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THE transactions contained in this historical drama are comprised
within the period of about ten months; for the action commences with the news brought of Hotspur having defeated the Scots under Archibald earl of Douglas at Holmedon, (or Halidown-hill,) which battle was fought on Holyrood-day, (the 14th of September,) 1402 ; and it closes with the defeat and death of Hotspur at Shrewsbury; which engagement happened on Saturday the 21st of July, (the eve of Saint Mary Magdalen,) in the year 1403. THEOBALD.
This play was first entered at Stationers' Hall, Feb. 25, 1597, by Andrew Wise. Again, by M. Woolif, Jan. 9, 1598. For the piece supposed to have been its original, see Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. published for S. Leacroft, Charing-Cross. STEEVENS.
Shakspeare has apparently designed a regular connexion of these dramatic histories from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. King Henry, at the end of Richard the Second, declares his purpose to visit the Holy Land, which he resumes in the first speech of this play. The complaint made by King Henry in the last act of Richard the Second, of the wildness of his son, prepares the reader for the frolicks which are here to be recounted, and the characters which are now to be exhibited. JOHNSON.
This comedy was written, I believe, in the year 1597.
King Henry the Fourth.
Prince John of Lancaster; } fons to the King.
Earl of WEST MORELAND»} friends to the King-
Sir WALTER BLUNT,
THOMA3 Percy, Earl of Worcester.
HENRY Percy, Earl of Northumberland :
Henry Percy, furnamed HOTSPUR, bis son.
EDMUND MORTIMER, Earl of March.
SCROOP, Archbisbop of York.
ARCHIBALD, Earl of Douglas.
Sir RICHARD VERNON,
Sir John FALSTAFF.
Lady Percy, wife to Hotspur, and fifter to Mortimer.
Lady MORTIMER, daughter to Glendower, and wife to
Mrs. QUICKLY, hostess of a tavern in Eastcheap.
Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers, two
Carriers, Travellers, and Attendants.
London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter King HENRY, WESTMORELAND, Sir WALTER
BLUNT, and Others.
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenc'd in fronds afar remote.
No more the thirsty Erinnys of this foil
Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood;
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flowrets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile paces : those opposed eyes,
Which,- like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
Did lately meet in the intestine shock
And furious close of civil butchery,
Shall now, in mutual, well-beseeming ranks,
March all one way; and be no more opposod
Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies :
The edge of war, like an ill-Theathed knife,
No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
As far as to the sepulcher of Christ,
(Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
We are impressed and engag'd to fight,)
Forthwith a power of Englit shall we levy;
Whose arms were moulded in their mothers' woinb
To chase these pagans, in those holy fields,
Over whose acres walk'd those blessed feet,
Which, fourteen hundred years ago, were nail'd
For our advantage, on the bitter cross.
But this our purpose is a twelve-month old,
And bootless 'tis to tell you-we will go ;
Therefore we meet not now:--Then let me hear
Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland,
What yesternight our council did decree,
In forwarding this dear expedience.
West. My liege, this haste was hot in question,
And many limits of the charge set down
But yesternight: when, all athwart, there came
A post from Wales, loaden with heavy news;
Whose worst was,--that the noble Mortimer,
Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight
Against the irregular and wild Glendower,
Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken,
And a thousand of his people butchered :
Upon whose dead corps there was such misuse,
Such beastly, shameless transformation,
By those Welshwomen done, as may not be,
Without much shame, retold or spoken of.