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History of Henry IV, Part II

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Act I, Scene 1

Warkworth. Before NORTHUMBERLAND’S Castle



  • Lord Bardolph. Who keeps the gate here, ho? [The PORTER opens the gate]
    Where is the Earl? 45
  • Porter. What shall I say you are?
  • Lord Bardolph. Tell thou the Earl
    That the Lord Bardolph doth attend him here.
  • Porter. His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard.
    Please it your honour knock but at the gate, 50
    And he himself will answer.


  • Earl of Northumberland. What news, Lord Bardolph? Every minute now
    Should be the father of some stratagem. 55
    The times are wild; contention, like a horse
    Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose
    And bears down all before him.
  • Lord Bardolph. Noble Earl,
    I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury. 60
  • Lord Bardolph. 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 65
    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 followed, and so fairly won, 70
    Came not till now to dignify the times,
    Since Cxsar's fortunes!
  • Lord Bardolph. I spake with one, my lord, that came from 75
    A gentleman well bred and of good name,
    That freely rend'red me these news for true.


  • Lord Bardolph. 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.
  • Travers. 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. 90
    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 95
    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. 100
  • Earl of Northumberland. Ha! Again:
    Said he young Harry Percy's spur was cold?
    Of Hotspur, Coldspur? that rebellion
    Had met ill luck?
  • Lord Bardolph. My lord, I'll tell you what: 105
    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.
  • Lord Bardolph. 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.

Enter Morton

  • Earl of Northumberland. 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? 120
  • Morton. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord;
    Where hateful death put on his ugliest mask
    To fright our party.
  • Earl of Northumberland. How doth my son and brother?
    Thou tremblest; and the whiteness in thy cheek 125
    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; 130
    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; 135
    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— 140
  • Earl of Northumberland. 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; 145
    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.
  • Morton. You are too great to be by me gainsaid;
    Your spirit is too true, your fears too certain. 150
  • Earl of Northumberland. 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; 155
    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, 160
    Rememb'red tolling a departing friend.
  • Morton. 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, 165
    Rend'ring faint quittance, wearied and out-breath'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 170
    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 steeled;
    Which once in him abated, all the rest 175
    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 180
    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 185
    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 190
    A speedy power to encounter you, my lord,
    Under the conduct of young Lancaster
    And Westmoreland. This is the news at full.
  • Earl of Northumberland. For this I shall have time enough to mourn.
    In poison there is physic; and these news, 195
    Having been well, that would have made me sick,
    Being sick, have in some measure made me well;
    And as the wretch whose fever-weak'ned joints,
    Like strengthless hinges, buckle under life,
    Impatient of his fit, breaks like a fire 200
    Out of his keeper's arms, even so my limbs,
    Weak'ned 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 coif! 205
    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! 210
    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 ling'ring act;
    But let one spirit of the first-born Cain 215
    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!
  • Morton. Sweet Earl, divorce not wisdom from your honour. 220
    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 th' event of war, my noble lord,
    And summ'd the account of chance before you said 225
    'Let us make head.' It was your pre-surmise
    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 230
    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 befall'n, 235
    Or what hath this bold enterprise brought forth
    More than that being which was like to be?
  • Lord Bardolph. 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; 240
    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 put forth, body and goods.
  • Morton. 'Tis more than time. And, my most noble lord, 245
    I hear for certain, and dare speak the truth:
    The gentle Archbishop of York is up
    With well-appointed pow'rs. He is a man
    Who with a double surety binds his followers.
    My lord your son had only but the corpse, 250
    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 255
    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, 260
    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, 265
    Gasping for life under great Bolingbroke;
    And more and less do flock to follow him.
  • Earl of Northumberland. 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 270
    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