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Sir Thomas Erpingham, Gower, Fluellen, Mackmorris, Jamy, officers in King Henry's army.

Nym, Bardolph, Piftol, Boy, formerly fervants to FalStaff, now foldiers in the King's army.

Bates, Court, Williams, foldiers.

Charles, the Sixth, King of France.
The Dauphin.

Duke of Burgundy,

Conftable, Orleans, Rambures, Bourbon, Grandpree,

French lords.

Governor of Harfleur.

Montjoy, a herald.

Ambaffadors to the King of England.

Ifabel, Queen of France.

Katharine, daughter to the King of France.

Alice, a lady attending on the princess Katharine.
Quickly, Pistol's wife, an hoftefs.

Chorus.

Lords, Meffengers, French and English Soldiers, with other Attendants.

The SCENE, at the beginning of the play, lies in England; but, afterwards, wholly in France.

Archbishop Chichley. STEEVENS.

John Fordham, confecrated 1388, died 1426, EDITOR.

I

CHORUS.

O, for a mufe of fire, that would ascend
The brighteft heaven of invention !

A kingdom for a stage, 2 princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the fwelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Affume the port of Mars; and, at his heels,
Leafh'd in like hounds, fhould famine, fword, and fire,
Crouch for employment 3. 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 cock-pit hold
The vafty field of France? or may we cram,

* O for a muse of fire, &c.] This goes upon the notion of the Peripatetic fyftem, which imagines feveral heavens one above another; the last and highest of which was one of fire.

WARBURTON. It alludes likewise to the aspiring nature of fire, which, by its levity, at the feparation of the chaos, took the highest feat of all the elements. JOHNSON.

-princes to act,

And monarchs to behold

-]

Shakspeare does not seem to fet distance enough between the performers and spectators. JOHNSON.

3 Leafht in like bounds, should famine, fword, and fire,

Crouch for employment.-]

In K. Henry VI. "Lean famine, quartering fteel, and climb. ing fire," are called the three attendants on the English general, lord Talbot; and, as I suppose, are the dogs of war mentioned in Julius Cafar.

This image of the warlike Henry very much resembles Montfaucon's defcription of the Mars difcovered at Breffe, who leads a lyon and a lyonefs in couples, and crouching as for employment.

TOLLET.

Warner, in his Albion's England, 1602, speaking of K. Henry V. fays:

"He led good fortune in a line, and did but war and win." Holinfled (p. 567.), when the people of Roan petitioned king Henry V. has put this fentiment into his mouth : "He declared that the goddeffe of battell, called Bellona, had three handmaidens, ever of neceffitie attending upon her, as blood, fire, and famine." STEEVENS.

B 2

Within

Within this wooden O, 5 the very cafques
That did affright the air at Agincourt ?
O, pardon! fince a crooked figure may
Atteft, in little place, a million;

And let us, cyphers to this great accompt,
"On your imaginary forces work:
Suppofe, within the girdle of these walls
Are now confim'd two mighty monarchies,
Whofe high-upreared and abutting fronts

4 Within this wooden O,] Nothing fhews more evidently the power of custom over language, than that the frequent ufe of 'calling a circle an O could fo much hide the meanness of the metaphor from Shakspeare, that he has ufed it many times where he makes his most eager attempts at dignity of style.

JOHNSON.

Within this wooden O,] an allufion to the theatre where this history was exhibited, being, from its circular form, called the globe. The fame expreffion is applied, for the like reason, to the world, in Antony and Cleopatra:

A fun and moon which kept their course,

And lighted the little o, the earth.

I know not whether Shakspeare calls the Globe-playhouse cockpit, from its being a round building, or elfe from it's ferving that purpose alfo: the latter appears probable, from his styling the floor an unworthy Scaffold, which fuggefts the idea of its being temporary, and that the edifice answered both turns, by means of a flight alteration. HENLEY.

5 The very calques.] The helmets. JoaNsoN.

6

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

1 Whofe high-upreared and abbutting fronts

The perilous narrow ocean parts afunder.]

Perilous narrow, in burlefque and common language, meant no more than very narrow. In old books this mode of expreffion occurs perpetually. A perilous broad brim to a hat, a perilous long fword, &c. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Humourous Lieu

senant:

She is perilous crafty."

Thus, villainous is only uied to exaggerate, in the Tempest: be turn'd to barnacles or apes

"With foreheads villanous low."

Again, in John Florio's Preface to his Tranflation of Montaigne: in this perilous crook'd passage

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STEEVENS.

The

The perilous narrow ocean parts afunder.
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puiffance;

Think, when we talk of horfes, that you fee them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth:
'For 'tis your thoughts that now muft deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times;
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glafs; For the which fupply,
Admit me chorus to this hiftory;

Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

And make imaginary puifunce;] This fhews that Shakspeare was fully fenfible of the abfurdity of fhewing battles on the theatre, which indeed is never done but tragedy becomes farce. No. thing can be reprefented to the eye but by fomething like it, and within a wooden O nothing very like a battle can be exhibited.

JOHNSON. Other authors of that age feem to have been fentible of the fame abfurdities. In Heywood's Fair Mid of the Weft, 1631, a Chorus enters and fays,

"Our ftage fo lamely can exprefs a fea,

"That we are forc'd by Chorus to difcourfe

"What should have been in action, &," STEEVENS.

? For 'tis your thoughts at now muft deck our kings;

Carry them here and there;

J

We may read king for kings. The prologue relates only to this fingle play. The mistake was made by refering them to kings which belongs to thoughts. The fenfe is, your thoughts must give the king his proper greatness; carry therefore your thoughts here and there, jumping over time, and crowding years into an hour. JOHNSON.

I am not fure that Dr. Johnfon's obfervation is jutt. In this play, the king of France as well as England makes his appearance; and the fenfe may be this;-it must be to your imaginations that our kings are indebted for their royalty. Let the fancy of the fpectator furnish out those appendages to greatness which the poverty of our stage is unable to lupply. The poet is still apologizing for the defects of theatrical reprefentation.

B 3

STEEVENS.

LIFE

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