Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Those who do not remember the (ficititious) past . . .

are doomed to repeat it.

My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
But I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat, and trimly dress'd,
Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin new reap'd
Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home;
He was perfumed like a milliner;
And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
He gave his nose and took't away again;
Who therewith angry, when it next came there,
Took it in snuff; and still he smiled and talk'd,
And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady terms
He question'd me; amongst the rest, demanded
My prisoners in your majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,
To be so pester'd with a popinjay,
Out of my grief and my impatience,
Answer'd neglectingly I know not what,
He should or he should not; for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk and smell so sweet
And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman
Of guns and drums and wounds,--God save the mark!--
And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth
Was parmaceti for an inward bruise;
And that it was great pity, so it was,
This villanous salt-petre should be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.
This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord,
I answer'd indirectly, as I said;
And I beseech you, let not his report
Come current for an accusation
Betwixt my love and your high majesty.

Hotspur's complaints are precisely those of a certain general we hear of today. The king's lieutenant is annoying and effeminate. Hotspur has a war to fight along with the rest of his Manly Men, and he doesn't need this womanish civilian garbage. He apologizes for the unfortunate outburst and the king agrees to move on.

But as we know, Hotspur was in fact plotting sedition,* and if the king had been a little bit smarter, he would have sent him straight on to the Tower. Just sayin'.

*This is a non-partisan observation. Had I been around at the time, as a kinsman of Owain Glynd┼Ár, I would have been all in favor of Hotspur's disloyalty, however inherently repugnant, purely as a means to an end. As it happens, this time around, I'm not.

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