« ÎnapoiContinuați »
* King Henry V.] This play was writ (as appears from a passage in the chorus to the fifth Act) at the time of the Earl of Essex's commanding the forces in Ireland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and not till after Henry the Sixth bad been played, as may be seen by the conclusion of this play. Pope.
The transactions comprised in this historical play commence about the latter end of the first, and terminate in the eighth year of this king's reign: when he married Katharine princess of France, and closed up the differences betwixt England and that crown. THEOBALD.
This play, in the quarto edition, 1608, is styled The Chronicle History of Henry, &c. which seems to have been the title anciently appropriated to all Shakspeare's historical dramas. So, in The Antipodes, a comedy, by R. Brome, 1638:
“ These lads can act the emperors' lives all over,
“ And Shakspeare's Chronicled Histories to boot." The players likewise, in the folio edition, 1623, rank these pieces under the title of Histories.
It is evident that a play on this subject had been performed before the year 1592. Nash, in Pierce Penniless his Supplication to the Devil, dated 1592, says: “—what a glorious thing it is to have Henry the Fift represented on the stage, leading the French king prisoner, and forcing both him and the Dolphin to sweare fealtie."
Perhaps this is the same play as was thus entered in the books of the Stationers' company:
"Tho. Strode] May 2, 1594. A booke intituled The famous Victories of Henry the Fift, containing the honorable Battle of Agincourt." There are two more entries of a play of Henry V. yiz. between 1596 and 1615, and one August 14th, 1600. I have two copies of it in my possession ; one without date, (which seems much the elder of the two,) and another, (apparently printed from it,) dated 1617, though printed by Bernard Alsop, (who was printer of the other edition) and sold by the same person, and at the same place. Alsop appears to have been a printer before the year 1600, and was afterwards one of the twenty appointed by decree of the Star-chamber to print for this kingdom. I believe, however, this piece to have been prior to that of Shakspeare for several reasons. First, because it is highly probable that it is the very “ displeasing play" alluded to in the epilogue to The Second Part of King Henry IV.-for Oldcastle died a martyr. Oldcastle is the Falstaff of the piece, which is despicable, and full of ribaldry and impiety from the first scene to the last –Secondly, because Shakspeare seems to have taken not a few hints from it; for it comprehends, in some measure, the story of the two Parts of Henry IV. as well as of Henry V: and no ignorance, I think, could debase the gold of Shakspeare into such dross; though no chemistry but that of Shakspeare could exalt
The piece to which Nash alludes is the old anonymous play of King Henry V. which had been exhibited before the year 1589. Tarlton, the comedian, who performed in it both the parts of the Chief Justice and the Clown, having died in that year. It was entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and, I believe, printed in that year, though I have not met with a copy of that date. An edition of it, printed in 1598, was in the valuable collection of Dr. Wright.
The play before us appears to have been written in the middle of the year 1599.
The old King Henry V. may be found among Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. printed by S. Leacroft, 1778.
ILTIS 1. Guwer. Fluellen, Mac
'n King Henry's Army. 3. Tos Siciers in the same. Vinci. Pomeriy Servants to Falstaff,
LTE 70 me.
Share te ins France.
Isabei. Green of France.
Lurus, Ladies, Officers, French and English Soldiers,
Messengers, and Attendants.
The SCENE, at the Beginning of the Play, lies in
England; but afterwards wholly in France.