Page images

When they have lost and forfeited themselves?
No, on the barren mountains let him ftarve;
For I shall never hold that man my friend,
Whose tongue shall ask me for one penny cost
To ransom, home revolted Mortimer.

Hot. Revolted Mortimer!
He never did fall off, my sovereign liege,
But by the chance of war;—To prove that true,
Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds,
Those mouthed wounds, which valiantly he took,

е e

Indent with fears, may therefore mean, fign an indenture or compact with daftards. Fears may be substituted for fearful people, as wrongs has been used for wrongers in K. Richard II:

“ He should have found his uncle Gaunt a father,

“ To rouse his wrongs, and chase them to a bay." “ Near Cæfar's angel (fays the Soothsayer to Antony) thy own becomes a fear,” i. e. a spirit of cowardice; and Sir Richard Vernon, in the play before us, uses an expression that nearly rescmbles indenting with fears:

“ I hold as litile counsel with weak fear,

As you, my lord -" The King, by buying treason, and indenting with fears, may therefore covertly repeat both his pretended charges against Mortimer; first, that he had treasonably betrayed his party to Glendower; and, secondly, that he would have been afraid to encounter with so brave an adversary. Steevens. 6 He never did fall off, my sovereign liege, But by the chance of war;] The meaning is,

he came not into the enemy's power but by the chance of war. The King charged Mortimer, that he wilfully betrayed his army, and, as he was then with the enemy, calls him revolted Mortimer. Hotspur replies, that he never fell off, that is, fell into Glendower's hands, but by the chance of war. I should not have explained thus tediously a passage so hard to be mistaken, but that two editors have already mistaken it. JOHNSON.

To prove that true, Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds, &c.] Hotspur calls Mortimer's wounds mouthed, from their gaping like a mouth; and says, that to prove his loyalty, but one tongue was necessary for all these mouths. This may be harsh; but the same idea occurs in Coriolanus, where one of the populace says: “ For if he shows


[ocr errors]

When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank,
In single opposition, hand to hand,
He did confound the best part of an hour
In changing hardiments with great Glendower:
Three times they breath'd, and three times did they

Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;
Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks,
Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp head' in the hollow bank


us his wounds, we are to put our tongues into these wounds, and
speak for them.”
And again, in Julius Cæfar, Antony says:

there were an Antony,
“ Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Cæsar, that should move,” &c.

M. MASON - hardiment - An obsolete word, signifying hardiness, bravery, stoutness. Spenser is frequent in his use of it.

STEEVENS. -three times did they drink,] It is the property of wounds to excite the most impatient thirst. The poet therefore hath with exquifite propriety introduced this circumstance, which may serve to place in its proper light the dying kindness of Sir Philip Sydney; who, though suffering the extremity of thirft from the agony of his own wounds, yet, notwithstanding, gave up his own draught of water to a wounded soldier. Henley.

? Who then, affrighted &c.] This passage has been censured as founding nonsense, which represents a stream of water as capable of fear. It is misunderstood. Severn is here not the food, but the tutelary power of the food, who was affrighted, and hid his head in the hollow bank. Johnson.

3- his crisp head-] Crisp is curled. So, Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Maid of the Mill:

methinks the river,
“ As he steals by, curls up his head to view you."
Again, in Kyd's Cornelia, 1595:

• O beauteous Tiber, with thine easy streams,
“ That glide as smoothly as a Parthian shaft,
“ Turn not thy crispy tides, like silver curls,
“ Back to thy grass-green banks to welcome us?"

[ocr errors]

Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.
Never did bare and rotten policy -
Colour her working with such deadly wounds;
Nor never could the noble Mortimer
Receive so many, and all willingly:
Then let him not be slander'd with revolt.
K. Hen. Thou doft belie him, Percy, thou doft

belie him,
He never did encounter with Glendower;
I tell thee,
He durst as well have met the devil alone,
As Owen Glendower for an enemy.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Perhaps Shakspeare has bestowed an epithet, applicable only to the stream of water, on the genius of the stream. The following passage, however, in the fixth Song of Drayton's Polyolbion, may seem to justify its propriety:

• Your corses were diffolv'd into that chryftal stream;
• Your curls to curled waves, which plainly still appear

“ The same in water now that once in locks they were.' Beaumont and Fletcher have the same image with Shakspeare in The Loyal Subje&t:

the Volga trembled at his terror, « And hid his feven curl'd heads." Again, in one of Ben Jonson's Masques :

“ The rivers run as smoothed by his hand,

Only their heads are crisped by his ftroke." See Vol. VI. (Whalley's edit.) p. 26. Steevens.

4 Never did bare and rotten policy-) All the quartos which I have seen read bare in this place. The first folio, and all the subsequent editions, have base. I believe bare is right: “ Never did policy, lying open to detection, fo colour its workings.

JOHNSON The first quarto, 1598, reads bare; which means fo thinly covered by art as to be easily seen through. So, in Venus and Adonis :

" What bare excuses mak'st thou to be gone!” MALONE. Since there is such good authority as Johnson informs us, for reading base, in this pallage, instead of bare, the former word should certainly be adopted. Bare policy, that is, policy lying open to detection, is in truth -no policy at all. The epithet base, also best agrees with rotten. M. MASON.

Bu As

Art not ashamed? But, firrah, henceforth
Let me not hear you speak of Mortimer:
Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
Or you shall hear in such a kind from me
As will displease you.-My lord Northumberland,
We license your departure with your son :-
Send us your prisoners, or you'll hear of it.

[Exeunt King Henry, BLUNT, and Train.
Hor. And if the devil come and roar for them,
I will not send them :-I will after straight,
And tell him so; for I will ease my heart,
Although it be with hazard of my head.
North. What, drunk with choler? stay, and

pause awhile; Here comes your uncle.



Speak of Mortimer?
Zounds, I will speak of him; and let my soul
Want mercy, if I do not join with him :
Yea, on his part, I'll empty all these veins,
And shed my dear blood drop by drop i'the dust,
But I will lift the down-trod Mortimer
As high i’the air as this unthankful king,
As this ingrate and canker'd Bolingbroke.
NORTH. Brother, the king hath made your ne-
phew mad.

[T, Worcester. Wor. Who struck this heat up after I was

gone? Hor. He will, forsooth, have all my prisoners.; And when I urg'd the ransom once again Of my wife's brother, then híš cheek look'd pale; ^

[ocr errors]

* Art not] Old copies Art thou not. STERVENS.

Vol. XI.


And on my face he turn'd an eye of death,
Trembling even at the name of Mortimer.
Wor. I cannot blame him: Was he not pro-

By Richard that dead is, the next of blood ?"

North. He was; I heard the proclamation:
And then it was, when the unhappy king
(Whose wrongs in us God pardon!) did fet forth

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

- an eye of death,] That is, an eye menacing death.
Hotspur seems to describe the king as trembling with rage rather
than fear. JOHNSON.
So, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590:

“ And wrapt in silence of his angry soul,
« Upon his browes was pourtraid ugly death,

“ And in his eyes the furies of his heart.” STEEVENS. Johnson and Steevens seem to think that Hotspur meant to describe the King as trembling not with fear, but rage ; but surely they are mistaken. The king had no reason to be

enraged at Mortimer, who had been taken prisoner in fighting against his enemy; but he had much reason to fear the man who had a better title to the crown than himself, which had been proclaimed by Richard II; and accordingly, when Hotspur is informed of that circumstance, he says,

Nay, then I cannot blame his cousin king

" That wish'd him on the barren mountains farv'd." And Worcester, in the very next line, says: “ He cannot blame him for trembling at the name of Mortimer, since Richard had proclaimed him next of blood.” M. Mason.

Mr. M. Mason's remark is, I think, in general juft; but the King, as appears

from this scene, had some reason to be enraged also at Mortimer, because he thought that Mortimer had not been taken prisoner by the efforts of his enemies, but had himself revolted.

MALONE. Was he not proclaim'd, By Richard that dead is, the next of blood?] Roger Mortimer, earl of March, who was born in 1371, was declared heir apparent to the crown in the 9th year of King Richard II. (1385). See Grafton. p. 347. But he was killed in Ireland in 1398. The person who was proclaimed by Richard heir apparent to the crown, previous to his last voyage to Ireland, was Edmund Mortimer, (the son of Roger,) who was then but seven years old ; but he was not Percy's wife's brother, but her nephew. Malone.

« PreviousContinue »