Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 2 King Henry IV.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth
 
Induction.
 
Warkworth.  Before NORTHUMBERLAND’S Castle.
 
Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues
  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,        5
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.        10
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, swoln with some other grief,        15
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
And no such matter? Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,        20
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it. But what need I thus
My well-known body to anatomize
Among my household? Why is Rumour here?
I run before King Harry’s victory;        25
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        30
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        35
Between the royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
Where Hotspur’s father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-sick. The posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news        40
Than they have learn’d of me: from Rumour’s tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.  [Exit.
 
 
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