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History of Henry IV, Part I

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Act IV, Scene 1

The rebel camp near Shrewsbury.



  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Well said, my noble Scot: if speaking truth 2220
    In this fine age were not thought flattery,
    Such attribution should the Douglas have,
    As not a soldier of this season's stamp
    Should go so general current through the world.
    By God, I cannot flatter; I do defy 2225
    The tongues of soothers; but a braver place
    In my heart's love hath no man than yourself:
    Nay, task me to my word; approve me, lord.
  • Earl of Douglas. Thou art the king of honour:
    No man so potent breathes upon the ground 2230
    But I will beard him.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Do so, and 'tis well.
    [Enter a Messenger with letters]
    What letters hast thou there?—I can but thank you.
  • Messenger. These letters come from your father. 2235
  • Messenger. He cannot come, my lord; he is grievous sick.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). 'Zounds! how has he the leisure to be sick
    In such a rustling time? Who leads his power?
    Under whose government come they along? 2240
  • Messenger. His letters bear his mind, not I, my lord.
  • Messenger. He did, my lord, four days ere I set forth;
    And at the time of my departure thence
    He was much fear'd by his physicians. 2245
  • Earl of Worcester. I would the state of time had first been whole
    Ere he by sickness had been visited:
    His health was never better worth than now.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Sick now! droop now! this sickness doth infect
    The very life-blood of our enterprise; 2250
    'Tis catching hither, even to our camp.
    He writes me here, that inward sickness—
    And that his friends by deputation could not
    So soon be drawn, nor did he think it meet
    To lay so dangerous and dear a trust 2255
    On any soul removed but on his own.
    Yet doth he give us bold advertisement,
    That with our small conjunction we should on,
    To see how fortune is disposed to us;
    For, as he writes, there is no quailing now. 2260
    Because the king is certainly possess'd
    Of all our purposes. What say you to it?
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). A perilous gash, a very limb lopp'd off:
    And yet, in faith, it is not; his present want 2265
    Seems more than we shall find it: were it good
    To set the exact wealth of all our states
    All at one cast? to set so rich a main
    On the nice hazard of one doubtful hour?
    It were not good; for therein should we read 2270
    The very bottom and the soul of hope,
    The very list, the very utmost bound
    Of all our fortunes.
  • Earl of Douglas. 'Faith, and so we should;
    Where now remains a sweet reversion: 2275
    We may boldly spend upon the hope of what
    Is to come in:
    A comfort of retirement lives in this.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). A rendezvous, a home to fly unto.
    If that the devil and mischance look big 2280
    Upon the maidenhead of our affairs.
  • Earl of Worcester. But yet I would your father had been here.
    The quality and hair of our attempt
    Brooks no division: it will be thought
    By some, that know not why he is away, 2285
    That wisdom, loyalty and mere dislike
    Of our proceedings kept the earl from hence:
    And think how such an apprehension
    May turn the tide of fearful faction
    And breed a kind of question in our cause; 2290
    For well you know we of the offering side
    Must keep aloof from strict arbitrement,
    And stop all sight-holes, every loop from whence
    The eye of reason may pry in upon us:
    This absence of your father's draws a curtain, 2295
    That shows the ignorant a kind of fear
    Before not dreamt of.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). You strain too far.
    I rather of his absence make this use:
    It lends a lustre and more great opinion, 2300
    A larger dare to our great enterprise,
    Than if the earl were here; for men must think,
    If we without his help can make a head
    To push against a kingdom, with his help
    We shall o'erturn it topsy-turvy down. 2305
    Yet all goes well, yet all our joints are whole.
  • Earl of Douglas. As heart can think: there is not such a word
    Spoke of in Scotland as this term of fear.


  • Vernon. Pray God my news be worth a welcome, lord.
    The Earl of Westmoreland, seven thousand strong,
    Is marching hitherwards; with him Prince John.
  • Vernon. And further, I have learn'd, 2315
    The king himself in person is set forth,
    Or hitherwards intended speedily,
    With strong and mighty preparation.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). He shall be welcome too. Where is his son,
    The nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales, 2320
    And his comrades, that daff'd the world aside,
    And bid it pass?
  • Vernon. All furnish'd, all in arms;
    All plumed like estridges that with the wind
    Baited like eagles having lately bathed; 2325
    Glittering in golden coats, like images;
    As full of spirit as the month of May,
    And gorgeous as the sun at midsummer;
    Wanton as youthful goats, wild as young bulls.
    I saw young Harry, with his beaver on, 2330
    His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm'd
    Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury,
    And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
    As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds,
    To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus 2335
    And witch the world with noble horsemanship.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). No more, no more: worse than the sun in March,
    This praise doth nourish agues. Let them come:
    They come like sacrifices in their trim,
    And to the fire-eyed maid of smoky war 2340
    All hot and bleeding will we offer them:
    The mailed Mars shall on his altar sit
    Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire
    To hear this rich reprisal is so nigh
    And yet not ours. Come, let me taste my horse, 2345
    Who is to bear me like a thunderbolt
    Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales:
    Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse,
    Meet and ne'er part till one drop down a corse.
    O that Glendower were come! 2350
  • Vernon. There is more news:
    I learn'd in Worcester, as I rode along,
    He cannot draw his power this fourteen days.
  • Hotspur (Henry Percy). Forty let it be:
    My father and Glendower being both away,
    The powers of us may serve so great a day 2360
    Come, let us take a muster speedily:
    Doomsday is near; die all, die merrily.
  • Earl of Douglas. Talk not of dying: I am out of fear
    Of death or death's hand for this one-half year.