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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0656.  Thursday, 12 June 1997.

From:           Pervez Rizvi <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jun 1997 17:10:52 +0100
Subject:        Textual Problem in 1 Henry IV?

In the long opening speech to 1 Henry IV ('So shaken as we are, so wan
with care,') Henry declares his intention to launch a Crusade and says
that he will go:

        As far as to the sepulchre of Christ -
        Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
        We are impressed and engaged to fight -
                                                            (1.1.19-21)

The phrase 'Whose soldier now' puzzles me.  Its meaning is clear enough
but I can't think of another example where Shakespeare inserts a similar
ungrammatical phrase into a speech which, without it, makes perfect
sense. The only examples I can think of are exclamations ('Filial
ingratitude!'), which 'Whose soldier now' clearly isn't.

I wondered if this might be an example of textual corruption. I've
looked in several editions of 1H4, as well as the Oxford 'Textual
Companion'; none of these say anything about this line. If I were to
play at being an editor, I might say that perhaps a couple of words were
lost in the printing process and the lines should actually read:

        As far as to the sepulchre of Christ -
        Whose soldier now we are, under whose blessed cross
        We are impressed and engaged to fight -

Or even that 'Whose soldier now' might be a false start which was
inadvertently printed, so that it should be omitted from modern editions
and the surrounding text realigned to regularize the metre.

Brushing aside my amateurish suggestions, does anyone want to defend the
original text?
 

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