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THE first Quarto of Richard II. (1597) shares with that of Richard III. (1597) and the imperfect version of Romeo and Juliet (1597) the honour of being the earliest Quarto of Shakespeare's authentic plays. An entry of 1594 in the Stationers' Register points to the appearance in that year of a Quarto of Titus Andronicus; but this farrago of horrors is so doubtfully Shakespearian that even were the 1594 copy extant it would hardly be allowed to take pride of place over the two Richards, or even over the pirated Romeo and Juliet of three years later.
The | Tragedie of King Ri- | chard the se- | cond. | As it hath beene publikely acted by the right Honourable the | Lorde Chamberlaine his Ser- | uants. | London | Printed by Valentine Simmes for Andrew Wise, and | are to be sold at his shop in Paules church yard at the signe of the Angel. | 1597 | .
A second Quarto appeared in the next year, and ten years later (1608) a third was issued. In this third Quarto were
found for the first time the "new additions of the Parliament Sceane and the deposing of King Richard." The line that immediately follows the added portion-the Abbot of Westminster's plaintive remark, "A woeful pageant have we here beheld" (IV. i. 321)-had appeared already in the earlier quartos without much significance or coherence; it is only in the third Quarto that we are first enabled to understand its real point, and it becomes at once clear that the so-called additions form an integral part of the original play. The homogeneity of style throughout both the play in its truncated form and the "additions" would alone be sufficient evidence of the last statement.
Nor have we far to seek for the reason of the excision of the deposition scene from the first published editions. A Papal
Bull of Excommunication and Deposition against Elizabeth was secretly prepared at Rome in 1569 and published in 1570; whereupon it became the duty of English Catholics to attempt her overthrow-a duty which individual assassins tried to carry out as a parergon to the continually renewed rebellions of wider scope. A play centring round the only instance of the deposition of an English monarch, especially when that deposition appeared to be politically justifiable, was hardly the play to perform in Elizabeth's time; more especially as the Queen herself was only too well aware of the analogy that might be drawn.1 Sir John Hayward was actually imprisoned (1599-1601) for publishing the First Part of the Life and Reign of Henrie the IIII., a work which of necessity dealt with Richard's deposition. Still further, when the friends of the revolting Essex wished to hearten themselves and attract more adherents, they persuaded the Globe people to perform a Play of Deposing King Richard the Second. Whether this play was Shakespeare's or not is a question touched upon later.
The fourth Quarto, that of 1615, was evidently printed from the third, and a corrected copy seems to have been used for the version in the first Folio of 1623. The "Cambridge editors sum up the whole position as follows: "The play, as given in the first Folio , was no doubt printed from a copy of the fourth Quarto, corrected with some care and prepared for stage representation. Several passages have been left out with a view of shortening the performance. In the 'new additions of the Parliament Sceane' it would appear that the defective text of the Quarto had been corrected from the author's MS. For this part, therefore, the first Folio is our highest authority; for all the rest of the play the first Quarto affords the best text "(Cambridge Shakespeare, vol. iv., Preface, p. ix).
The fifth Quarto (1634) was printed from the second Folio (1632); but curiously enough its readings sometimes agree with the earlier Quartos, and occasionally venture into complete independence."
"I am Richard II.; know ye not that?" she is reported to have said concerning Lambard's Pandecta Rotulorum, Aug. 4, 1601.
2E.g. 1. i. 70, the king Qq 1, 5; a king Qq 2, 3, 4, Ff, where Q 5 agrees with Q I. I. i. 56 else, all texts except Q 5, which reads once.