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Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
Where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-sick: the posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learn’d of me: from Rumour's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.
SCENE I. The same.
Enter Lord BARDOLPH. L. Bard. Who keeps the gate here,
ho? Enter Porter, above.
Where is the earl? Port. What shall I say you are ? L. Bard.
Tell thou the earl
That the Lord Bardolph doth attend him here.
Port. His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard:
Please it your honour, knock but at the gate,
And he himself will answer.
Here comes the earl.
(Exit Porter above. Enter NORTHUMBERLAND. North. What news, Lord Bardolph? every minute now Should be the father of some stratagem: The times are wild; contention, like a horse Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose, And bears down all before him. L. Bard.
I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.
North. Good, an God will!
As good as heart can wish:
The king is almost wounded to the death;
And, in the fortune of my lord your son,
Prince Harry slain outright; and both the Blunts
Kill’d by the hand of Douglas; young Prince John
And Westmoreland and Stafford fled the field;
And Harry Monmouth's brawn, the hulk Sir John,
Is prisoner to your son: O, such a day,
So fought, so follow'd, and so fairly won,
Came not till now to dignify the times,
Since Cæsar's fortunes!
How is this deriv'd ?
Saw you the field ? came you from Shrewsbury?
L. Bard. I spake with one, my lord, that came from 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.
L. Bard. My lord , I over-rode him on the way;
And he is furnish'd with no certainties
More than he haply may retail from me.
North. Now, Travers, what good tidings come with you?
Tra. My lord, Sir John Umfrevile turn'd me back
With joyful tidings; and, being better hors'd,
Out-rode me. After him came spurring hard
A gentleman, almost forspent with speed,
That stopp'd by me to breathe his bloodied horse.
He ask'd the way to Chester; and of him
I did demand what news from Shrewsbury:
He told me that rebellion had ill luck,
And that young Harry Percy's spur was cold.
With that, he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, struck his armèd heels
Against the panting sides of his poor jade
Up to the rowel-head; and starting so,
He seem'd in running to devour the way,
Staying no longer question.
Ha! - Again:
Said he young Harry Percy's spur was cold?
Of Hotspur, Coldspur? that rebellion
Had met ill luck?
L. Bard. My lord, I'll tell you what;
If my young lord your son have not the day,
Upon mine honour, for a silken point
I'll give my barony: ne'er talk of it.
North. Why should the gentleman that rode by Travers
Give, then, such instances of loss ?
He was some hilding fellow, that had stol'n
The horse he rode on; and, upon my life,
Spoke at a venture. Look, here comes more news.
North. Yea, this man’s brow, like to a title-leaf,
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the strand whereon th' imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd usurpation.
Say, Morton, didst thou come from Shrewsbury?
Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
Where hateful death put on his ugliest mask
To fright our party.
How doth my son and brother?
Thou tremblest; and the whiteness in thy cheek
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand.
Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone,
Drew Priam’s curtain in the dead of night,
And would have told him half his Troy was burnt,
But Priam found the fire ere he his tongue,
And I my Percy's death ere thou report'st it.
This thou wouldst say, “Your son did thus and thus;
Your brother thus; so fought the noble Douglas;"
Stopping my greedy ear with their bold deeds:
But in the end, to stop my ear indeed,
Thou hast a sigh to blow away this praise,
Ending with “Brother, son, and all are dead."
Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet;
Why, he is dead. See what a ready tongue suspicion hath! He that but fears the thing he would not know Hath by instinct krowledge from others' eyes That what he fear'd is chanced. Yet speak, Morton; Tell thou thy earl his divination lies, And I will take it as a sweet disgrace, And make thee rich for doing me such wrong.
Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid: Your spirit is too true, your fears too certain.
North. Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's dead. I see a strange confession in thine eye: Thou shak'st thy head, and hold'st it fear or sin To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so; The tongue offends not that reports his death: And he doth sin that doth belie the dead; Not he which says the dead is not alive. Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news Hath but a losing office; and his tongue Sounds ever after as a sullen bell, Remember'd knolling a departing friend.
L. Bard. I cannot think, my lord, your son is dead.
Mor. I'm sorry I should force you to believe
That which I would to God I had not seen;
But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state,
Rendering faint quittance, wearied and outbreath'd,
To Harry Monmouth; whose swift wrath beat down
The never-daunted Percy to the earth,
From whence with life he never more sprung up.
In few, his death whose spirit lent a fire
Even to the dullest peasant in his camp —
Being bruited once, took fire and heat away
From the best-temper'd courage in his troops;
For from his metal was his party steel'd;
Which once in him abated, all the rest
Turn'd on themselves, like dull and heavy lead:
And as the thing that's heavy in itself,
Upon enforcement flies with greatest speed,
So did our men, heavy in Hotspur's loss,
Lend to this weight such lightness with their fear,
That arrows fly not swifter toward their aim
Than did our soldiers, aiming at their safety,
Fly from the field. Then was the noble Worcester
Too soon ta'en prisoner; and that furious Scot,
The bloody Douglas, whose well-labouring sword
Had three times slain th' appearance of the king,
Gan vail his stomach, and did grace the shame
Of those that turn'd their backs; and in his flight,
Stumbling in fear, was took. The sum of all
Is, that the king hath won; and hath sent out
A speedy power t' encounter you, my lord,
Under the conduct of young Lancaster
And Westmoreland. This is the news at full.
North. For this I shall have time enough to mourn.
In poison there is physic; and these news,
Having been well, that would have made me sick,
Being sick, have in some measure made me well:
And as the wretch, whose fever-weaken'd joints,
Like strengthless hinges, buckle under life,
Impatient of his fit, breaks like a fire
Out of his keeper's arms; even so my limbs,
Weaken'd with grief, being now enrag'd with grief,
Are thrice themselves. Hence, therefore, thou nice crutch!
A scaly gauntlet now, with joints of steel,
Must glove this hand: and hence, thou sickly quoif!
Thou art a guard too wanton for the head
Which princes, flesh'd with conquest, aim to hit.
Now bind my brows with iron; and approach
The ragged’st hour that time and spite dare bring
To frown upon th' enrag'd Northumberland!