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Before Northumberland's Castle.

Enter Rumour,1 painted full of Tongues.2

Rum. 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 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, swol❜n with some other grief, Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war, And no such matter? Rumour is a pipe3 Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures;

1 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.


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.

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


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 houshold? 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,5
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



4- 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.

5 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 wrote: And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone. Theobald.

Theobald is certainly right. So, in The Wars of Cyrus, &c. 1594: "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, P. III:

"She is hard by with twenty thousand men,

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




The same.

The Porter before the Gate; Enter Lord BARDOLPH.

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


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 orchard; Please it your honour, knock but at the gate,

And he himself will answer.



Here comes the earl.

North. What news, lord Bardolph? every minute now Should be the father of some stratagem:1

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.
North. Good, an heaven 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,

1 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.

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!


How is this deriv'd?

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,2
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 heels3
Against the panting sides of his poor jade*

2 forspent with speed,] To forspend is to waste, to exhaust. So, in Sir A. Gorges' translation of Lucan, B. VII:

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- crabbed sires forspent with age." Steevens. 3 armed heels-] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio, 1623, reads-able heels; the modern editors, without authority-agile heels.


4 poor jade-] Poor jade is used, not in contempt, but in compassion. Poor jade means the horse wearied with his journey. Fade, however, seems anciently to have signified what we now call a hackney; a beast employed in drudgery, opposed to a horse

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.

kept for show, or to be rid by its master. So, in a comedy called A Knack to know a Knave, 1594:

"Besides, I'll give you the keeping of a dozen jades,
"And now and then meat for you and your horse."

This is said by a farmer to a courtier. Steevens.

Shakspeare, however, (as Mr. Steevens has observed) certainly does not use the word as a term of contempt; for King Richard the Second gives this appellation to his favourite horse Roan Barbary, on which Henry the Fourth rode at his coronation: "That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand." Malone. rowel-head;] I think that I have observed in old prints the rowel of those times to have been only a single spike. Johnson 6 He seem'd in running to devour the way,] So, in the Book of Job, chap. xxxix: "He swalloweth the ground in fierceness and rage."


The same expression occurs in Ben Jonson's Sejanus: "But with that speed and heat of appetite,

"With which they greedily devour the way

"To some great sports." Steevens,

So Ariel, to describe his alacrity in obeying Prospero's commands:

"I drink the air before me." M. Mason. So, in one of the Roman poets (I forget which): cursu consumere campum. Blackstone.

The line quoted by Sir William Blackstone is in Nemesian : ·latumque fuga consumere campum. Malone.

7 Of Hotspur, coldspur?] Hotspur seems to have been a very common term for a man of vehemence and precipitation. Stanyhurst, who translated four books of Virgil, in 1584, renders the following line:

Nec victoris heri tetigit captiva cubile.

"To couch not mounting of mayster vanquisher hoatspur."



silken point] A point is a string tagged, or lace.


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