Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Rosemary Gaby
Not Peer Reviewed

Henry IV, Part 2 (Modern)

The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Continuing to his Death, and Coronation of Henry the Fifth.
Enter Rumor painted full of tongues.
Open your ears; for which of you will stop
5The vent of hearing, when loud Rumor speaks?
I from the orient to the drooping west
(Making the wind my post-horse) still unfold
The acts commencèd on this ball of earth.
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
10The 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 Rumor, who but only I,
15Make fearful musters, and prepared defense,
Whiles the big year, swoll'n with some other grief,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
And no such matter? Rumor is a pipe,
Blown by surmises, jealousy's conjectures,
20And of so easy, and so plain a stop,
That the blunt monster, with uncounted heads,
The still discordant wav'ring multitude,
Can play upon it. But what need I thus
My well-known body to anatomize
25Among my household? Why is Rumor 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,
30Even 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
35Stooped his annointed head as low as death.
This have I rumored through the peasant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
Where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
40Lies crafty sick, the posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learned of me. From Rumor's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.
Exit Rumor.