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THE earliest edition of this play was published in 1600, under the title of—"The Chronicle History of Henry the fift, With his battell fought at Agin Court in France. Togither with Auntient Pistoll. As it hath bene sundry times playd by the Right honorable the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. London,-Printed by Thomas Creede, for Tho. Millington and Iohn Busby.” This was followed by another edition in 1602, and a third, in 1608.
The question whether the copy from which these quartos were printed was a maimed and surreptitious version of the perfect play, made up from what could be collected by short-hand, or remembered from the stage representation, as Mr. Collier believes, or whether it was an authentic transcript of the poet's first draft of the piece, but corrupted by the ordinary printing-house blunders, involves so much that is important in connexion with Shakespeare's method of production, that it has been fully considered in the Preface, Vol. I., pp. V.—xyi. Upon the evidence of a passage in the Chorus to the Fifth Act,
“ Were now the general of our gracious empress
(As, in good time, he may), from Ireland coming,
which bears an unmistakeable reference to the Irish expedition of the Earl of Essex, begun and terminated in 1599, this play is supposed to have been written in that year. Long before this date, however, Henry's exploits in France had been commemorated upon the stage. Nash, in his “Pierce Pennilesse,” 1592, says, “What a glorious thing it is to. have Henry the Fifth represented on the stage, leading the French King prisoner, and forcing both him and the Dolphin sweare fealtie;": and “The famous Victories of Henry the Fift,” already spoken of in
Henry IV.”, was no doubt both acted and printed prior to Shakespeare's “Henry V."
Malone assumes the old historical drama alluded to by Nash, and The famous Victories, &c.” to be the same piece, which he says was
exhibited before the year 1588, as Tarlton, who performed in it both the Chief Justice and the Clown, died in that year. Steevens speaks of them as distinct plays.
The events comprehended in “Henry V.” begin in the first year of the king's reign, and terminate with his marriage of Katharine, the French princess, about eight years afterwards.
KING HENRY THE FIFTH.
and WARWICK. BISHOP OF ELY. EARL OF CAMBRIDGE,
Conspirators LORD SCROOP,
against the SIR THOMAS GREY,
FLUELLEN, MACMORRIS, and JAMY,
Officers in King Henry's Army. BATES, COURT, WILLIAMS, Soldiers in the
same. PISTOL, Nym, and BARDOLPH.
CHARLES THE SIXTH, King of France.
ISABEL, Queen of France.
Lords, Ladies, Officers, English and French
Soldiers, Messengers, and Attendants.
The Action at the beginning takes place in ENGLAND, but afterwards, wholly in FRANCE.
Enter CHORUS.* O, for a muse of fire, that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention ! A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels, Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire, Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, The flat unraised spirits, that have dar'd, On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth So great an object. Can this cock-pit hold The vasty fields of France? or may we cram, Within this wooden O, the very casques, That did affright the air at Agincourt ? 0, pardon! since a crooked figure may Attest, in little place, a million ; And let us, cyphers to this great accompt, On your imaginary forces work. Suppose, within the girdle of these walls Are now confind two mighty monarchies, Whose high-upreared and abutting fronts The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder. Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts; Into a thousand parts divide one man, And make imaginary puissance: Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth: For 't is your thoughts that now must deck our kings; Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times; Turning the accomplishment of many years Into an hour-glass; for the which supply, Admit me Chorus to this history; Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray, Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.
(*) First folio, Enter Prologue.
(1) First folio, hath. • The very casques,-) The mere helmets.
SCENE I.-London. An Antechamber in the King's Palace.
CANT. My lord, I'll tell you—that self bill is urg'd
ELY. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
CANT. It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
Ely. This would drink deep.
'Twould drink the cup and all.
CANT. The courses of his youth promis'd it not.
* Scambling-] See note (-), p. 445, Vol. I.
And all at once,–] This was a trite phrase in Shakespeare's day, though not one
We are blessed in the change.
Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
CANT. It must be so: for miracles are ceas'd;
But, my good lord,
He seems indifferent; Or, rather, swaying more upon our part, of his editors has noticed it. In “As you Like It,” Act III. Sc. 5, where it again occurs,
Who might be your mother?
Over the wretched ?"
and rail at once." It is frequently met with in the old writers. Thus, in “ The Fisherman's Tale," 1594, by F. Sabie :
“ She wept, she cride, she sob’d, and all at once." And in Middleton's “ Changeling," Act IV. Sc. 3:
“Does love turn fool, run mad, and all at once ?” • Companies,] That is, companions.