Page images

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.

[blocks in formation]

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 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.

[blocks in formation]

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.


Why should that gentleman, that rode by Travers,

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,
But Priam found the fire,
And I my Percy's death,

half his Troy was burn'd:
ere he his tongue,
ere thou report'st it.

This thou would'st say, Your son did thus, and thus;

[ocr errors]

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.


[ocr errors]

Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet;

But for my lord your son,


Why, he is dead.

[ocr errors]

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.

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,
'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 we 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.

A scaly gauntlet now,

Hence, therefore, thou nice crutch! 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 th' 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.]

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 enterprize brought forth,
More than that being which was like to be?

Bard. We all, that are engaged to this loss,
Knew that we ventur'd on such dangerous seas,
That, if we wrought out life, 't was 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 dare 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.

« PreviousContinue »