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The transactions comprized in this history take up about nine years. The action commences with the account of Hotspur's being defeated and killed (1403); and closes with the death of King Henry IV. and the coronation of King Henry V. (1412-13.]
THEOBALD. This play was entered at Stationers' Hall, August 23. 1600.
STEEVENS. The Second Part of King Henry IV. I suppose to have been written in 1598. MALONE.
Mr. Upton thinks these two plays improperly called The First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. The first play ends, he says, with the peaceful settlement of Henry in the kingdom by the defeat of the rebels. This is hardly true; for the rebels are not yet finally suppressed. The second, he tells us, shows Henry the Fifth in the various lights of a good-natured ke, till, on his father's death, he assumes a more manly character. This is true; but this representation gives us no idea of a dramatick action. These two plays will appear to every reader, who shall peruse them without ambition of critical discoveries, to be so connected, that the second is merely a sequel to the first; to be two only because they are too long to be one. Johnson.
King HENRY the Fourth.
(2 Henry V.) Duike of Bedford; Prince HUMPHREY of Gloster, afterwards
(2 Henry V.) Duke of Gloster;
Lords and other Attendants; Officers, Soldiers, Messen
ger, Drawers, Beadles, Grooms, &c.
See note under the Personæ Dramatis of the First Part of this Play. Steevens.
Warkworth. Before Northumberland's Castle.
Enter RUMOUR', painted full of tongues. Rum. Open your ears; For which of you will stop The vent of hearing, when loud Rumour speaks? 1, from the orient to the drooping west, Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold The acts commenced on this ball of earth: Upon my tongues continual slanders ride; The which in every language I pronounce, Stuffing the ears of men with false reports. I speak of peace, while covert enmity, Under the smile of safety, wounds the world: And who but Rumour, who but only I, Make fearful musters, and prepar'd defence; Whilst the big year, swol'n with some other grief, Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war, And no such matter! Rumour is a pipe Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures; And of so easy and so plain a stop, That the blunt monster with uncounted heads, The still-discordant wavering multitude, Can play upon it. But what need I thus My well-known body to anatomize
Enter Rumour.] This speech of Rumour is not inelegant or unpoetical, but it is wholly useless, since we are told nothing which the first scene does not clearly and naturally discover. The only end of such prologues is to inform the audience of some facts previous to the action, of which they can have no knowledge from the persons of the drama. Johnson.
Among my houshold? Why is Rumour here?
tongues They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.