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WITH “THE FAMOUS VICTOR-
NEW YORK: DOUBLEDAY & McCLURE CO.
The First Part of King Henry IV. was entered in the Stationers' Register by Andrew Wise, on the 25th of February, 1598 (new style), as “A booke entitled the Historye of Henry the iiijth, with his battaile at Shrewsburye against Henry Hottspurre of the Northe, with the conceipted mirthe of Sir John Falstoff.” Of this there were as many as six editions (1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622) before the publication of the first Folio in 1623. After 1623 there were two more quarto editions—those of 1632 and 1639. No other play of Shakespeare's except Richard III. was, within that period, so frequently reprinted.
Shakespeare's Trilogy, of the two parts of King Henry IV. and King Henry V., was developed from a single old play, rude in form, of which the first known edition was printed in the same year with the first edition of the first part of Shakespeare's King Henry IV. It was entitled “ The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth : Containing the Honourable Battell of Agin-court : As it was plaide by the Queenes Maiesties Players,” and was printed by Thomas Creede, to whom the book, published in 1598, had been entered at Stationers' Hall on the 14th of May, 1594. Very probably it was first published in that year. Of the 1598 edition only one copy has come down to us, and that is in the Bodleian Library. Of preceding editions not even one copy has been discovered. “The Queen's Majesty's Players” remain on the title-page of 1598, though the company acting under that name was formed in 1583 and came to an) end in 1594. The date of the entry in the Stationers' Register would indicate that the Famous Victories was among the last plays acted by that company. In the Diary of Henslowe, the player, there is note of an acting of Harry the Fifth, which he marks “n. e.," as a “new enterlude,” on the 28th of November, 1595. This, it has been suggested, might, as one of the last pieces produced by the Queen's Players, have come into Henslowe's possession and been entered by him as new.
But the acting of the Famous Victories would be carried back to a date before the death of the popular comedian Richard Tarleton—who died on the 3rd of September, 1588—if there be truth in a story given in the second part of “ Tarleton's Jests.” In the acting of a play of Henry V. at the “ Bull,” in Bishopsgate, Knel, it is said, who played Henry V., gave Tarleton, as Chief Justice, so sounding a box on the ear that the whole house laughed. When Tarleton had gone out as judge, he came in again in his clown's clothes and asked the actors :-". What news ?' Oh,' saith onn,hadst thou been here thou shouldest have seen Prince Henry hit the judge a terrible box on the ear.' * What, man p' said Tarleton, strike a judge ?' It is true, i'faith,' said the other. “No other like,' said Tarleton,' and it could not but be terrible to the judge,