property of one of the metropolitan theatres, and have been prepared for the use of such an establishment."
The discovery of any of Shakespeare's plays in manuscript of a date even approaching his own time, is alone sufficiently interesting in a literary point of view; the editor's suggestion that the Dering MS. may have been derived from some independent source, cannot, however, he maintained. There is abundant internal evidence to show that it was copied, in the first instance, from the quarto edition of 1613; and as the transcript was apparently made during the reign of James I, with a view to private performance, by the friends of Sir Edward Deryng, the first baronet, the language was, as usual, altered to suit the taste of the day; the various readings, therefore, whatever their merit, cannot be accepted as of any authority in elucidating the text.
No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Such beastly, shameless transformation, Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood; By those Welchwomen done, as may not be, No more shall trenching war channel her fields, Without much shame, retold or spoken of. Nor bruise her flowrets with the armed hoofs
K. Hen. It seems then, that the tidings of this Of hostile paces : those opposed eyes,
broil Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven, Brake off our business for the Holy Land. All of one nature, of one substance bred,
West. This, match'd with other, dide, my Did lately meet in the intestine shock
gracious lord ; And furious close of civil butchery,
For* more uneven and unwelcome news
Young Harry Perey, and brave Archibald,
Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour; (Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross As by discharge of their artillery, We are impressed and engaged to fight,)
And shape of likelihood, the news was told ; Forthwith a power of English shall we levy; For he that brought them, in the very heat Whose arms were moulded in their mothers' womb And pride of their contention, did take horse, To chase these pagans, in those holy fields,
Uncertain of the issue any way:
[friend, Over whose acres walk'd those blessed feet,
K. HEx. Here is a dear and I true-industrious Which, fourteen hundred years ago, were nail'd Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse, For our advantage, on the bitter cross.
Stain'd & with the variation of each soil But this our purpose now is twelve-months old, Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours ; And bootless 'tis to tell you— we will go ;
And he hath brought us smooth and welcome' Therefore we meet not now. Then let me hear
news. you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland,
The earl of Douglas is discomfited ; What yesternight our council did decree,
Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights, In forwarding this dear expedience.
Balk'd' in their own blood, did sir Walter see West. My liege, this haste was hot in question, On Holmedon's plains : of prisoners, Hotspur took And many limits of the charge set down
Mordake the earl of Fife, and eldest son
West. In faith, it is ;
K. HEN. Yea, there thou mak'st me sad, aud Upon whose dead corps" there was such misuse,
mak'st me sin
a No more the thirsty entrance of this soil-] Long and fruitless has been the controversy upon the word entrance, here. For a time, indeed, the ingenious and classical Erinnys of Monck Mason was permitted to supersede it in some editions; and a few critics advocated the substitution of entrants recommended by Steevens, or the less elegant entrails proposed by Douce; but these readings have had their day, and the general feeling is now in favour of retaining the old expression. Thirsty entrance is certainly obscure, but it might be used metaphorically for the parched crevices of the earth after long drought, without any serious impropriety. There is something similar in a passage of the “ Troublesome Raigne of King John," with which Shakespeare was perfectly familiar :
" Is all the blood yspilt on either part,
Closing the cranies of the thirslip earth
Growne to a love-game and a bridall feast?" h As far as to the sepulchre of Christ,
(*) First folio, Far.
(+) First folio, report, (1) First quarto, a.
($) First folio, strain'd. (1) First folio, welcomes. (0) Old copies omit, the. c Now is twelve months old,-) So the first quarto; the folio reads. is a twelve month old. d Upon whose dead corps-] The folio has corpes.
We should, perhaps, read corses.
• This, match'd with other, did, my gracious lord;] The folio, following the quarto of 1613, from which it appears to have been printed, reads. This match'd with other like, &c.
f Balk'd in their own blood, --] For Balk'oi, that is ridged, or heuped up, there is classic authority: "Ingentes Rutulæ specta. bit cædis Acerros." Æn. X. 245, and ingentes Rutulorum linquis Acerros:" X. 509; but many will prefer the conjectural reading bak'd, of Steevens: which he well supports by the following passages from Heywood's “ Iron Age," 1632:
Troilus lies embak'a
bak'd in blood and dust."
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy.] To levy a power as far as to the sepulchre of Christ, Steevens objected was an expression quite unexampled. Gifford has shown, however, (Ben Jonson, Vol. V. p. 138,] that the construction was not peculiar, by quoting an instance of it from Gosson's School of Abuse, 1587, “Scipio, before he levied his force to the walles of Carthage, gave his soldiers the print of the citie on a cake to be devoured."
forgotten to demand that truly which thou would'st Should be the father to* so blest a son :
truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the A son, who is the theme of honour's tongue ; time of the day ? unless hours were cups of sack, Amongst a grove, the very straightest plant ; and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of Who is sweet fortune's minion, and her pride : bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him,
the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flameSee riot and dishonour stain the brow
coloured taffata, I see no reason why thou should'st Of my young Harry. O, that it could be provid, be so superfluous to demand the time of the day. That some night-tripping fairy had exchang'd Fal. Indeed, you come near me now,
Hal : for In cradle-clothes our children where they lay, we, that take purses, go by the moon and the * And callid mine, Percy, his, Plantagenet ! seven stars; and not by Phæbus, he, that Then would I have bis Harry, and he mine. wandering knight so fair. And, I prythee, But let him from my thoughts.
What think you,
sweet wag, when thou art king,—as, God save thy grace, (majesty, I should
thou Of this young Percy's pride ? the prisoners,
wilt have none,) Which he in this adventure hath surpris’d,
P. HEN. What! none ? To his own use he keeps; and sends me word, Fal. No, by my troth ;t not so much as will I shall have none but Mordake earl of Fife. * serve to be prologue to an egg and butter. West. This is his uncle's teaching, this is P. Hen. 'Well, how then ? come, roundly, Worcester,
roundly. Malevolent to you in all aspects,
Fal. Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up king, let not us, that are squires of the night's The crest of youth against your dignity.
body, be called thieves of the day's beauty ;o let K. HEN. But I have sent for him to answer us be-Diana's foresters, Gentlemen of the shade,
Minions of the moon ; and let men say, we be And, for this cause, awhile we must neglect men of good government; being governed as the Our holy purpose to Jerusalem.
sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress the moon, Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we
under whose countenance we-steal. Will hold at Windsor,+ so inform the lords :
P. Hen. Thou say’st well ; and it holds well But come yourself with speed to us again ;
too: for the fortune of us, that are the moon's For more is to be said, and to be done,
men, doth ebb and flow like the sea ; being Than out of anger can be uttered.
governed as the sea is, by the moon. As, for West. I will, my liege.
[Exeunt. proof, now : a purse of gold most resolutely
snatched on Monday night, and most dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning; got with swearing
lay by; and spent with crying--bring in : now, SCENE II.-The same. An apartment in a in as low an ebb as the foot of the ladder ; and, Tavern.(1)
by and by, in as high a flow as the ridge of the
gallows. Enter HENRY, Prince of Wales, and FalstAFF. Fal. By the Lord, I thou say’st true, lad. And
is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet Fal. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad ? wench ? e
P. Hen. Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking P. Hen. As the honey of Hybla,“ my old lad of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and of the castle. And is not a buff jerkins a most sleeping upon benches | after noon, that thou hast sweet robe of durance ?
(*) First folio, of.
(1) First folio inserts, and. (1) First folio inserts, in the.
a I shall have none but Mordake earl of Fife.] In this refusal Hotspur was justified by the law of arms; every prisoner whose reden prion did not exceed ten thousand crowns being at the disposal of his captor, either for ransom or acquittal. Mordake, however, being a prince of the royal blood, could be rightfully claimed by the king.
! To demand that truly which thou would'st truly know.) The prince appears to object that Falstaff asks the time of day, when all his pursuits have reference to night.
• Thieves of the day's beauty;] For beauty,Theobald reads booty; but Malone conjectures that a pun was intended on the word beauty, which was to be pronounced as it still is in some counties, tuoty.
d Got with swearing-lay by; and spent with cryingąbring in ;) Lay by, is a nautical phrase meaning slacken sail, and may have
(*) First folio omits, the. (+) First folio omits, by my troth.
(1) First folio omits, By the Lord. been a slang term for the highwayman's “stand." The bring in, was the tavern call for more wine.
e And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench ?) The humour of asking a question or making an observation quite irrelevant to the conversation go'ng on, is very ancient. It must have been common in Shakespeare's time, for it is frequently found in the old dramas, and he himself indulges in this vein again in the present play, where the prince mystifies poor Francis,-"Why then, your brown bastard is your only drink. It occurs also in Hamlet more than once. Ben Jonson calls it a game of rapours.
f As the honey of Hybla,-) The folio reads, As is the honey, omitting the words, of Hybla.
6 And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance?) See note (1), p. 150.