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ACT IV. SCENE VIII.
Line 1057. -sixteen hundred mercenaries;] Mercenaries are in this place common soldiers, or hired soldiers. The gentlemen served at their own charge in consequence of their tenures. JOHNSON. Mr. Ritson doubts Dr. Johnson's accuracy in this assertion, of gentlemen serving at their own charge.
Line 1075. -Davy Gam, esquire:] This gentleman being sent by Henry, before the battle, to reconnoitre the enemy, and to find out their strength, made this report: "May it please you, my liege, there are enough to be killed, enough to be taken prisoners, and enough to run away." He saved the king's life in the field. Had our poet been apprized of this circumstance, this brave Welshman would probably have been more particularly noticed, and not have been merely registered in a muster-roll of MALONE. Line 1095. Do we all holy rites;] The king (say the Chronicles) caused the psalm, In exitu Israel de Ægypto (in which, according to the vulgate, is included the psalm, Non nobis, Domine, &c.) to be sung after the victory. POPE.
Line 14. —a mighty whiffler-] An officer who walks first in processions, or before persons in high stations, on occasions of ceremony. The name is still retained in London, and there is an officer so called that walks before their companies at times of publick solemnity. It seems a corruption from the French word huissier. HANMER.
. Line 19. -to have borne &c.] The construction is, to have his bruised helmet, &c. borne before him through the city: i. e. to order it to be borne. This circumstance also our author found in Holinshed. MALONE.
Line 23. Giving full trophy,] Transferring all the honours of conquest, all trophies, tokens, and shows, from himself to God.
Line 31. As, by a lower but by loving likelihood,] The later editors, in hope of mending the measure of this line,
have injured the sense. The folio reads as I have printed; but all the books, since revisal became fashionable, and editors have been more diligent to display themselves than to illustrate their author, have given the line thus:
As by a low, but loving likelihood.
Thus they have destroyed the praise which the poet designed for Essex; for who would think himself honoured by the epithet low? The poet, desirous to celebrate that great man, whose popularity was then his boast, and afterwards his destruction, compares him to king Harry; but being afraid to offend the rival courtiers, or perhaps the queen herself, he confesses that he is lower than a king, but would never have presented him absolutely as low. JOHNSON. Line 32. -the general of our gracious empress-] The earl of Essex, in the reign of queen Elizabeth. POPE. Line 34. Bringing rebellion broached—] Spitted, transfixed. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Scene I.] This scene ought, in my opinion, to conclude the fourth act, and be placed before the last chorus. There is no English camp in this act; the quarrel apparently happened before the return of the army to England, and not after so long an interval as the chorus has supplied. JOHNSON.
to the ground.
Line 70. To have me fold up, &c.] Dost thou desire to have me put thee to death? JOHNSON. squire of low degree.] That is, I will bring thee JOHNSON. -astonished him.] That is, you have stunned JOHNSON. Line 126. I have seen you gleeking-] Gleeking, scoffing, gibing..
Line 89. him with the blow.
Line 133. Doth fortune play the huswife-] That is, the jilt. Huswife is here used in an ill sense. JOHNSON.
The comick scenes of The History of Henry the Fourth and Fifth are now at an end, and all the comick personages are now dismissed. Falstaff and Mrs. Quickly are dead; Nym and Bardolph are hanged; Gadshill was lost immediately after the rob
bery; Poins and Peto have vanished since, one knows not how; and Pistol is now beaten into obscurity. I believe every reader regrets their departure. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE II.
Line 143. Peace to this meeting, wherefore we are met!] Peace, for which we are here met, be to this meeting.
Here, after the chorus, the fifth act seems naturally to begin. JOHNSON. Line 172. Unto this bar-] To this barrier; to this place of congress. JOHNSON. Line 187. Unpruned dies:] We must read, lies; for neglect of pruning does not kill the vine, but causes it to ramify immoderately, and grow wild; by which the requisite nourishment is withdrawn from its fruit. WARBURTON.
This emendation is physically right, but poetically the vine may be well enough said to die, which ceases to bear fruit. JOHNSON. Line 187. her hedges even-pleach'd,-] Hedges are pleached, that is, their long branches being cut off, are twisted and woven through the lower part of the hedge, in order to thicken and strengthen the fence. The following year, when the hedge shoots out, it is customary, in many places, to clip the shoots, so as to render them even. MALONE. deracinate such savagery:] To deracinate is to
tear up by the roots.
Line 206. -diffus'd attire,] Diffus'd is so much used by our author for wild, irregular, and strange, that, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, he applies it to a song supposed to be sung by fairies. JOHNSON.
Line 278. such a plain king,] I know not why Shakspeare now gives the king nearly such a character as he made him formerly ridicule in Percy. This military grossness and unskilfulness in all the softer arts does not suit very well with the gaieties of his youth, with the general knowledge ascribed to him at his accession, or with the contemptuous message sent him by the dauphin, who represents him as fitter for a ball-room than the field, and tells him that he is not to revel into duchies, or win provinces with a nimble galliard. The truth is, that the poet's matter failed
him in the fifth act, that he was glad to fill it up with whatever he could get; and not even Shakspeare can write well without a proper subject. It is a vain endeavour for the most skilful hand to cultivate barrenness, or to paint upon vacuity. JOHNSON. take a fellow of plain and uncoined constancy;] i. e. A constancy in the ingot, that hath suffered no alloy, as all coined metal has. WARBURTON.
I believe this explanation to be more ingenious than true; to coin is to stamp and to counterfeit. He uses it in both senses; uncoined constancy signifies real and true constancy, unrefined and unadorned. JOHNSON.
with scambling,] i. e. with scrambling.
Line 363. 454. Pardon the frankness of my mirth,] We have here but a mean dialogue for princes; the merriment is very gross, and the sentiments are very worthless. JOHNSON.
Line 475. This moral-] That is, the application of this fable. The moral being the application of a fable, our author calls any application a moral. JOHNSON.
Line 548. Mangling by starts-] By touching only on select parts. JOHNSON.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON KING HENRY THE
LINE 27. - -the subtle-witted French &c.] There was a notion prevalent a long time, that life might be taken away by metrical charms. As superstition grew weaker, these charms were imagined only to have power on irrational animals. In our author's time it was supposed that the Irish could kill rats by a song. JOHNSON. Line 91. her flowing tides.] i. e. England's flowing tides. MALONE.
-96. their intermissive miseries.] i. e. their miseries, which have had only a short intermission from Henry the Fifth's death to my coming amongst them. WARBURTON.
Line 144. -If sir John Fastolfe &c.] Mr. Pope has taken notice, "That Falstaff is here introduced again, who was dead in Henry V. The occasion whereof is, that this play was written before King Henry IV. or King Henry V." But it is the historical Sir John Fastolfe (for so he is called in both our