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of Hotspur. But the character of Hotspur was so well known that Shakespeare could not long remain outside it. When the King cuts short the audience with the command to send back the prisoners, we find the passionate Hotspur again:
“And if the devil come and roar for them,
I will not send them.-I will after straight,
Although it be with hazard of my head." /Albeut I malle a The last line strikes a false note; such a reflection throws cold water on the heat of passion, and that is not intended, for though reproved by his father Hotspur storms on:
Speak of Mortimer!
The next long speech of Hotspur is mere poetic slush; he begins:
Nay, then, I cannot blame his cousin king, That wish'd him on the barren mountains starve.
and goes on for thirty lines to reprove the conspirators for having put down “Richard, that sweet lovely rose,” and planted" this thorn, Bolingbroke." This long speech retards the action, obscures the character of Hotspur, and only shows Shakespeare poetising without a flash of inspiration. Then comes Hotspur's famous speech about honour:
“By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon:
And immediately afterwards a speech in which
his uncontrollable impatience and the childishness which always lurks in anger, find perfect expression. To soothe him, Worcester says he shall keep his prisoners; Hotspur bursts out:
'Nay, I will: that's flat.
No wonder Lord Worcester reproves him, and his father chides him as “a wasp-stung and impatient fool,” who will only talk and not listen. But again Hotspur breaks forth, and again his anger paints him to the life:
“Why, look you, I am whipped and scourged with rods,
Nettled and stung with pismires, when I hear
The very ecstasy of impatience and of puerile passionate temper has never been better rendered.
His soliloquy, too, in the beginning of scene iii, when he reads the letter which throws the cold light of reason on his enterprise, is excellent, though it repeats qualities we already knew in Hotspur, and does not reveal new ones:
“The purpose you undertake is dangerous ';—why that's certain: 'tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to drink; but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle danger, we pluck this flower safety. ... What a frostyspirited rogue is this! ...0, I could divide myself and go to buffets, for moving such a dish of skimmed milk with so honourable an action! Hang him! Let him tell the King: we are prepared. I will set forward tonight.”
But the topmost height of self-revealing is reached in the scene with his wife which immediately follows this. Lady Percy enters, and Hotspur greets her:
“How now, Kate? two hours.”
I must leave you within these
The lady's reply is too long and too poetical. Hotspur interrupts her by calling the servant and giving him orders. Then Lady Percy questions, and Hotspur avoids a direct answer, and little by little Shakespeare works himself into the characters till even Lady Percy lives for us:
“ Lady. Come, come, you paraquito, answer me Directly unto this question that I ask. In faith, I'll break thy little finger, Harry, An if thou wilt not tell me true. Hot.
, you trifler !-Love?-I love thee not, I care not for thee, Kate; this is no world To play with mammets and to tilt with lips. ..."
It shows a certain immaturity of art that Hotspur should introduce the theme of “ love," and not Lady Percy; but, of course, Lady Percy seizes on the word:
“ Lady. Do you not love me? do you not indeed? Well, do not then; for since you love me not,
I will not love myself. Do you not love me?
Hot. Come, wilt thou see me ride?
All this is superb; Hotspur's coarse contempt of love deepens our sense of his soldier-like nature and eagerness for action; but though the qualities are rendered magically the qualities themselves are few : Shakespeare still harps upon Hotspur's impatience; but even a soldier is something more than hasty temper, and disdain of love's dalliance. But the portrait is not finished yet. The first scene in the third act between Hotspur and Glendower is on this same highest level; Hotspur's impatience of Glendower's bragging at length finds an unforgetable phrase:
“Glend. I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hot. Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?"
Then Hotspur disputes over the division of England; he wants a larger share than that allotted to him; the trait is typical, excellent; but the next moment Shakespeare effaces it. As soon as Glendower yields, Hotspur cries:
“I do not care; I'll give thrice so much land
'This large generosity is a trait of Shakespeare and not of Hotspur; the poet cannot bear to lend his hero a tinge of meanness, or of avarice, and yet the character needs a heavy shadow or two, and no shadow could be more appropriate than this, for greed of land has always been a characteristic of the soldier-aristocrat.
Shakespeare is perfectly willing to depict Hotspur as scorning the arts. When Glendower praises poetry, Hotspur vows he'd “rather be a kitten and cry mew
than a metre ballad-monger. Nothing sets his teeth on edge “ so much as mincing poetry”: and a little later he prefers the howling of a dog to music. When he is reproved by Lord Worcester for “ defect of manners, want of government, •. pride, haughtiness, disdain,” his reply is most characteristic:
“Well, I am schooled: good manners be your speed,
Here come our wives, and let us take our leave.”
He is too old to learn, and his self-assurance is not to be shaken; but though he hates schooling he will school his wife:
Swear me, Kate, like a lady as thou art,
This is merely a repetition of the trait shown in his first speech when he sneered at the popinjay-lord for talking in “ holiday and lady terms.” But not only does Shakespeare repeat well-known traits in Hotspur, he also uses him as a mere mouthpiece again and again, as he used him at the beginning in the poetic description of the Severn. The fourth act opens with a speech of Hotspur to Douglas, which is curiously illustrative of this fault: