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At Holmedon met,
4 Stain’d with the variation of each soil -] No circumstance could have been better chosen to mark the expedition of Sir Walter. It is used by Falstaff in a similar manner : “As it were to ride day and night, and not to deliberate, not to remember, not to have patience to shift me, but to stand stained with travel."
HENLEY. 5 BALK'd in their own blood,] I should suppose, that the author might have written either bath'd, or bak'd, i. e. encrusted over with blood dried upon them. A passage in Heywood's Iron Age, 1632, may countenance the latter of these conjectures :
“ Troilus lies embak'd
“In his cold blood." Again, in Hamlet :
“ Bak'd and impasted," &c. Again, in Heywood's Iron Age:
"_ bak'd in blood and dust." Again, ibid. :
" as bakid in blood." STEEVENS. Balk is a ridge; and particularly, a ridge of land: here is therefore a metaphor; and perhaps the poet means, in his bold and careless manner of expression : “ Ten thousand bloody carcasses piled up together in a long heap."-"A ridge of dead bodies piled up in blood.” If this be the meaning of balked, for the greater exactness of construction, we might add to the pointing, viz.
On Holmedon's plains : Of prisoners, Hotspur took
“ Balk'd, in their own blood,” &c. “ Piled up in a ridge, and in their own blood,” &c. But without this punctuation, as at present, the context is more poetical, and presents a stronger image.
A balk, in the sense here mentioned, is a common expression in Warwickshire, and the northern counties. It is used in the same signification in Chaucer's Plowman's Tale, p. 182, edit. Urr. v. 2428. WARTON.
Balk'd in their own blood, I believe, means, laid in heaps or hillocks, in their own blood. Blithe's England's Improvement, p. 118, observes : “ The mole raiseth balks in meads and pastures." In Leland's Itinerary, vol. v. p. 16 and 118, vol. vii. p. 10, a balk signifies a bank or hill. Mr. Pope, in the Iliad, has the same thought:
“ On heaps the Greeks, on heaps the Trojans bled,
TOLLIT. In Chapman's Translation of the Shield of Achilles, 4to. 1598, the word balk also occurs :
“ Amongst all these all silent stood their king,
“ Upon a balk, his scepter in his hand.” Steevens. 6 Mordake the earl of Fife, and eldest son
To beaten Douglas ;] The article-the, which is wanting in the old copies, was supplied by Mr. Pope. Mr. Malone, however, thinks it needless, and says “ the word earl is here used as a dissyllable.”
Mordake earl of Fife, who was son to the duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, is here called the son of earl Douglas, through a mistake into which the poet was led by the omission of a comma in the passage of Holinshed from whence he took this account of the Scottish prisoners. It stands thus in the historian : " -- and of prisoners, Mordacke earl of Fife, son to the gouvernour Archembald earle Dowglas,” &c. The want of a comma after gouvernour, makes these words appear to be the description of one and the same person, and so the poet understood them; but by putting the stop in the proper place, it will then be manifest that in this list Mordake, who was son to the governor of Scotland, was the first prisoner, and that Archibald earl of Douglas was the second, and so on. SteeveNS.
Without reading earl as a dissyllable, the line will not be more defective than many which occur in our poet and his contemporaries. See the Essay on Shakspeare's Versification. Boswell
Of Murray, Angus, and Menteith?.
WEST. In faith,
mak'st me sin In envy that my lord Northumberland Should be the father to * so blest a son: A son, who is the theme of honour's tongue; Amongst a grove, the very straightest plant ; Who is sweet fortune's minion, and her pride : Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, See riot and dishonour stain the brow Of my young Harry. O, that it could be prov'd, That some night-tripping fairy had exchang'd In cradle-clothes our children where they lay, And call'd mine-Percy, his-Plantagenet ! Then would I have his Harry, and he mine. But let him from my thoughts :--What think you,
coz', Of this young Percy's pride ? the prisoners ,
* So quarto : folio, of so blest a son. 7 -- and MenTEITH.] This is a mistake of Holinshed in his English History, for in that of Scotland, p. 259, 262, and 419, he speaks of the Earl of Fife and Menteith as one and the same person. STEEVENS. 8 In faith,
It is ) These words are in the first quarto, 1598, by the inaccuracy of the transcriber, placed at the end of the preceding speech, but at a considerable distance from the last word of it. Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read~"'Faith 'tis,” &c.
MALONE. 9 - the prisoners,] Percy had an exclusive right to these prisoners, except the Earl of Fife. By the law of arms, every man who had taken any captive, whose redemption did not exceed ten thousand crowns, had him clearly for himself, either to acquit or ransom, at his pleasure. It seems from Camden's Britannia, that Pounouny castle in Scotland was built out of the ransom of this very Henry Percy, when taken prisoner at the
Which he in this adventure hath surpriz'd,
K. Hen. But I have sent for him to answer this; And, for this cause, awhile we must neglect Our holy purpose to Jerusalem. Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we Will hold at Windsor, so * inform the lords : But come yourself with speed to us again ; For more is to be said, and to be done, Than out of anger can be uttered '. WEST. I will, my liege.
[Exeunt. * Folio, and so. battle of Otterbourne by an ancestor of the present Earl of Eglinton. TOLLET.
Percy could not refuse the Earl of Fife to the King; for being a prince of the blood royal, (son to the Duke of Albany, brother to King Robert III.) Henry might justly claim him by his acknowledged military prerogative. STEEVENS.
Malevolent to you in all aspects;] An astrological allusion. Worcester is represented as a malignant star that influenced the conduct of Hotspur. HENLEY.
2 Which makes him PRUNE himself,] The metaphor is taken from a cock, who in his pride prunes himself; that is, picks off the loose feathers to smooth the rest. To prune and to plume, spoken of a bird, is the same. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson is certainly right in his choice of the reading. So, in The Cobler's Prophecy, 1994:
“Sith now thou dost but prune thy wings,
“ And make thy feathers gay." Again, in Greene's Metamorphosis, 1613:
« Pride makes the fowl to prune his feathers so." But I am not certain that the verb to prune is justly interpreted. In The Booke of Haukynge, &c. (commonly called The Booke of St. Albans,) is the following account of it: “ The hauke proineth when she fetcheth oyle with her beake over the taile, and anointeth her feet and her fethers. She plumeth when she pulleth fethers of anie foule and casteth them from her." STEVENS.
The Same. Another Room in the Palace.
Enter Henry, Prince of Wales, and FALSTAFF. Pal. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad ?
P. Hen. Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou would'st truly know 4. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day ? unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flamecolour'd taffeta; I see no reason, why thou should'st be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
FAL. Indeed, you come near me, now, Hal: for we, that take purses, go by the moon and seven stars; and not by Phoebus,-he, that wandering knight so fair'. And, I pray thee, sweet wag,
3 Than out of anger can be uttered.] That is, “ More is to be said than anger will suffer me to say: more than can issue from a mind disturbed like mine." JOHNSON.
4 — to demand that truly which thou would'st truly know.) The Prince's objection to the question seems to be, that Falstaff had asked in the night what was the time of the day. Johnson.
This cannot be well received as the objection of the Prince ; for presently after, the Prince himself says : " Good morrow, Ned,” and Poins replies : " Good morrow, sweet lad." The truth may be, that when Shakspeare makes the Prince wish Poins a good morrow, he had forgot that the scene commenced at night. Steevens.
s PHæBUS,- HE, that wandering knight so fair,] Falstaff starts the idea of Phæbus, i. e. the sun; but deviates into an allusion to El Donzel del Febo, the “knight of the sun " in a Spanish romance translated (under the title of The Mirror of Knighthood, &c.) during the age of Shakspeare. This illustrious personage was " most excellently faire," and a great wanderer, as those who travel after him throughout three thick volumes in 4to.