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The transactions contained in this historical drama are comprised within the period of about ten months ; for the action commences with the news brought of Hotspur having defeated the Scots under Archibald earl of Douglas at Holmedon, (or Halidown-hill,) which battle was fought on Holy-rood day, (the 14th of September,) 1402; and it closes with the defeat and death of Hotspur at Shrewsbury; which engagement happened on Saturday the 21st of July, (the eve of Saint Mary Magdalen) in the year 1403. THEOBALD.
This play was first entered at Stationers' Hall, Feb. 25, 1597, by Andrew Wise. Again, by M. Woolff, Jan. 9, 1598. For the piece supposed to have been its original, see Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. published for S. Leacroft, Charing-Cross. Steevens.
Shakspeare has apparently designed a regular connection of these dramatick histories from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. King Henry, at the end of Richard the Second, declares his purpose to visit the Holy Land, which he resumes in the first speech of this play. The complaint made by King Henry in the last Act of Richard the Second, of the wildness of his son, prepares the reader for the frolicks which are here to be recounted, and the characters which are now to be exhibited. Johnson.
This comedy was written, I believe, in the year 1597. See the Essay on the Chronological Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ii. MALONE.
No less than five quarto editions of this play were published during the author's life, 1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613.
KING HENRY the Fourth.
Sons to the King.
Wife to Mortimer.
FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY IV.
ACT I. SCENE I.
London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter King Henry, WESTMORELAND, Sir WALTER
Blunt, and Others. K. Hen. 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 entrance of this soil Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood; 2 Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils -] That is, let us soften peace to rest a while without disturbance, that she may recover breath to propose new wars. JOHNSON. 3 No more the thirsty Entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood ;] Perhaps the following conjecture may be thought very far fetched, and yet I am willing to venture it, because it often happens that a wrong reading has affinity to the right. We might read:
the thirsty entrants of this soil ; ” i. e. those who set foot on this kingdom through the thirst of power or conquest, as the speaker himself had done, on his return to England after banishment.
Whoever is accustomed to the old copies of this author, will generally find the words consequents, occurrents, ingredients, spelt consequence, occurrence, ingredience; and thus, perhaps, the French word entrants, anglicized by Shakspeare, might have been corrupted into entrance, which affords no very apparent meaning
By her lips Shakspeare may mean the lips of peace, who is mentioned in the second line ; or may use the thirsty entrance of the soil, for the porous surface of the earth, through which all moisture enters, and is thirstily drank, or soaked up.
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
So, in an Ode inserted by Gascoigne in his Francis and Kinwelmersh's translation of the Phænissæ of Euripides :
“ And make the greedy ground a drinking cup,
“ To sup the blood of murder'd bodies up.” Steevens.
“Her lips," in my apprehension, refers to soil in the preceding
“ Tells them, he does bestride a bleeding land,
Gasping for life under great Bolingbroke.")
Daub, the reading of the earliest copy, is confirmed by a pas-
“ For that our kingdom's earth shall not be soild
“ With that dear blood which it hath fostered."
“ Thy brother's blood the thirsty earth hath drunk : ”
“ Rest thy unrest on England's lawful earth,
Unlawfully made drunk with innocent blood.”
A passage in the old play of King John, 1591, may throw
Is all the blood y-spilt on either part,
“ Grown to a love-game, and a bridal feast ?" Malone.