Abbildungen der Seite


months at the outside (Trans. of New Shaks. Soc., 477– 79)

Day 1. Act I, i. London. News of the battle of Homildon, etc. Interval: a week (?). Hotspur comes to Court.

[Day la. Act I, ii. London. Falstaff, Prince Hal, etc. The robbery at Gadshill planned.] Day 2. Act I, iï. Rebellion of the Percys planned.

, iii Interval: some three or four weeks.

Day 3. Act II, iii. Hotspur resolves to join the confederates at Bangor. Interval: a week. Hotspur and Worcester reach Bangor.

[Days 2a, 3a. Act II, i, ii, iv; (Act III, ii)].

Day 4. Act III, i. Bangor. Interval: about a fortnight.

Day 5. Act III, ii. Prince Hal and his father. Interval: about a week.

Day 6. Act III, iii. Prince Hal informs Falstaff of his appointment to a charge of foot for the wars. Interval: a week.

Day 7. Act IV, i. Rebel camp near Shrewsbury. Interval. Day 8. Act IV, i. Near Coventry.

ii Day 9. Act IV, iii. The rebel camp. Act IV, iv. York.

Day 10. Act V, i to v. The battle of Shrewsbury.

The historic period represented ranges from the defeat of Mortimer by Glendower, June 12, 1402, to the Battle of Shrewsbury, July 21, 1403.

(II) The time of 2 Henry IV occupies nine days as represented on the stage, with three extra Falstaffian days, comprising altogether a period of about two months

Day 1. Act I, i. Interval.

Day 2. Act I, iïi; Act II, iii. Interval (within which fall Day la: Act I, ii, and Day 2a: Act II, i, ii, iv).

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Day 3 (the morrow of Day 2a): Act III, i. Interval.
Day 4. Act III, ii. Interval.
Day 5. Act IV, i-iii. Interval.
Day 6. Act IV, iv, v.

Day 7. Act V, ii. Interval (including Day 3a: Act V, i, iii).

Day 8. Act V, iv.
Day 9. Act V, v.

The historic period covers from July 21, 1403, to April 9, 1413.




[ocr errors]

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth was entered in the Stationers' Register to Andrew Wise, February 25, 1598; the entry running thus: "A book intitled the History of Henry IV, with the battle at Shrewsbury against Henry Hotspur of the North, with the conceited Mirth of Sir John Falstaff.” The same year it was published in a quarto pamphlet of forty leaves, with a title-page reading as follows: “The History of Henry the Fourth, with the battle at Shrewsbury between the King and Lord Henry Percy, surnamed Henry Hotspur of the North: With the humorous conceits of Sir John Falstaff. At London: Printed by P. S. for Andrew Wise, dwelling in Paul's Church-yard, at the sign of the Angel. 1598." It was issued again in 1599, the title-page being the same, except the addition,—“Newly corrected by W. Shakespeare.' And there was a third issue in 1604, with a title-page varying from that of 1599 thus: “Printed by Valentine Simmes for Matthew Law, and are to be sold at his shop in Paul's Churchyard, at the sign of the Fox.It was also published a fourth and a fifth time by Matthew Law, in 1608 and 1613. Thus far it is simply called “The

. History of Henry the Fourth,and nothing is said of its being The First Part;" but in the folio of 1623 it is entitled “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry surnamed Hot-spur.The play was also mentioned by Meres in his Wit's Treasury, in 1598, and was transferred from Wise to Law at the Stationers', June 27, 1603. No further contemporary mention of it has been discovered.


All these editions have been collated by Mr. Collier, who says that "the text is unquestionably found in its purest state in the quarto of 1598." The five later editions appear to have been printed from that and from one another, all the errors of the first being retained, and new ones added in every reimpression.

It is our firm conviction that King John and Richard II were both written some time before the play in hand; the priority of the former seeming so clear from the internal evidence, as to render other argument needless, especially if we bear in mind the Poet's constant progress in . art as shown in all his other plays. The extraordinary success and popularity of Henry IV appears in that no less than five issues were called for within a few years; and we might naturally infer therefrom that the play would not be suffered to remain unpublished long after it became known. It can scarce be doubted, however, as we shall presently see, that the original name of Falstaff was Sir John Oldcastle; so that we must suppose the writing to have been long enough before the first entry at the Stationers' for the Poet to see good cause for making the change, as that entry mentions “the conceited Mirth of Sir John Falstaff.” Nevertheless there seems no strong reason for assigning the composition to an earlier period than 1597.

As to the fact of the change in question, there are some indications thereof in the play itself; as in Act I, sc. ii, where the prince calls Falstaff my old lad of the castle;" and in the Epilogue to the Second Part, where the speaker says,--"For any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be kill'd with your hard opinions ; ; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man. And in the quarto edition of the Second Part, Act I, sc. ii, one of Falstaff's speeches has the prefix Old., the change probably not having been in that instance marked in the manuscript. Further evidence to the same effect has been found in the mention of "fat Sir John Oldcastle,” in a tract dated 1604, and entitled The Meeting of Gallants at an

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Ordinary; and in the fact that Weaver makes Oldcastle, as Shakespeare does Falstaff, to have been page to Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk. And the matter is put beyond question by a passage in Amends for Ladies, a play by Nathaniel Field, published in 1618, and probably written as early as 1611: "Did you never see the play where the fat knight, hight Oldcastle, did tell you truly what this honor was?” which could refer to nothing else than Falstaff's soliloquy in Act V, sc. i, of this play.

The reason of the change probably was, that the name and memory of “Sir John Oldcastle, the good Lord Cobham," might be rescued from the profanations of the stage. Thus much seems hinted in the passage quoted above from the Epilogue, and may be gathered from what Fuller says in his Church History: “Stage-poets have themselves been very bold with, and others very merry at, the memory of Sir John Oldcastle, whom they have fancied a boon companion, a jovial royster, and a coward to boot. The best is, Sir John Falstaff hath relieved the memory of Sir John Oldcastle, and is substituted buffoon in his place." Likewise in the Prologue to the History of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, we have the lines,

"It is no pamper'd glutton we present,
Nor aged counsellor to youthful sin,
But one whose virtues shine above the rest,

A valiant martyr, and a virtuous peer;" wherein the writer apparently refers to what he considered an abuse of the hero's name on the stage. For Oldcastle, having been put to death as a Wickliffite, grew to be exceedingly popular, and his name was held in great reverence after the Reformation. Another motive for the change may have been, the better to distinguish Shakespeare's play from The Famous Victories of Henry V, a play which had been on the stage some years, and wherein Sir John Oldcastle was among the names of the Dramatis Personæ, as were also Ned and Gadshill. From all which, as well as from other causes, Mr. Halli


« ZurückWeiter »