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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. a
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time, when men think least I will. [Exit.
Another Room in the Palace. Enter King HENRY, NORTHUMBERLAND, WORCESTER, HOTSPUR, Sir WALTER BLUNT, and others.
K. Hen. My blood hath been too cold and temperate, Unapt to stir at these indignities, And you have found me ; for, accordingly, You tread upon my patience : but, be sure, I will from henceforth rather be myself, Mighty, and to be fear'd, than my condition ; 1 Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down, And therefore lost that title of respect, Which the proud soul ne'er pays, but to the proud.
Wor. Our house, my sovereign liege, little deserves The scourge of greatness to be used on it ; And that same greatness too which our own hands Have holp to make so portly.
North. My lord,
K. Hen. Worcester, get thee gone, for I see danger And disobedience in thine eye : 0, sir, Your presence is too bold and peremptory, And majesty might never yet endure The moody frontier of a servant brow.2 You have good leave to leave us ; when we need Your use and counsel, we shall send for you.
[Exit WORCESTER. You were about to speak.
[To NORTH North. Yea, my good lord. Those prisoners in your highness' name demanded, Which Harry Percy here at Holmedon took, Were, as he says, not with such strength denied As is deliver'd to your majesty :
(1) Condition for disposition. Shakspeare uses it very frequently for temper of mind, and in this sense the vulgar slill say a good or ill-condition. ed man. JOHNS. (2) Frontier was anciently used for forehead. STEEV.
Either envy, therefore, or misprision
Is guilty of this fault, and not my son.
Hot. My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
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, 3 which ever and anon
He gave his nose, and took’t away again ;
Who, therewith angry, when it next caine there,
Took it in snuff :4-and still he smil'd, 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 terins
He question’d me; among the rest demanded
My prisoners, in your majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting, with my wounds being cold,
To be so pestered with a popinjay,5
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,
Of 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 villainous salt-petre 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.
(3) Pouncet-box-A small box for musk or other perfumes then in fashion: the lid of which, being cut with open work, gave it its name ; from poinsoner, to prick, pierce, or engrave;
WARB. (4) Snuff is equivocally used for anger and a powder taken up the nose.
STEEV. (5) A papinjay is a parrot. JOHNS
(6), i. e. pain. In our ancient translations of physical treatises, dolor veran Iris is commonly called belly-grief. STEEV.
This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord,
I answer'd indirectly, as I said ;
And, I beseech you, let not his report
Come current for an accusation,
Betwixt my love and your high majesty.
Blunt. The circumstance consider'd, good my lord,
Whatever Harry Percy then had said,
To such a person, and in such a place,
At such a time, with all the rest re-told,
May reasonably die, and never rise
Todo him wrong, or any way impeach
What then he said, so he unsay it now.?
K. Hen. Why, yet he doth deny his prisoners ;
But with proviso, and exception,--
That we, at our own charge, shall ransome straight
His brother-in-law, the foolish Mortimer;
Who, on my soul, hath wilfully betray'd
The lives of those that he did lead to fight
Against the great magician, damn'd Glendower;
Whose daughter, as we hear, the earl of March
Hath lately married. Shall our coffers then
Be emptied, to redeem a traitor home?
Shall we buy treason ? and indent with fears,
When they have lost and forfeited themselves ??
No, on the barren mountains let him starve ;
For I shall never hold that man my friend,
Wbose tongue shall ask me for one penny cost
To ransome home revolted Mortimer.
Hot. Revolted Mortimer !
He never did fall off, my sovereign liege,
But by the chance of war ;- To prove that true,
Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds,
Those mouthed wounds, 8 which valiantly he took,
When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank,
In single opposition, hand to hand,
He did confound the best part of an hour
In changing hardiment 9 with great Glendower :
(7) Let what he then said never rise to impeach him, so he unsay it now.
JOHNS. (8) “To prove the loyalty of Mortimer," says Hotspur, “one speaking witness is sufficient; for his wounds proclaim his loyalty, those mouthed wounds," &c. JOHNS.
(9) Hardiment-an obsolete word, signifying hardiness, bravery, stoutness. Spenser is frequent in his use of it. STEEY.
Three times they breath’d, and three times did they
Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;
Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks, 2
Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp head3 in the hollow bank
Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.
Never did bare and rotten policy 4
Colour her working with such deadly wounds ?
Nor never could the noble Mortimer
Receive so many, and all willingly :
Then let him not be slander'd with revolt.
K. Hen. Thou dost belie him, Percy, thou dost belie
He never did encounter with Glendower ; ;
I tell thee,
He durst as well have met the devil alone,
As Owen Glendower for an enemy.
Art not ashamed? But, sirrah, henceforth
Let me-not hear you speak of Mortimer :
Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
Or you shall hear in such a kind from me
As will displease you.--My lord Northumberland,
We license your departure with your son :-
Send us your prisoners, or you'll hear of it.
[Ēxeunt King HENRY, BLUNT, and Trait,
Hot. And if the devil come and roar for them,
I will not send them :--I will after straight,
And tell him so ; for I will ease my heart,
Although it be with hazard of my head.
Norih. What, drunk with choler? stay, and pause
a while : Here comes your uncle.
(1) It is the property of wounds to excite the most impatient thirst. The poet therefore hath with exquisite propriety introduced this circumstance, which may serve to place in its proper light the dying kindness of Sir Philip Sidney ; who, though suffering the extremity of thirst from the agony of his own wounds, yet, notwithstanding, gave up his own draught of water to a wounded soldier. HENLEY.
(2) This passage has been censured as sounding nonsense, which repre sents a stream of water as capable of fear. It is misunderstood. Severn is here not the flood, but the tutelary power of the stood, who was affrighted and hid his head in the hollow bank. JOHNS.
(3) Crisp is curled. STEEV. (4) “ Never did policy, lying open to detection so cclour its workings 19
JORNS, VOL. IV.
Hot. Speak of Mortimer?
"Zounds, I will speak of him ; and let my soul
Want mercy, if I do not join with him:
Yea, on his part, I'll empty all these veins,
And shed my dear blood drop by drop i'the dust,
But I will lift the down-trod Mortimer
As high i'the air as this unthankful king,
As this ingrate and canker'd Bolingbroke.
North. Brother, the king hath made your nephew
[To Wor. Wor. Who struck this heat up, after I was gone ?
Hot. He will, forsooth, have all my prisoners ;
And when I urg'd the ransome once again
Of my wife's brother, then his cheek look'd pale ;
And on my face he turn'd an eye of death, 5
Trembling even at the name of Mortimer.
Wor. I cannot blame him : Was he not proclaim'd,
By Richard that dead is, the next of blood ? 6
North. He was; I heard the proclamation :
And then it was, when the unhappy king
(Whose wrongs in us God pardon !) did set forth
Upon his Irish expedition ;
From whence he, intercepted, did return
To be deposed, and shortly, murdered.
Wor. And for whose death, we in the world's wide
Live scandaliz'd, and foully spoken of.
Hot. But, soft, I pray you ; Did king Richard then
Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer
Heir to the crown?
Vorth. He did; myself did hear it.
Hot. Nay, then I cannot blame his cousin king;
That wish'd him on the barren mountains starv’d.
But shall it be, that you,-that set the crown
Upon the head of this forgetful man ;
And, for his sake, wear the detested blot
(5) That is, a? (ye menacing death. Hotspur seems to describe the king as trembling with rage rather than fear. JOHNS.
(6) Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who was born in 1371, was declared. heir apparent to the crown in the 9th year of King Richard II. (1385.) See
afton, p. 347 But he was killed in Ireland in 1398 The person who was proclaimed by Richard heir apparent to the crown, previous to his last voyage to Ireland, was Edmund Mortimer, (the son of Rogers) who was eben but seven years old; but he was not Percy's wife's brother, but her nephew. MÁLONE,