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by Owen Glendower, and by disturbances in the northern parts of his kingdom, where Hotspur, son of the Earl of Northumberland, has defeated Archibald, Earl of Douglas, and taken certain prisoners, whom he refuses to deliver up to the king. This incenses the king against Hotspur, the more so as the latter has pleaded strongly for the ransom of Mortimer, whom the king declines to redeem. Hotspur thus rendered indignant, joins with the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Worcester, and others, to dethrone the king. The rebel forces advance to Shrewsbury, where a great battle is fought, in which the king obtains a signal victory. Hotspur is slain by Henry, Prince of Wales (afterwards Henry the Fifth), who throughout the battle has greatly distinguished himself. The serious parts of the play are relieved by the eccentricities of the Prince of Wales and his boon companions, Sir John Falstaff, Poins, and Bardolph. Speaking of the first and second parts of Henry the Fourth, Dr. Johnson says—“No two plays are more read than these ; and perhaps no author ever produced two which afforded so much delight. The great events are interesting, for the fate of kingdoms depends on them ; the light occurrences are diverting; the incidents are multiplied with a wonderful felicity of invention, and the characters diversified with the utmost nicety of discernment, and the profoundest skill in the nature of
Peace after Civil War.
So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenc'd in stronds* afar remote.
No more the thirsty Erinnyst of this soil
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,
+ The fury of discord.
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.
King Henry's Character of Percy, and of his Son
Prince Henry. Yea, there thou mak’st me sad, and mak’st me sin, In envy that my
Should be the father of so bless'd a son ;
A son who is the theme of honour's tongue ;
Amongst a grove, the very straitest plant ;
Who is sweet fortune's minion, and her pride ;
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him,
See riot and dishonour stain the brow
Of my young Harry.
Prince Henry's Soliloquy.
I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyok'd humour of your
Yet herein will I imitate the sun ;
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work ;
But when they seldom come, they wish’d-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off,
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes ;
And, like bright metal on a sullen* ground,
My reformation glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly, and attract more eyes,
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time, when men think least I will.
Hotspur's Description of a Fop.
But, I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat, trimly dress’d,
Fresh as a bridegroom ; and his chin, new reap’d,
Show'd like a stubble land at harvest home;
He was perfumed like a milliner ;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box † which ever and anon
and took’t away again ;Who, therewith argry, when it next came there, Took it in snuff :—and still he smild and talk'd ; And, as the soldiers bore dead bodies by, He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse Betwixt the wind and his nobility. With many holiday and lady terms He questioned me; among the rest demanded My prisoners, in your majesty's behalf. * Barren.
+ A box of perfumes.
I then, all smarting with my wounds, being cold,
To be so pester'd with a popinjay,
Out of my grief and my impatience,
Answer'd, neglectingly, I know not what ;
He should, or he should not ; for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman,
guns, and drums, and wounds (God save the mark),
And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth
Was parmaceti for an inward bruise ;
And that it was great pity, so it was,
That villanous saltpetre should be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.
I'll read you matter deep and dangerous ;
As full of peril and adventurous spirit,
As to o’erwalk a current, roaring loud,
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.
By heaven, methinks, it were an easy leap
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon ;
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks ;
So he, that doth redeem her thence, might wear,
Without corrival,* all her dignities :
But out upon this half-faced fellowship. +
Lady Percy's Speech to her Husband.
O, my good lord, why are you thus alone ?
For what offence have I, this fortnight, been
A banish'd woman from my Harry’s bed?
Tell me, sweet lord, what is't that takes from thee
Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth ;
And start so often when thou sitt'st alone?
Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks ;
And given my treasures, and my rights of thee,
To thick-ey'd musing, and curs'd melancholy?
In thy faint slumbers, I by thee have watch’d,
And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars :
Speak terms of manage to thy bounding steed;
Cry, “ Courage—to the field !” And thou hast talk'd
Of sallies and retires ; of trenches, tents,
Of palisadoes, frontiers, parapets ;
Of basilisks, of cannon, culverin ;
Of prisoner's ransom, and of soldiers slain,
And all the currents* of a heady fight.
Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war,
And thus hath so bestirr'd thee in thy sleep,
That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow,
Like bubbles in a late-disturbed stream ;
And in thy face strange motions have appear’d,
Such as we see when men restrain their breath
On some great sudden haste.
O what portents are
Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,
And I must know it, else he loves me not.