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History of Henry IV, Part II

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Act III, Scene 1

Westminster. The palace


Enter the KING in his nightgown, with a page

  • Henry IV. Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick; 1705
    But, ere they come, bid them o'er-read these letters
    And well consider of them. Make good speed. Exit page
    How many thousands of my poorest subjects
    Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
    Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee, 1710
    That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down,
    And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
    Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
    Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
    And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, 1715
    Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
    Under the canopies of costly state,
    And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
    O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
    In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch 1720
    A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
    Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
    Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
    In cradle of the rude imperious surge,
    And in the visitation of the winds, 1725
    Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
    Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
    With deafing clamour in the slippery clouds,
    That with the hurly death itself awakes?
    Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose 1730
    To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
    And in the calmest and most stillest night,
    With all appliances and means to boot,
    Deny it to a king? Then, happy low, lie down!
    Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. 1735

Enter WARWICK and Surrey

  • Earl of Warwick. Many good morrows to your Majesty!
  • Henry IV. Is it good morrow, lords?
  • Earl of Warwick. 'Tis one o'clock, and past.
  • Henry IV. Why then, good morrow to you all, my lords. 1740
    Have you read o'er the letters that I sent you?
  • Earl of Warwick. We have, my liege.
  • Henry IV. Then you perceive the body of our kingdom
    How foul it is; what rank diseases grow,
    And with what danger, near the heart of it. 1745
  • Earl of Warwick. It is but as a body yet distempered;
    Which to his former strength may be restored
    With good advice and little medicine.
    My Lord Northumberland will soon be cool'd.
  • Henry IV. O God! that one might read the book of fate, 1750
    And see the revolution of the times
    Make mountains level, and the continent,
    Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
    Into the sea; and other times to see
    The beachy girdle of the ocean 1755
    Too wide for Neptune's hips; how chances mock,
    And changes fill the cup of alteration
    With divers liquors! O, if this were seen,
    The happiest youth, viewing his progress through,
    What perils past, what crosses to ensue, 1760
    Would shut the book and sit him down and die.
    'Tis not ten years gone
    Since Richard and Northumberland, great friends,
    Did feast together, and in two years after
    Were they at wars. It is but eight years since 1765
    This Percy was the man nearest my soul;
    Who like a brother toil'd in my affairs
    And laid his love and life under my foot;
    Yea, for my sake, even to the eyes of Richard
    Gave him defiance. But which of you was by— 1770
    [To WARWICK] You, cousin Nevil, as I may remember—
    When Richard, with his eye brim full of tears,
    Then check'd and rated by Northumberland,
    Did speak these words, now prov'd a prophecy?
    'Northumberland, thou ladder by the which 1775
    My cousin Bolingbroke ascends my throne'—
    Though then, God knows, I had no such intent
    But that necessity so bow'd the state
    That I and greatness were compell'd to kiss—
    'The time shall come'—thus did he follow it— 1780
    'The time will come that foul sin, gathering head,
    Shall break into corruption' so went on,
    Foretelling this same time's condition
    And the division of our amity.
  • Earl of Warwick. There is a history in all men's lives, 1785
    Figuring the natures of the times deceas'd;
    The which observ'd, a man may prophesy,
    With a near aim, of the main chance of things
    As yet not come to life, who in their seeds
    And weak beginning lie intreasured. 1790
    Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
    And, by the necessary form of this,
    King Richard might create a perfect guess
    That great Northumberland, then false to him,
    Would of that seed grow to a greater falseness; 1795
    Which should not find a ground to root upon
    Unless on you.
  • Henry IV. Are these things then necessities?
    Then let us meet them like necessities;
    And that same word even now cries out on us. 1800
    They say the Bishop and Northumberland
    Are fifty thousand strong.
  • Earl of Warwick. It cannot be, my lord.
    Rumour doth double, like the voice and echo,
    The numbers of the feared. Please it your Grace 1805
    To go to bed. Upon my soul, my lord,
    The powers that you already have sent forth
    Shall bring this prize in very easily.
    To comfort you the more, I have receiv'd
    A certain instance that Glendower is dead. 1810
    Your Majesty hath been this fortnight ill;
    And these unseasoned hours perforce must ad
    Unto your sickness.
  • Henry IV. I will take your counsel.
    And, were these inward wars once out of hand, 1815
    We would, dear lords, unto the Holy Land. Exeunt