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A gentleman almost forspent with speed”,

pent with speedo,
That stopp'd by me to breathe his bloodied horse :
He ask'd the way to Chester; and of him
I did demand, what news from Shrewsbury.
He told me that rebellion had bad luck,
And that young Harry Percy's spur was cold:
With that, he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, struck his armed heels'
Against the panting sides of his poor jade
Up to the rowel-head'; and, starting so, .
He seem'd in running to devour the way *,
Staying no longer question.

9 – FORSPENT with speed,] To forspend is to waste, to erhaust. So, in Sir A. Gorges' translation of Lucan, b. vii. :

' crabbed sires forspent with age." STEEVENS. 1-ARMED heels ] Thus the quarto 1600. The folin, 1623, reads—"able heels ; ” the modern editors, without authority—“ agile heels." Steevens.

2 - poor jade -] Poor jade is used, not in contempt, but in compassion. Poor jade means the horse wearied with his journey.

Jade, however, seems anciently to have signified what we now call a hackney; a beast employed in drudgery, opposed to a horse kept for show, or to be rid by its master. So, in a comedy called A Knack to know a Knave, 1594:

“Besides, I'll give you the keeping of a dozen jades,

“ And now and then meat for you and your horse." This is said by a farmer to a courtier. STEEVENS,

Shakspeare, however, (as Mr. Steevens has observed,) certainly does not use the word as a term of contempt; for King Richard the Second gives this appellation to his favourite horse Roan Barbary, on which Henry the Fourth rode at his coronation : “ That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand.”

MALONE. 3 - rowel-head ;] I think that I have observed in old prints the rowel of those times to have been only a single spike.

Johnson. Dr. Johnson had either forgotten the precise meaning of the word rowel, or has made choice of inaccurate language in applying it to the single spiked spur, which he had seen in old prints. The former signifies the moveable spiked wheel at the end of a spur, such as was actually used in the time of Henry the Fourth, and long before the other was laid aside. Shakspeare certainly meant the spur of his own time. Douce.


Said he, young Harry Percy's spur was cold ?
Of Hotspur, coldspur 5 ? that rebellion
Had met ill luck!

My lord, I'll tell you what
If my young lord your son have not the day,
Upon mine honour, for a silken point
I'll give my barony: never talk of it.
North. Why should that gentleman, that rode

by Travers, Give then such instances of loss? BARD.

Who, he ? He was some hilding fellow”, that had stoln The horse he rode on; and, upon my life, Spoke at a venture. Look, here comes more news.

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- He seem'd in running to devour the way,] So, in the book of Job, chap. xxxix : “ He swalloweth the ground in fierceness and rage." The same expression occurs in Ben Jonson's Sejanus :

“ But with that speed and heat of appetite,
“ With which they greedily devour the way

“ To some great sports." STEEVENS. So Ariel, to describe his alacrity in obeying Prospero's commands :

I drink the air before me." M. Mason.
So, in one of the Roman poets (I forget which):

cursu consumere campum. BLACKSTONE.
The line quoted by Sir William Blackstone is in Nemesian :

latumque fuga consumere campum. MALONE. s Of HOTSPUR, coldspur ?] Hotspur seems to have been a very common term for a man of vehemence and precipitation. Stanyhurst, who translated four books of Virgil, in 1584, renders the following line :

Nec victoris heri tetigit captiva cubile.
To couch not mounting of mayster vanquisher hoatspur."

STEEVENS. 0 -- silken point —) A point is a string tagged, or lace.

JOHNSON 7 - some hilding fellow,] For hilderling, i. e. base, degenerate. Pope.

Hilderling, Degener ; vox adhuc agro Devon. familiaris. Spelman. Reed.

Enter Morton,
North. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-

Foretells the nature of a tragick volume:
So looks the strond, whereon * the imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd usurpation —
Say, Morton, didst thou come from Shrewsbury ?

Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord; Where hateful death put on his ugliest mask,

Where hatour party. How

North. How doth my son and brother ? · Thou tremblest; and the whiteness in thy cheek

Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand.
Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone',
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,

* Folio, when.

8 - 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. 9 - a witness'd usurpation.] i. e. an attestation of its ravage.

STEEVENS. 1- 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, Ücalegon,

“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!

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

dead 3.

2 Your spirit -] The impression upon your mind, by which vou 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,
“ Thou shak'st thy head, and hold'st it fear, or sin,
To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so:
The tongue offends not, that reports his death;

I see a strange confession in thine eye:
Thou shak'st thy head; and hold'st it fear, or sin,
To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so 5:
The tongue offends not, that reports his death :
And he doth sin, that doth belie the dead;
Not he, which says the dead is not alive.
Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office; and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember'd knolling * a departing friend .

* Quartos, tolling.
" And he doth sin, that doth belie the dead;
“ Not he, which says the dead is not alive.

" Mor. Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
“ Hath but a losing office; and his tongue
“ Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,

“ 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. 4- hold'st it fear, or sin,] Fear, for danger. WARBURTON.

S_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 well 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

“Give warning to the world that I am fleu." This significant epithet has been adopted by Milton :

" I hear the far-off curfew sound,
“ Over some wide water'd shore

“Swinging slow with sullen roar.”
Departing, I believe, is here used for departed. Malone.

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,

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