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North. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title
Foretells the nature of a tragick volume:
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
How doth my son and brother ?
* Folio, when.
like to a title-leaf,] It may not be amiss to observe, that, in the time of our poet, the title-page to an elegy, as well as every intermediate leaf, was totally black. I have several in my possession, written by Chapman, the translator of Homer, and ornamented in this manner. STEEVENS. a witness'd usurpation.] i. e. an attestation of its
Steevens. so woe-begone,] This word was common enough amongst the old Scottish and English poets, as G. Douglas, Chaucer, Lord Buckhurst, Fairfax; and signifies, far gone in woe.
WARBURTON. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
“ Awake, revenge, or we are wo-begone !” Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592 :
“ So woe-begone, so inly charg'd with woe.” Again, in A Looking Glass for London and England, 1598 :
“ Fair Alvida, look not so woe-begone." Dr: Bentley is said to have thought this passage corrupt, and therefore (with a greater degree of gravity than my readers will probably express) proposed the following emendation :
“ So dead, so dull in look, Vcalegon,
“ Drew Priam's curtain,” &c. The name of Ucalegon is found in the third book of the Iliad, and the second of the Æneid. STEEVENS.
And would have told him, half his Troy was
burn'd: But Priam found the fire, ere he his tongue, And I my Percy's death ; ere thou report'st it. This thou would'st say,--Your son did thus, and
thus : Your brother, thus; so fought the noble Douglas; Stopping my greedy ear with their bold deeds: But in the end, to stop mine ear indeed, Thou hast a sigh to blow away this praise, Ending with—brother, son, and all are dead.
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet; But, for my lord your son,-North.
Why, he is dead. See, what a ready tongue suspicion hath! He, that but fears the thing he would not know, Hath, by instinct, knowledge from others' eyes, That what he fear'd is chanced. Yet speak, Morton ; Tell thou thy earl, his divination lies; And I will take it as a sweet disgrace, And make thee rich for doing me such wrong.
Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid : Your spirit ? is too true, your fears too certain. NORTH. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's
2 Your spirit -] The impression upon your mind, by which you conceive the death of your son. Johnson.
3 Yet, for all this, say not, &c.] The contradiction, in the first part of this speech, might be imputed to the distraction of Northumberland's mind'; but the calmness of the reflection, contained in the last lines, seems not much to countenance such a supposition. I will venture to distribute this passage in a manner which will, I hope, seem more commodious; but do not wish the reader to forget, that the most commodious is not always the true reading :
“ Bard. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's dead.
“ North. I see a strange confession in thine eye,
I see a strange confession in thine eye:
* Quartos, tolling
“ Mor. Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
“ Remember'd knolling a departing friend.”. Here is a natural interposition of Bardolph at the beginning, who is not pleased to hear his news confuted, and a proper preparation of Morton for the tale which he is unwilling to tell.
JOHNSON. - hold'st it FEAR, or sin,] Fear, for danger. . WARBURTON.
If he be slain, say so :) The words say so are in the first folio, but not in the quarto : they are necessary to the verse, but the sense proceeds as weil without them. Johnson. 6 Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember'd knolling a depARTING friend.] So, in our author's 71st Sonnet :
-you shall hear the surly sullen bell
• I hear the far-off curfew sound,
Swinging slow with sullen roar."
I cannot concur in this supposition. The bell, anciently, was rung before expiration, and thence was called the passing bell, i, e. the bell that solicited prayers for the soul passing into another world. STEEVENS.
I am inclined to think that this bell might have been originally used to drive away demons who were watching to take possession of the soul of the deceased. In the cuts to some of the old service books which contain the Vigiliæ mortuorum, several devils are waiting for this purpose in the chamber of a dying man, to whom the priest is administering extreme unction. Douce.
Bard. I cannot think, my lord, your son is
dead. Mor. I am sorry, I should force you to believe That, which I would to heaven I had not seen: But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state, Rend'ring faint quittance ?, wearied and outbreath'd, 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 once, took fire and heat away From the best temper'd courage in his troops: For from his metal was his party steel'd; 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 fled not swifter toward their aim, Than did our soldiers, aiming at their safety, Fly from the field: Then was that noble Worcester Tuo soon ta'en prisoner: and that furious Scot, The bloody Douglas, whose well-labouring sword Had three times slain the appearance of the king, 'Gan vail his stomach', and did grace the shame
7 faint QUITTANCE,] Quiltance is return. By “ faint quittance " is meant a • faint return of blows.'
So, in King Henry V.:
“ We shall forget the office of our hand,
“Sooner than quittance of desert and merit." Steevens. 8 For from his metal was his party steel'd;
Which once in him ABATED,] Abated is not here put for the general idea of diminished, nor for the notion of blunted, as applied to a single edge. Abated means reduced to a lower temper, or, as the workmen call it, let down. Johnson.
9 'Gan vail his stomach,] Began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. Johnson.
Of those that turn'd their backs; and, in his flight,
crutch; : From avaller, Fr. to cast down, or to let fall down. MALONE.
This phrase has already appeared in The Taming of the Shrew, vol. v. p. 521 : • Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot ;
Reed. Thus, to vail the bonnet is to pull it off. So, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ And make the king vail bonnet to us both.” To vail a staff, is to let it fall in token of respect. Thus, in the same play:
“ And for the ancient custom of vail-staff,
Keep it still; claim thou privilege from me:
any ask a reason, why? or how?
Having been well, that would have made me sick,] i. e. that would, had I been well, have made me sick. Malone. 2 — buckle -] Bend; yield to pressure. Johnson.
even so my limbs,
Are thrice themselves :] As Northumberland is here comparing himself to a person, who, though his joints are weakened by a bodily disorder, derives strength from the distemper of the VOL. XVII.
“ And place your