Henry IV Part 2 (1921) Yale/Notes

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Ind. S. d. Rumour, painted full of tongues. Vergil (Æneid iv. 174) describes Fame, or Rumour, as covered with ears, eyes, and tongues. Cf. also Chaucer, Hous of Fame, 1389-90.

Ind. 24. Shrewsbury. The last act of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I, is devoted to the battle of Shrewsbury, in which the King and his armies overcome the rebel forces under young Harry Percy (Hotspur); his uncle, the Earl of Worcester; and the Scottish Earl of Douglas.

Ind. 29. Harry Monmouth. Henry, Prince of Wales, who, according to Shakespeare, killed Hotspur in single combat at the battle of Shrewsbury. Monmouth was the place of his birth.

Ind. 35. hole. Shakespeare is obviously playing on the words hole and hold. Most modern editors have spoiled the rather poor pun by substituting the word hold for hole.


I. i. 116-118. 'By his spirit was his party inspired, i.e., made keen and sharp as steel; but, when once his spirit was brought down (technically, reduced to a lower temper) all his followers became dull and heavy as lead.'

I. i. 128. In 1 Henry IV, V. iii., Douglas kills Sir Walter Blunt, who was dressed to resemble the King, and tells us that he has already killed the Lord of Stafford in the king's 'likeness.' When, later, Prince Hal challenges Douglas to single combat, he says:

'the spirits
Of valiant Shirley, Stafford, Blunt, are in my arms.'

I. i. 166-179. These lines are the first of a series of passages omitted in the Quarto texts of the play and added by the Folio. The other important Folio additions are the following: I. i. 189-209; I. iii. 21- 24; I. iii. 36-55; I. iii. 85-108; II. iii. 23-45; IV. i. 55-79; Epilogue 37, 38 (and so kneel . . . queen). Furthermore, the whole of III. i., containing the King's famous soliloquy on sleep, is omitted in certain Quarto copies, though added in others. On the other hand, certain passages, usually shorter and belonging to the prose scenes, are omitted in the Folio version; viz., I. ii. 244-251 (But it was . . . motion); II. ii. 26-31 (and God . . . strengthened); II. iv. 14, 15 (Dispatch . . . straight); II. iv. 144-146; II. iv. 428 f. (Come! . . . come, Doll?); III. i. 53-56 (O! . . . die); III. ii. 340, 341 (yet lecherous . . . mandrake); III. ii. 342-345 (and sung . . . good-nights); IV. i. 93; IV. i. 95.

I. i. 204, 205. According to Shakespeare, King Richard II, predecessor and cousin of Henry IV, was murdered in Pomfret castle at Henry's hint, after the latter had forced Richard's abdication. Cf. Shakespeare's Richard II. Richard Scroop, Archbishop of York, belonged to a family which was firmly attached to the cause of Richard.

I. i. 208. Bolingbroke. King Henry, born in Bolingbroke castle, Lincolnshire.

I. ii. 18. manned with an agate. Attended by a servant as small as a figure cut in an agate.

I. ii. 25. face-royal. A royal was a gold coin worth ten shillings. Falstaff is here playing on the double sense of a 'royal face' and the face stamped on the coin.

I. ii. 38. glutton. The parable of Dives and Lazarus (St. Luke 16. 19-31) is frequently referred to by Falstaff, possibly because Dives, 'the glutton' who 'fared sumptuously every day' but who went to hell and called out for the poor man Lazarus to 'dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,' reminds Falstaff of his own manner of life and probable fate.

I. ii. 39. Achitophel. The counsellor of Absalom (II Samuel 15-17) who was cursed by David, and who 'gat him home to his house and hanged himself' after Absalom rejected his counsel.

I. ii. 40. yea-forsooth knave. The reference is to the mild oaths employed by the Puritanical middleclass tradespeople of Shakespeare's own day. Cf. Hotspur's ridicule of this same trait in 1 Henry IV, III. i. 251 ff.

I. ii. 51-54. Falstaff is here playing with the ancient jest that deceived husbands wear invisible horns. Lightness is obviously used in a double sense, and the old spelling of lanthorn, which emphasizes the horn sides of an Elizabethan lantern, carries out the jest.

I. ii. 57. Paul's. The nave of St. Paul's Cathedral was in Shakespeare's day the business center of London. From eleven to twelve, and three to six, daily, men of all professions and trades congregated there. Men out of work, and masters looking for servants, posted their advertisements on the pillars of the nave. Falstaff is probably referring here to a popular saying, quoted in The Choice of Change, 1598: 'A man must not make choice of three things in three places: of a wife in Westminster, of a servant in Paul's, of a horse in Smithfield; lest he choose a quean, a knave, or a jade.' Smithfield is the great cattle market of London.

I. ii. 61, 62 This episode from The Famous Victories of Henry V is reprinted in Appendix A, see pp. 142, 143.

I. ii. 102. hunt counter. A hunting term meaning to follow the trail in a direction opposite to that which the game has taken. There is also perhaps here a pun on the two Compters, or debtors', prisons in London.

I. ii. 166-168. Blind beggars often had dogs to lead them through the streets.

I. ii. 182. wax. 'A poor quibble on the word wax, which signifies increase as well as the matter of the honey-comb.' Johnson.

I. ii. 189-192. An angel was a gold coin, worth upwards of six shillings, which took its name from its device, the archangel Michael. Falstaff is here punning on the word, and in the phrases cannot go and cannot tell, he is perhaps using terms which refer to the circulation of money, meaning 'I cannot pass current. I cannot count as good coin.'

I. ii. 241. spit white. Furnivall quotes Batman uppon Bartholome (1582): 'If the spettle be white viscus, the sicknesse cometh of fleame; if black, of melancholy;—the white spettle not knottie, signifieth health.'

I. ii. 257. bear crosses. Another quibble on coins, many of which were marked with crosses.

I. ii. 259. A three-man beetle is a mallet so heavy that it requires three men to swing it. Filliping the toad, according to Steevens, is a Warwickshire game, in which a toad is placed on the end of a short board placed across a log; the other end of the board is then struck with a mallet, and the toad thrown into the air. If Falstaff took the part of the toad in this game, it would, he implies, require a three-man beetle to fillip one of his size.

I. iii. 36-41. Many emendations have been suggested for this apparently corrupt passage. It is probable that a line has been lost here, but it is possible to understand Lord Bardolph's speech without changing the text. Lord Hastings has just been remonstrating with Lord Bardolph for his pessimism, saying that hope never injured any cause. Lord Bardolph replies: 'Yes, it does,—if, for example, this present business of war (indeed this very action now contemplated, this cause that is now on foot), lives merely on such desperate hopes as buds which appear too early in the spring; for hope gives less warrant that these buds will become fruit than despair gives that the frosts will destroy them.'

I. iii. 53-55. 'Know how well able our estate is to undergo such a work, and how well able it is to balance the power of our opponent.'


II. i. 36, 37. When Dame Quickly says, 'A hundred mark is a long one,' i.e., a long mark, score, or reckoning, she puns on a hundred marks as a debt and a hundred yard mark at archery.

II. i. 67, 68. rampallian. Elizabethan slang, rascal, rapscallion; used also by Beaumont and Fletcher. Fustilarian, a word coined by Falstaff, suggested by the word fustilugs, a fat, frowsy woman. Catastrophe, in the sense of conclusion, end; used jocularly here for the posteriors.

II. i. 145. Falstaff has the legal right to demand protection against the just claims of Mistress Quickly, as he is about to set forth for the north on the King's business. The Chief Justice admits his 'power to do wrong' in this matter, but urges him to answer the poor woman's suit in a manner suitable to his reputation as a gentleman and soldier.

II. i. 159. Falstaff tries to comfort Mistress Quickly for the loss of her plate by assuring her that glasses are much more fashionable and pleasanter to drink from than silver goblets.

II. i. 210. 'This is the proper behaviour in fencing.' Falstaff refers to his inattention to the Justice's remarks as a retaliation for the Justice's inattention to his questions in ll. 184 ff.

II. ii. 25-31. Shirts were made of holland linen (worth 'eight shillings an ell,' cf. 1 Henry IV, III. iii. 83). The play on the words holland and lowcountries is apparent. The Prince proceeds to assume that Poins's shortage in shirts is due to the fact that his old shirts are serving as garments for his illegitimate children, who 'bawl out' from 'the ruins of his linen.'

II. ii. 95-100. Either Shakespeare or the Page confuses the dream of Hecuba with that of Althea. Althea dreamed that the Fates told her that her newborn son would live only so long as a burning brand on the hearth remained unconsumed. Althea snatched the brand from the hearth, extinguished the fire, and prolonged her son's life.

II. ii. 112. martlemas. Corrupted form of Martinmas, or the Feast of St. Martin, November 11. This day was considered the last day of autumn, and was also the day for salting and hanging the winter's supply of beef. The reference is obviously to Falstaff's hearty old age (cf. All-hallown summer, 1 Henry IV, I. ii. 177, note), or to Falstaff as a 'martlemas beef.'

II. ii. 127, 128. borrower's cap. A man asking for a loan is always very ready to take off his cap.

II. ii. 130 ff. Most modern editors have rearranged the following speeches, giving to Poins the reading of Falstaff's letter to Hal. The Quarto and Folio arrangement, followed with one exception (cf. Appendix C) in this text, seems more natural. In lines 109, 110 Bardolph evidently gives the letter to the Prince, not to Poins. In line 119 the Prince shows the letter to Poins, but does not necessarily give it to him.

II. ii. 192, 193. The parallel is not striking. Jove took the form of a bull to woo Europa. Hal disguises himself as a waiter to spy upon Falstaff. The leather jerkins are the only connecting link.

II. iv. 36. The ballad sung by Falstaff has been preserved in Percy's Reliques.

II. iv. 52. Another scrap of an old ballad.

II. iv. 91. debuty. Mistress Quickly's pronunciation of deputy, and of Wednesday in line 93, both of which are corrected in the Folio text, indicates that she has a cold in her head.

II. iv. 104, 105. tame cheater. A cant term for a low gamester, especially for a gamester's decoy. Mistress Quickly understands the word in the sense of escheator, or officer of the exchequer. The Cambridge editors suggest the emendation chetah, the hunting leopard, known in Europe as early as the fifteenth century. The sentence, you may stroke him as gently as a puppy greyhound, would indicate at least that Falstaff is playing on the two words cheater and chetah. One would hardly speak of stroking a gamester's decoy.

II. iv. 159. occupy. This word was used only in an obscene sense in Shakespeare's day. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century it seldom appears in literature.

II. iv. 172. Have we not Hiren here? This phrase, which became proverbial in Elizabethan drama, probably originated in a lost play by George Peele, entitled, The Turkish Mahomet and Hyren (Irene) the Fair Greek. Pistol applies the name to his sword. Mistress Quickly (11. 189, 190) thinks he is inquiring for some woman.

II. iv. 177, 178. Pistol misquotes from Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great, Pt. II, IV, iv:

'Holla, ye pamper'd jades of Asia!
What! can ye draw but twenty miles a day?'

II. iv. 192. Another burlesque of contemporary drama. This time Shakespeare puts into Pistol's mouth a reference to Peele's Battle of Alcazar, printed in 1594, in which Muley Mahomet enters with lion's flesh on his sword, which he offers to his wife with the words,

'Feed then and faint not, my fair Calypolis.'

II. iv. 194. Most editors assume that Pistol is speaking bad Italian. The Cambridge editors suggest that it is perhaps bad Spanish, and that he is reading the motto on his Toledo blade. Douce gives an illustration of a sword with a French version of this motto inscribed upon it. Farmer says: 'Pistol is only a copy of Hannibal Gonsaga who vaunted on yielding himself a prisoner, as you may read in an old collection of tales called Wits, Fits, Fancies:

Si Fortuna me tormenta
Il speranza me contenta.'

Whatever the language, the meaning of Pistol's motto is, If Fortune torments me, Hope contents me.

II. iv. 205. shove-groat shilling. Shove-groat was a game which was a cross between shuffle-board and 'pitching pennies.' It was played on a board three feet long and a foot wide, and the object of the players was to shove coins into numbered spaces at the far end of the board.

II. iv. 267. drinks . . . flapdragons. Flapdragon or snapdragon is a sport which consists in snapping raisins or grapes from burning brandy and eating them.

II. iv. 286. An impossible conjunction of planets.

II. iv. 288. fiery Trigon. Poins continues the astrological figure by referring to the red-nosed Bardolph as the fiery Trigon. When the three superior planets were in that division of the zodiac which consisted of the three so-called fiery signs, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, they were said to be in the fiery Trigon, or triangle; when they were in Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces, they were in the watery Trigon, etc.

II. iv. 363. dead elm. Shakespeare mentions elms three times,—here and in The Comedy of Errors, II. ii. 176, and in A Midsummer Night's Dream, IV. i. 49. In both C. of E. and M. N. D. the reference is to the practice of training ivy on elm trees, illustrating the relation of woman to man. Poins is therefore probably referring to the posture of Falstaff and Doll.


III. ii. 28, 29. Sir John Oldcastle and Sir John Fastolfe, with both of whom Falstaff has been identified (cf. 1 Henry IV, this edition, Appendix C 3), were both pages to the Duke of Norfolk in their youth.

III. ii. 33. Skogan. Shakespeare probably took the name from a jest book published in 1565, called Scogin's Jests. This Scogin was the court fool of King Edward IV. It is possible, however, that the reference is to Chaucer's friend, Henry Scogan, described by Ben Jonson in The Fortunate Isles as 'a fine gentleman, and master of arts, of Henry the Fourth's time.'

III. ii. 73. accommodated. This is one of the words which Ben Jonson (Discoveries) refers to as one of 'the perfumed terms of the time.' Bardolph is giving himself airs and imitating the affectations of fashionable gallants.

III. ii. 239. Bullcalf means to say: 'Here, in French crowns, is the equivalent of four English ten-shilling pieces, or ten-shilling pieces with King Henry's head on them.' As a matter of fact Henry VII was the first English king whose head appeared on ten shilling pieces.

III. ii. 264. three pound. Falstaffs followers adopt his own methods. Bardolph has collected four pounds, forty shillings from each of the two men, but decides to keep a commission of twenty-five per cent.

III. ii. 285. gibbets. A brewer's gibbet was the yoke worn across the shoulders for carrying buckets of beer from the vat to the barrels. Falstaff refers to the dexterity with which brewers' men swing the buckets on to the gibbet.

III. ii. 301-303. Sir Dagonet was King Arthur's fool. Arthur's show was an exhibition of archery held annually at Mile-end Green by a society called The Auncient Order, Societie, and Unitie laudable of Prince Arthur and his Knightly Armoury of the Round Table. There were fifty-eight members and each took the name of one of the knights in the old romances.

III. ii. 346. Vice's dagger. The Vice, a character in the old Morality plays, carried a thin wooden dagger.

III. ii. 357. philosopher's two stones. The philosophers' stone is the reputed stone of the alchemists which transmutes base metals into gold. Falstaff decides that Justice Shallow will be as valuable to him as two philosophers' stones!


IV. i. 94-96. This passage is obviously corrupt. The archbishop means in general: 'I make this my quarrel on both public and private grounds, that is, because of the sufferings of the commonwealth and of my own family at the hands of King Henry.' The Archbishop's brother, an adherent of King Richard, had been executed by King Henry's order; cf. 1 Henry IV, I. iii. 270.

IV. i. 117 ff. This contest is described in the first act of Shakespeare's Richard II.

IV. i. 175. consigned. The Quarto and Folio read confin'd; consign'd is Johnson's emendation. The meaning seems to be that the terms of surrender include the stipulation that the execution of the wishes of the rebels shall be consigned to their own hands.

IV. ii. Shakespeare evidently had no thought of a change of scene, or of pause in action, here. Even the first Folio has no stage direction of exeunt at the end of Scene i., and no indication of scene division. I have kept the conventional modern arrangement for convenience of reference; but the reader should remember that the Archbishop and his party do not leave the stage,—they merely step forward to greet Prince John as he enters.

IV. iii. 125. a mere hoard of gold kept by a devil. Falstaff refers to the old superstition that gold mines were guarded by devils.

IV. iv. S. d. The Jerusalem Chamber. An apartment adjoining the southwest tower of Westminster Abbey, built in the fourteenth century as a guestchamber, and deriving its name from the tapestries depicting the history of Jerusalem with which it was hung. Since the seventeenth century it has been used as a council chamber.

IV. iv. 33-35. 'Nevertheless when he is incensed he breaks out in fiery fashion like flint; he abounds in caprices as winter abounds in moisture; and he changes his moods as suddenly as water freezes and melts at the edge of a pond at daybreak.' Flaws are the blades of ice seen on the edges of water on winter mornings.

IV. iv. 44-48. 'That the vessel of their united blood may never leak, even though that blood should be mingled with the venom caused by hints and suggestions tending toward discord, which in this age will be sure to be poured in; and even though this venom should work with the strength of aconite or gunpowder.'

IV. iv. 79, 80. 'It seldom happens that the bee, having deposited her comb in dead carrion, leaves the comb and the carrion.' The application is to the Prince and his low company.

IV. v. 161. medicine potable. 'There has long prevailed an opinion that a solution of gold has great medicinal virtues, and that the incorruptibility of gold might be communicated to the body impregnated with it.' Johnson.

IV. v. 198. mode. The key in which music is written, used figuratively and associated with 'mood' in the sense of state of mind.


V. i. 1. cock and pie. The origin of this common Elizabethan oath is obscure. Cock is probably a corruption of God, as in the oath Cock's wounds; and pie is perhaps the Roman service book which was sometimes so called, though the word pie applies more properly to the index of the service book. By Shakespeare's time the meaning of the oath was forgotten, and Justice Shallow doubtless thinks he is swearing by a cock and a magpie.

V. ii. 34. 'Which goes against the grain with one in your position.'

V. ii. 48. This allusion helps to fix the date of the play. Amurath the Fourth succeeded his father on the Turkish throne in 1596. Upon his accession he invited his brothers to dinner and had them all strangled.

V. ii. 123, 124. This strange remark of the Prince seems to mean that inasmuch as his own wild affections and desires died at the moment of his father's death, they are now, as it were, buried with his father. Hence his father may be said to be buried with wild affections, or to have 'gone wild into his grave.'

V. iii. 76. dub me knight. The reference is to the Elizabethan custom of giving the title of knight for the evening to a man who, kneeling to his mistress, drained a mighty bumper to her health.

V. iii. 105. Helicon was the abode of the Muses. Pistol resents having such low fellows as Robin Hood and his men brought into this very grandiloquent literary conversation.

V. v. 31, 32. Pistol quotes two Latin phrases which have no significance here, and then proceeds to mistranslate them. The Latin means literally: it is always the same, for without this there is nothing.


Epil. Shakespeare's authorship of this epilogue has been questioned. The dancer says it is of his own making, but he speaks for the author in promising a continuation of the play and in assuring the audience that Falstaff is not Sir John Oldcastle (cf. note on III. ii. 28, 29, and Appendix C 3 to 1 Henry IV, in the present edition). It is interesting to note that Shakespeare's original intention was to continue the Falstaff plot through the play of Henry V; but, as Coleridge remarks, 'Agincourt is not the place for the splendid mendacity of Falstaff. With the coronation of Henry V opens a new period of glorious enthusiasm and patriotic fervor. There is no longer any place for Falstaff on earth; he must find refuge in "Arthur's bosom."'

Epil. 38. pray for the queen. It was the custom to end plays with a prayer for the sovereign. This custom originated in the interludes.