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KING HENRY V.
From a passage in the Chorus at the commencement of the fifth act, this drama appears to have been written during the absence of the earl of Essex in Ireland, between April and September 1599, those being the dates of that nobleman's departure and return. It was entered at Stationers' Hall August 14, 1600, and three editions were published before the death of our author; namely, in 1600, 1602, and 1608. In all of these the choruses are omitted, and the play commences with the fourth speech of the second scene. The historical transactions occupy little more than the first six years of the reign of the illustrious monarch, whose exploits are here commemorated, the materials of which have been derived from the Chronicles of Holinshed, and an older play, intitled “The famous Victories of Henry the Fift, containing the honorable Battle of Agincourt,' which was entered at Stationers' Hall, May 2, 1594.
* This play,' says Dr. Johnson, 'has many scenes of high dignity, and many of easy merriment. The character of the king is well supported, except in his courtship, where he has neither the vivacity of Hal nor the grandeur of Henry. The humor of Pistol is very happily continued : his character has perhaps
been the model of all the bullies that have yet appeared on the English stage. The lines given to the Chorus have many admirers; but the truth is, that in them a little may be praised, and much must be forgiven: nor can it be easily discovered, why the intelligence given by the Chorus is more necessary in this play than in many others where it is omitted. The great defect of this play is the emptiness and parrowness of the last act, which a very little dingence Inight have easily avoided.'