« AnteriorContinuar »
North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by Tra
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
How doth my son, and brother?
some hilding fellow,] For hildering, i.e. base, degenerate.
Pope. Hillering, Degener; vox adhuc agro Devon. familiaris. Spel.
like to a title-leaf,] It may not be amiss to observe, that, in the time of our poet, the title-page to an elegy, as well as every intermediate leaf, was totally black. I have several in my possession, written by Chapman, the translator of Homer, and orna. mented in this manner. Steevens. - a witness'd usurpation.] i. e. an attestation of its ravage.
Steevens. 3 — so woe-begone,] This word was common enough amongst the old Scottish and English poets, as G. Douglas, Chaucer, Lord Buckhurst, Fairfax; and signifies, far gone in woe. Warburton. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
“ Awake, revenge, or we are wo-begone !! Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592:
“So woe-begone, so inly chargʻd with woe." Again, in 4 Looking Glass for London and England, 1598:
“ Fair Alvida, look not so woe-begone." Dr. Bently is said to have thought this passage corrupt, and therefore (with a greater degree of gravity than my readers will probably express) proposed the following emendation:
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet:
Why, he is dead.
Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid: Your spirit4 is too true, your fears too certain.
North. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy 's dead.5
So dead so dull in look, Ucalegon,
Drew Priam's curtain &c. The name of Ucalegon is found in the third Book of the Iliad, and the second of the Æneid. Steevens.
4 Your spirit - ] The impression upon your mind, by which you conceive the death of your son. Johnson.
5 Yet, for all this, say not &c.] The contradiction, in the first part of this speech might be imputed to the distraction of Northumberland's mind; but the calmness of the reflection contained in the last lines, seems not much to countenance, such a supposition. I will venture to distribute this passage in a manner which will, I hope, seem more commodious; but do not wish the reader to forget, that the most commodious is not always the true read. ing:
Bard. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's dead.
North. I see a strange confession in thine eye,
I see a strange confession in thine eye:
Bard. I cannot think, my loid, your son is dead.
Mor. I am sorry, I should force you to believe 'That, which I would to heaven I had not seen: But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state,
Mor. Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Remember'd knolling a departing friend. Here is a natural interposition of Bardolph at the beginning, who is not pleased to hear his news confuted, and a proper preparation of Morton for the tale which he is unwilling to tell.
Fohnson. holdst it fear, or sin,] Fear for danger. Warburton.
If he be slain, say so:] The words say so are in the first folio, but not in the quarto: they are necessary to the verse, but the sense proceeds as well without them. Johnson. 8 Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember'd knolling a departing friend.] So, in our author's 71st Sonnet:
you shall hear the surly sullen bell
" I hear the far-off curfew sound,
“ Swinging slow with sullen roar.”
I cannot concur in this supposition. The bell, anciently, was rung before expiration, and thence was called the passing bell, i.e. the bell that solicited prayers for the soul passing into another world. Steevens.
I am inclined to think that this bell might have been originally used to drive away demons who were watching to take possession of the soul of the deceased. In the cuts to some of the old ser. vice books which contain the Vigiliæ mortuorum, several devils are waiting for this purpose in the chamber of a dying man, to whom the priest is administering extreme unction. Douce..
Rend'ring faint quittance,' wearied and out-breath'd,
- faint quittance,] Quittance is return. By faint quittance is meant a faint return of blows. So, in K. Henry V :
“ We shall forget the office of our hand,
“Sooner than quittance of desert and merit.” Steevens. 1 For from his metal was his party steeld;
Which once in him abated,] Abated is not here put for the ge. neral idea of diminished, nor for the notion of blunted, as applied to a single edge. Abated means reduced to a lower temper, or, as the workmen call it, let down. Johnson.
2'Gan vail his stomach,] Began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. Johnson. From avaller, Fr. to cast down, or to let fall down. Malone.
This phrase has already appeared in The Taming of the Shrew, Vol. VI, p. 150:
“ Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot;
“ And place your hands below your husbands' foot.” Reed. Thus, to vail the bonnet is to pull it off. So, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ And make the king vail bonnet to us both.” To vail a staff, is to let it fall in token of respect. Thus, in the same play:
“And for the ancient custom of vail staff,
Of those that turn’d their backs; and, in his flight,
North. For this I shall have time enough to mourn.
“Jf any ask a reason, why? or how?
“Say, English Edward vail'd his staf to you.” Steevens. 3 Having been well, that would have made me sick,] i. e. that would, had I been well, have made me sick. Malone.
buckle - ] Bend; yield to pressure. Johnson. 5even so my limbs,
Weaken'd with grief, being now enrag:d with grief,
Are thrice themselves:) As Northumberland is here comparing himself to a person, who, though his joints are weakened by a bodily disorder, derives strength from the distemper of the mind, I formerly proposed to read—“ Weakened with age," or “ Weakened with pain."
When a word is repeated, without propriety, in the same or two succeeding lines, there is great reason to suspect some corruption. Thus, in this scene, in the first folio, we have “ able heels," instead of “armed heels,” in consequence of the word able having occurred in the preceding line. So, in Hamlet : “ Thy news shall be the news,” &c. instead of “ Thy news shall be the fruit." Again, in Macbeth, instead of “ Whom we, to gain our place,” &c. we find
“Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace.” In this conjecture I had once some confidence; but it is much diminished by the subsequent note, and by my having lately observed that Shakspeare elsewhere uses grief for bodily pain. Fal. staff, in King Henry IV, Part I, p. 317, speaks of " the grief of a wound." Grief, in the latter part of this line, is used in its present sense, for sorrow; in the former part for bodily pain.