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luckily home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here, I promised you, I would be, and here I commit my body to your mercies: bate me some, and I will pay you some; and, as most debtors do, promise you infinitely
If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me, will you command me to use my legs? and yet that were but light payment, to dance out of your debt; but a good conscience will make any possible satisfaction, and so will I. All the gentlewomen here have forgiven me; if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the gentlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly?.
One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloved with fat meat, our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katharine of France : where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man'. My tongue is weary; when my legs are too, I will bid you good night: and so kneel down before you ; but, indeed, to pray for the queen.
which was never seen before in such an assembly.] The word "before" is from the folio. There is a more important variation at the end of this epi. logue; for in the quarto, the words “and so kneel down before you; but, indeed, to pray for the queen,” (with the addition of I before “kneel,") are inserted at the end of the first paragraph, instead of being placed at the close of the Epilogue, as in the folio. We have adopted the arrangement of the folio, though it hardly seems likely that the dancer would have jumped up from his prayer for the queen, in order to treat the audience with a dance.
3 — for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man.] Here also we have a relic of the fact that the original name of Falstaff was Oldcastle.
“ The Cronicle 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. And are to be sold at his house in Carter Lane, next the Powle head. 1600." 4to. 27 leaves.
“ The Chronicle History of Henry the fift, With his battell fought at Agin Court in France. Together 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 Thomas Pauier, and are to be sold at his shop in Cornhill, at the signe of the Cat and Parrets, neare the Exchange. 1602." 4to. 26 leaves.
“ The Chronicle History of Henry the fift, with his battell fought at Agin Court in France. Together with ancient Pistoll. As it hath bene sundry times playd by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlaine his Seruants. Printed for T. P. 1608.” 4to. 27 leaves.
“ The Life of Henry the Fift," in the folio of 1623, occupies twenty-seven pages, viz. from p. 69 to p. 95 inclusive. The pagination from "Henry IV." Part ii. to “Henry V." is not continued, but a new series begins with “ Henry V." on p. 69, and is regularly followed to the end of the “ Histories." The folio, 1632, adopts this error, but it is avoided in the two later folio impressions.
It is a circumstance deserving remark, that not one of the title-pages of the quarto editions of " Henry V.” attribute the authorship of the play to Shakespeare. It was printed three several times during the life of the poet, but in no instance with his name. The fact, no doubt, is, that there never was an authorized edition of “ Henry V.” until it appeared in the folio of 1623, and that the quarto impressions were surreptitious, and were published without the consent of the author, or of the company to which he was attached. They came out in 1600, 1602, and 1608, the one being merely a reprint of the other; and, considering the imperfectness and deficiency of the text in the quarto of 1600, it is perhaps strange that no improvements were made in the subsequent impressions. The drama must have enjoyed great popularity ; it must have been played over and over again at the theatre, and yet the public interest, as far as perusal is concerned, would seem to have been satisfied with a brief, rude, and mutilated representation of the performance. The quartos can be looked upon in no other light than as fragments of the original play, printed in haste for the satisfaction of public curiosity.
The quartos bear strong external and internal evidence of fraud: the earliest of them was not published by a bookseller or booksellers by whom Shakespeare's genuine dramas were issued; and the second and third came from the hands of Thomas Pavier, who was instrumental in giving to the world some pieces, with the composition of which Shakespeare had no concern, though ascribed to him on the title-page. The internal evidence shows that the edition was made up, not from any authentic manuscript, nor even from any combination of the separate parts delivered out to the actors by the copyist of the theatre, but from what could be taken down in short-hand, or could be remembered, while the performance was taking place. It is true that the quarto impressions contain not the slightest hint of the Chorusses, nor of whole scenes, and long speeches found in the folio of 1623; and the inference seems to be that " Henry V.” was originally produced by Shakespeare in a comparatively incomplete state, and that large portions contained in the folio, and of which no trace can be pointed out in the quartos, were added at a subsequent date, to give greater novelty and attraction to the drama. Such, we know, was a very common course with all our early stage-poets. A play called “ Henry V.” was represented at Court on the 7th Jan. 1605, as we learn from “ The Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels,” edited by Mr. P. Cunningham, and printed by the Shakespeare Society, p. 204; and these important additions may have been inserted for that occasion. The entry runs, literatim, as follows:
“ On the 7 of January was played the play of Henry the
fift." In the margin we are informed that it was acted "by his Majesty's players,” but the name of the author is not in this instance given, although “Shaxberd” is placed opposite the title of “ Measure for Measure,” stated to have been exhibited on a preceding night. The fact that the actors belonged to Shakespeare's company renders it most probable that his play was performed on the occasion ; but it is to be recollected also, that the old play of “ The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth" purports on the title-page to have been “acted by the King's Majesty's servants,” even at so late a date as 1617, when the last edition of it made its appearance. Nevertheless, we may perhaps take it for granted, that the “ Henry the fift," played at Whitehall by the king's servants, on 7th Jan. 1605, was Shakespeare's historical drama ; and it may not be too much to presume, that most of the additions (Chorusses excepted) included in the folio of 1623, were written in consequence of the selection of “Henry V." by the Master of the Revels for representation before James I.
Our opinion, then, is that Shakespeare did not originally write his “ Henry V.” by any means as we find it in the folio of 1623, and that it was first produced without various scenes and speeches subsequently written and introduced: we are perfectly convinced that the three quarto editions of 1600, 1602, and 1608 do not at all contain the play as it was acted in the first instance ; but were hastily made up from notes taken at the theatre during the performance, subsequently patched together. Now and then we meet with a few consecutive lines, similar to the authentic copy, but in general the text is miserably mangled and disfigured. We might find proofs in support of our position in every part of the play, but as in his “Twenty Quartos ” Steevens has reprinted that of 1608, it will be needless to select more than a single specimen. We give the text as we find it, literatim, in the quarto, 1600, from the copy in the Library of the Duke of Devonshire : our extract is from Act i. sc. 2, the speech of the King, just before the French Ambassadors are called in :
“ Call in the messenger sent from the Dolphin,
And by your aid, the noble sinewes of our land,