Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry IV, Part I

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Act I, Scene 1

London. The palace.



  • Henry IV. So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
    Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
    And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
    To be commenced in strands afar remote. 5
    No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
    Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood;
    Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields,
    Nor bruise her flowerets with the armed hoofs
    Of hostile paces: those opposed eyes, 10
    Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
    All of one nature, of one substance bred,
    Did lately meet in the intestine shock
    And furious close of civil butchery
    Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks, 15
    March all one way and be no more opposed
    Against acquaintance, kindred and allies:
    The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
    No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
    As far as to the sepulchre of Christ, 20
    Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
    We are impressed and engaged to fight,
    Forthwith a power of English shall we levy;
    Whose arms were moulded in their mothers' womb
    To chase these pagans in those holy fields 25
    Over whose acres walk'd those blessed feet
    Which fourteen hundred years ago were nail'd
    For our advantage on the bitter cross.
    But this our purpose now is twelve month old,
    And bootless 'tis to tell you we will go: 30
    Therefore we meet not now. Then let me hear
    Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland,
    What yesternight our council did decree
    In forwarding this dear expedience.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. My liege, this haste was hot in question, 35
    And many limits of the charge set down
    But yesternight: when all athwart there came
    A post from Wales loaden with heavy news;
    Whose worst was, that the noble Mortimer,
    Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight 40
    Against the irregular and wild Glendower,
    Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken,
    A thousand of his people butchered;
    Upon whose dead corpse there was such misuse,
    Such beastly shameless transformation, 45
    By those Welshwomen done as may not be
    Without much shame retold or spoken of.
  • Henry IV. It seems then that the tidings of this broil
    Brake off our business for the Holy Land.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. This match'd with other did, my gracious lord; 50
    For more uneven and unwelcome news
    Came from the north and thus it did import:
    On Holy-rood day, the gallant Hotspur there,
    Young Harry Percy and brave Archibald,
    That ever-valiant and approved Scot, 55
    At Holmedon met,
    Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour,
    As by discharge of their artillery,
    And shape of likelihood, the news was told;
    For he that brought them, in the very heat 60
    And pride of their contention did take horse,
    Uncertain of the issue any way.
  • Henry IV. Here is a dear, a true industrious friend,
    Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse.
    Stain'd with the variation of each soil 65
    Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours;
    And he hath brought us smooth and welcome news.
    The Earl of Douglas is discomfited:
    Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights,
    Balk'd in their own blood did Sir Walter see 70
    On Holmedon's plains. Of prisoners, Hotspur took
    Mordake the Earl of Fife, and eldest son
    To beaten Douglas; and the Earl of Athol,
    Of Murray, Angus, and Menteith:
    And is not this an honourable spoil? 75
    A gallant prize? ha, cousin, is it not?
  • Earl of Westmoreland. In faith,
    It is a conquest for a prince to boast of.
  • Henry IV. Yea, there thou makest me sad and makest me sin
    In envy that my Lord Northumberland 80
    Should be the father to so blest a son,
    A son who is the theme of honour's tongue;
    Amongst a grove, the very straightest plant;
    Who is sweet Fortune's minion and her pride:
    Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, 85
    See riot and dishonour stain the brow
    Of my young Harry. O that it could be proved
    That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
    In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,
    And call'd mine Percy, his Plantagenet! 90
    Then would I have his Harry, and he mine.
    But let him from my thoughts. What think you, coz,
    Of this young Percy's pride? the prisoners,
    Which he in this adventure hath surprised,
    To his own use he keeps; and sends me word, 95
    I shall have none but Mordake Earl of Fife.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. This is his uncle's teaching; this is Worcester,
    Malevolent to you in all aspects;
    Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up
    The crest of youth against your dignity. 100
  • Henry IV. But I have sent for him to answer this;
    And for this cause awhile we must neglect
    Our holy purpose to Jerusalem.
    Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we
    Will hold at Windsor; so inform the lords: 105
    But come yourself with speed to us again;
    For more is to be said and to be done
    Than out of anger can be uttered.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. I will, my liege.