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«Dramatis Personae RUMOUR, the Presenter. KING HENRY the Fourth. His sons HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES, afterwards King Henry V. THOMAS, DUKE OF CLARENCE. ...»

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by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

RUMOUR, the Presenter.

KING HENRY the Fourth.

His sons

HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES, afterwards King Henry V.










Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench.

A Servant of the Chief-Justice.


SCROOP, Archbishop of York.





TRAVERS and MORTON, retainers of Northumberland.


His Page.





SHALLOW and SILENCE, country justices.

DAVY, Servant to Shallow.


FANG and SNARE, sheriff's officers.



MISTRESS QUICKLY, hostess of a tavern in Eastcheap.


Lords and Attendants; Porter, Drawers, Beadles, Grooms, etc.

A Dancer, speaker of the epilogue.

SCENE: England.


Warkworth. Before the castle.

[Enter Rumour, painted full of tongues.] RUMOUR.

Open your ears; for which of you will stop The vent of hearing when loud Rumour speaks?

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 emnity

Under the smile of safety wounds the world:

And who but Rumour, who but only I, Make fearful musters and prepared defence, Whiles 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 Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures, 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, And not a man of them brings other news Than they have learn'd of me: from Rumour's tongues They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.

[Exit.] ACT I.

SCENE 1. The same.

[Enter Lord Bardolph.]


Who keeps the gate here, ho?

[The Porter opens the gate.] Where is the earl?


What shall I say you are?


Tell thou the earl That the Lord Bardolph doth attend him here.


His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard:

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

[Enter Northumberland.]


Here comes the earl.

[Exit Porter.]


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.


Noble earl, I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.


Good, an God 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 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 Caesar's fortunes!


How is this derived?

Saw you the field? came you from Shrewsbury?


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.


Here comes my servant Travers, whom I sent On Tuesday last to listen after news.

[Enter Travers.]


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.


Now, Travers, what good tidings comes with you?


My lord, Sir John Umfrevile turn'd me back With joyful tidings; and, being better horsed, 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.


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 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.

[Enter Morton.]


Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,

Foretells the nature of a tragic volume:

So looks the strand whereon the imperious flood Hath left a witness'd usurpation.

Say, Morton, didst thou come from Shrewsbury?

MORTON. 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 dread 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;

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."

MORTON.Douglas is living, and your brother, yet:But, for 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 fear'd is chanced. Yet speak, Morton;

Tell thou an earl his divination lies, And I will take it as a sweet disgrace And make thee rich for doing me such wrong.


You are too great to be by me gainsaid:

Your spirit is too true, your fears too certain.


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 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 tolling a departing friend.

LORD BARDOLPH.I cannot think, my lord, your son is dead.


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 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 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 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.


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 enraged 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 enraged Northumberland!

Let heaven kiss earth! now let not Nature's hand Keep the wild flood confined! 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!


This strained passion doth you wrong, my lord.


Sweet earl, divorce not wisdom from your honour.


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 advised his flesh was capable Of wounds and scars and that his forward spirit

Would lift him where most trade of danger ranged:

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?


We all that are engaged to this loss Knew that we ventured on such dangerous seas That if we wrought out life 'twas ten to one;

And yet we ventured, for the gain proposed Choked the respect of likely peril fear'd;

And since we are o'erset, venture again.

Come, we will put forth, body and goods.


'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.

My lord your son had only but the corpse, But shadows and the shows of men, to fight;

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