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Please it your Honour, knock but at the gate,
And he himself will answer.
L. Bard.

Here comes the earl.

[Exit Porter above.


North. What news, Lord Bardolph? every minute now Should be the father of some stratagem: 1 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


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 derived ?

the field ? came you from Shrewsbury? L. Bard. I spake with one, my lord, that came from


1 Stratagem for dreadful event or calamity. So in 3 Henry VI., ii. 5: “What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly, this deadly quarrel daily doth beget!"

2 Prince Henry was surnamed Monmouth from the town of that name in Wales, where he was born. — Brawn, here, is roll of flesh. See page 54, note 16.

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 Umfreville turn'd me back
With joyful tidings; and, being better horsed,
Out-rode me. After him came spurring hard
A gentleman, almost forspent 3 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 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, 4
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,

8 Forspent is spent utterly; the prepositive for being here intensive. 4 So in Job: “ He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage."

Upon mine honour, for a silken point 5
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?
L. 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-leaf,
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume :
So looks the strand whereon th' imperious flood
Hath left a witness'd usurpation.8 –
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;

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5 A silken point is a tagged lace. See page 58, note 26. 6 Hilding was a term of contempt for a vile, cowardly person. 7 Alluding to the title-pages of elegies, which were printed all black.

8 An attestation of its ravage. Usurpation very much in the sense of encroachment; invading another's rights.

9 That is, withdrew the curtain, or drew it aside.

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;
But, for


your son, North.

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 fear'd is chancèd. 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 shakest thy head, and hold'st it fear 10 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,11

10 Fear for danger, or the thing feared, or that should be feared.

11 Sullen, here, is gloomy or dismal. Often so. — The allusion is to what was called the passing-bell; it being an old custom in England to give notice, by the tolling of a bell, when any one was in the agonies of death, that those who heard it might offer up their prayers in behalf of the dying person. So Sir Thomas Browne, in Religio Medici, 1643: "I never hear the toll of a passing-bell, though in my mirth, without my prayers and best wishes for the departing spirit.”

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, 12 wearied and outbreathed, 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 13 once, took fire and heat away From the best-temper'd courage in his troops; For from his metal was his party steeld; 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,14 and did grace the shame Of those that turn'd their backs; and in his flight,

12 Quittance is requital or return. A feeble return of blows is the meaning. The Poet has quittance repeatedly so.

13 Bruited is noised abroad or reported.

14 Began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. To vail is to lower, to cast down. - Stomach was often used for courage, and sometimes for pride.

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