« PreviousContinue »
Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
Win. He was a king bless'd of the King of kings.
The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought:
The church's prayers made him so prosperous.
Glo. The church! where is it? had not churchmen pray'd,
His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:
Win. Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art protector;
Glo. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh; And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st, Except it be to pray against thy foes.
Bed. Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace!
Let's to the altar:-Heralds, wait on us:
Instead of gold, we 'll offer up our arms;
Since arms avail not, now that Henry 's dead.
Posterity, await for wretched years,
When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck; Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,1
the subtle-witted French &c.] There was a notion prevalent a long time, that life might be taken away by metrical charms. As superstition grew weaker, these charms were imagined only to have power on irrational animals. In our author's time it was supposed that the Irish could kill rats by a song.
So, in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584: "The Irishmen addict themselves, &c. yea they will not sticke to affirme that they can rime either man or beast to death." Steevens. 9- moist eyes-] Thus the second folio. The first, redundantly, moisten'd. Steevens.
1 Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,] Mr. Pope-marish. All the old copies read, a nourish: and considering it is said in the line immediately preceding, that babes shall suck at their mother's moist eyes, it seems very probable that our author wrote, a nourice, i. e, that the whole isle should be one common nurse, or nourisher, of tears: and those be the nourishment of its miserable issue. Theobald.
And none but women left to wail the dead.
Was there ever such nonsense! But he did not know that marish is an old word for marsh or fen; and therefore very judiciously thus corrected by Mr. Pope. Warburton.
We should certainly read—marish. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
"Made mountains marsh, with spring-tides of my tears."
I have been informed, that what we call at present a stew, in which fish are preserved alive, was anciently called a nourish. Nourice, however, Fr. a nurse, was anciently spelt many different ways, among which nourish was one. So, in Syr Eglamour of Artois, bl. 1. no date:
"Of that chylde she was blyth,
"After noryshes she sent belive."
A nourish therefore in this passage of our author may signify a nurse, as it apparently does in the Tragedies of John Bochas, by Lydgate, B. 1, c. xii:
"Athenes whan it was in his floures
"Was called nourish of philosophers wise."
· Fubæ tellus generat, leonum
Arida nutrix. Steevens.
Spenser, in his Ruins of Time, uses nourice as an English word: "Chaucer, the nourice of antiquity." Malone.
2 Than Julius Cæsar, or bright - I can't guess the occasion of the hemistich and imperfect sense in this place; 'tis not impossible it might have been filled up with-Francis Drake, though that were a terrible anachronism (as bad as Hector's quoting Aristotle in Troilus and Cressida); yet perhaps at the time that brave Englishman was in his glory, to an English-hearted audience, and pronounced by some favourite actor, the thing might be popular, though not judicious; and, therefore, by some critick in favour of the author, afterwards struck out. But this is a mere slight conjecture. Pope.
To confute the slight conjecture of Pope, a whole page of vehement opposition is annexed to this passage by Theobald. Sir Thomas Hanmer has stopped at Cæsar-perhaps more judiciously. It might, however, have been written—or bright Berenice. Johnson.
Pope's conjecture is confirmed by this peculiar circumstance, that two blazing stars (the Julium sidus) are part of the arms of the Drake family. It is well known that families and arms were much more attended to in Shakspeare's time, than they are at this day. M. Mason.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My honourable lords, health to you all!
Bed. What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's corse?
Speak softly; or the loss of those great towns
If Henry were recall'd to life again,
These news would cause him once more yield the ghost. Exe. How were they lost? what treachery was us'd? Mess. No treachery; but want of men and money. Among the soldiers this is muttered,
That here you maintain several factions;
And, whilst a field should be despatch'd and fought,
One would have ling'ring wars, with little cost;
Let not sloth dim your honours, new-begot:
Exe. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
This blank undoubtedly arose from the transcriber's or compositor's not being able to make out the name. So, in a subsequent passage the word Nero was omitted for the same reason. See the Dissertation at the end of the third part of King Henry VI.
3 Guienne, Champaigne, Rheims, Orleans,] This verse might be completed by the insertion of Rouen among the places lost, as Gloster in his next speech infers that it had been mentioned with the rest. Steevens.
4 A third man thinks,] Thus the second folio. The first omits the word-man, and consequently leaves the verse imperfect.
her flowing tides.] i. e. England's flowing tides. Malone.
Give me my steeled coat, I'll fight for France-
Enter another Messenger.
2 Mess. Lords, view these letters, full of bad mischance,
France is revolted from the English quite;
The Dauphin Charles is crowned king in Rheims;
Exe. The Dauphin crowned king! all fly to him!
O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?
Glo. We will not fly, but to our enemies' throats:— Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.
Bed. Gloster, why doubt'st thou of my An army have I muster'd in my thoughts, Wherewith already France is over-run.
Enter a third Messenger.
3 Mess. My gracious lords,—to add to your laments, Wherewith you now bedew king Henry's hearse,I must inform you of a dismal fight,
Betwixt the stout lord Talbot and the French.
Win. What! wherein Talbot overcame? is 't so?
Having full scarce six thousand in his troop,"
He wanted pikes to set before his archers;
Instead whereof, sharp stakes, pluck'd out of hedges,
6 their intermissive miseries.] i. e. their miseries, which have had only a short intermission from Henry the Fifth's death to my coming amongst them. Warburton.
7 Having full scarce &c.] The modern editors read—scarce full, but, I think, unnecessarily. So, in The Tempest:
Prospero, master of a full poor cell." Steevens.
They pitched in the ground confusedly,
- above human thought,
Enacted wonders -] So, in King Richard III:
"The king enacts more wonders than a man." Steevens. he slew:] I suspect the author wrote flew. Malone. 1 And rush'd into the bowels of the battle.] Again, in the fifth Act of this play:
"So, rushing in the bowels of the French."
The same phrase had occurred in the first part of Feronimo, 1605:
"Meet, Don Andrea! yes, in the battle's bowels." Steevens. 2 If sir John Fastolfe &c.] Mr. Pope has taken notice, "That Falstaff is here introduced again, who was dead in Henry V. The occasion whereof is, that this play was written before King Henry IV, or King Henry V." But it is the historical Sir John Fastolfe (for so he is called by both our Chroniclers) that is here mentioned; who was a lieutenant general, deputy regent to the duke of Bedford in Normandy, and a knight of the garter; and not the comick character afterwards introduced by our author, and which was a creature merely of his own brain. Nor when he named him Falstaff do I believe he had any intention of throwing a slur on the memory of this renowned old warrior. Theobald.
Mr. Theobald might have seen his notion contradicted in the very line he quotes from. Fastolfe, whether truly or not, is said by Hall and Holinshed to have been degraded for cowardice, Dr. Heylin, in his Saint George for England, tells us, that "he was afterwards, upon good reason by him alledged in his defence, restored to his honour."-"This Šir John Fastolfe," continues he, "was without doubt, a valiant and wise captain, notwithstanding the stage hath made merry with him." Farmer.
3 He being in the vaward, (plac'd behind,] Some of the editors seem to have considered this as a contradiction in terms, and