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Can play upon it. But what need I thus
My well-known body to anatomize
Among my household? Why is rumor 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 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
Stooped his anointed head as low as death.
This have I rumored through the peasant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,1
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 learned of me. From Rumor's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true
SCENE I. The same. The Porter before the Gate.
Enter LORD BARDOLPH.
Bardolph. 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 walked forth into the orchard.
1 Northumberland's castle.
Please it your honor, knock but at the gate,
And he himself will answer.
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.
I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.
North. Good, an Heaven 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
Killed 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 followed, and so fairly won,
Came not, till now, to dignify the times,
Since Cæsar's fortunes!
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 rendered me these news for true.
North. Here comes my servant, Travers, whom I
On Tuesday last to listen after news.
Bard. My lord, I overrode him on the way;
And he is furnished 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 turned me back With joyful tidings; and, being better horsed, Outrode me. After him, came, spurring hard, A gentleman almost forspent with speed, That stopped by me to breathe his bloodied horse. He asked 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 seemed 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!
My lord, I'll tell you what; If my young lord your son have not the day, Upon mine honor, for a silken point 2
I'll give my barony; never talk of it.
North. Why should the gentleman, that rode by
Give then such instances of loss?
He was some hilding 3 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, Foretells the nature of a tragic volume;
2 A silken point is a tagged lace. 3 i. e. Hilderling, base, low fellow.
So looks the strond, whereon the imperious flood
Hath left a witnessed 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 burned;
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;
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,
Hath, by instinct, knowledge from others' eyes,
That what he feared 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,
Remembered 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 out-breathed,
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-tempered courage in his troops;
For from his metal was his party steeled;
Which once in him abated, all the rest
Turned 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-laboring sword
Had three times slain the appearance of the king,
'Gan vail his stomach, and did grace the shame
Of those that turned 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,
1 The bell anciently was rung before the dying person had expired, and thence was called the passing bell.
2 To vail is to lower, to cast down.