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The piece to which Nash alludes is the old anonymous play of King Henry V. which had been exhibited before the year 1589. Tarlton, the comedian, who performed in it both the parts of the Chief Justice and the Clown, having died in that year. It was entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and, I believe, printed in that year, though I have not met with a copy of that date. An edition of it, printed in 1598, was in the valuable collection of Dr. Wright.


The play before us appears to have been written in the middle of year 1599.

The old King Henry V. may be found among Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. printed by S. Leacroft, 1778.


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King Henry the Fifth.
Duke of Gloster,
Duke of Bedford,

Brothers to the King.

Duke of Exeter, Uncle to the King.
Duke of York, Cousin to the King.

Earls of Salisbury, Westmoreland, and Warwick.
Archbishop of Canterbury.
Bishop of Ely.

Earl of Cambridge,
Lord Scroop,
Sir Thomas Grey,

Conspirators against the King.

Sir Thomas Erpingham, Gower, Fluellen, Macmorris, Jamy, Officers in King Henry's Army. Bates, Court, Williams, Soldiers in the same. Nym, Bardolph, Pistol, formerly Servants to Falstaff, now Soldiers in the same.

Boy, Servant to them. A Herald. Chorus.

Charles the Sixth, King of France.

Lewis, the Dauphin.

Dukes of Burgundy, Orleans, and Bourbon.
The Constable of France.

Rambures, and Grandpree, French Lords.
Governor of Harfleur. Montjoy, a French Herald.
Ambassadors to the King of England.

Isabel, Queen of France.

Katharine, Daughter of Charles and Isabel.
Alice, a Lady attending on the Princess Katharine.
Quickly, Pistol's Wife, an Hostess.

Lords, Ladies, Officers, French and English Soldiers, Messengers, and Attendants.

The SCENE, at the Beginning of the Play, lies in England; but afterwards wholly in France.


O, for a muse of fire, that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention!' A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels, Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,

Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraised spirit, that hath dar'd,
On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth
So great an object: Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O,' the very casques,
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest, in little place, a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces' work:
Suppose, within the girdle of these walls

10, for a muse of fire, &c.] This goes, says Warburton, upon the notion of the Peripatetic system, which imagines several heavens one above another; the last and highest of which was one of fire. It alludes likewise to the aspiring nature of fire, which, by its levity, at the separation of the chaos, took the highest seat of all the elements. JOHNSON.

2 princes to act,

And monarchs to behold -] Shakspeare does not seem to set distance enough between the performers and spectators.

3 Within this wooden O,] An allusion to the theatre where this history was exhibited, being, from its circular form, called The Globe.

the very casques,] The helmets.


imaginary forces-] Imaginary for imaginative, or your powers of fancy. Active and passive words are by this author frequently confounded. JOHNSON.

Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder.
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance:"

Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth:
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our

Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times;
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass; For the which supply,
Admit me chorus to this history;
Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

• And make imaginary puissance:] This shows that Shakspeare was fully sensible of the absurdity of showing battles on the theatre, which, indeed, is never done, but tragedy becomes farce. Nothing can be represented to the eye, but by something like it, and within a wooden O nothing very like a battle can be exhibited.




London. An Ante-chamber in the
King's Palace.

Enter the Archbishop of Canterbury,' and Bishop of Ely.R

Cant. My lord, I'll tell you,-that self bill is urg'd,

Which, in the eleventh year o' the last king's reign
Was like, and had indeed against us pass'd,
But that the scambling and unquiet time
Did push it out of further question.

Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
Cant. It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
We lose the better half of our possession:
For all the temporal lands, which men devout
By testament have given to the church,
Would they strip from us; being valued thus,-
As much as would maintain, to the king's honour,
Full fifteen earls, and fifteen hundred knights;
Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
And, to relief of lazars, and weak age,
Of indigent faint souls, past corporal toil,


of Canterbury,] Henry Chicheley, a Carthusian monk, recently promoted to the see of Canterbury.


Ely.] John Fordham, consecrated 1388; died 1426.

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