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History of Henry IV, Part I

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Act III, Scene 2

London. The palace.


[Enter KING HENRY IV, PRINCE HENRY, and others]

  • Henry IV. Lords, give us leave; the Prince of Wales and I
    Must have some private conference; but be near at hand,
    For we shall presently have need of you. 1825
    [Exeunt Lords]
    I know not whether God will have it so,
    For some displeasing service I have done,
    That, in his secret doom, out of my blood
    He'll breed revengement and a scourge for me; 1830
    But thou dost in thy passages of life
    Make me believe that thou art only mark'd
    For the hot vengeance and the rod of heaven
    To punish my mistreadings. Tell me else,
    Could such inordinate and low desires, 1835
    Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such mean attempts,
    Such barren pleasures, rude society,
    As thou art match'd withal and grafted to,
    Accompany the greatness of thy blood
    And hold their level with thy princely heart? 1840
  • Henry V. So please your majesty, I would I could
    Quit all offences with as clear excuse
    As well as I am doubtless I can purge
    Myself of many I am charged withal:
    Yet such extenuation let me beg, 1845
    As, in reproof of many tales devised,
    which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear,
    By smiling pick-thanks and base news-mongers,
    I may, for some things true, wherein my youth
    Hath faulty wander'd and irregular, 1850
    Find pardon on my true submission.
  • Henry IV. God pardon thee! yet let me wonder, Harry,
    At thy affections, which do hold a wing
    Quite from the flight of all thy ancestors.
    Thy place in council thou hast rudely lost. 1855
    Which by thy younger brother is supplied,
    And art almost an alien to the hearts
    Of all the court and princes of my blood:
    The hope and expectation of thy time
    Is ruin'd, and the soul of every man 1860
    Prophetically doth forethink thy fall.
    Had I so lavish of my presence been,
    So common-hackney'd in the eyes of men,
    So stale and cheap to vulgar company,
    Opinion, that did help me to the crown, 1865
    Had still kept loyal to possession
    And left me in reputeless banishment,
    A fellow of no mark nor likelihood.
    By being seldom seen, I could not stir
    But like a comet I was wonder'd at; 1870
    That men would tell their children 'This is he;'
    Others would say 'Where, which is Bolingbroke?'
    And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,
    And dress'd myself in such humility
    That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts, 1875
    Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
    Even in the presence of the crowned king.
    Thus did I keep my person fresh and new;
    My presence, like a robe pontifical,
    Ne'er seen but wonder'd at: and so my state, 1880
    Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast
    And won by rareness such solemnity.
    The skipping king, he ambled up and down
    With shallow jesters and rash bavin wits,
    Soon kindled and soon burnt; carded his state, 1885
    Mingled his royalty with capering fools,
    Had his great name profaned with their scorns
    And gave his countenance, against his name,
    To laugh at gibing boys and stand the push
    Of every beardless vain comparative, 1890
    Grew a companion to the common streets,
    Enfeoff'd himself to popularity;
    That, being daily swallow'd by men's eyes,
    They surfeited with honey and began
    To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little 1895
    More than a little is by much too much.
    So when he had occasion to be seen,
    He was but as the cuckoo is in June,
    Heard, not regarded; seen, but with such eyes
    As, sick and blunted with community, 1900
    Afford no extraordinary gaze,
    Such as is bent on sun-like majesty
    When it shines seldom in admiring eyes;
    But rather drowzed and hung their eyelids down,
    Slept in his face and render'd such aspect 1905
    As cloudy men use to their adversaries,
    Being with his presence glutted, gorged and full.
    And in that very line, Harry, standest thou;
    For thou has lost thy princely privilege
    With vile participation: not an eye 1910
    But is a-weary of thy common sight,
    Save mine, which hath desired to see thee more;
    Which now doth that I would not have it do,
    Make blind itself with foolish tenderness.
  • Henry V. I shall hereafter, my thrice gracious lord, 1915
    Be more myself.
  • Henry IV. For all the world
    As thou art to this hour was Richard then
    When I from France set foot at Ravenspurgh,
    And even as I was then is Percy now. 1920
    Now, by my sceptre and my soul to boot,
    He hath more worthy interest to the state
    Than thou the shadow of succession;
    For of no right, nor colour like to right,
    He doth fill fields with harness in the realm, 1925
    Turns head against the lion's armed jaws,
    And, being no more in debt to years than thou,
    Leads ancient lords and reverend bishops on
    To bloody battles and to bruising arms.
    What never-dying honour hath he got 1930
    Against renowned Douglas! whose high deeds,
    Whose hot incursions and great name in arms
    Holds from all soldiers chief majority
    And military title capital
    Through all the kingdoms that acknowledge Christ: 1935
    Thrice hath this Hotspur, Mars in swathling clothes,
    This infant warrior, in his enterprises
    Discomfited great Douglas, ta'en him once,
    Enlarged him and made a friend of him,
    To fill the mouth of deep defiance up 1940
    And shake the peace and safety of our throne.
    And what say you to this? Percy, Northumberland,
    The Archbishop's grace of York, Douglas, Mortimer,
    Capitulate against us and are up.
    But wherefore do I tell these news to thee? 1945
    Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes,
    Which art my near'st and dearest enemy?
    Thou that art like enough, through vassal fear,
    Base inclination and the start of spleen
    To fight against me under Percy's pay, 1950
    To dog his heels and curtsy at his frowns,
    To show how much thou art degenerate.
  • Henry V. Do not think so; you shall not find it so:
    And God forgive them that so much have sway'd
    Your majesty's good thoughts away from me! 1955
    I will redeem all this on Percy's head
    And in the closing of some glorious day
    Be bold to tell you that I am your son;
    When I will wear a garment all of blood
    And stain my favours in a bloody mask, 1960
    Which, wash'd away, shall scour my shame with it:
    And that shall be the day, whene'er it lights,
    That this same child of honour and renown,
    This gallant Hotspur, this all-praised knight,
    And your unthought-of Harry chance to meet. 1965
    For every honour sitting on his helm,
    Would they were multitudes, and on my head
    My shames redoubled! for the time will come,
    That I shall make this northern youth exchange
    His glorious deeds for my indignities. 1970
    Percy is but my factor, good my lord,
    To engross up glorious deeds on my behalf;
    And I will call him to so strict account,
    That he shall render every glory up,
    Yea, even the slightest worship of his time, 1975
    Or I will tear the reckoning from his heart.
    This, in the name of God, I promise here:
    The which if He be pleased I shall perform,
    I do beseech your majesty may salve
    The long-grown wounds of my intemperance: 1980
    If not, the end of life cancels all bands;
    And I will die a hundred thousand deaths
    Ere break the smallest parcel of this vow.
  • Henry IV. A hundred thousand rebels die in this:
    Thou shalt have charge and sovereign trust herein. 1985
    [Enter BLUNT]
    How now, good Blunt? thy looks are full of speed.
  • Blunt. So hath the business that I come to speak of.
    Lord Mortimer of Scotland hath sent word
    That Douglas and the English rebels met 1990
    The eleventh of this month at Shrewsbury
    A mighty and a fearful head they are,
    If promises be kept on every hand,
    As ever offer'd foul play in the state.
  • Henry IV. The Earl of Westmoreland set forth to-day; 1995
    With him my son, Lord John of Lancaster;
    For this advertisement is five days old:
    On Wednesday next, Harry, you shall set forward;
    On Thursday we ourselves will march: our meeting
    Is Bridgenorth: and, Harry, you shall march 2000
    Through Gloucestershire; by which account,
    Our business valued, some twelve days hence
    Our general forces at Bridgenorth shall meet.
    Our hands are full of business: let's away;
    Advantage feeds him fat, while men delay. 2005