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Warkworth. Before Northumberland's Castle.
Enter Rumour, painted full of Tongues."
Rum. Open your ears; for which of you will stop
The vent of hearing, when loud rumour speaks ?
I, from the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth:
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
I speak of peace, while covert enmity,
Under the smile of safety, wounds the world :
And who but Rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful musters, and prepar'd defence;
Whilst the big year, swoln with some other grief,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
And no such matter? Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures ;
And of so easy and so plain a stop,
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it. But what need I thús
My well-known body to anatomize
Among my household ? Why is Rumour here?
I run before king Harry's victory;
Who in a bloody field by Shrewsbury
Hath beaten down young Hotspur, and his troops,
1 This direction is only in the quarto, 1600. Rumour, or Fame, was often so represented.
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebels' blood. But what mean I
To speak so true at first ? my office is
To noise abroad, that Harry Monmouth fell
Under the wrath of noble Hotspur's sword;
And that the king before the Douglas' rage
Stoop'd his anointed head as low as death.
This have I rumour'd through the pleasant' towns
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
SCENE I.--The Same.
Enter Lord BARDOLPH.? Bard. Who keeps the gate here ? ho! Where is the earl ?
Enter Warder, above." Ward. What shall I say you are ? Bard.
Tell thou the earl, That the lord Bardolph doth attend him here.
Ward. His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard : Please it your honour, knock but at the gate, And he himself will answer.
(Exit Warder. Enter NORTHUMBERLAND. Bard.
Here comes the earl.
North. What news, lord Bardolph ? every minute
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.
Noble earl, peasant: in f.e. 2 Porter before the Gate; Enter, &c.: in f. e. 3 4 Not in f. e.
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.
0! 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?
Bard. I spake with one, my lord, that came from
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.
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
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 bad luck,
And that young Harry Percy's spur was cold.
With that he gave his able horse the head,
And, bending forward, struck his armed 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.
i So the quarto; folio : from.
Said he, young Harry Percy's spur was cold?
of Hotspur, coldspur? that rebellion
Had met ill-luck !
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; never talk of it.
North. Why should that gentleman, that rode by
Give, then, such instances of loss ?
Who, he ?
He was some hilding? fellow, that had stolen
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,
Foretels the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the strond, 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 burn'd:
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 mine 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;
But for my lord, your son,
Why, he is dead.
See, what a ready tongue suspicion hath !
He that but fears the thing he would not know,
String for fastening dress.
Hath by instinct knowledge 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 the 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.
Bard. I cannot think, my lord, your son is dead.
Mor. I am sorry I should force you to believe That which I would to heaven 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 fled not swifter toward their aim, Than did our soldiers, aiming at their safety, Fly from the field. Then was that 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,