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King Henry The Fourth.
Earl of Westmoreland, ) jr,. * , .7 Tt-„
Lady Percy, Wife to Hotspur, and Sister to Mortimer. Lady Mortimer, Daughter to Glendower, and Wife to Mortimer. Mrs. Quickly, Hostess of a Tavern in Eastcheap.
Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers, two Carriers Travellers, and Attendants.
FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
SCENE I. London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter King Henry, Westmoreland, Sir Walter Blunt, and others.
King Henry. So shaken as we are, so wan with care, Find we a time for frighted peace to pant, And breathe short-winded accents of new broils To be commenced in stronds1 afar remote. No more the thirsty entrance of this soil2 Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood; No more shall trenching war channel her fields, Nor bruise her flow'rets with the armed hoofs Of hostile paces: those opposed eyes, Which—like the meteors of a troubled heaven, All of one nature, of one substance bred— Did lately meet in the intestine shock
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,
Shall now, in mutual, well-beseeming ranks,
March all one way; and be no more opposed
Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies.
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
As far as to the sepulchre of Christ,
(Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
We are impressed and engaged to fight,)
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy,1
Whose arms were moulded in their mother's womb,
To chase these pagans, in those holy fields,
Over whose acres walked those blessed feet,
Which, fourteen hundred years ago, were nailed,
For our advantage, on the bitter cross.
But this our purpose is a twelvemonth old,
And bootless 'tis to tell you—we will go;
Therefore2 we meet not now.—Then let me hear Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland, What yesternight our council did decree, In forwarding this dear expedience.3
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question, And many limits4 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 Welshwomen5 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 neithei unexampled nor corrupt, but good, authorized English.
2 For that cause. 3 Expedition.
4 Limits here seem to mean appointments or determinations. 5 See Thomas of Walsingham, p. 557, or Holinshed, p. 528.
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
Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour;
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. in. 58
And is not this an honorable spoil?
West. In faith,
K. Hen. Yea, there thou mak'st me sad, and mak'st
West. This is his uncle's teaching; this is Worcester, Malevolent to you in all aspects;2 Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up The crest of youth against your dignity.
K. Hen. But I have sent for him to answer this; And, for this cause, awhile we must neglect Our holy purpose to Jerusalem. Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we Will hold at Windsor; so inform the lords: But come yourself with speed to us again;
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.