Page images

I, from the orient to the drooping weft 3,
Making the wind my poft-horfe, ftill unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth:
Upon my tongues continual flanders ride;
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
I fpeak of peace, while covert enmity,
Under the fmile of fafety, wounds the world:
And who but Rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful mufters, and prepar'd defence;
Whilft the big year, fwoll'n with fome other grief,
Is thought with child by the ftern tyrant war,
And no fuch matter? Rumour is a pipe
Blown by furmifes, jealoufies, conjectures;
And of fo eafy and fo plain a ftop,


That the blunt monfter with uncounted heads,
The ftill-difcordant wavering multitude,

Can play upon it. But what need I thus

My well-known body to anatomize

Among my houfhold? 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 fo true at firft? my office is
To noife abroad,-that Harry Monmouth fell
Under the wrath of noble Hotspur's fword;
And that the king before the Douglas' rage
Stoop'd his anointed head as low as death.
This have I rumour'd through the peafant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury

-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, otherwife obfcure. POPE.

3 to the drooping weft,] A paffage in Macbeth will beft fhew the force of this epithet:

"Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,

"And night's black agents to their preys do roufe." MALONE. 4 Rumour is a pipe] Here the poet imagines himself defcribing Ru mour, and forgets that Rumour is the speaker. JOHNSON.


And this worm-eaten hold of ragged ftones,
Where Hotfpur's father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-fick: the pofts 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 fmooth comforts falfe, worse than true wrongs. [Exit.

5 And this worm-eaten hold of ragged ftone,] The old copies read— worm-eaten bole. MALONE.

Northumberland had retired and fortified himself in his caftle, a place of ftrength in thofe times, though the building might be impaired by its antiquity; and, therefore, I believe our poet wrote:

And this worm-eaten hold of ragged flone. THEOBALD. Theobald is certainly right. So, in K. Henry VI. P. III : "She is hard by with twenty thousand men,

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



A C T I.


The fame.

The Porter before the gate; Enter lord BARDOLPH.

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

Port. What fhall I fay you are?

Bard. Tell thou the earl,

That the lord Bardolph doth attend him here.

Port. His lordship is walk'd forth into the orchard; Please it your honour, knock but at the gate,

And he himself will answer.

I The tranfactions comprized in this hiftory take up about nine years. The action commences with the account of Hotfpur's being defeated and killed [1603]; and clofes with the death of king Henry IV. and the coronation of king Henry V. [1412-13.] THEOBALD. This play was enter'd at Stationers' Hall, August 23, 1600.


The Second Part of King Henry IV. I fuppofe to have been written in 1598. See An Attempt to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. I. MALONE.

Mr. Upton thinks these two plays improperly called The Firft and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth. The firft play ends, he fays, with the peaceful fettlement of Henry in the kingdom by the defeat of the rebels. This is hardly true; for the rebels are not yet finally fuppreffed. The fecond, he tells us, fhews Henry the Fifth in the various lights of a good-natured rake, till, on his father's death, he affumes a more manly character. This is true; but this reprefentation gives us no idea of a dramatick action. Thefe two plays will appear to every reader, who fhall perufe them without ambition of critical difcoveries, to be fo connected, that the fecond is merely a fequel to the first; to be two only because they are too long to be one. JOHNSON,

T 4



Bard. Here comes the earl.

North. What news, lord Bardolph ? every minute now Should be the father of fome ftratagem:

The times are wild; contention, like a horse
Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose,
And bears down all before him.

Bard. Noble earl,

I bring you certain news from Shrewsbury.
North. Good, an heaven will!

Bard. As good as heart can wish :-
The king is almoft wounded to the death;
And, in the fortune of my lord your fon,

Prince Harry flain 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 fir John,
Is prifoner to your fon: O, fuch a day,

So fought, fo follow'd, and fo fairly won,
Came not, till now, to dignify the times,
Since Cæfar's fortunes!

North. How is this deriv'd?

Saw you the field? came you from Shrewsbury?
Bard. I fpake 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 fervant Travers, whom I fent

On Tuesday laft to liften 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, fir John Umfrevile turn'd me back With joyful tidings; and, being better hors'd,


« PreviousContinue »