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say 'twill do, I know within a while
7 that: so that
Dramatis Personæ, omitted in the Folio, were first supplied by Rowe in 1709.
The Prologue. For general discussion of authorship, see Appendix C. It may be well, however, to state here that the question of the authorship of many parts of this play is undecided. For a hundred and fifty years Shakespeare's authorship of the Pro logue has been denied. In the eighteenth century Dr. Samuel Johnson attributed it to Fletcher; in the nineteenth, it has been given to Ben Jonson, and to Chapman; in the twentieth, to Massinger. Besides the Induction to 2 Henry IV there are only three other prologues in Shakespeare's works, those to Troilus and Cressida, Romeo and Juliet and Henry V. In each case the prologue serves to explain the play. Here it is actually misleading, since the last lines of the Prologue promise us a tragedy and the Fifth Act is far from tragic. And the tone of this Prologue is curiously apologetic.
Pro. 9. May here find truth too. The play of Henry VIII in 1613 had, as an alternative title, All is True. (See quotation from Sir Henry Wotton, Appendix B.) Some critics find here and in 'To rank our chosen truth with such a show'
(1. 18) and ‘To make that only true we now intend' (1. 21) allusions to that title. If these lines contain allusions to that title, the question of the date is settled.
Pro. 12. shilling. The price of admission to the best seats in the theatre. It must be remembered, however, that the purchasing power of a shilling was over eight times that at present.
Pro. 16. In a long motley coat. The customary costume of the stage fool.
Pro. 19. As fool and fight is. Dr. Johnson and later critics have regarded this gratuitous attack upon the stage fool and the stage battle as decisive evidence of the non-Shakespearean authorship of the Prologue, because both fools and fights are very often used by Shakespeare. It is possible that the lines, 14-16, may be an attack upon Samuel Rowley's When you see me you know me. (See Appendix B.)
Pro. 22. Will leave us. Awkward construction. The whole line, 21, is in apposition with opinion. The passage, 17-22, may then be paraphrased: gentle hearers, you must understand that to rank our play with a foolish comedy is, besides forfeiting our intelligence and our reputation for presenting historical truth, to lose us our friends.
Pro. 25, 26. think ye see. see—story are bad rimes. Theobald emends think before ye-story; Heath, think ye see-history. Actually, these rimes indicate merely that the Prologue was written hastily, not that there was an error in the printing.
I. i. S. d. London. An Antechamber in the Palace. The Folio, here as elsewhere, omits any indication of place. Unlike our modern stage with its elaborate sets of scenery, the Shakespearean stage was comparatively bare, with an apron projecting out into the pit. In all probability the authors had no particular place here in mind. If a particular palace must be mentioned, it was presumably that at Greenwich, to which the King, according to Holinshed, returned after the field of the Cloth of Gold, June, 1520. It could not have been Bridewell, as has been suggested, because that palace was not built until two years later. The question is of no importance.
I. i. S. d. Enter the Duke of Norfolk. Thomas Howard (1443-1524), was created Duke of Norfolk
in 1514 in recognition of his having won the Battle of Flodden Field. His son, the father of the poet Surrey, married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the Duke of Buckingham in 1513. Thus there was a close tie between the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Buckingham, in spite of which it was Norfolk who presided at Buckingham's trial and received as recompense part of the latter's sequestered estates. The authors seem unaware of this connection between the two noblemen: Norfolk's part in Buckingham's trial is ignored, and they seem unconscious of the difference of thirty-five years between the two speakers. Norfolk is an old man, seventy-seven, and as he died in 1524 his appearance in III. ii. is an anachronism. Historically it was Buckingham, not Norfolk, that accompanied Henry to France.
I. i. S. d. Duke of Buckingham. Edward Stafford (1478-1521), third Duke of Buckingham. The authors follow Holinshed in attributing Buckingham's fall to the hatred of Wolsey; there is slight foundation for this idea.
I. i. S. d. Lord Abergavenny. George Neville (1471-1535) was a son-in-law of the Duke of Buckingham. He was imprisoned in 1521 for complicity in Buckingham's treason, but was pardoned in March, 1522.
I. i. 6. Those suns of glory. Francis I, King of France, and Henry VIII, King of England.
I. i. 7. vale of Andren. Altered in the Second Folio to Vale of Arde, but Andren is copied from Holinshed. It is the valley separating Guynes, a town in Picardy which then belonged to the English, from Arde (or Ardres), a town also in Picardy belonging to the French. It was the locality selected for the interview between the two kings, from the seventh to the fourteenth of June, 1520, called from the magnificence of the appointments the 'Field of the Cloth of Gold. The interview had little political significance. The time of this scene is approximately the fall of 1520.
I. i. 12. All the whole time. Incorrect. Buckingham was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold; it was Norfolk that remained behind in England.
I. i. 18. its. Both the First and Second Folios read it's. The neuter possessive pronoun its was at this time slowly replacing the older neuter pronoun his, as used, for example, in l. 45 of this scene. This is the only case in Shakespeare's works where its is used absolutely.
I. i. 38. Bevis. The hero of the old tale Bedis of Hamptoun, a person that performs miraculous feats.
I. i. 42-47. All was royal. The assignment of speeches here is that of the Folio. Since Theobald, every editor has accepted his change which gives All was royal . . . function to Norfolk and As you guess to Buckingham. The Folio reading is restored on the general principle that unnecessary tampering with the text as given is unjustifiable. In addition, there is a gain in the original reading. Buckingham's emphasis on royal gives the actor his first opportunity to show the character's love of rank. Buckingham's speech is, then, one of acquiescence; the performance has been carried out as it should have been. On the other hand, Norfolk, who knows of Buckingham's hatred to Wolsey, to this expressed approval replies maliciously ‘As you would suppose
you planned it.' The Folio reading consequently makes a more dramatic scene.
I. i. 63. Out of his self-drawing web. The Folio here reads:
Out of his self-drawing web. O gives us note. Capell's emendation is here followed. A' gives us note means that he himself tells us that, spider-like, he has created his own greatness.