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And Westmoreland, and Stafford, fled the field;
How is this deriv'd?
thence; A gentleman well bred, and of good name, That freely render'd me these news for true.
North. Here comes my servant, Travers, whom I sent On Tuesday last to listen after news.
Bard. My lord, I over-rode him on the way;
forspent with speed,] To forspend is to waste, to exhaust. So, in Sir A. Gorges' translation of Lucan, B. VII: -crabbed sires forspent with age.”
Steevens. armed heels —] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio, 1623, reads-able heels; the modern editors, without authority-agile heels. Steevens,
poor jade--) Poor jade is used, not in contempt, but in compassion. Poor jade means the horse wearied with his journey.
Fade, however, seems anciently to have signified what we now call a hackney; a beast employed in drudgery, opposed to a horse
Up to the rowel-head;5 and, starting so,
My lord, I 'll tell you what;
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) cer. tainly 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.
- rowel-head;] I think that I have observed in old prints the rowel of those times to have been only a single spike. Johnson,
6 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,
“ 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. ? 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.
Steevens. silken point - ) A point is a string tagged, or lace.
North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by Tra.
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
How doth my son, and brother?
some hilding fellow,] For hildering, i.e. base, degenerate.
Pope. Hildering, Degener; vox adhuc agro Devon. familiaris. Spel.
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 orna. mented in this manner. Steevens. 2 — a witness'd usurpation.) i. e. an attestation of its ravage.
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 Tragedly:
“ Awake, revenge, or we are wo-begone !" Again, in Arlen of Feversham, 1592:
“So wue-begone, so inly charg'd with woe.” Again, in 4 Looking Glass for London and England, 1598:
“ Fair Alvida, look not so woe-begone." Dr. Bently 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:
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night;
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet:
Why, he is dead. -
Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid: Your spirit4 is too true, your fears too certain.
North. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy 's dead.5
So dead so dull in look, Ucalegon,
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.
4 Your spirit -] The impression upon your mind, by which you conceive the death of your son. Johnson.
6 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 read. ing:
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!
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,
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.
Fohnson 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 well without them. Johnson. 9 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.