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H E N R Y IV.
A CT I. SCENE I.
The court in London.
Enter king Henry, lord John of Lancaster, earl of West
morland, and others.
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils To be commenc'd in stronds a-far remote.
The First Part of Henry IV.) 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 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.
Shakespeare has apparently designed a regular connection 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 his speech. 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. Jounson.
? Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe Jhort-winded accents That is, Let us foften peace to rest a while without disturbance, that the may recover breath to propose new wars. JOHNSON.
3 No more the thirsty entrance of this foil
3 No more the thirsty entrance of this foil
Shall damp her lips with her own children's blood;] This nonsense should be read, Shall Trempe, i. e. moisten, and refers to thirsty in the preceding line : trempe, from the French, tremper, properly signifies the moistnefs made by rain. WARB.
That these lines are absurd is soon discovered, but how this nonsense will be made sense is not so easily told; surely not by reading trempe, for what means he, that says, the thirsty entrance of this foil mall no more trempe her lips with her childrens' blood, more than he that says it shall not damp her lips? To suppose the entrance of the soil to mean the entrance of a king upon dominion, and king Henry to predict that kings shall enter bereafter without bloodshed, is to give words such a latitude of meaning, that no nonsense can want a congruous interpretation.
The antient copies neither have trempe nor damp; the first 4t0 of 1599, that of 1622, the folio of 1623, and the 4to of 1639, all read,
No more the thirsty entrance of this foil
Shell daube her lips with her own children's blood. The folios of 1662 and 1634 read, by an apparent error of the press, Shall damb her lips, from which the later editors have idly adopted damp. The old reading helps the editor no better than the new, nor can I satisfactorily reform the passage. I think that thirsty entrance must be wrong, yet know not what to offer. We may read, but not very elegantly,
No more be birfly entrails of this foil
Shall daubed be with her own childrens' blood. The relative her is inaccurately used in both readings ; but to regard sense more than grammar is familiar to our author.
We may suppose a verse or two loft between these two lines. This is a cheap way of palliating an editor's inability; but I believe such omissions are more frequent in Shakespeare than is commonly imagined. Johnson.
Perhaps the following conjecture may be thought very far fetch'd, and yet I am willing to venture it, because it often happens that a wrong reading has affinity to the right. I would read,
the thirAy entrants of this foil; i. e. those who set foot on this kingdom through the thirst of power or conqueft.
Whoever is accustomed to the old copies of this author, will generally find the words consequents, occurrents, ingredients, spelt consequence, occurrence, ingredience; and thus, perhaps, the French word entrants, anglicized by Shakespeare, might have been corrupted into entrance, which affords no very apparent meaning. STEEVENS.
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
4 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 oppos’d Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies : The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife, No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends, 5 As far as to the fepulchre of Christ, (Whose soldiers now, under whose blessed cross We are impressed, and engag'd to fight) Forthwith a power of English shall we levy; 'Whose arms were moulded in their mothers' wombs
Those opposed eyes,] The fimilitude is beautiful ; but what are “ eyes meeting in intestine shocks, and marching “ all one way ?" The true reading is, files; which appears not only from the integrity of the metaphor, “. well-be
seeming ranks march all one way;" but from the nature of those meteors to which they are compared ; namely, long streaks of red, which represent the lines of armies ; the appearance of which, and their likeness to such lines, gave occasion to all the fuperftition of the common people concerning armies in the air, &c. Out of mere contradiction, the Oxford Editor would improve my alteration of files to arms, and so loses both the integrity of the metaphor and the likeness of the comparison.
WARBURTON. This passage is not very accurate in the expresion, but I think nothing can be changed. Johnson.
s As far as to the fepulchre, &c.] The lawfulness and justice of the holy wars have been much disputed ; but perhaps there is a principle on which the question may be easily determined. If it be part of the religion of the Mahometans to extirpate by the sword all other religions, it is, by the law of self-defence, lawful for men of every other religion, and for Christians among others, to make war upon Mahometans, simply as Mahometans, as men obliged by their own principles to make war upon Christians, and only lying in wait till opportunity fall promise them success. JOHNSON. Vol. V.
To chase these pagans in those holy fields,
West. My liege, this hafte was hot in question,
broil Brake off our business for the Holy-land.
West. This, match'd with others, did, my gracious
For more uneven and unwelcome news
6 - this dear expedience.] For expedition. WARBURTON. ? And many limits- -] Limits for estimates. WARBURT.
By those Welshwomen done - -] Thus Holinshed : “ The “ shamefui viliainy used by the Welshwomen toward the dead “ carcasies, was such as honest ears would be ashamed to hear."
That ever-valiant and approved Scot,
K. Henry. Here is a dear and true-industrious friend,
9 Balk'd in their own blood, -] I should suppose, that the author might have written either bath'd, or bak’d, i. e. encrusted over with blood dried upon
them. I have fince met with this passage in Carew's Survey of Cornwall
, p. 33. of which the reader may try if he can make any use.
“ Fish are saved three manner of ways, but for every of “ which they are first falted, and piled up, row by row, in
square heaps, which they term bulking, where they so remain “ for some days, until the superfluous matter of the blood and “ falt be foaked from them."
Bulk is likewise apparently used for a dead body in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1615.
“ Had I the heart to tread upon the bulk
“ Of my dead father?” And again, in The Love of King David and fair Bethsabe, 1599,
" And in some ditch amidit this darksome wood
Bury his bulk beneath a heap of stones.” STEEVENS: