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North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by Tra


Give then such instances of loss?

Who, he?
He was some hilding fellow,' that had stol'n
The horse he rode on; and, upon my life,

Spoke at a venture. Look, here comes more news.

North. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,1
Foretells the nature of a tragick volume:

So looks the strond, whereon the imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd usurpation.2-

Say, Morton, didst thou come from Shrewsbury?
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
Where hateful death put on his ugliest mask,
To fright our party.


How doth my son, and brother?

Thou tremblest; and the whiteness in thy cheek

Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand.
Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,

So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone, 3

9 — some hilding fellow,] For hildering, i. e. base, degenerate.


Hildering, Degener; vox adhuc agro Devon. familiaris. Spel




like to a title-leaf,] It may not be amiss to observe, that, in the time of our poet, the title-page to an elegy, as well as every intermediate leaf, was totally black. I have several in my possession, written by Chapman, the translator of Homer, and ornamented in this manner. Steevens.

2 a witness'd usurpation.] i. e. an attestation of its ravage. Steevens.


so woe-begone,] This word was common enough amongst the old Scottish and English poets, as G. Douglas, Chaucer, Lord Buckhurst, Fairfax; and signifies, far gone in woe. Warburton. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:

"Awake, revenge, or we are wo-begone!

Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592:

"So woe-begone, so inly charg'd with woe."

Again, in A Looking Glass for London and England, 1598:

"Fair Alvida, look not so woe-begone."

Dr. Bently is said to have thought this passage corrupt, and therefore (with a greater degree of gravity than my readers will probably express) proposed the following emendation:

Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,

And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd:
But Priam found the fire, ere he his tongue,
And I my Percy's death, ere thou report'st it.
This thou would'st say,—Your son did thus, and thus;
Your brother, thus; so fought the noble Douglas;
Stopping my greedy ear with their bold deeds:
But in the end, to stop mine ear indeed,
Thou hast a sigh to blow away this praise,
Ending with-brother, son, and all are dead.
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet:
But, for my lord your son,


Why, he is dead.
See, what a ready tongue suspicion hath!

He, that but fears the thing he would not know,
Hath, by instinct, knowledge from others' eyes,

That what he fear'd is chanced. Yet speak, Morton;

Tell thou thy earl, his divination lies;

And I will take it as a sweet disgrace,

And make thee rich for doing me such wrong.
Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid:
Your spirit is too true, your fears too certain.
North. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy 's dead."

So dead so dull in look, Ucalegon,

Drew Priam's curtain &c.

The name of Ucalegon is found in the third Book of the Iliad, and the second of the Æneid. Steevens.

4 Your spirit —] The impression upon your mind, by which you conceive the death of your son. Johnson.

5 Yet, for all this, say not &c.] The contradiction, in the first part of this speech might be imputed to the distraction of Northumberland's mind; but the calmness of the reflection contained in the last lines, seems not much to countenance such a supposition. I will venture to distribute this passage in a manner which will, I hope, seem more commodious; but do not wish the reader to forget, that the most commodious is not always the true reading:

Bard. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's dead.
North. I see a strange confession in thine eye,
Thou shak'st thy head, and hold'st it fear, or sin,
To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so:
The tongue offends not, that reports his death;
And he doth sin, that doth belie the dead;
Not he, which says the dead is not alive.


I see a strange confession in thine eye:
Thou shak'st thy head; and hold'st it fear, or sin,
To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so:7
The tongue offends not, that reports his death:
And he doth sin, that doth belie the dead;
Not he, which says the dead is not alive.
Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office; and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember'd knolling a departing friend.
Bard. I cannot think, my lord, your son is dead.
Mor. I am sorry, I should force you to believe
'That, which I would to heaven I had not seen:
But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state,


Mor. Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office; and his tongue

Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,

Remember'd knolling a departing friend.

Here is a natural interposition of Bardolph at the beginning, who is not pleased to hear his news confuted, and a proper preparation of Morton for the tale which he is unwilling to tell.


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hold'st it fear, or sin,] Fear for danger. Warburton.

If he be slain, say so:] The words say so are in the first folio, but not in the quarto: they are necessary to the verse, but the sense proceeds as well without them. Johnson.

8 Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,

Remember'd knolling a departing friend.] So, in our author's 71st Sonnet:

66 you shall hear the surly sullen bell

"Give warning to the world that I am fled." This significant epithet has been adopted by Milton: "I hear the far-off curfew sound,

"Over some wide water'd shore

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Swinging slow with sullen roar."

Departing, I believe, is here used for departed. Malone.

I cannot concur in this supposition. The bell, anciently, was rung before expiration, and thence was called the passing bell, i.e. the bell that solicited prayers for the soul passing into another world. Steevens.

I am inclined to think that this bell might have been originally used to drive away demons who were watching to take possession of the soul of the deceased. In the cuts to some of the old service books which contain the Vigilia mortuorum, several devils are waiting for this purpose in the chamber of a dying man, to whom the priest is administering extreme unction. Douce.

Rend'ring faint quittance, wearied and out-breath'd,
To Harry Monmouth; whose swift wrath beat down
The never-daunted Percy to the earth,

From whence with life he never more sprung up.
In few, his death (whose spirit lent a fire
Even to the dullest peasant in his camp)
Being bruited once, took fire and heat away
From the best temper'd courage in his troops:
For from his metal was his party steel'd;
Which once in him abated,' all the rest
Turn'd on themselves, like dull and heavy lead.
And as the thing that 's heavy in itself,
Upon enforcement, flies with greatest speed;
So did our men, heavy in Hotspur's loss,
Lend to this weight such lightness with their fear,
That arrows fled not swifter toward their aim,
Than did our soldiers, aiming at their safety,
Fly from the field: Then was that noble Worcester
Too soon ta'en prisoner: and that furious Scot,
The bloody Douglas, whose well-labouring sword
Had three times slain the appearance of the king,
'Gan vail his stomach,2 and did grace the shame

- faint quittance,] Quittance is return. By faint quittance is meant a faint return of blows. So, in K. Henry V:

"We shall forget the office of our hand,

"Sooner than quittance of desert and merit." Steevens.

1 For from his metal was his party steel'd;

Which once in him abated,] Abated is not here put for the general idea of diminished, nor for the notion of blunted, as applied to a single edge. Abated means reduced to a lower temper, or, as the workmen call it, let down. Johnson.

2'Gan vail his stomach,] Began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. Johnson.

From avaller, Fr. to cast down, or to let fall down. Malone. This phrase has already appeared in The Taming of the Shrew, Vol. VI, p. 150:

"Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot;

"And place your hands below your husbands' foot." Reed. Thus, to vail the bonnet is to pull it off. So, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:

"And make the king vail bonnet to us both.”

To vail a staff, is to let it fall in token of respect. Thus, in the same play:

"And for the ancient custom of vail staff,


Keep it still; claim thou privilege from me:

Of those that turn'd their backs; and, in his flight,

Stumbling in fear, was took.
Is, that the king hath won;

The sum of all
and hath sent out
A speedy power, to encounter you, my lord,
Under the conduct of young Lancaster,
And Westmoreland: this is the news at full.
North. For this I shall have time enough to mourn.
In poison there is physick; and these news,
Having been well, that would have made me sick,3
Being sick, have in some measure made me well:
And as the wretch, whose fever-weaken'd joints,
Like strengthless hinges, buckle under life,
Impatient of his fit, breaks like a fire

Out of his keeper's arms; even so my limbs,
Weaken'd with grief, being now enrag'd with grief,
Are thrice themselves:


hence therefore, thou nice

"If any ask a reason, why? or how?

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Say, English Edward vail'd his staff to you." Steevens.

3 Having been well, that would have made me sick,] i. e. that would, had I been well, have made me sick. Malone.



buckle-] Bend; yield to pressure. Johnson.

even so my limbs,

Weaken'd with grief, being now enrag'd with grief,

Are thrice themselves:] As Northumberland is here comparing himself to a person, who, though his joints are weakened by a bodily disorder, derives strength from the distemper of the mind, I formerly proposed to read—“ Weakened with age," or "Weakened with pain."

When a word is repeated, without propriety, in the same or two succeeding lines, there is great reason to suspect some corruption. Thus, in this scene, in the first folio, we have "able heels," instead of "armed heels," in consequence of the word able having occurred in the preceding line. So, in Hamlet: "Thy news shall be the news," &c. instead of "Thy news shall be the fruit." Again, in Macbeth, instead of "Whom we, to gain our place," &c. we find

"Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace."

In this conjecture I had once some confidence; but it is much diminished by the subsequent note, and by my having lately observed that Shakspeare elsewhere uses grief for bodily pain. Falstaff, in King Henry IV, Part I, p. 317, speaks of the grief of a wound." Grief, in the latter part of this line, is used in its present sense, for sorrow; in the former part for bodily pain.


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