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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene I.

The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth

Warkworth.Before NORTHUMBERLAND’S Castle.


L. Bard.Who keeps the gate here? ho![The Porter opens the gate.

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.


L. Bard.Here comes the earl.[Exit Porter.

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.Noble earl,

I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.

North.Good, an God will!

L. 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

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.

North.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 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.

North.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: never talk of it.

North.Why should the gentleman that rode by Travers

Give then such instances of loss?

L. Bard.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,

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,—

NorthWhy, 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 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 am 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 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 apperance 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 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, 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 the enrag’d Northumberland!

Let heaven kiss earth! now let not nature’s hand

Keep the wild flood confin’d! 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.

L. 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 advis’d his flesh was capable

Of wounds and scars, and that his forward spirit

Would lift him where most trade of danger rang’d:

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?

L. Bard.We all that are engaged to this loss

Knew that we ventur’d on such dangerous seas

That if we wrought out life ’twas ten to one;

And yet we ventur’d, for the gain propos’d

Chok’d 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 truth,

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 corpse’,

But shadows and the shows of men to fight;

For that same word, rebellion, did divide

The action of their bodies from their souls;

And they did fight with queasiness, constrain’d,

As men drink potions, that their weapons only

Seem’d on our side: but, for their spirits and souls,

This word, rebellion, it had froze them up,

As fish are in a pond. But now the bishop

Turns insurrection to religion:

Suppos’d sincere and holy in his thoughts,

He’s follow’d both with body and with mind,

And doth enlarge his rising with the blood

Of fair King Richard, scrap’d from Pomfret stones;

Derives from heaven his quarrel and his cause;

Tells them he doth bestride a bleeding land,

Gasping for life under great Bolingbroke;

And more and less do flock to follow him.

North.I knew of this before; but, to speak truth,

This present grief had wip’d it from my mind.

Go in with me; and counsel every man

The aptest way for safety and revenge:

Get posts and letters, and make friends with speed:

Never so few, and never yet more need.[Exeunt.