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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
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood;
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,
(Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
But this our purpose is a twelvemonth old,
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question,
1 To levy a power to a place has been shown by Mr. Gifford to be neither unexampled nor corrupt, but good, authorized English.
2 For that cause.
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 lord;
For more uneven and unwelcome news
Came from the north, and thus it did import.
Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour;
And shape of likelihood, the news was told;
K. Hen. Here is a dear and true-industrious friend,
Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours;
Ten thousand bold Scots, two-and-twenty knights,
To beaten Douglas,5 and the earls of Athol,
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.
And is not this an honorable spoil?
A gallant prize? ha, cousin, is it not?
It is a conquest for a prince to boast of.
K. Hen. Yea, there thou mak'st me sad, and mak'st me sin
In envy that my lord Northumberland
A son, who is the theme of honor's tongue;
Of my young Harry. O that it could be proved,
To his own use he keeps; and sends me word,
West. This is his uncle's teaching; this is Worcester, Malevolent to you in all aspects;2
Which makes him prune himself, and bristle
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
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.
For more is to be said, and to be done,
SCENE II. The same. Another Room in the Palace.
Enter HENRY, Prince of Wales, and FALSTAFF.
Fal. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?
P. Hen. Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What the devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair, hot wench in flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
Fal. Indeed, you come near me now, Hal; for we that take purses, go by the moon and seven stars; and not by Phoebus,-he, that wandering knight so fair.? And, I pray thee, sweet wag, when thou art king,—as, God save thy grace-(majesty I should say; for grace thou wilt have none,)
P. Hen. What, none?
Fal. No, by my troth; not so much as will serve to be prologue to an egg and butter.
P. Hen. Well, how then? Come, roundly, roundly. Fal. Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us, that are squires of the night's body, be called thieves of the day's beauty; let us be-Diana's
1 That is, more is to be said than anger will suffer me to say.
2 Falstaff, by this expression, evidently alludes to some knight of romance; perhaps "The Knight of the Sun" (el Cavallero del Febo), a popular book in his time.
3 "Let not us, who are body squires to the night (i. e. adorn the night), be called a disgrace to the day." To take away the beauty of the day, may probably mean to disgrace it. A "squire of the body" originally