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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 prepared 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 thus
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,
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebel's 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 peasant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
Where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-síck: 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 1.-The same. The PORTER before the Gate.
Enter LORD BARDOLPH. Bard. Who keeps the gate here, ho ? Where is the earl ?
Port. What shall I say you are ?
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.
Enter NORTHUMBERLAND. Bard. Here comes the earl.
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.
Bard. Noble earl,
I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.
North. Good, an heaven will!
Bard. 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
Killd 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 !
North. How is this derived ?
Saw you the field ? came you from Shrewsbury?
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.
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 horsed,
Out-rode me. After him, came spurring hard,
A gentleman almost forspentt 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 youny 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.
North. Ha! Again.
Said he, young Harry Percy's spur was cold?
* Important event.
Of Hotspur, coldspur? that rebellion
Had met ill-luck!
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: never talk of it.
North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by Travers, Give then such instances of loss?
Bard. Who, he ?
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-lear,
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the strond, whereon the 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.
North. 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,
North. Why, he is dead.
See, what a ready tongue suspicion hath!
lle, that but fears the thing he would not know,
Hath, by instinct, knowledge from others' eyes,
That what he feard 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: * Lace.
+ An attestation of its ravage. VOL. II.
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.
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, Rend'ring faint quittance,* wearied and out-breath'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,t 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 steerd; 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 the appearance of the king, 'Gan vail I 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 to 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, buckleg 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 enraged 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,t
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 the enraged Northumberland!
Let heaven kiss earth! Now let not nature's hand
Keep the wild flood confined ! let order die !
And let this world no longer be a stage,
To feed contention in a lingering act;
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain
Reign in all bosoms, that, each heart being set
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end,
And darkness be the burier of the dead!
Tra. This strained passion doth you wrong, my lord.
Bard. Sweet earl, divorce not wisdom from your honour.
Mor. The lives of all your loving complices
Lean on your health; the which, if you give o'er
To stormy passion, must perforce decay.
You cast the event of war, my noble lord,
And summ’d the account of chance, before you said,
Let us make head. It was your presurmise,
That in the dole of blows your son might drop:
You knew, he walk'd o'er perils, on an edge,
More likely to fall in, than to get o'er :
You were advised, his flesh was capable
Of wounds, and scars; and that his forward spirits
Would lift him where most trade of danger ranged ;
Yet did you say,-Go forth; and none of this,
Though strongly apprehended, could restrain
The stiff-borne action : What hath then befallen,
Or what hath this bold enterprise brought forth,
More than that being which was like to be ?
Bard. We all, that are engaged to this loss,
Knew that we ventured on such dangerous seas,
That, if we wrought out life, 'twas ten to one:
And yet we ventured, for the gain proposed
Choked the respect of likely peril fear'd;
And, since we are o'erset, venture again,
Come, we will all put forth ; body, and goods.
Mor. 'Tis more than time: And, my most noble lord,
I hear for certain, and do speak.
The gentle archbishop of York is up,
With well-appointed powers; he is a man,
Who with a double surety binds his followers.
My lord your son had only but the corps,
But shadows, and the shows of men, to fight:
For that same word, rebellion, did divide
The action of their bodies from their souls;