Page images
PDF
EPUB

He seem'd in running to devour the way,
Staying no longer question,
North.

Ha!--Again.
Said he, young Harry Percy's spur was cold?
Of Hotspur, coldspur? that rebellion
Had met ill luck?

L. Bard. 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.
North. Why should the gentleman that rode by

Travers
Give then such instances of loss ?
L. Bard.

Who, he?
He was some hilding a fellow, that had stolen
The horse he rode on; and, upon my life,
Spake at adventure. Look, here comes more news.

Enter Morton.
North. Yea, this man's brow, like to a title-leaf,b
Foretells the nature of a tragic volume:
So looks the strond, whereon the imperious flood
Hath left a witness’d usurpation.
Say, Morton, didst thou come from Shrewsbury ?

Mor. I ran from Shrewsbury, my noble lord ;
Where hateful death put on his ugliest mask,
To fright our party.
North.

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 dead in look, so woe-begone,
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,

a Hilding-an expression of contempt for a cowardly, spiritless person.

Title-leaf. Poems of lament were distinguished by a black title-page.

And would have told him, half his Troy was burn'd:
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 mine ear indeed,
Thou hast a sigh to blow away this praise,
Ending with—brother, son, and all are dead.

Mor. Douglas is living, and your brother, yet:
But, for my lord your son,-
North.

Why, he is dead.
See what a ready tongue suspicion bath!
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 thy earl his divination lies ;
And I will take it as a sweet disgrace,
And make thee rich for doing me such wrong.

Mor. You are too great to be by me gainsaid : Your spirit is too true, your fears too certain.

North. 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 : 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 knolling a departing friend.b

a Fear-danger; matter or occasion of fear. b Departing friend.

thought that departing was here used for departed. But the ancient custom was for the bell to ring for the departing soul-not for the soul that had fled. Hence it was called the passing bell.

L. Bard. I cannot think, my lord, your son is dead.

Mor. I am sorry I should force you to believe That which I would to heaven I had not seen : But these mine eyes saw him in bloody state, Rendering faint quittance, wearied and out-breath'd, To Henry 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 bis 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.

North. 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 a 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 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 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 enrag'd Northumberland!
Let heaven kiss earth! Now let not Nature's hand
Keep the wild flood confin'd! let order die !
And let the 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 !
[Tra. This strained passion doth you wrong, my

lord.] L. Bard. Sweet earl, divorce not wisdom from your

honour. Mor. 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,

a Buckle. This word, which here means to bend, is used precisely in the same signification in the present day, when applied to a horse, whose “ weakend joints, like strengthless hinges," are said to buckle.

b Grief. In this line the first “ grief" is put for bodily pain ; the second for mental sorrow.

e Nice-weak.

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 bis flesh was capable
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 befallen,
Or what hath this bold enterprise brought forth,
More than that being which was like to be?

L. Bard. We all, that are engaged to this loss,
Knew that we ventur'd on such dangerous seas,
That if we wrought out life 't was ten to one :
And yet we ventur'd, for the gain propos’d
Chok'd the respect of likely peril feard ;
And, since we are o'erset, venture again.
Come, we will all put forth; body, and goods.
Mor. T is more than time : And, my most noble

lord,
I hear for certain, and do 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 corps,
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
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,
He's follow'd both with body and with mind;
And doth enlarge his rising with the blood

« PreviousContinue »