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where the Folio restores the true reading of a passage incorrectly printed in the Quarto (see note).
(2) That the MS. version consulted by the Folio corrector was "cut" for representation on the stage, and that the restoration of the deleted passages to the text was accomplished carelessly and incompletely. Attention may be called to the significant omission of identical lines in certain copies of the Quarto and in the Folio, viz. Act IV. Scene i. ll. 93 and 95:And consecrate commotion's bitter edge?
To brother born an household cruelty.
(3) That it is possible, or even probable, that the manuscript used by the printer of the Quarto and the Folio corrector, assuming the correctness of a conjecture made above, may have been, not a transcript, but the original MS. of the play in the author's autograph.
If, however, the text of the Folio was printed from a transcript, or, as Rolfe has suggested, from a copy of the Quarto collated with a transcript of the author's manuscript, the transcript in question must have been nearly related to the manuscript used by the printer of the Quarto. The Folio and Quarto exhibit errors in common of a kind that cannot be ascribed to coincidence; these errors must proceed from a common source-unless, of course, the Folio text was printed from the Quarto. In this connection we cannot absolutely rule out of consideration the possibility that the Quarto of 1600 may have been followed by one or more enlarged Quartos and that one or other of these may have been the immediate source of the text of the Folio.
The question, indeed, has been asked why six Quartos should have been required to satisfy the demand for The First Part of Henry the Fourth before the appearance of the Folio, while only one edition of the Second Part was published, as far as we know, in a separate form. Mr. H. A. Evans thought that the explanation might be found in the very popularity of the latter piece, and conjectured that, "when Matthew Law succeeded to the piratical business of Andrew Wise, as he seems to have done about 1604, when he published the third Quarto of the First Part, he found the whole stock of the Quarto of the Second Part sold out, and the 'copy' printed
from lost or destroyed; so that he had nothing at hand from which to print off a second (unauthorised) edition." This theory seemed to offer a plausible explanation of the remarkable dearth of early editions of 2 Henry IV., but, unfortunately for Mr. Evans's argument, Mr. A. W. Pollard has since shown (Shakespeare's Fight with the Pirates) that Andrew Wise conducted a perfectly honest business, and that, as we have already seen, the publication of the 1600 Quarto was authorised by the theatrical company to which Shakespeare belonged. Yet it is difficult to believe that the intimate knowledge of the play and its text which is exhibited in the works of Shakespeare's fellow-dramatists, was gathered from the incomplete Quarto of 1600, or that this single edition could have satisfied the demand of the reading public for a play with the great vogue which 2 Henry IV. undoubtedly enjoyed. It might be conjectured that the Quarto of 1600 was followed by new and improved editions, and that, if these perished, leaving no trace, the explanation should be sought in the popularity of the piece. The copies of the Quarto of 1600 that have come down to us might, on the other hand, be supposed to have survived because this edition being imperfect was superseded by others, and examples of it were left to repose untouched upon library shelves.
The hypothesis that the Quarto of 1600 was followed by other editions, now lost, before the publication of the Folio, is but a toy to trifle with; yet a crumb of evidence in its favour is afforded by an interesting parallelism in expression between a speech of the Archbishop in Act I. Scene iii. and some lines in Jonson's Poetaster. Compare the two passages, remembering that the Archbishop's speech is absent in the Quarto of 1600, appearing first, as far as we know, in the Folio of 1623, and that Jonson's lines were published in 1616:
Oh thou fond many, with what loud applause
1. iii. 91-100.
(Poetaster, To the Reader: Apologetical Dialogue).
Pol. Ay, but the multitude they think not so, sir;
I can afford them leave to err so still;
And, like the barking students of Bears-college,
With greedy gullets, whilst myself sit by,
Pleased, and yet tortured, with their beastly feeding.
In support of the view that has been taken here of the sources of the version of the Folio, attention may be called to some significant facts in regard to the relation of the Folio to the Quarto. Thus the Folio, while completing some of the speeches which appear in a truncated form in the Quarto, allows others to remain in the same mutilated state in which they stand in the earlier text. The Folio again follows closely the text of the Quarto in the parts of the play common to the two editions, repeating errors, which would not have recurred if the Folio text had been printed from the original manuscript or a good transcript of it (cf. e.g. IV. i. 179, 180). The half-lines with which the Folio fills out the incomplete lines of the Quarto are in general weak or commonplace tags that have all the appearance of being interpolations (cf. IV. ii. 117). In the few instances in which lines are omitted in the Foliothe omissions amount in all to about forty-nine lines-it will generally be found that their deletion may be satisfactorily accounted for by a desire to smooth out difficulties where the text is apparently corrupt, to eliminate coarseness or profanity or to avoid the semblance of a political allusion (cf. I. ii. 211217, and II. ii. 22-26). The omission of the passage in which a reference is made to the "English nation" might pointif we may play for a moment with the hypothesis of vanished Quartos to the early part of the reign of James I. as the period in which the text we find in the Folio assumed its form. The date, in view of the care exercised in expunging profane expressions, might even be subsequent to 1605-6, when an Act (3 Jac. I. c. 21) was passed "for the preventing and avoiding the great abuse of the holy name of God in stage plays, interludes," etc. On the other hand, the errors peculiar to the Folio are not numerous, and are generally of a kind that need not presuppose a progress of error through several editions. There is, for instance, little evidence of attempts to cover blemishes in the text by tinkering with it, as, for instance, in
1 Henry IV. V. iii. II. Yet something of the kind might be suspected in II. ii. 103, 104, where, in the Folio, the insertion of a direction "Letter" follows the loss of a word; and in IV. v. 74, 75. It remains to point out that whereas, in general, the Quartos, after the first, were little more than reprints of their immediate predecessors, there is clear evidence in the Folio text of 2 Henry IV. of reference, direct or indirect, to an authoritative MS.
An abridgment of the text of 2 Henry IV. is found in the so-called Dering MS. to which reference has been already made in the Introduction to 1 Henry IV. In the MS., which J. O. Halliwell believed to have been written in the early part of the seventeenth century, certainly earlier than 1640, the First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth are condensed into a single play. The Second Part is represented by twelve scenes (IV. ix. to V. x. inclusive) of the Dering play, which seems to have been put together for representation at private theatricals. Some additions and corrections were made by the hand of Sir Edward Dering, who in one place made the significant memorandum "vide printed booke." In the case of the Second Part, the "printed booke" which the copyist used, would probably be the Quarto of 1600. Speeches are "cut in the Dering version precisely as in the Quarto, not a single line appearing in the MS. which is not also to be found in the Quarto. The text of 2 Henry IV. as given in the Dering MS. has neither independent authority nor critical value.
Doubts have been cast upon the authenticity of the Epilogue. It has been said that it is "a manifest and poor imitation of the Epilogue to As You Like It." This criticism loses sight of the limitations of the epilogue as a literary form, its conventional character and the fewness of its topics. The appeal to the women to influence the men in favour of the play, which alone is common to the Epilogues to As You Like It and 2 Henry IV., was a stock device of the epilogue-writer. The Epilogue to 2 Henry IV. in literary merit does not fall below the general standard of such compositions in contemporary drama, or even that of the Epilogue to As You Like It.
A noteworthy difference exists between the versions of the Epilogue in Quarto and Folio. In the Folio the Epilogue concludes with the words, "and so [I] kneel down before you; but, indeed, to pray for the Queen. These words occur in the Quarto after "promise you infinitely" (in line 16). It has
been inferred that the intervening passage was not in the original draft of the Epilogue, but was introduced at a later date.
On the whole, we have cause to congratulate ourselves upon the excellence of the text of 2 Henry IV., as transmitted to us in the authorised stage version published by Wise and Aspley in 1600, and in the completer version of the Folio. The former was printed, we have every reason to believe, from an authentic manuscript, possibly in the author's script; this manuscript, moreover, having been in use as a prompt-copy, contained the stage directions of the play as produced by Shakespeare's company. The Folio text, again, was reasonably well edited, though not with uniform care throughout, nor on invariably sound principles. The editors certainly availed themselves of their access to an original source, as well as of the authorised edition of 1600; they corrected some of the errors of the Quarto and restored to the text passages omitted altogether in the earlier version; they marked acts and scenes, and edited the stage directions, removing intrusive prompter's notes from the text (cf. II. iv. 382, 383, and III. i. 1). Language and punctuation are slightly more modern and "literary" in the Folio than in the Quarto.
DATE OF COMPOSITION
Though the composition of 2 Henry IV. has been assigned to as early a date as 1596 (by Drake) or 1597 (by Chalmers), the balance of evidence appears to the present editor to support rather the view that it was written in 1598 (Malone and Fleay) or early in 1599.
The downward limit of date is fixed by the allusion by name to Justice Silence in Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour, which was produced in 1599. The Epilogue to 2 Henry IV. refers to Henry V., which we know to have been composed in 1599, as a play yet to be written. It is improbable that any considerable interval of time separated 2 Henry IV. from Henry V. for Shakespeare's thoughts were evidently already at work upon the latter drama when he wrote the Epilogue to the former.
The upward limit of date is given with probability, if negatively, by the absence of a specific reference to The Second Part of Henry the Fourth in the list of Shakespeare's plays in