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North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
How doth my son, and brother ?
thus; Your brother, thus; so fought the noble Douglas; Stopping my greedy ear with their bold deeds:
6 i.e. Hilderling, base, low fellow. 7 An attestation of its ravage.
8 Dr. Bentley is said to have thought this passage corrupt ; and therefore (with a greater degree of gravity than the reader will probably express) proposed the following emendation :
• So dead, so dull in look Ucalegon,
Drew Priam's curtain,' &c. The name of Ucalegon occurs in the third Iliad, and in the Æneid.
But in the end, to stop mine ear indeed,
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet: But, for
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 chanc'd. 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. 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. 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'. 9 So in Shakspeare's seventy-first Sonnet:
'—You shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled.'
I hear the far-off curfew sound
Swinging slow with sullen roar.' The bell anciently was rung before the dying person had expired, and thence was called the passing bell. Mr. Douce thinks it probable that this bell might have been originally used to drive away demons, who were supposed to watch for the parting soul.
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, Rend'ring faint quittance 10, wearied and outbreath'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 11 once, took fire and heat
away From the best temper'd courage in his troops : For from his metal was his party steeld; 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.12 his stomach, and did grace the shame Of those that turn’d their backs; and, in his flight,
10 By faint quittance a faint return of blows is meant. So in King Henry V:
• We shall forget the office of our hand
Sooner than quittance of desert and merit.' 11 i. e. reported, noised abroad. Vide Macbeth, Act v. Sc. 7.
12 i. e. began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. To vail is to lower, to cast down. So in The Taming of the Shrew, Act v:
* Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
Stumbling in fear, was took. The sum of all
North. For this I shall have time enough to mourn.
crutch; A scaly gauntlet now, with joints of steel, Must glove this hand : and hence, thou sickly quoif; Thou art a guard too wanton for the head, Which princes, flesh'd with conquest, aim to hit. Now bind my brows with iron; And approach The ragged'st hour that time and spite dare bring, To frown upon the enrag'd Northumberland! Let heaven kiss earth! Now let not nature's hand Keep the wild flood confin'd! let order die! And let this world no longer be a stage, To feed contention in a lingering act; But let one spirit of the first-born Cain Reign in all bosoms, that, each heart being set On bloody courses,
the rude scene may end, And darkness be the burier of the dead 15!
13 Grief, in the latter part of this line, is used, in its present sense, for sorrow; in the former part for bodily pain.
14 Steevens explains nice here by trifling; but Shakspeare, like his cotemporaries, uses it in the sense of effeminate, delicate, tender. Vide note on As You Like It, Act iv. Sc. 1. p. 182.
15 • The conclusion of this noble speech (says Johnson) is extremely striking. There is no need to suppose it exactly philo
Tra. This strained passion doth you wrong, my
lord 16. Bard. Sweet earl, divorce not wisdom from your
honour. Mor. The lives of all your loving complices Lean on your health; the which, if you give o'er To stormy passion, must perforce decay. You cast the event of war, my noble lord 17, And summ'd the account of chance, before you
said, Let us make head. It was your presurmise, That in the dole 18 of blows your son might drop: You knew, he walk'd o'er perils, on an edge, More likely to fall in, than to get o’er 19: You were advis’d 20, his flesh was capable Of wounds, and scars; and that his forward spirit Would lift him where most trade of danger rang'd; Yet did you say,—Go forth; and none of this, Though strongly apprehended, could restrain The stiff-borne action : What hath then befallen, sophical ; darkness, in poetry, may be absence of eyes, as well as privation of light. Yet we may remark that, by an ancient opinion, it has been held that if the human race, for whom the world was made, were extirpated, the whole system of sublunary nature would cease at once. Mr. Boswell remarks that a passage resembling this, but feeble in comparison, is found in The Double Marriage of Beaumont and Fletcher:
That we might fall,
Nay, the whole world, and make a second chaos.' 16 This line in the quarto is by mistake given to Umfreville, who is spoken of in this very scene as absent. It is given to Travers at Steevens's suggestion.
17 The fourteen following lines, and a number of others in this play, were not in the quarto edition.
18 Dealing, or distribution.
• As full of peril and adventurous spirit,
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.' 20 That is, you were warned or aware.