Page images
[ocr errors]

And not a man of them that we shall take,
Shall taste our mercy :-Go, and tell them so,

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

transposition might easily happen in copies written for the players, Yet it must not be concealed, that in the imperfect play of 1608 the order of the scenes is the same as here. “Johnson.

The difference of the two copies may be thus accounted for. The elder was, perhaps, taken down, during the representation, by the contrivance of some bookseller, who was in haste to publish it ; or it might, with equal probability, have been collected from the repetitions of actors invited to a tavern for that purpose. The manner in which many of the scenes are printed, adds strength to the supposition; for in these a single line is generally divided into two, that the quantity of the play might be seemingly increased. The second and more ample edition in the folio 1623) may be that which regularly belonged to the playhouse; and yet with equal confidence we may pronounce, that every dramatick composition would materially suffer, if only transmitted to the public through the medium of ignorance, presumption, and caprice, those common attendants on a theatre. STEEVENS.

Johnson's long note on this passage is owing to his inattention. The prisoners whom the King had already put to death, were those which were taken in the first action, and those whom he had now in his power,

and threatens to destroy, are the prisoners that were taken in the subsequent desperate charge made by Bourbon, Orleans, &c. And accordingly we find, in the next scene but one, an account of those prisoners, amounting to upwards of 1500, with Bourbon and Orleans at the head of the list. It was this second attack that compelled the King to kill the prisoners whom he had taken in the first. M. Mason.

The order of the scenes is the same (as Dr. Johnson owns) in the quarto and the folio ; and the supposition of a second draught is, I am persuaded, a mistake, originating from Mr. Pope, whose researches on these subjects were by no means profound. The quarto copy of this play is manifestly an imperfect transcript procured by some fraud, and not a first draught or hasty sketch of Shakspeare's. The choruses, which are wanting in it, and which must have been written in 1599, before the quarto was printed, prove this. Yet Mr. Pope asserts, that these choruses, and all the other passages not found in the quarto, were added by the author after the year 1600 :

With respect however to the incongruity objected to, if it be one, Holinshed, and not our poet, is answerable for it; for thus the matter is stated by him. While the battle was yet going on, about six hundred French horsemen, who were the first that had fled, hearing that the English tents were a good way distant from the army, without a suficient guard, entered and pillaged the

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


pse be

Enter Montjoy.
Exe. Here comes the herald of the French, my



king's camp:

• When the outcry of the lackies and boys, which ran away for fear of the Frenchmen, thus spoiling the camp, came to the king's ears, he, doubting lest his enemies should gacher together again and begin a new fielde, and mistrusting further that the prisoners would either be an aide to his enemies, or very enemies to their takers indeed, if they were suffered to live, contrary to his accustomed gentleness, commanded by sounde of trumpet, that every man upon pain of death should incontinently sled his prisoner."—Here then we have the first transaction relative to the killing of the prisoners, in consequence of the spoiling of the camp, to which Fluellen alludes in the beginning of this scene, when he complains of the French having killed the “poys and the luggage :” and we see, the order for killing the prisoners arose partly from that outrage, and partly from Henry's apprehension that his enemies might renew the battle, and that his forces were not sufficient to guard one army, and fight another."

What follows will serve to explain the King's threat in the speech now before us, at least will show that it is not out of its place. When (proceeds the Chronicler,) this lamentable slaughter of the prisoners) was ended, the Englishmen disposed themselves in order of battayle, ready to abide a new fielde, and also to invade and newly set on their enemies.-Some write, that the King perceiving his enemies in one parte to assemble together, as though they meant to give a new battaile for preservation of the prisoners, sent to them a herault, commaunding them either to depart out of his sight, or else to come forward al once, and give battaile; promising herewith, that if they did offer to fight agayne, not only those prisoners which his people already had taken, but also so many of them as in this new conflicte, which they thus attempted, should fall into his hands, should die the death without redemption.'"

The fact was, that notwithstanding the first order concerning the prisoners, they were not all put to death, as appears from a subsequent passage, (which ascertains what our author's conception was,) and from the most authentick accounts of the battle of Agincourt. “When the King sat at his refection, he was served at his boorde of those great lords and princes that were taken in the field.According to Fabian, the Duke of Orleans, who was among the captives, on hearing the proclamation for putting the prisoners to death, was so alarmed, that he immediately sent a message to the newly assembled French troops, who thereupon

[ocr errors]

Glo. His eyes are humbler than they us'd to be.
K. Hen. How now! what means this, herald ?

know'st thou not,
That I have fin'd these bones of mine for ransom?
Com'st thou again for ransom?

No, great king:
I come to thee for charitable licence,
That we may wander o'er this bloody field,
To book our dead, and then to bury them;
To sort our nobles from our common men ;
For many of our princes (woe the while !)
Lie drown'd and soak’d in mercenary blood;
(So do our vulgar drench their peasant limbs
In blood of princes ;) and their wounded steeds

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

dispersed. Hardyng, who was himself at the battle of Agincourt, says, the prisoners were put to death, save dukes and earles." Speed, on the authority of Monstrelet, says, King Henry, contrary to his wonted generous nature, gave present commandment that every man should kill his prisoner, which was immediately performed, certain principal men excepted;" who, as another Chronicler tells us, were tied back to back, and left unguarded. With this account corresponds that of Stowe; who tells us, that on that night, when the King sat at his refection, he was served at his boorde of those great lords and princes that were taken in the fielde." So also Polydore Virgil : “ Postquam bonam partem cuiptivorum occiderunt,” &c. And lastly Mr. Hume, on the authority of various ancient historians, says that Henry, on discovering that his danger was not so great as he at first apprehended from the attack on his camp, "stopped the slaughter, and was still able to save a great number."

But though this fact were not established by the testimony of so many historians, and though every one of the prisoners had been put to death, according to the original order, it was certainly policy in Henry to conceal that circumstance, and to threaten to kill them, as if they were living; for the motive that induced the French to rally was, (we are told) to save these prisoners; and if they had been informed that they were already executed, they might have been rendered desperate ; at least would have had less inducement to lay down their arms. This however is a disquisition which is not necessary to our author's vindication. He followed the Chronicle just as he found it. MALONE.

3 — and their wounded steeds --] The old copy reads“And with their," &c. the compositor's eye having probnbly

[ocr errors]

Fret fetlock deep in gore, and, with wild rage,
Yerk out their armed heels 4 at their dead masters,
Killing them twice. O, give us leave, great king,
To view the field in safety, and dispose
Of their dead bodies,

I tell thee truly, herald,
I know not if the day be ours, or no;
For yet a many of your horsemen peer,
And gallop o'er the field.

The day is yours.
K. Hen. Praised be God, and not our strength,

for it!
What is this castle call’d, that stands hard by ?

Mont. They call it-Agincourt.
K. Hen. Then call we this—the field of Agin-

Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.

Flu. Your grandfather of famous memory, an't please your majesty, and your great-uncle Edward the plack prince of Wales, as I have read in the chronicles, fought a most prave pattle here in France,

K. Hen. They did, Fluellen.

Flu. Your majesty says very true: If your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did goot service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps'; which, your ma

glanced on the line beneath. Mr. Pope unnecessarily rejected both words, reading—“ while their wounded steeds,” in which he was followed by the subsequent editors. Malone.

4 Yerk out their ARMED heels - ] So, in The Weakest goeth to the Wall, 1600 :

“ Their neighing gennets, armed to the field,
Do yerk and fling, and beat the sullen ground."

STEEVENS. Monmouth caps ;] Monmouth caps were formerly much worn. From the following stanza in an old ballad of The Caps, printed in The Antidote against Melancholy, 1661, p. 31, it appears they were particularly worn by soldiers :

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

jesty knows, to this hour is an honourable padge of
the service; and, I do believe, your majesty takes
no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day.

K. Hen. I wear it for a memorable honour:
For I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.

Flu. All the water in Wye cannot wash your majesty's Welsh plood out of your pody, I can tell you that: Got pless it and preserve it as long as it pleases his grace, and his majesty too !

K. Hen. Thanks, good my countryman.

Flu. By Cheshu, I am your majesty's countryman, I care not who know it; I will confess it to all the 'orld: I need not to be ashamed of your majesty, praised be God, so long as your majesty is an honest man.

K. Hen. God keep me so !-Our heralds go with

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

him ;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Bring me just notice of the numbers dead
On both our parts.—Call yonder fellow hither.

[Points to Williams. Exeunt MontjOY

and Others.
Exe. Soldier, you must come to the king.

K. Hen. Soldier, why wear'st thou that glove in thy cap ?

Will. An't please your majesty, 'tis the gage of one that I should fight withal, if he be alive.

K. Hen. An Englishman ?

Will. An't please your majesty, a rascal that swaggered with me last night: who, if 'a live, and

“ The soldiers that the Monmouth wear,
“ On castle's tops their ensigns rear.
“ The seaman with the thrumb doth stand

“On higher parts than all the land." Reed.
“ The best caps, (says Fuller, in his Worthies of Wales, p. 50,)
were formerly made at Monmouth, where the Capper's chapel
doth still remain.—If (he adds) at this day (1660] the phrase of
" wearing a Monmouth cap" be taken in a bad acception, I hope
the inhabitants of that town will endeavour to disprove the occa-
sion thereof." MALONE.

« PreviousContinue »