« PreviousContinue »
FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
SCENE I. London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter King HENRY, WESTMORELAND, SIR WALTER
Blunt, and others.
1 Strands, banks of the sea.
2 Upon this passage the reader is favored with three pages of notes in the Variorum Shakspeare. Steevens adopted Monk Mason's bold conjectural emendation, and reads :
“ No more the thirsty Erinnys of this soil;" Mr. Douce proposed to read entrails instead of entrance ; and Steevens once thought that we should read entrants. The following explanation of the text is modified from that of Malone.—“ No more shall this soil have the lips of her thirsty entrance (i. e. surface) daubed with the blood of her own children."
And furious close of civil butchery,
you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland, What yesternight our council did decree, In forwarding this dear expedience.
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question, And many limits of the charge set down But yesternight; when, all athwart, there came A post from Wales, loaden with heavy news; Whose worst was,—that the noble Mortimer, Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight Against the irregular and wild Glendower, Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken, And a thousand of his people butchered ; Upon whose dead corpse there was such misuse, Such beastly, shameless transformation, By those Welshwomens done, as may not be, Without much shame, retold or spoken of.
1 To levy a power to a place has been shown by Mr. Gifford to be neither unexampled nor corrupt, but good, authorized English.
2 For that cause.
K. Hen. It seems, then, that the tidings of this broil Brake off our business for the Holy Land.
West. This, matched with other, did, my gracious
For more uneven and unwelcome news
K. Hen. Here is a dear and true-industrious friend,
1 i. e. September 14th.
2 « This Harry Percy was surnamed, for his often pricking, Henry Hotspur, as one that seldom times rested, if there were anie service to be done abroad.”—Holinshed's Hist. of Scotland, p. 240.
3 Archibald Douglas, earl Douglas.
4 Balked in their own blood, is heaped, or laid on heaps, in their own blood. A balk was a ridge or bank of earth standing up between two furrows; and to balk was to throw up the earth so as to form those heaps or banks.
5 Mordake, earl of Fife, who was son to the duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, is here called the son of earl Douglas, through a mistake, into which the Poet was led by the omission of a comma in the passage
whence he took this account of the Scottish prisoners.
6 This is a mistake of Holinshed in his English History, for in that of Scotland, pp. 259, 262, 419, he speaks of the earl of Fife and Menteith as one and the same person. VOL. III.
And is not this an honorable spoil ?
West. In faith,
K. Hen. Yea, there thou mak’st me sad, and mak'st
In envy that my lord Northumberland
West. This is his uncle's teaching; this is Worcester,
K. Hen. But I have sent for him to answer this;
1 Percy had an exclusive right to these prisoners, except the earl of Fife. By the law of arms, every man who had taken any captive, whose redemption did not exceed ten thousand crowns, had him clearly to himself to acquit or ransom at his pleasure. But Percy could not refuse the earl of Fife to the king; for, being a prince of the royal blood (son to the duke of Albany, brother to king Robert III.), Henry might justly claim him, by his acknowledged military prerogative.
2 An astrological allusion.
For more is to be said, and to be done,
West. I will, my liege.
SCENE II. The same. Another Room in the Palace.
Enter HENRY, Prince of Wales, and FalstAFF.
P. Hen. Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What the devil hast thou to do with the time of the day ? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair, hot wench in flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
Fal. Indeed, you come near me now, Hal; for we that take purses, go by the moon and seven stars; and not by Phoebus,-he, that wandering knight so fair. And, I pray thee, sweet wag, when thou art king, -as, God save thy grace-(majesty I should say; for grace thou wilt have none,).
P. Hen. What, none ?
Fal. No, by my troth ; not so much as will serve to be prologue to an egg and butter.
Þ. Hen. Well, how then ? Come, roundly, roundly.
Fal. Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us, that are squires of the night's body, be called thieves of the day's beauty ;3 let us be—Diana's
1 That is, more is to be said than anger will suffer me to say.
2 Falstaff, by this expression, evidently alludes to some knight of romance; perhaps “The Knight of the Sun” (el Cavallero del Febo), a popular book in his time.
3 “ Let not us, who are body squires to the night (i. e. adorn the night), be called a disgrace to the day.” To take away the beauty of the day, may probably mean to disgrace it. A “ squire of the body” originally