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KING HENRY THE FOURTH.
Sons to the King
Friends to the King.
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 I V.
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 commenc'd in strondsl 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 flowrets with the armed hoofs Of hostile paces: those opposed eyes,
1 Strands, banks of the sea.
pages of notes in the variorum Shakspeare. Steevens adopted Mouk Mason's bold conjectural emendation, and reads
No more the thirsty Erinnys of this soil.' Which, in my opinion, does not make the passage clearer, to say nothing of the improbability of such a corruption as entrance for Erinnya. Mr. Douce proposed to read entrails instead of entrance ; and Steevens once thought that we should read entrants.
I am satisfied with the following explanation of the text, 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. The soil is personified, and called the mother of those who live upon her surface; as in the following passage of King Richard II. :
Which, like the meteors of a troubled hearen,
---sweet soil, adieu,
My mother and my nurse, that bears me yet.' The thirsty earth was a common epithet in the poet's age. Thus, in his own King Henry VI. Part 11. :
“Thy brother's blood the thirsty earth hath drunk.' And in the old play of King John :
"Is all the blood y-spilt on either part,
Grown to a love-game, and a bridal feast ?' It is true, as Malone remarks, that Shakspeare seldom attends to the integrity of his metaphors; and why therefore should we suspect this passage to be corrupt, because it offers a trifling difficulty of that kind ?
* To levy a power to a place has been shown by Mr. Gifford to be neither unexampled nor corrupt; but good authorized English. “Scipio, before he levied his force to the walls of Carthage, gave his soldiers the print of the city on a cake to be devoured. -G0880n's School of Abuse, 1587, E. 4.
What yesternight our council did decree,
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question,
K. Hen. It seems then, that the tidings of this broil Brake off our business for the Holy Land. West. This, match'd with other, did, my gracious
8 This Harry Percy was surnamed, for his often pricking, Henry Hotspur, as one that seldom times rested, if there were apie service to be done abroad. Holinshed's Hist. of Scotland,
9 Archibald Douglas, Earl Douglas.
Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse,
West. In faith,
mak'st me sin In envy that my lord Northumberland Should be the father of so blest a son: A son, who is the theme of honour's tongue; Amongst a grove, the very straightest plant; Who is sweet fortune's minion, and her pride: Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, See riot and dishonour stain the brow of my young Harry. O, that it could be prov'd,
10 No circumstance could have been better chosen to mark the expedition of Sir Walter. It is used by Falstaff in a similar manner, 'to stand stained with travel,' &c.
11 Balk’d 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 carth so as to form those heaps or banks. It was sometimes used in the sense of monceau, Fr. for a heap or hili. Pope has a similar thought in the Iliad
"On heaps the Greeks, on heaps the Trojans bled,
And thickening round then rise the hills of dead." 12 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 of Holinshed from whence he took this account of the Scottish prisoners.
13 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. V.