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Warkworth. Before Northumberland's Castle.

Enter RUMOUR, painted full of Tongues3. RUM. Open your ears; For which of you will stop

The vent of hearing, when loud Rumour speaks ?

2 Enter RUMOUR,] This speech of Rumour is not inelegant or unpoetical, but it is wholly useless, since we are told nothing which the first scene does not clearly and naturally discover. The only end of such prologues is to inform the audience of some facts previous to the action, of which they can have no knowledge from the persons of the drama. JOHNSON.

3 RUMOUR, painted full of TONGUES.] This the author probable drew from Holinshed's Description of a Pageant, exhibited in the court of Henry VIII. with uncommon cost and magnificence: "Then entered a person called Report, apparelled in crimson sattin, full of toongs, or chronicles." Vol. iii. p. 805. This however might be the common way of representing this personage in masques, which were frequent in his own times. T. WARTON. had long ago ex

Stephen Hawes, in his Pastime of Pleasure, hibited her (Rumour) in the same manner :

"A goodly lady, envyroned about

"With tongues of fire."

And so had Sir Thomas More, in one of his Pageants : "Fame I am called, merveyle you nothing

"Thoughe with tonges I am compassed all rounde." Not to mention her elaborate portrait by Chaucer, in The Booke of Fame; and by John Higgins, one of the assistants in The Mirror for Magistrates, in his Legend of King Albanacte.


In a masque presented on St. Stephen's night, 1614, by Thomas Campion, Rumour comes on in a skin-coat full of winged togues.

I from the orient to the drooping west*,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
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 prepar'd 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 5.
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures;

Rumour is likewise a character in Sir Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield, &c. 1599.

So also, in The whole magnificent Entertainment given to King James, and the Queen his Wife, &c. &c. 15th March, 1603, by Thomas Decker, 4to. 1604: "Directly under her in a cart by herselfe, Fame stood upright: a woman in a watchet roabe, thickly set with open eyes and tongues, a payre of large golden winges at her backe, a trumpet in her hand, a mantle of sundry cullours traversing her body: all these ensignes displaying but the propertie of her swiftnesse and aptnesse to disperse Rumoure." STEEVENS.

painted full of tongues." This direction, which is only to be found in the first edition in quarto of 1600, explains a passage in what follows, otherwise obscure. POPE.


the DROOPING Wést,] A passage in Macbeth will best explain the force of this epithet:

"Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,
"And night's black agents to their preys do rouse."


5 RUMOUR is a pipe-] Here the poet imagines himself describing Rumour, and forgets that Rumour is the speaker.


Surely this is a mistake. Rumour is giving her own description, but says of herself:

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what need I thus

My well known body to anatomize
Among my household ?” Ay

And then proceeds to tell why she was come.


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 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
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-sick: the posts come tiring on,

6 so easy and so plain a STOP,] The stops are the holes in a flute or pipe. So, in Hamlet: "Govern these ventages with your finger and thumb:-Look you, these are the stops." Again: "You would seem to know my stops." STEEVENS.

7 And this worm-eaten HOLD of ragged stone,] The old copies read-" worm-eaten hole." MALONE.

Northumberland had retired and fortified himself in his castle, a place of strength in those times, though the building might be impaired by its antiquity; and, therefore, I believe our poet


"And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone." THEOBALD. Theobald is certainly right. So, in The Wars of Cyrus, &c.


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Besieg'd his fortress with his men at arms,

"Where only I and that Libanio stay'd

"By whom I live. For when the hold was lost," &c.

Again, in King Henry VI. Part III. :

"She is hard by with twenty thousand men,

"And therefore fortify your hold, my lord." STEEVENS.

And not a man of them brings other news

Than they have learn'd of me; From Rumour's


They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true






The Same.

The Porter before the Gate; Enter Lord BAR


BARD. Who keeps the gate here, ho?-Where is

the earl?

PORT. What shall I say you are?

Tell thou the earl,

That the lord Bardolph doth attend him here.

Port. His lordship is walk'd forth into the or


Please it your honour, knock but at the gate,
And he himself will answer.



Here comes the earl,

NORTH. What news, lord Bardolph ? every mi

nute now

Should be the father of some stratagem":

The times are wild; contention, like a horse


some STRATAGEM :] Some stratagem means here some great, important, or dreadful event. So, in The Third Part of King Henry VI, the father who had killed his son says:

"O pity, God! this miserable age!

"What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly!

"This mortal quarrel daily doth beget!" M. MASON.

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