In an inn-yard in Rochester, two carriers prepare to load their horses with the bacon, ginger and turkeys they are taking to the market in London. They are commenting on the poor condition of the inn when Gadshill, a highwayman, arrives and asks the men when they plan to reach their destination. They are not specific, but they do mention that they will be joined by some men carrying a valuable booty. The carriers leave and Gadshill calls for the chamberlain of the inn. The chamberlain tells Gadshill more about these men, who carry hundreds of marks in gold. Gadshill promises the chamberlain a share in the profits in exchange for his information and remarks that he has a powerful accomplice that will ensure their freedom if they accidentally get caught.
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1
From Henry IV, Part I. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
2. Charles' wain, churl's wain, or rustic's wagon. The constellation of the Great Bear was popularly so called.
5. Cut's saddle.Cut was a name for a curtal or docked
5. Flocks, locks of wool or hair. Wrung in the withers, galled in the shoulders.
8. Out of all cess, to an inordinate excess.
9. The next way, the nearest way. Othello, i. 3:
"To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on."
11. Since the price of oats rose. Knight says, "In 1596 the
price of oats was exceedingly high. This play was undoubtedly written about 1596.
14. Stung like a tench. Knight says, "The particular charge
against fleas of troubling fish is gravely set forth in Philemon Holland's Translation of Pliny."
22. A gammon of bacon, a smoked ham. Razes, bales.
23. Charing Cross. Charing was anciently a detached village. The cross erected there was to commemorate the last
place where the body of Eleanor, Edward I's queen, rested
on the way to Westminster.
26. An.And in the sense of if dropped its d in Shakespeare's time. Drink, to drink.
27. Pate, vulgar for head.
35. Quoth a, quoth he.
43. Chamberlain, the one who has charge of the bed-rooms.
48. Thou layest the plot how, thou apprisest the thief when an opportunity will occur. It was not unusual in old times
for the chamberlains, hostlers, etc., of inns, to be in collusion with highwaymen.
50. A franklin, one who possesses a freehold.
57. Saint Nicholas' clerks. Saint Nicholas was a patron
saint of clerks or scholars; and hence, as Nicholas, or old
Nick, was a cant name for the devil, the robbers were
equivocally called Saint Nicholas' clerks.
62. What. For what? Why? "What sit we then projecting peace and war?" Par. Lost, ii. 329.
65. Trojans, a cant name for boon companions.
70. Foot land-rakers, footpads. Sixpenny strikers, petty
robbers who would attack even the poorest travelers.
71. Malt-worms, tipplers.
73. Great oneyers.Great ones are here humorously called
great oney-ers. Hold in, be secret, stick by each other.
79. Their boots, their gain, advantage, or booty.
86. The receipt of fern-seed. An old superstition is here referred to -- that fern-seed, if gathered on Midsummer Eve,
with certain formalities, and carried in the pocket, would
render the possessor invisible. The fructification of ferns being on the back of the leaf, and the smallness of the seeds
rendering it difficult to discern them, the vulgar came to ascribe magic virtue to a plant which seemed to be propagated by invisible seed.
88. Purchase, earning. True, honest.
How to cite the introduction:
Mabillard, Amanda. Introduction to King Henry IV, Part 1 (2.1). Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/1kh4_2_1.html >.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. King Henry IV, Part 1. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard, 1885. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/1kh4_2_1.html >.