Page images
PDF
EPUB

K. Hen. It seems, then, that the tidings of this broil
Brake off our business for the Holy Land.
West. This, matched with other, did, my gracious

lord ;
For more uneven and unwelcome news
Came from the north, and thus it did import.
On Holyrood-day,' the gallant Hotspur there,
Young Harry Percy, and brave Archibald,
That ever-valiant and approved Scot,
At Holmedon met,
Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour;
As, by discharge of their artillery,
And shape of likelihood, the news was told ;
For he that brought them, in the very beat
And pride of their contention, did take horse,
Uncertain of the issue any way.

K. Hen. Here is a dear and true-industrious friend,
Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse,
Stained with the variation of each soil
Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours;
And he hath brought us smooth and welcome news.
The earl of Douglas is discomfited;
Ten thousand bold Scots, two-and-twenty knights,
Balked“ in their own blood, did sir Walter see
On Holmedon's plains. Of prisoners, Hotspur took
Mordake the earl of Fife, and eldest son

To beaten Douglas, and the earls of Athol, Of Murray, Angus, and Menteith.

1 i. e. September 14th.

2 “ 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.

3 Archibald Douglas, earl Douglas.

4 Balked 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.

5 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 whence he took this account of the Scottish prisoners.

6 This is a mistake of Holinshed in his English History, for in that of Scotland, pp. 259, 202, 419, he speaks of the earl of Fife and Menteith as one and the same person.

VOL. III.

[ocr errors]

And is not this an honorable spoil ?
A gallant prize ? ha, cousin, is it not ?

West. In faith,
It is a conquest for a prince to boast of.
K. Hen. Yea, there thou mak’st me sad, and mak'st

me sin
In envy that my lord Northumberland
Should be the father of so blest a son ;
A son, who is the theme of honor's tongue;
Amongst a grove, the very straightest plant;
Who is sweet fortune's minion, and her pride ;
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him,
See riot and dishonor stain the brow
Of my young Harry. O that it could be proved,
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,
And called mine-Percy, his—Plantagenet !
Then would I have his Harry, and he mine.
But let him from my thoughts.—What think you, coz,
Of this young Percy's pride ? the prisoners,"
Which he in this adventure hath surprised,

To his own use he keeps; and sends me word,
I shall have none but Mordake, earl of Fife.

West. This is his uncle's teaching ; this is Worcester,
Malevolent to you in all aspects;2
Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up
The crest of youth against your dignity.

K. Hen. But I have sent for him to answer this; And, for this cause, awhile we must neglect Our holy purpose to Jerusalem. Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we Will hold at Windsor; so inform the lords: But come yourself with speed to us again;

1 Percy had an exclusive right to these prisoners, except the earl of Fife. By the law of arms, every man who had taken any captive, whose redemption did not exceed ten thousand crowns, had him clearly to himself to acquit or ransom at his pleasure. But Percy could not refuse the earl of Fife to the king; for, being a prince of the royal blood (son to the duke of Albany, brother to king Robert III.), Henry might justly claim him, by his acknowledged military prerogative.

2 An astrological allusion.

For more is to be said, and to be done,
Than out of anger can be uttered."

West. I will, my liege.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II. The same. Another Room in the Palace.

Enter Henry, Prince of Wales, and FalstAFF. Fal. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad ? .

P. Hen. Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What the devil hast thou to do with the time of the day ? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair, hot wench in flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.

Fal. Indeed, you come near me now, Hal; for we that take purses, go by the moon and seven stars; and not by Phæbus,-he, that wandering knight so fair.? And, I pray thee, sweet wag, when thou art king,—as, God save thy grace—(majesty I should say; for grace thou wilt have none,)

P. Hen. What, none ?

Fal. No, by my troth; not so much as will serve to be prologue to an egg and butter.

P. Hen. Well, how then? Come, roundly, roundly.

Fal. Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us, that are squires of the night's body, be called thieves of the day's beauty ;3 let us be—Diana's foresters,' gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon. And let men say, we be men of good government; being governed as the sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress the moon, under whose countenance westeal.

1 That is, more is to be said than anger will suffer me to say.

2 Falstaff, by this expression, evidently alludes to some knight of romance; perhaps “The Knight of the Sun” (el Cavallero del Febo), a popular book in his time.

3 « Let not us, who are body squires to the night (i. e. adorn the night), be called a disgrace to the day.” To take away the beauty of the day, may probably mean to disgrace it. A “ squire of the body" originally signified the attendant of a knight. It became afterwards the cant term for a pimp. Falstaff puns on the words knight and beauty, quasi booty.

P. Hen. Thou say'st well; and it holds well too; for the fortune of us, that are the moon's men, doth ebb and flow like the sea; being governed as the sea is, by the moon. As, for proof, now: a purse of gold most resolutely snatched on Monday night, and most dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning; got with swearinglay by ;and spent with crying-bring in ;3 now, in as low an ebb as the foot of the ladder; and, by and by, in as high a flow as the ridge of the gallows.

Fal. By the Lord, thou say'st true, lad. And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?

P. Hen. As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle. And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance? 5 , Fal. How now, how now, mad wag? what, in thy

i This is the lament of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, in "The Mirror for Magistrates. Hall, in his Chronicles, says that certain persons who appeared as foresters in a pageant exhibited in the reign of king Henry VIII. were called Diana's knights.

2 i. e. be still; equivalent to the phrase "stand and deliver." 3 i. e. “bring in more wine.”

4 Old lad of the castle. This passage has been supposed to have a reference to the name of sir John Oldcastle. Rowe says that there was a tradition that the part of Falstaff was originally written by Shakspeare under that name, Fuller, in his Church History, book iv. p. 168, mentions this change in the following manner :-“ Stage poets have themselves been very bold with, and others very merry at, the memory of sir John Oldcastle, whom they have fancied a boon companion, a jovial royster, and a coward to boot. The best is, sir John Falstaff hath relieved the memory of sir John Oldcastle, and of late is substituted buffoon in his place.” In confirmation of this, it may be remarked that one of Falstaff's speeches in the first edition has Old, instead of Falst. prefixed to it; and in the epilogue to the Second Part of King Henry IV. the Poet makes a kind of retraction for having made too free with sir John Oldcastle's name“ Where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless he be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man.”

5 The buff, or leather jerkin, was the common habit of a serjeant, or sheriff's officer, and is called a robe of durance on that account, as well as for its durability.

quips, and thy quiddities? What a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin ?

P. Hen. Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern ?

Fal. Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning, many a time and oft.

P. Hen. Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part ?

Fal. No; I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all there.

P. Hen. Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would stretch; and where it would not, I have used my credit.

Fal. Yea, and so used it, that were it not here apparent that thou art heir apparent,-But, I pr’ythee, sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in England when thou art king ? and resolution thus fobbed as it is, with the rusty curb of old father antic the law ? Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief.

P. Hen. No; thou shalt.

Fal. Shall I ? O rare! By the Lord, I'll be a brave judge.

P. Hen. Thou judgest false already; I mean, thou shalt have the hanging of the thieves, and so become a rare hangman.

Fal. Well, Hal, well; and in some sort it jumps with my humor, as well as waiting in the court, I can tell you.

P. Hen. For obtaining of suits ?

Fal. Yea, for obtaining of suits; whereof the hangman hath no lean wardrobe. 'Sblood, I am as melancholy as a gib? cat, or a lugged bear.

P. Hen. Or an old lion; or a lover's lute.
Fal. Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe.?

P. Hen. What sayest thou to a hare, or the melancholy of Moor-ditch ? 4

1 A gib cat is a male cat, from Gilbert, the northern name for a he cat.

2 Lincolnshire bagpipe” is a proverbial saying; the allusion is as yet unexplained. Steevens supposes it to mean “a frog."

3 The hare was esteemed a melancholy animal, from her solitary sitting in her form; its flesh was supposed to generate melancholy.

4 Moor-ditch, a part of the ditch surrounding the city of London, be

« PreviousContinue »