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Please it your Honour, knock but at the gate,
Here comes the earl.
[Exit Porter above.
North. What news, Lord Bardolph? every minute now Should be the father of some stratagem: 1 The times are wild ; contention, like a horse Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose, And bears down all before him. L. Bard.
North. Good, an God will !
As good as heart can wish :
How is this derived ?
the field ? came you from Shrewsbury? L. Bard. I spake with one, my lord, that came from
1 Stratagem for dreadful event or calamity. So in 3 Henry VI., ii. 5: “What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly, this deadly quarrel daily doth beget!"
2 Prince Henry was surnamed Monmouth from the town of that name in Wales, where he was born. — Brawn, here, is roll of flesh. See page 54, note 16.
A gentleman well bred and of good name,
North. Here comes my servant Travers, whom I sent
L. Bard. My lord, I over-rode him on the way;
North. Now, Travers, what good tidings come with you ?
Tra. My lord, Sir John Umfreville turn'd me back
Ha! Again :
L. Bard. My lord, I'll tell you what :
8 Forspent is spent utterly; the prepositive for being here intensive. 4 So in Job: “ He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage."
Upon mine honour, for a silken point 5
North. Why should the gentleman that rode by Travers
Who, he ?
North. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
How doth my son and brother?
5 A silken point is a tagged lace. See page 58, note 26. 6 Hilding was a term of contempt for a vile, cowardly person. 7 Alluding to the title-pages of elegies, which were printed all black.
8 An attestation of its ravage. Usurpation very much in the sense of encroachment; invading another's rights.
9 That is, withdrew the curtain, or drew it aside.
Your brother thus; so fought the noble Douglas ;
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet;
your son, North.
Why, he is dead.
Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid :
North. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's dead.
10 Fear for danger, or the thing feared, or that should be feared.
11 Sullen, here, is gloomy or dismal. Often so. — The allusion is to what was called the passing-bell; it being an old custom in England to give notice, by the tolling of a bell, when any one was in the agonies of death, that those who heard it might offer up their prayers in behalf of the dying person. So Sir Thomas Browne, in Religio Medici, 1643: "I never hear the toll of a passing-bell, though in my mirth, without my prayers and best wishes for the departing spirit.”
Remember'd knolling a departing friend.
L. Bard. I cannot think, my lord, your son is dead.
Mor. I'm sorry I should force you to believe That which I would to God I had not seen; But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state, Rendering faint quittance, 12 wearied and outbreathed, To Harry Monmouth; whose swift wrath beat down The never-daunted Percy to the earth, From whence with life he never more sprung up. In few, his death — whose spirit lent a fire Even to the dullest peasant in his camp Being bruited 13 once, took fire and heat away From the best-temper'd courage in his troops; For from his metal was his party steeld; Which once in him abated, all the rest Turn'd on themselves, like dull and heavy lead : And as the thing that's heavy in itself, Upon enforcement flies with greatest speed, So did our men, heavy in Hotspur's loss, Lend to this weight such lightness with their fear, That arrows fly not swifter toward their aim Than did our soldiers, aiming at their safety, Fly from the field. Then was the noble Worcester Too soon ta'en prisoner; and that furious Scot, The bloody Douglas, whose well-labouring sword Had three times slain th' appearance of the King, Gan vail his stomach,14 and did grace the shame Of those that turn'd their backs; and in his flight,
12 Quittance is requital or return. A feeble return of blows is the meaning. The Poet has quittance repeatedly so.
13 Bruited is noised abroad or reported.
14 Began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. To vail is to lower, to cast down. - Stomach was often used for courage, and sometimes for pride.