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THOMAS PERCY, Earl of Worcester.
HENRY PERCY, Earl of Northumberland.
HENRY PERCY, surnamed Hotspur, his Son.
EDWARD MORTIMER, Earl of March.
SCROOP, Archbishop of York.
ARCHIBALD, Earl of Douglas.
SIR RICHARD VERNON.
SIR JOHN FALSTAFF.
LADY PERCY, Wife to Hotspur, and Sister to Mortimer. LADY MORTIMER, Daughter to Glendower, and Wife to Mortimer.
MRS. QUICKLY, Hostess of a Tavern in Eastcheap.
Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers, two Carriers, Travellers, and. Attendants. SCENE, England.
FIRST PART OF
SCENE I. London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter KING HENRY, WESTMORELAND, SIR WALTER BLUNT, and Others.
So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
1 Strands, banks of the sea.
2 Upon this passage the reader is favoured 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.' Which, in my opinion, does not make the passage clearer, to say nothing of the improbability of such a corruption as entrance for Erinnys. Mr. Douce proposed to read entrails instead of entrance; and Steevens once thought that we should read entrants. 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
Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland,
who live upon her surface; as in the following passage of King Richard II. :—
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 II. :
"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.-Gosson's School of Abuse, 1587, E. 4.
What yesternight our council did decree,
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question,
By those Welshwomen 6 done, as may not be,
K. Hen. It seems then, that the tidings of this broil
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,
5 Limits here seem to mean appointments or determinations. 6 See Thomas of Walsingham, p. 557, or Holinshed, p. 528. 1 i. e. September 14th.
8 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.
9 Archibald Douglas, Earl Douglas.
Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse,
Ten thousand bold Scots, two-and-twenty knights,
To beaten Douglas 12, and the earls of Athol,
It is a conquest for a prince to boast of.
In envy that my lord Northumberland
A son, who is the theme of honour's tongue;
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 earth 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 them 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. 6