Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

With Cain go wander through the shade of night,
And never show thy head by day nor light.
Lords, I protest, my soul is full of woe,
That blood should sprinkle me, to make me grow.
Come, mourn with me for what I do lament,
And put on sullen black, incontinent :
I'll make a voyage to the Holy Land,
To wash this blood off from my guilty hand.-
March sadly after; grace my mournings here,
In weeping after this untimely bier. [Exeunt.

This play is one of those which Shakspeare has, apparently, revised; but as success in works of invention is not always proportionate to labor, it is not finished at last with the happy force of some other of his tragedies, nor can it be said much to affect the passions, or enlarge the understanding.

Johnson.

FIRST PART OF

KING HENRY THE FOURTH.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

“SHAKSPEARE has, apparently, designed a regular connection of these dramatic histories, from Richard the Second to Henry the Fifth. King Henry, at the end of Richard the Second, declares his purpose to visit the Holy Land, which he resumes in the first speech of this play. The complaint made by king Henry, in the last act of King Richard the Second, of the wildness of his son, prepares the reader for the frolics which are here to be recounted, and the characters to be exhibited.”Johnson.

The historical dramas of Shakspeare have, indeed, become the popular history. Vain attempts have been made by Walpole to vindicate the character of king Richard III., and in later times, by Mr. Luders, to prove that the youthful dissipation ascribed to king Henry V. is without foundation. The arguments are probable and ingeniously urged; but we still cling to our early notions of that mad-cap—that same sword-and-buckler prince of Wales.” No plays were ever more read, nor does the inimitable, all-powerful genius of the Poet ever shine out more than in the two parts of King Henry IV. which may be considered as one long drama divided.

The transactions contained in the First Part of King Henry IV. are comprised within the period of about ten months ;. for the action commences with the news brought of Hotspur having defeated the Scots under Archibald, earl of Douglas, at Holmedon (or Halidown Hill), which battle was fought on Holyrood-day (the 14th of September), 1402; and it closes with the battle of Shrewsbury, on Saturday, the 21st of July, 1403.

Malone places the date of the composition of this play in 1597 ; Dr. Drake in 1596. It was first entered at Stationers' Hall, February 25, 1597. There are no less than five quarto editions published during the author's life, viz. in 1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613. For the piece which is supposed to have been its original, the reader is referred to the “Six Old Plays on which Shakspeare founded,” &c., published by Steevens and Nichols.

454

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

King HENRY The Fourth.

Sons to the King.

Princes Sortirof Lancaster

, } Earl of Westmoreland; } Friends to the King.

Sir WALTER BLUNT,

''
Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester.
Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.
Henry Percy, surnamed Hotspur, his Son.
EDWARD MORTIMER, Earl of March.
SCROOP, Archbishop of York.
ARCHIBALD, Earl of Douglas.
Owen GLENDOWER.
SIR RICHARD VERNON.
Sir John FalsTAFF.
Poins. GadshiLL.
Pero. BardolPH.

Lady Percy, Wife to Hotspur, and Sister to Mortimer.
Lady MORTIMER, Daughter to Glendower, and Wife to

Mortimer.
Mrs. Quickly, Hostess of a Tavern in Eastcheap.

Lords, Officers, Sheriff, Vintner, Chamberlain, Drawers,

two Carriers Travellers, and Attendants.

SCENE. England.

FIRST PART OF

KING HENRY THE FOURTH.

ACT I.

SCENE I. London. A Room in the Palace.

Enter King HENRY, WESTMORELAND, Sir WALTER

BLUNT, and others.
King Henry. So shaken as we are, so wan with

care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenced in stronds! afar remote.
No more the thirsty entrance of this soil ?
Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood;
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flow'rets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile paces : those opposed eyes,
Which-like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred-
Did lately meet in the intestine shock

i Strands, banks of the sea.

2 Upon this passage the reader is favored with three pages of notes in the Variorum Shakspeare. Steevens adopted Monk Mason's bold conjectural emendation, and reads :

“No more the thirsty Erinnys of this soil ;” Mr. Douce proposed to read entrails instead of entrance; and Steevens once thought that we should read entrants. The following explanation of the text is modified from that of Malone.—“No more shall this soil have the lips of her thirsty entrance (i. e. surface) daubed with the blood of her own children.”

And furious close of civil butchery,
Shall now, in mutual, well-beseeming ranks,
March all one way; and be no more opposed
Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies.
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
As far as to the sepulchre of Christ,
(Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
We are impressed and engaged to fight,)
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy,
Whose arms were moulded in their mother's womb,
To chase these pagans, in those holy fields,
Over whose acres walked those blessed feet,
Which, fourteen hundred years ago, were nailed,
For our advantage, on the bitter cross.
But this our purpose is a twelve month old,
And bootless 'tis to tell you—we will go;
Therefore? we meet not now.—Then let me hear
Of

you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland, What yesternight our council did decree, In forwarding this dear expedience.”

West. My liege, this haste was hot in question, And many limits of the charge set down But yesternight; when, all athwart, there came A post from Wales, loaden with heavy news; Whose worst was,—that the noble Mortimer, Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight Against the irregular and wild Glendower, Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken, And a thousand of his people butchered ; Upon whose dead corpse there was such misuse, Such beastly, shameless transformation, By those Welshwomen" done, as may not be, Without much shame, retold or spoken of.

1 To levy a power to a place has been shown by Mr. Gifford to be neither unexampled nor corrupt, but good, authorized English.

2 For that cause.
3 Expedition.
4 Limits here seem to mean appointments or determinations.
5 See Thomas of Walsingham, p. 557, or Holinshed, p. 528.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »