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King Henry the Fourth.


The transactions comprised in this play take up about nine years. The action commences with the account of Hotspur's being defeated and killed [1403]; and closes with the death of King Henry IV. and the coronation of King Henry V. [1412-13]. Upton thinks these two plays improperly called The First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. “ The first play ends (he says) with the peaceful settlement of Henry in the kingdom by the defeats of the rebels.” This is hardly true; for the rebels are not yet finally suppressed. The second, he tells us, shows Henry the Fifth in the various lights of a good-natured rake, till, on his father's death, he assumes a more manly character, This is true; but this representation gives us no idea of a dramatic action. These two plays will appear to every reader, who shall peruse them without ambition of critical discoveries, to be so connected, that the second is merely a sequel to the first; to be two only to be one.'—JOHNSON.

This play was entered at Stationers' Hall, August 23, 1600. There are two copies, in quarto, printed in that year; but it is doubtful whether they are different editions, or the one only a corrected impression of the other.

Malone supposes it to have been composed in 1598.

That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it. But what need I thus
My well known body to anatomize
Among my household ? Why is Rumour here?
I run before King Harry's victory;
Who, in a bloody field by Shrewsbury,
Hath beaten down young Hotspur, and his troops,
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebels' blood. But what mean I
To speak so true at first? my office is
To noise abroad, -that Harry Monmouth fell
Under the wrath of noble Hotspur's sword;
And that the king before the Douglas' rage
Stoop'd his anointed head as low as death.
This have I rumour'd through the peasant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone“,

There Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-sick: the posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learn'd of me; from Rumour's

tongues They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.


4 Northumberland's castle.




SCENE I. The same. The Porter before the Gate.


Who keeps the gate here, ho ?—Where is the earl?

Port. What shall I say you are?

Tell thou the earl,
That the Lord Bardolph doth attend him here.
Port. His lordship is walk'd forth into the or-

chard; Please it your honour, knock but at the gate, And he himself will answer.


Here comes the earl. North. What news, Lord Bardolph? every mi

nute now
Should be the father of some stratagem;
The times are wild; contention, like a horse
Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose,
And bears down all before him.

Noble earl,
I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.

North. Good, an heaven will ! VOL. V.



As good as heart can wish :-
The king is almost wounded to the death;
And, in the fortune of


your son,
Prince Harry slain outright; and both the Blunts
Kill’d by the hand of Douglas : young prince John,
And Westmoreland, and Stafford, fled the field;
And Harry Monmouth's brawn, the hulk Sir John,
Is prisoner to your son: 0, such a day,
So fought, so follow'd, and so fairly won,
Came not, till now, to dignify the times,
Since Cæsar's fortunes !

How is this deriv'd! Saw you the field ? came you from Shrewsbury? Bard. I spake with one, my lord, that came from

A gentleman well bred, and of good name,
That freely render'd me these news for true.
North. Here comes my servant, Travers, whom

I sent
On Tuesday last to listen after news.

Bard. My lord, I over-rode him on the way;
And he is furnish'd with no certainties,
More than he haply may retail from me.

North. Now, Travers, what good tidings come

with you? Tra. My lord, Sir John Umfrevile turn’d me back With joyful tidings; and, being better hors’d, Outrode me. After him, came, spurring hard, A gentleman almost forspent with speed, That stopp'd by me to breathe his bloodied horse: He ask'd the way to Chester; and of him I did demand, what news from Shrewsbury. He told me, that rebellion had bad luck,

1 Exhausted.

you what;

And that young Harry Percy's spur was cold:
With that, he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, struck his armed heels
Against the panting sides of his poor jade ?
Up to the rowel-head; and, starting so,
He seem'd in running to devour the ways,
Staying no longer question.

Ha! Again.
Said he, young Harry Percy's spur was cold ?
Of Hotspur*, coldspur? that rebellion
Had met ill luck!

My lord, I'll tell
If my young lord your son have not the day,
Upon mine honour, for a silken points
I'll give my barony: never talk of it.

Jade is not used by Sbakspeare as a term of contempt; for King Richard II. gives this appellation to his favourite horse Roan Barbary, which Henry IV. rode at his coronation :

• That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand.' The commentators suppose that a jade meant a horse kept for drudgery, a hackney; but this is not the fact. It was only another name for a horse, as nag since. Thus we have

• Hollow pampered jades of Asia.' And Ford, in his Lover's Melancholy, Act ii. Sc. 2:

* Like high fed jades upon a tilting day.' 3 So in the book of Job, ch. xxxix :--He swalloweth the ground in fierceness and rage. The same expression occurs in Ben Jonson's Sejanus :

• But with that speed and heat of appetite
With which they greedily devour the way

To some great sports.' In the Tempest, Ariel, to describe his alacrity in obeying Prospero's commands, says, “I drink the air before me.” Nemesian has the same thought:

latumque fuga consumere campum.' 4 Hotspur seems to have been a very common term for a man of vehemence and precipitation. Stanyhurst renders the following line of Virgil:

• Nec victoris heri tetigit captiva cubile.' * To couch not mounting of mayster vanquisher hoatspur.' 5 A silken point is a tagged lace.


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