Page images
[ocr errors]

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' with great Glendower:
Three times they breath'd, and three times did they

drink 8,
Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;
Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks,
Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp head' in the hollow bank



that true,
Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds, &c.]
Hotspur calls Mortimer's wounds mouthed, from their gaping like
a mouth, and says, that to prove his loyalty, but one tongue was
necessary for all these mouths. This may be harsh ; but the same
idea occurs in Coriolanus, where one of the populace says:
“ For if he shows us his wounds, we are to put our tongues into
these wounds, and speak for them.” M. Mason.
So, Julius Cæsar :

there were an Antony,
“Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue

wound of Cæsar,” &c. Malone.
7 - hardiment-] An obsolete word, signifying hardiness,
bravery, stoutness. Spenser is frequent in his use of it.

STEEVENS. 8-three times did they drink,] 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 Sydney; 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.

9 Who then, affrighted, &c.] This passage has been censured as sounding nonsense, which represents a stream of water as capable of fear. It is misunderstood. Severn is here not the flood, but the tutelary power of the flood, who was affrighted, and hid his head in the hollow bank. Johnson.

his CRISP head --] Crisp is curled. So, Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Maid of the Mill :

methinks the river,
As he steals by, curls up his head to view."
Again, in Kyd's Cornelia, 1595:

“O beauteous Tyber, with thine easy streams,
" That glide as smoothly as a Parthian shaft,

[ocr errors]



* : they

Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.
Never did bare and rotten policy
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 him,
He never did encounter with Glendower;
I tell thee,
He durst as well have met the devil alone,
As Owen Glendower for an enemy.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

“ Turn not thy crispy tides, like silver curls,

" Back to thy grass-green banks to welcome us?" Perhaps Shakspeare has bestowed an epithet, applicable only to the stream of water, on the genius of the stream. The following passage, however, in the sixth song of Drayton's Polyolbion, may seem to justify its propriety:

Your corses were dissolv'd into that chrystal stream; “ Your curls to curled waves, which plainly still appear

“ The same in water now that once in locks they were.” Beaumont and Fletcher have the same image with Shakspeare in The Loyal Subject :

the Volga trembled at his terror,
“ And hid his seven curi'd heads."
Again, in one of Ben Jonson's Masques :

“ The rivers run as smoothed by his hand,

Only their heads are crisped by his stroke.”
See vol. vi. (Whalley's edit.) p. 26. STEEVENS.

2 Never did BARE and rotten policy -] All the quartos which I have seen read bare in this place. The first folio, and all the subsequent editions, have base. I believe bare is right : “Never did policy, lying open to detection, so colour its workings."

JOHNSON. The first quarto, 1598, reads bare; which means 'so thinly covered by art as to be easily seen through.' So, in Venus and Adonis :

“ What bare excuses mak’st thou to be gone!” MALONE. Since there is such good authority as Johnson informs us, for reading base, in this passage, instead of bare, the former word should certainly be adopted. Bare policy, that is, policy lying open to detection, is in truth no policy at all. The epithet base, also best agrees with rollen. M. Mason.

Art thou 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.

[Ereunt King Henry, Blunt, and Train.
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.
North. What, drunk with choler? stay, and

pause awhile ; Here comes your uncle.

Нот. .

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 ne-
phew mad.

[To WORCESTER. Wor. Who struck this heat up after I was gone ?

Hor. He will, forsooth, have all my prisoners ; And when I urg'd the ransom once again Of my wife's brother, then his cheek look'd pale ; And on my face he turn'd an eye of death",

2 Art not --] Old copies--" Art thou not.” Steevens.

3 -- an eye of death,] That is, an eye menacing death. Hotspur seems to describe the King as trembling with rage rather than fear. Johnson. So, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590 :

Trembling even at the name of Mortimer.
Wor. I cannot blame him : Was he not pro-

By Richard that dead is, the next of blood 4 ?

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 depos'd, and shortly, murdered. Wor. And for whose death, we, in the world's

wide mouth Live scandaliz'd, and foully spoken of.

[ocr errors]

“And wrapt in silence of his angry soul,

Upon his brows were pourtraid ugly death,

“ And in his eyes the furies of his heart.” Steevens. Johnson and Steevens seem to think that Hotspur meant to describe the King as trembling not with fear, but rage ; but surely they are mistaken. The King had no reason to be enraged at Mortimer, who had been taken prisoner in fighting against his enemy; but he had much reason to fear the man who had a better title to the crown than himself, which had been proclaimed by Richard II. ; and accordingly, when Hotspur is informed of that circumstance, he says:

Nay, then I cannot blame his cousin king

“ That wish'd him on the barren mountains starv'd.” And Worcester, in the very next line, says: “ He cannot blame him for trembling at the name of Mortimer, since Richard had proclaimed him next of lood.” M.

Lason. Mr. M. Mason's remark is, I think, in general just; but the King, as appears from this scene, had some reason to be enraged also at Mortimer, because he thought that Mortimer had not been taken prisoner by the efforts of his enemies, but had himself revolted. MALONE. 4 - Was he not proclaim'd,

By Richard that dead is, the next of blood ?] 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 Grafton, 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 Roger,) who was then but seven years old ; but he was not Percy's wife's brother, but her nephew. Malone.

Hor. But, soft, I pray you; Did king Richard

then Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer Heir to the crown?

s Heir to the crown?] Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, was the undoubted heir to the crown after the death of Richard, as appears from the following table ; in which the three younger children of King Edward III. are not included, as being immaterial to the subject before us :

[blocks in formation]

Sandford, in his Genealogical History, says, that the last men. tioned Edmund, Earl of March, (the Mortimer of this play,) was married to Anne Stafford, daughter of Edmund, Earl of Stafford. Thomas Walsingham asserts that he married a daughter of Owen Glendower; and the subsequent historians copied him; but this is a very doubtful point, for the Welsh writers make no mention of it. Sandford says that this Earl of March was confined by the jealous Henry in the castle of Trim in Ireland, and that he died there, after an imprisonment of twenty years, on the 19th of January, 1424. But this is a mistake. There is no proof that he was confined a state-prisoner by King Henry the Fourth, and he was employed in many military services by his son Henry the Fifth. He died at his own castle at Trim in Ireland, at the time mentioned by Sandford, but not in a state of imprisonment. See note on King Henry VI. Part II. Act II. Sc. II.

Since the original note was written, I have learned that Owen Glendower's daughter was married to his antagonist Lord Grey of Ruthven. Holinshed led Shakspeare into the error of supposing her the wife of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March. This nobleman, who is the Mortimer of the present play, was born in November, 1392, and consequently at the time when this play com

« PreviousContinue »