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And of so easy and so plain a stop °,
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
Among my household? Why is Rumour here?
so easy and so plain a STOP,] The stops are the holes in a flute or pipe. So, in Hamlet: "Govern these ventages with your finger and thumb:-Look you, these are the stops." Again: "You would seem to know my stops." STEEVENS.
7 And this worm-eaten HOLD of ragged stone,] The old copies read-" worm-eaten hole." MALONE.
Northumberland had retired and fortified himself in his castle, a place of strength in those times, though the building might be impaired by its antiquity; and, therefore, I believe our poet
"And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone." THEOBALD. Theobald is certainly right. So, in The Wars of Cyrus, &c.
Besieg'd his fortress with his men at arms,
"Where only I and that Libanio stay'd
By whom I live. For when the hold was lost," &c.
Again, in King Henry VI. Part III. :
"She is hard by with twenty thousand men,
"And therefore fortify your hold, my lord." STEEVENS.
And not a man of them brings other news Than they have learn'd of me; From Rumour's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true
SECOND PART OF
KING HENRY IV.
ACT I. SCENE I.
The Porter before the Gate; Enter Lord BAR
BARD. Who keeps the gate here, ho?-Where is the earl?
PORT. What shall I say you are?
BARD. Tell thou the earl, That the lord Bardolph doth attend him here. PORT. His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard;
Please it your honour, knock but at the gate,
Here comes the earl. NORTH. What news, lord Bardolph ? every minute now Should be the father of some stratagem": The times are wild; contention, like a horse
Some STRATAGEM :] Some stratagem means here some great, important, or dreadful event. So, in The Third Part of King Henry VI, the father who had killed his son says :
"O pity, God! this miserable age!
"This mortal quarrel daily doth beget!" M. MASON,
Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose,
I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.
As good as heart can wish:-
A gentleman well bred, and of good name,
How is this deriv'd? Saw you the field? came you from Shrewsbury? BARD. I spake with one, my lord, that came from thence;
NORTH. Here comes my servant, Travers, whom I sent
On Tuesday last to listen after news.
BARD. My lord, I over-rode him on the way; And he is furnish'd with no certainties, More than he haply may retail from me.
NORTH. NOW, Travers, what good tidings come with you?
TRA. My lord, sir John Umfrevile turn'd me back
With joyful tidings; and, being better hors'd,
A gentleman almost forspent with speed',
And that young Harry Percy's spur was cold:
FORSPENT with speed,] To forspend is to waste, to exhaust. So, in Sir A. Gorges' translation of Lucan, b. vii. : crabbed sires forspent with age." STEEVENS.
ARMED heels-] Thus the quarto 1600. The folio, 1623, reads "able heels ;" the modern editors, without authority-" agile heels." STEEVENS.
2-poor jade-] Poor jade is used, not in contempt, but in compassion. Poor jade means the horse wearied with his journey.
Jade, however, seems anciently to have signified what we now call a hackney; a beast employed in drudgery, opposed to a horse kept for show, or to be rid by its master. So, in a comedy called A Knack to know a Knave, 1594:`
"Besides, I'll give you the keeping of a dozen jades, "And now and then meat for you and your horse." This is said by a farmer to a courtier. STEEVENS.
Shakspeare, however, (as Mr. Steevens has observed,) certainly does not use the word as a term of contempt; for King Richard the Second gives this appellation to his favourite horse Roan Barbary, on which Henry the Fourth rode at his coronation :
“That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand.”
rowel-head ;] I think that I have observed in old prints the rowel of those times to have been only a single spike.
Dr. Johnson had either forgotten the precise meaning of the word rowel, or has made choice of inaccurate language in applying it to the single spiked spur, which he had seen in old prints. The former signifies the moveable spiked wheel at the end of a spur, such as was actually used in the time of Henry the Fourth, and long before the other was laid aside. Shakspeare certainly meant the spur of his own time. DOUCE.