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THE SECOND PART OF
KING HENRY IV.
Enter Rumour,] This speech of Rumour is not inelegant or unpoetical, but it is wholly useless, since we are told nothing which the first scene does not clearly and naturally discover. The only end of such prologues is to inform the audience of some facts previous to the action, of which they can have no knowledge from the persons of the drama.
JOHNSON. -Rumour, painted full of tongues.] This the author probably drew from Holinshed's Description of a Pageant, exhibited in the court of Henry VIII. with uncommon cost and magnificence: “ Then entered a person called Report, apparelled in crimson sattin, full of toongs, or chronicles.” Vol. III. p. 805. This however might be the common way of representing this personage in masques, which were frequent in his own times. T. WARTON.
Line 15. Rumour is a pipe- ] Here the poet imagines himself describing Rumour, and forgets that Rumour is the speaker.
ACT I. SCENE I. Line 58. -rowel-head ;] I think that I have observed in old prints the rowel of those times to have been only a single spike.
JOHNSON. Line 67. -silken point-) A point is a string tagged, or lace.
JOHNSON. Line 73.
- some hilding fellow,] For hilderling, i. e. base, degenerate.
PoPE. . Line 76.
-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. Line 111. Your spirit-] The impression upon your mind, by which you conceive the death of your son.
JOHNSON. Line 112. Yet, for all this, say not &c.] The contradiction, in the first part of this speech, might be imputed to the dictraction 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,
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.
Line 136. For from his metal was his party steeld;
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. . Abuted means reduced to a lower temper, or, as the workmen call it, let down.
JOHNSON. Line 149. 'Gun vail his stomach,] Began to fall his
courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune.
JOHNSON. From avaller, Fr. to cast down, or to let fall down. MALONE. Line 162. -buckle under life,] Bend; yield to pressure.
JOHNSON. -182. And darkness be the burier of the dead.] The conclusion of this noble speech is extrensely striking. There is no need to suppose it exactly philosophical; darkness, in poetry, may be absence of eyes, as well as privation of light. Yet we may remark, that by an ancient opinion it has been held, that if the human race, for whom the world was made, were extirpated, the whole system of sublunary nature would cease. JOHNSON.
Line 190. You cast the event of war, &c.] The fourteen lines, from hence to Bardolph's next speech, are not to be found in the first editions, till that in the folio of 1623. A very great number of other lines in this play were inserted after the first edition in like manner, but of such spirit and mastery generally, that the insertions are plainly by Shakspeare himself.
Pope. To this note I have nothing to add, but that the editor speaks of more editions than I believe him to have seen, there having been but one edition yet discovered by me that precedes the first folio.
JOHNSON. Line 233. Tells them, he doth bestride a bleeding land,] That is, stands over his country to defend her as she lies bleeding on the ground.
So Falstaff before says to the Prince, If thuu. see me down, Hal, and bestride me, so; it is an office of friendship. Johns.
ACT I. SCENE II.
says the doctor to my water ?] The method of investigating diseases by the inspection of urine only, was once so much the fashion, that Caius, the founder of the College of Physicians, formed a statute to restrain apothecaries from carrying the ruter of their patients to a physician, and afterwards giving VOL. X.
medicines, in consequence of the opinions they received concerning it. This statute was, soon after, followed by another, which forbade the doctors themselves to pronounce on any disorder from such an uncertain diagnostic.
John Day, the author of a comedy called Law Tricks, or Who would have thought it? 1608, describes an apothecary thus : “—his house is set round with patients twice or thrice a day, and because they'll be sure not to want drink, every one brings his own water in an urinal with him." Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady:
“ I'll make her cry so much, that the physician,
STEEVENS. Line 257. - mandrake,] Mandrake is a root supposed to have the shape of a man ; it is now counterfeited with the root of briony.
JOHNSON. Line 259. I was never manned with an agate till now:] Alluding to the little figures cut in agates, and other hard stones, for seals; and therefore he says, I will set you neither in gold nor silter.
WARBURTON. Line 267. he may keep it still as a face-royal,] That is, a face exempt from the touch of vulgar hands. So, a stag-royal is not to be hunted, a minc-royal is not to be dug. JOHNSON.
Line 280. to bear in hand,] Is, to keep in expectation.
JOHNSON. So, in Macbeth: How you were borne in hand, how cross'd."
STEEVENS. Line 284. If a man is thorough with them in honest tuking up,] That is, if a mun by tuking up goods is in their debt. To be thorough seems to be the same with the present phrase,-to be in with a tradesman.
JOHNSON. Line 297. I bought him in Paul's,] At that time the resort of idle people, cheats, and knights of the post. WARBURTON.
In an old Collection of Proverbs, I find the following:
“ Who goes to Westminster for a wife, to St. Paul's for a man, and to Smithfield for a horse, may meet with a whore, a knave, and a jade."
Line 338. -hunt-counter,] That is, blunderer. He does not I think allude to any relation between the judge's servant and the counter-prison.
JOHNSON Line 408. A wassel candle, &c.] A wassel candle is a large candle lighted up at a feast. This is a poor quibble upon the word war, which signifies increase as well as the matter of the honeycomb.
JOHNSON. Line 414. You follow the young prince up and down, like his ill angel.] The lord chief justice calls Falstaff the Prince's ill angel or genius: which Falstaff turns off by saying, an ill angel (meaning the coin called an angel) is light.
THEOBALD. Line 419.
I cannot go, I cannot tell:] I cannot be taken in a reckoning; I cannot pass current.
JOHNSON. Line 420. -in these coster-monger times,] In these times when the prevalence of trade has produced that meanness that rates the merit of every thing by money.
JOHNSON. Line 421. -Pregnancy-] Pregnancy here means aptitude, smartness, as in Hamlet.
Line 435. —your wit single?] Single may mean feeble or weak. In our author's time, as an anonymous writer observes, small beer was called single beer, and that of a stronger quality double beer.
MALONE. Line 465. would I might never spit white again.) i. e. may I never have my stomach heated again with liquor ; for to spil white is the consequence of inward heat.
STEEVENS. Line 480. -you are too impatient to bear crosses.] I believe a quibble was here intended. Falstaff had just asked his lordship to lend him a thousand pound, and he tells him in return that he is not to be entrusted with money. A cross is a coin so called, because stamped with a cross.
STEEVENS. Line 483. -fillip me with a three-man beetle.) A beetle wielded by three men.
ACT I. SCENE III. Line 546. in this present quality of war;] Bardolph, I think, means to say,
“ Indeed the present action (our cause being now on foot, war being actually levied,) lives," &c. otherwise the speaker is made to say, in general, that all causes once on foot
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