« EdellinenJatka »
To Candidates for Examination in Shakspeare, and to Tutors of Candidates, the Author of these Studies cannot but hope that assistance of the kind here afforded will be acceptable. He recommends that students should first read the play carefully and thoughtfully throughout, and that those who possess his edition (published by Messrs. Longmans and Co.) should then peruse the introductory matter contained in it before they proceed to take advantage of the guidance and direction here offered. It is to that edition that the page references annexed to quotations in the present work apply.
STUDIES FOR CANDIDATES IN SHAKSPEARE.
KING HENRY THE FIFTH.
1. We have distinct evidence that Shakspeare's King Henry the Fifth was composed in 1599, as the Irish expedition of the Earl of Essex was in that year, and the Chorus to the last Act has the following reference to it:
· Were now the general of our gracious Empress,
As in good time he may, from Ireland coming,
But Essex incurred disgrace by his failure in the enterprise, and be returned suddenly, and in ashamed secrecy, to London, towards the close of the year; a circumstance which may, perhaps, explain why the Choruses were omitted in the first printed copy of the play (1600). They were first published in an otherwise much enlarged version in the first folio (1623).
2. The character and conduct of Henry V., as presented by Shakspeare, may be commented on as follows:
Henry of Monmouth, as Prince of Wales, is a prominent character in the two parts of Shakspeare's Henry IV., and by the father's death, towards the close of the second Part, the young prince has attained the sovereignty. The manifold excellence which becaine conspicuous in him from the moment of his accession is a theme of wonder familiar to the readers of our nation's history; for
The courses of his youth promised it not,
From open haunts and popularity.' Here, then, was an interesting dramatic subject for the philosophic mind of Shakspeare to contemplate. He had to accept the generally received tradition respecting the wildness of Henry's youth, and with an impression that there must be much exaggeration in the story, he nevertheless felt that the fairest report which candour and correct knowledge of the prince's habitual behaviour could frame would invest the heir-apparent with a degree of levity contrasting very remarkably with his 'regal life.
The poet's knowledge of human nature enabled him to divine how this might be, and while he characterises the contrast as wonderful, he cannot allow the conversion to be miraculous or instantaneous :
“For miracles are ceased;
How things are perfected.' If Henry became so intelligent and sagacious as the archbishop describes him, he must have given much time to