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a' be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man".

Yet even this did not satisfy the party which had taken offence at the name of Oldcastle. Attention was drawn to the real character of Sir John Oldcastle, and two plays, entitled respectively The First Part of the Life and Death of Sir John Oldcastle, and The Second Part of Sir John Oldcastle with his Martyrdom, were published in 1600. According to Henslowe, both plays were the joint work of Munday, Wilson, Drayton, and Hathaway. How far these plays were intended to be an antidote to Shakespeare's Henry IV may be judged from the following verses of the Prologue:

It is no pampered glutton we present,

Nor aged counsellor to youthful sin,
But one whose virtue shone above the rest".

my old

Traces of the earlier name of Falstaff are to be found in both parts of Henry IV, over and above the definite statement (already quoted) from the Epilogue. Thus in i Henry IV, i. 2, the Prince addresses Falstaff as lad of the castle”, while in 2 Henry IV, i. 2. 137, Old is by an oversight prefixed to Falstaff's speech in the first Quarto edition. Twenty years after the appearance of the first Quarto of Henry IV, we find that the name Oldcastle still clung to the person of Shakespeare's knight. In Nathaniel Field's Amend for Ladies (1618) the author asks:

“Did you never see The Play where the fat knight, hight Oldcastle,

Did tell you truly what this honour was?" In substituting the name Falstaff for that of Oldcastle, Shakespeare probably had in mind the historic Sir John Fastolfe, a gentleman of Norfolk, a distinguished soldier in the French wars of Henry V, and at one time owner of the Boar's Head Tavern, Eastcheap. He is an actual character in i Henry VI, and is banished by the king on the charge of Talbot, for cowardly flight at the battle of Patay. As a matter of fact Fastolfe was no more a coward than Oldcastle was a profligate, and Holinshed himself makes it clear that the charge of cowardice was subsequently withdrawn, and Fastolfe restored to his former place of honour. Accordingly Shakespeare's use of the name Falstaff met with censure just as that of Oldcastle had done, and as late as 1662, Fuller in his Worthies calls attention to the injustice done by the dramatist to the memory of a valiant man:

“The stage hath been overbold with a great warrior's memory, making him a thrasonical puff, and emblem of mockvalour. . . Now as I am glad that Sir John Oldcastle is put out, so I am sorry that Sir John Fastolfe is put in, to relieve his memory in this base service, to be the anvil for every dull wit to strike upon. Nor is our comedian excusable, by some altera. tion of his name writing him Sir John Falstafe; . . . few do heed the inconsiderable difference of spelling of their name.'

It need scarcely be added that in the creation of the character of Falstaff, Shakespeare had no satiric purpose in view, and that in calling him first Oldcastle, and then Falstaff, he had no wish to heap derision upon the historic bearers of those names. He took the first name, as we have seen, from The Famous Victories, and when objections were raised to it, recalled that of Sir John Fastolfe and the ignominious position in which that knight appeared in i Henry ll. It may seem strange that Shakespeare did not choose a purely fictitious name for his knight when he found that objections were raised to the name of Oldcastle. The reason for his unwillingness to do this may perhaps be found in the fact that, as he was writing an historical play, he wished all the characters that were to take part in the serious plot-and Falstaff, it must be remembered, is one of these-to have something of an historic standing.

There is not much to say with regard to the relation of the various Quarto editions of the play to one another, and of their relation to the Folio editions of 1623 and 1632. The second, third, fourth, and fifth editions all profess on their title-pages to be "newly corrected by William Shakespeare", but are, on the whole, inferior to 2 1. The Cambridge editors state that the first Folio seems to have been printed from a partially corrected copy of the fifth Quarto”, and add that “in many places the readings coincide with those of the earlier Quartos, which were probably consulted by the corrector”. The present edition follows in the main the text of the Cambridge editors: on the very few occasions on which another reading has been taken, an indication to that effect is given in the Notes.

It is generally agreed that the composition of 1 Henry IV falls within the years 1596–1597. It must have been finished by February, 1598, for on the 25th of that month it was entered on the Stationers' Register under the title of “The Historye of Henry the iiiith”, Composition. while the fact that Oldcastle was the name originally borne by Falstaff the Second Part as well as in the First Part, indicates that this Second Part must have been written before the appearance of the first Quarto edition of the First Part (1598), in which the knight appears under the name of Falstaff. The close connection between the two Parts suggests that they were written in direct succession, while slight allusions in i Henry IV to events which happened in the year 1596 give us a timelimitation in the other direction. The evidence furnished by metrical tests also points to the years 1596-97 as the date of composition.

Popular tradition, which declares that Shakespeare wrote his Merry Wives of Windsor at the request of Queen Elizabeth, who, being delighted with the Falstaff of Henry IV, desired to see the knight in love,

Stage is our chief basis for assuming that the play was

History. well received on the Elizabethan stage. Apparently it was also popular with Elizabeth's successor; it was acted before James in 1613 under the title of “Hotspur”.? Its popularity was maintained after the Restoration. Pepys saw it acted in London no less than five times between 1660 and 1668. We read in his Diary, under entry of December 31, 1660: “At the office all the morning, and after that home, and not staying to dine, I went out, and in Paul's Churchyard I bought the play of Henry the Fourth, and so went to the new theatre and saw it acted; but my expectation being too great, it did not please me, as otherwise I believe it would; and my having a book I believe did spoil it a little”. At a later representation he speaks of it as “a good play". The famous Restoration actor Betterton reckoned i Henry IV as one of his greatest successes: up to the year 1700 he played the part of Hotspur, and then, growing old, fell back upon that of Falstaff. Genest, in his Account of the English Stage, mentions twenty-one performances of the play at London theatres between 1700 and 1826. Booth, Mills, and Quin all played the part of Falstaff with distinction. In 1803 the play was revised by Kemble, and performed by his company at the Covent Garden Theatre.

1 Fleay: Chronicle of the English Drama.


The sources of i Henry IV, as far as we are able to determine them, are: (1) Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, published first of all in 1577, and in a second and enlarged edition in 1587: it was this second edition which Shakespeare used; (2) a play by an unknown hand entitled The Famous Victories of Henry V, first published in 1598, but acted at least ten years before. The former work supplied Shakespeare with most of his historic material: his exact debt to the Famous Victories was slight, and is to be detected, as far at least as i Henry IV is concerned, chiefly in the comic scenes.

Shakespeare's allegiance to Holinshed was of a different character from that which bound him to Plutarch. Whereas in his borrowings from the Greek historian his plan was to keep as closely to his authority as the conditions of a drama would allow, in the case of Holinshed he usually allowed himself much greater freedom. Passages may be found in such a play as Julius Cæsar which read like poetical paraphrases of Plutarch's noble prose; but only very rarely is there such a correspondence between the English historical plays and the pages of Holinshed. Sometimes, indeed, Shakespeare finds a picturesque phrase or word in Holinshed, and embodies it in his plays; less frequently he gives a free rendering of some of Holinshed's more eloquent passages. Thus we read in Holinshed: “Thus were father and son reconciled, betwixt whom the said pick-thanks had sown division "; and in i Henry IV (iii. 2) the Prince, charged by his father with disgraceful conduct, refutes the

"many tales devised, Which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear, By smiling pick-thanks and base newsmongers".

In his rendering of Hotspur's speech to his men before the battle of Shrewsbury, Holinshed rises to noble though irregular eloquence: “Foorthwith the lord Persie (as a capteine of high courage) began to exhort the capteines and souldiers to prepare themselves to battell, sith the matter was growen to that point, that by no meanes it could be avoided, so that (said he) this daie shall either bring us all to advancement and honor, or else it shall chance us to be overcome, shall deliver us from the kings spitefull malice and disdaine: for plaieng the men (as we ought to doo) better it is to die in battell for the commonwealths cause, than through cowardlike feare to prolong life, which after shall be taken from us, by sentence of the enimie".

An echo of these thoughts is distinctly heard in the words which Shakespeare places on the lips of his Hotspur on the same occasion :

“O gentlemen, the time of life is short !
To spend that shortness basely were too long,
If life did ride upon a dial's point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.

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