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History of Henry IV, Part I

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Act I, Scene 3

London. The palace.



  • Henry IV. My blood hath been too cold and temperate,
    Unapt to stir at these indignities,
    And you have found me; for accordingly 325
    You tread upon my patience: but be sure
    I will from henceforth rather be myself,
    Mighty and to be fear'd, than my condition;
    Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down,
    And therefore lost that title of respect 330
    Which the proud soul ne'er pays but to the proud.
  • Earl of Worcester. Our house, my sovereign liege, little deserves
    The scourge of greatness to be used on it;
    And that same greatness too which our own hands
    Have holp to make so portly. 335
  • Henry IV. Worcester, get thee gone; for I do see
    Danger and disobedience in thine eye:
    O, sir, your presence is too bold and peremptory,
    And majesty might never yet endure 340
    The moody frontier of a servant brow.
    You have good leave to leave us: when we need
    Your use and counsel, we shall send for you.
    [Exit Worcester]
    You were about to speak. 345
    [To North]
  • Earl of Northumberland. Yea, my good lord.
    Those prisoners in your highness' name demanded,
    Which Harry Percy here at Holmedon took,
    Were, as he says, not with such strength denied 350
    As is deliver'd to your majesty:
    Either envy, therefore, or misprison
    Is guilty of this fault and not my son.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
    But I remember, when the fight was done, 355
    When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
    Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
    Came there a certain lord, neat, and trimly dress'd,
    Fresh as a bridegroom; and his chin new reap'd
    Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home; 360
    He was perfumed like a milliner;
    And 'twixt his finger and his thumb he held
    A pouncet-box, which ever and anon
    He gave his nose and took't away again;
    Who therewith angry, when it next came there, 365
    Took it in snuff; and still he smiled and talk'd,
    And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
    He call'd them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
    To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse
    Betwixt the wind and his nobility. 370
    With many holiday and lady terms
    He question'd me; amongst the rest, demanded
    My prisoners in your majesty's behalf.
    I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,
    To be so pester'd with a popinjay, 375
    Out of my grief and my impatience,
    Answer'd neglectingly I know not what,
    He should or he should not; for he made me mad
    To see him shine so brisk and smell so sweet
    And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman 380
    Of guns and drums and wounds,—God save the mark!—
    And telling me the sovereign'st thing on earth
    Was parmaceti for an inward bruise;
    And that it was great pity, so it was,
    This villanous salt-petre should be digg'd 385
    Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
    Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
    So cowardly; and but for these vile guns,
    He would himself have been a soldier.
    This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord, 390
    I answer'd indirectly, as I said;
    And I beseech you, let not his report
    Come current for an accusation
    Betwixt my love and your high majesty.
  • Blunt. The circumstance consider'd, good my lord, 395
    Whate'er Lord Harry Percy then had said
    To such a person and in such a place,
    At such a time, with all the rest retold,
    May reasonably die and never rise
    To do him wrong or any way impeach 400
    What then he said, so he unsay it now.
  • Henry IV. Why, yet he doth deny his prisoners,
    But with proviso and exception,
    That we at our own charge shall ransom straight
    His brother-in-law, the foolish Mortimer; 405
    Who, on my soul, hath wilfully betray'd
    The lives of those that he did lead to fight
    Against that great magician, damn'd Glendower,
    Whose daughter, as we hear, the Earl of March
    Hath lately married. Shall our coffers, then, 410
    Be emptied to redeem a traitor home?
    Shall we but treason? and indent with fears,
    When they have lost and forfeited themselves?
    No, on the barren mountains let him starve;
    For I shall never hold that man my friend 415
    Whose tongue shall ask me for one penny cost
    To ransom home revolted Mortimer.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Revolted Mortimer!
    He never did fall off, my sovereign liege,
    But by the chance of war; to prove that true 420
    Needs no more but one tongue for all those wounds,
    Those mouthed wounds, which valiantly he took
    When on the gentle Severn's sedgy bank,
    In single opposition, hand to hand,
    He did confound the best part of an hour 425
    In changing hardiment with great Glendower:
    Three times they breathed and three times did
    they drink,
    Upon agreement, of swift Severn's flood;
    Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks, 430
    Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
    And hid his crisp head in the hollow bank,
    Bloodstained with these valiant combatants.
    Never did base and rotten policy
    Colour her working with such deadly wounds; 435
    Nor could the noble Mortimer
    Receive so many, and all willingly:
    Then let not him be slander'd with revolt.
  • Henry IV. Thou dost belie him, Percy, thou dost belie him;
    He never did encounter with Glendower: 440
    I tell thee,
    He durst as well have met the devil alone
    As Owen Glendower for an enemy.
    Art thou not ashamed? But, sirrah, henceforth
    Let me not hear you speak of Mortimer: 445
    Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
    Or you shall hear in such a kind from me
    As will displease you. My Lord Northumberland,
    We licence your departure with your son.
    Send us your prisoners, or you will hear of it. 450

[Exeunt King Henry, Blunt, and train]

  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). An if the devil come and roar for them,
    I will not send them: I will after straight
    And tell him so; for I will ease my heart,
    Albeit I make a hazard of my head. 455

[Re-enter WORCESTER]

  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Speak of Mortimer!
    'Zounds, I will speak of him; and let my soul 460
    Want mercy, if I do not join with him:
    Yea, on his part I'll empty all these veins,
    And shed my dear blood drop by drop in the dust,
    But I will lift the down-trod Mortimer
    As high in the air as this unthankful king, 465
    As this ingrate and canker'd Bolingbroke.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). He will, forsooth, have all my prisoners;
    And when I urged the ransom once again 470
    Of my wife's brother, then his cheek look'd pale,
    And on my face he turn'd an eye of death,
    Trembling even at the name of Mortimer.
  • Earl of Worcester. I cannot blame him: was not he proclaim'd
    By Richard that dead is the next of blood? 475
  • Earl of Northumberland. He was; I heard the proclamation:
    And then it was when the unhappy king,
    —Whose wrongs in us God pardon!—did set forth
    Upon his Irish expedition;
    From whence he intercepted did return 480
    To be deposed and shortly murdered.
  • Earl of Worcester. And for whose death we in the world's wide mouth
    Live scandalized and foully spoken of.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). But soft, I pray you; did King Richard then
    Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer 485
    Heir to the crown?
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Nay, then I cannot blame his cousin king,
    That wished him on the barren mountains starve.
    But shall it be that you, that set the crown 490
    Upon the head of this forgetful man
    And for his sake wear the detested blot
    Of murderous subornation, shall it be,
    That you a world of curses undergo,
    Being the agents, or base second means, 495
    The cords, the ladder, or the hangman rather?
    O, pardon me that I descend so low,
    To show the line and the predicament
    Wherein you range under this subtle king;
    Shall it for shame be spoken in these days, 500
    Or fill up chronicles in time to come,
    That men of your nobility and power
    Did gage them both in an unjust behalf,
    As both of you—God pardon it!—have done,
    To put down Richard, that sweet lovely rose, 505
    An plant this thorn, this canker, Bolingbroke?
    And shall it in more shame be further spoken,
    That you are fool'd, discarded and shook off
    By him for whom these shames ye underwent?
    No; yet time serves wherein you may redeem 510
    Your banish'd honours and restore yourselves
    Into the good thoughts of the world again,
    Revenge the jeering and disdain'd contempt
    Of this proud king, who studies day and night
    To answer all the debt he owes to you 515
    Even with the bloody payment of your deaths:
    Therefore, I say—
  • Earl of Worcester. Peace, cousin, say no more:
    And now I will unclasp a secret book,
    And to your quick-conceiving discontents 520
    I'll read you matter deep and dangerous,
    As full of peril and adventurous spirit
    As to o'er-walk a current roaring loud
    On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). If he fall in, good night! or sink or swim: 525
    Send danger from the east unto the west,
    So honour cross it from the north to south,
    And let them grapple: O, the blood more stirs
    To rouse a lion than to start a hare!
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
    To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,
    Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
    Where fathom-line could never touch the ground, 535
    And pluck up drowned honour by the locks;
    So he that doth redeem her thence might wear
    Without corrival, all her dignities:
    But out upon this half-faced fellowship!
  • Earl of Worcester. He apprehends a world of figures here, 540
    But not the form of what he should attend.
    Good cousin, give me audience for a while.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). I'll keep them all;
    By God, he shall not have a Scot of them;
    No, if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not:
    I'll keep them, by this hand.
  • Earl of Worcester. You start away 550
    And lend no ear unto my purposes.
    Those prisoners you shall keep.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Nay, I will; that's flat:
    He said he would not ransom Mortimer;
    Forbad my tongue to speak of Mortimer; 555
    But I will find him when he lies asleep,
    And in his ear I'll holla 'Mortimer!'
    I'll have a starling shall be taught to speak
    Nothing but 'Mortimer,' and give it him 560
    To keep his anger still in motion.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). All studies here I solemnly defy,
    Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke:
    And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales, 565
    But that I think his father loves him not
    And would be glad he met with some mischance,
    I would have him poison'd with a pot of ale.
  • Earl of Worcester. Farewell, kinsman: I'll talk to you
    When you are better temper'd to attend. 570
  • Earl of Northumberland. Why, what a wasp-stung and impatient fool
    Art thou to break into this woman's mood,
    Tying thine ear to no tongue but thine own!
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Why, look you, I am whipp'd and scourged with rods,
    Nettled and stung with pismires, when I hear 575
    Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke.
    In Richard's time,—what do you call the place?—
    A plague upon it, it is in Gloucestershire;
    'Twas where the madcap duke his uncle kept,
    His uncle York; where I first bow'd my knee 580
    Unto this king of smiles, this Bolingbroke,—
    When you and he came back from Ravenspurgh.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). You say true: 585
    Why, what a candy deal of courtesy
    This fawning greyhound then did proffer me!
    Look,'when his infant fortune came to age,'
    And 'gentle Harry Percy,' and 'kind cousin;'
    O, the devil take such cozeners! God forgive me! 590
    Good uncle, tell your tale; I have done.
  • Earl of Worcester. Then once more to your Scottish prisoners. 595
    Deliver them up without their ransom straight,
    And make the Douglas' son your only mean
    For powers in Scotland; which, for divers reasons
    Which I shall send you written, be assured,
    Will easily be granted. You, my lord, 600
    [To Northumberland]
    Your son in Scotland being thus employ'd,
    Shall secretly into the bosom creep
    Of that same noble prelate, well beloved,
    The archbishop. 605
  • Earl of Worcester. True; who bears hard
    His brother's death at Bristol, the Lord Scroop.
    I speak not this in estimation,
    As what I think might be, but what I know 610
    Is ruminated, plotted and set down,
    And only stays but to behold the face
    Of that occasion that shall bring it on.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Why, it cannot choose but be a noble plot;
    And then the power of Scotland and of York,
    To join with Mortimer, ha?
  • Earl of Worcester. And 'tis no little reason bids us speed,
    To save our heads by raising of a head;
    For, bear ourselves as even as we can,
    The king will always think him in our debt,
    And think we think ourselves unsatisfied, 625
    Till he hath found a time to pay us home:
    And see already how he doth begin
    To make us strangers to his looks of love.
  • Earl of Worcester. Cousin, farewell: no further go in this 630
    Than I by letters shall direct your course.
    When time is ripe, which will be suddenly,
    I'll steal to Glendower and Lord Mortimer;
    Where you and Douglas and our powers at once,
    As I will fashion it, shall happily meet, 635
    To bear our fortunes in our own strong arms,
    Which now we hold at much uncertainty.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Uncle, Adieu: O, let the hours be short
    Till fields and blows and groans applaud our sport! 640