« AnteriorContinuar »
Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia, which was published some time in 1598. Meres refers to Henry IV., but the reference is almost certainly to the First Part only.
If it could be shown, by textual evidence or otherwise, that The Second Part of Henry the Fourth had been written before the name "Falstaff" had been substituted for that of "Oldcastle" in the First Part, it would then have been established that the Second Part must have been composed previously to February 25, 1598, the date of the entry of the First Part in the Register of the Stationers' Company, for in the entry the name Falstaff occurs. But the weight of textual evidence is against such an assumption, which has yet been accepted by some scholars, including Rolfe, on the strength of the retention of the prefix "Old." before one of Falstaff's speeches (I. ii. 118) in the Quarto of 1600. In view, however, of the evidence of metre in lines in which the name Falstaff occurs, it may be that Malone was right,-or partly right,-in suggesting that the prefix crept into the Quarto "merely from Oldcastle being, behind the scenes, the familiar theatrical appellation of Falstaff, who was his stage-successor."
Mr. C. H. Herford surmises that the passage in the Epilogue, which has been assumed from internal evidence to be an interpolation, and in which the author promises to continue the story of the play with Sir John Falstaff in it and incidentally deprecates the identification of Falstaff with the martyr Sir John Oldcastle, was added to the play when the name Falstaff was finally substituted for that of Oldcastle. But it is more likely, in the absence of proof that 2 Henry IV. was written before the substitution of the name Falstaff for that of Oldcastle, that the passage in the Epilogue was added -if, indeed, it is to be regarded as an interpolation—when the new play promised by the author was already in an advanced stage of preparation for the theatre and it was felt desirable to interest the patrons of 2 Henry IV. in the forthcoming production of Henry V. It is possible, however, and I think probable, that the passage in question is not an interpolation, but an integral part of the Epilogue, as that composition was originally written. It was perhaps excised after the production of Henry V. when the allusion to that work as a forthcoming play would have lost its point. I would hazard the conjecture that the acting version of 2 Henry IV. was "cut" at the same time, with the object of reducing the length of scenes unrelated
with the history of the prince whose fame Shakespeare eternized in Henry the Fifth. In the case of the Epilogue, the printer of the Quarto may have inadvertently printed the last two paragraphs, not observing that a "cut" was indicated by the transposition of the final words, "and so kneel down before you; but, indeed, to pray for the Queen."
We have little information as to the names of the original actors in 2 Henry IV. which might assist us in determining the date of its production. Sincklo, whose name has crept into the text in Act v. Sc. iv. was an actor of small parts such as sheriff's officers, players and the like. He is known to have acted in 3 Henry VI., The Taming of the Shrew, and The Seven Deadlie Sins, a performance in which the parts were extemporized by the actors themselves, and the plan of which is ascribed to Richard Tarlton. It has been suggested that Will Kemp first played the part of Justice Shallow, for in The Return from Parnassus (1602) Will is made to say to one of the students who are being instructed in the art of acting: "Now for you, me thinkes you should belong to my tuition, and your face me thinkes would be good for a foolish Mayre or a foolish iustice of peace."
Against the theory of a late date, there is evidence in the Quarto of important structural alterations in the play, which would indicate an earlier date for the first production of the play than that here assigned to it. This evidence, which points, be it said, with equal strength to the conclusion that 2 Henry IV. was based upon an earlier play (not The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth), as has been suggested, may be briefly summarized:
(a) There are speeches in prose which exhibit traces of the diction and rhythm of verse, in which they seem to have been originally composed. The dialogue, too, at times alternates strangely between verse and prose.
(b) Names occur in the stage-directions of persons to whom no parts are assigned in the dialogue. Thus we meet with the following "ghosts": "Fauconbridge" in I. iii. I; "Sir Iohn Russel" in II. ii. I (see note); "Will" in II. iv. 19; "Old." [castle] in L ii. 118; "Sir Iohn Blunt" in III. i. 32 (though we were told in I. i. 16, 17 that both the Blunts had been slain by Douglas); and "Bardolfe" in IV. i. I (though Lord Bardolph did not take part in the Archbishop's insurrection). “Will " (in II. iv. 19) may be the Christian name of one of the
actors. A stage-direction, "Enter Will Kemp," occurs in the 1599 Quarto of Romeo and Juliet. It is, however, relevant to note that the comic characters in early plays were often called by the Christian names of the actors. Fleay cites examples from The Famous Victories.
(c) The part now played by Lord Bardolph seems to have originally belonged to Sir John Umfrevile. Attention was first drawn to this modification in the poet's "original poetical intention" by Prof. Hagena in a paper issued with the New Sh. Soc. Trans. for 1877-79. Prof. Hagena pointed out that though Lord Bardolph says of Travers (ll. 30-32):
My lord, I over-rode him on the way;
yet Travers says immediately afterwards (11. 34-36) :—
Again Vmfr. is prefixed to line 161 :—
This strained passion doth you wrong, my lord.
The line omitted in the Folio- is assigned to Lord Bardolph by Pope, and to Travers by Capell. Professor Hagena further argued that it was not the poet's original intention that Lord Bardolph should appear in the first scene. Later, in I. iii. 81, Lord Bardolph asks :
Who is it like should lead his [the King's] forces hither? whereas if he had been present in the first scene he would have heard Morton inform the Earl of Northumberland that the King had sent out a "speedy power
Under the conduct of young Lancaster
Prof. Hagena inferred that "according to Shakespeare's original poetical intention, Lord Bardolph was not present at all in the first scene, but instead of him, Sir John Umfrevile." The substitution of Bardolph for Umfrevile in L. i. may have been due, Prof. Hagena supposed, to the necessity of dispensing with an additional actor; or, Mr. Daniel suggested, it may have been effected in order to bring "the play more into
agreement with the Chronicles; for there we always find Umfrevile of the king's party, while Bardolph is always spoken of in connection with Northumberland's faction." The change, as we have seen, was imperfectly carried out, and left some discrepancies in the text.
It is, perhaps, worth noting, in connection with the question of date, that apparent echoes of 2 Henry IV.—as also of 1 Henry IV.—are audible in Thomas Dekker's Old Fortunatus, which was entered by William Aspley in the Register of the Stationers' Company on February 20, 1600, and published in the same year; and in Thomas Heywood's Four Prentices of London, printed in 1615, but stated in the preface to that edition to have been in the fashion "some fifteene or sixteene yeares agoe."
Old Fortunatus furnishes some interesting parallels to passages in the two parts of Henry the Fourth :
I weepe for ioy to see so many heads
Of prudent Ladies, clothed in the liuerie
Of siluer-handed age.
-Cf. 2 Henry IV. iv. i. 43.
I have sighed long, and that makes me windie.
-Cf. 1 Henry IV. II. iv. 331, 332.
these Satten commodities haue such smooth consciences that thei le haue no man giue his word for them, or stand bownd for their comming foorth.
(When angrie Thamesis hath curld her lockes,)
Shaddow... apparell is but the shaddow of a man, but shaddow is
the substance of his apparell.
-Cf. ibid. 111. ii. 129-132.
The Four Prentices of London, similarly, echoes here and there a thought or expression in Henry the Fourth :—
But our soft Beauer Felts, we haue turn'd to iron,
It is possible, however, that Fleay may be right in identifying The Four Prentices of London with a play Godfrey of Bulloigne, performed in 1594, and that the indebtedness, if any, was not on Heywood's side. There are many curious instances of verbal identity between the present and earlier plays, as The Famous Victories, Thomas, Lord Cromwell, Sir Thomas More, and in special Edward the Third. Shakespeare seems to have caught and retained not a few of the phrases and rhythms of the last-mentioned play. Compare "ciuill townes" in Edward the Third, v. i., with "peasant towns" in the Induction to 2 Henry IV., and again :
And, wheretofore I loued thee as Villeirs,
-Edward the Third, iv. iii.
Before, I loved thee as a brother, John;
in 1 Henry IV. V. iv. 19, 20. I have noticed in the commentary several other verbal resemblances, which, if not due to direct borrowing, would denote a remarkable intellectual sympathy between Shakespeare and the unknown author of Edward the Third.
From 1600 onward, allusions to, or echoes of, the present play become more and more frequent in the drama. Now its