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History of Henry IV, Part II

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Act IV, Scene 1

Yorkshire. Within the Forest of Gaultree



  • Lord Hastings. 'Tis Gaultree Forest, an't shall please your Grace.
  • Archbishop Scroop. Here stand, my lords, and send discoverers forth
    To know the numbers of our enemies.
  • Archbishop Scroop. 'Tis well done.
    My friends and brethren in these great affairs,
    I must acquaint you that I have receiv'd
    New-dated letters from Northumberland;
    Their cold intent, tenour, and substance, thus: 2210
    Here doth he wish his person, with such powers
    As might hold sortance with his quality,
    The which he could not levy; whereupon
    He is retir'd, to ripe his growing fortunes,
    To Scotland; and concludes in hearty prayers 2215
    That your attempts may overlive the hazard
    And fearful meeting of their opposite.
  • Lord Mowbray. Thus do the hopes we have in him touch ground
    And dash themselves to pieces.


  • Messenger. West of this forest, scarcely off a mile,
    In goodly form comes on the enemy;
    And, by the ground they hide, I judge their number
    Upon or near the rate of thirty thousand. 2225
  • Lord Mowbray. The just proportion that we gave them out.
    Let us sway on and face them in the field.


  • Earl of Westmoreland. Health and fair greeting from our general,
    The Prince, Lord John and Duke of Lancaster.
  • Archbishop Scroop. Say on, my Lord of Westmoreland, in peace,
    What doth concern your coming.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Then, my lord, 2235
    Unto your Grace do I in chief address
    The substance of my speech. If that rebellion
    Came like itself, in base and abject routs,
    Led on by bloody youth, guarded with rags,
    And countenanc'd by boys and beggary- 2240
    I say, if damn'd commotion so appear'd
    In his true, native, and most proper shape,
    You, reverend father, and these noble lords,
    Had not been here to dress the ugly form
    Of base and bloody insurrection 2245
    With your fair honours. You, Lord Archbishop,
    Whose see is by a civil peace maintain'd,
    Whose beard the silver hand of peace hath touch'd,
    Whose learning and good letters peace hath tutor'd,
    Whose white investments figure innocence, 2250
    The dove, and very blessed spirit of peace-
    Wherefore you do so ill translate yourself
    Out of the speech of peace, that bears such grace,
    Into the harsh and boist'rous tongue of war;
    Turning your books to graves, your ink to blood, 2255
    Your pens to lances, and your tongue divine
    To a loud trumpet and a point of war?
  • Archbishop Scroop. Wherefore do I this? So the question stands.
    Briefly to this end: we are all diseas'd
    And with our surfeiting and wanton hours 2260
    Have brought ourselves into a burning fever,
    And we must bleed for it; of which disease
    Our late King, Richard, being infected, died.
    But, my most noble Lord of Westmoreland,
    I take not on me here as a physician; 2265
    Nor do I as an enemy to peace
    Troop in the throngs of military men;
    But rather show awhile like fearful war
    To diet rank minds sick of happiness,
    And purge th' obstructions which begin to stop 2270
    Our very veins of life. Hear me more plainly.
    I have in equal balance justly weigh'd
    What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer,
    And find our griefs heavier than our offences.
    We see which way the stream of time doth run 2275
    And are enforc'd from our most quiet there
    By the rough torrent of occasion;
    And have the summary of all our griefs,
    When time shall serve, to show in articles;
    Which long ere this we offer'd to the King, 2280
    And might by no suit gain our audience:
    When we are wrong'd, and would unfold our griefs,
    We are denied access unto his person,
    Even by those men that most have done us wrong.
    The dangers of the days but newly gone, 2285
    Whose memory is written on the earth
    With yet appearing blood, and the examples
    Of every minute's instance, present now,
    Hath put us in these ill-beseeming arms;
    Not to break peace, or any branch of it, 2290
    But to establish here a peace indeed,
    Concurring both in name and quality.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. When ever yet was your appeal denied;
    Wherein have you been galled by the King;
    What peer hath been suborn'd to grate on you 2295
    That you should seal this lawless bloody book
    Of forg'd rebellion with a seal divine,
    And consecrate commotion's bitter edge?
  • Archbishop Scroop. My brother general, the commonwealth,
    To brother horn an household cruelty, 2300
    I make my quarrel in particular.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. There is no need of any such redress;
    Or if there were, it not belongs to you.
  • Lord Mowbray. Why not to him in part, and to us all
    That feel the bruises of the days before, 2305
    And suffer the condition of these times
    To lay a heavy and unequal hand
    Upon our honours?
  • Earl of Westmoreland. O my good Lord Mowbray,
    Construe the times to their necessities, 2310
    And you shall say, indeed, it is the time,
    And not the King, that doth you injuries.
    Yet, for your part, it not appears to me,
    Either from the King or in the present time,
    That you should have an inch of any ground 2315
    To build a grief on. Were you not restor'd
    To all the Duke of Norfolk's signiories,
    Your noble and right well-rememb'red father's?
  • Lord Mowbray. What thing, in honour, had my father lost
    That need to be reviv'd and breath'd in me? 2320
    The King that lov'd him, as the state stood then,
    Was force perforce compell'd to banish him,
    And then that Henry Bolingbroke and he,
    Being mounted and both roused in their seats,
    Their neighing coursers daring of the spur, 2325
    Their armed staves in charge, their beavers down,
    Their eyes of fire sparkling through sights of steel,
    And the loud trumpet blowing them together—
    Then, then, when there was nothing could have stay'd
    My father from the breast of Bolingbroke, 2330
    O, when the King did throw his warder down—
    His own life hung upon the staff he threw—
    Then threw he down himself, and all their lives
    That by indictment and by dint of sword
    Have since miscarried under Bolingbroke. 2335
  • Earl of Westmoreland. You speak, Lord Mowbray, now you know not what.
    The Earl of Hereford was reputed then
    In England the most valiant gentleman.
    Who knows on whom fortune would then have smil'd?
    But if your father had been victor there, 2340
    He ne'er had borne it out of Coventry;
    For all the country, in a general voice,
    Cried hate upon him; and all their prayers and love
    Were set on Hereford, whom they doted on,
    And bless'd and grac'd indeed more than the King. 2345
    But this is mere digression from my purpose.
    Here come I from our princely general
    To know your griefs; to tell you from his Grace
    That he will give you audience; and wherein
    It shall appear that your demands are just, 2350
    You shall enjoy them, everything set off
    That might so much as think you enemies.
  • Lord Mowbray. But he hath forc'd us to compel this offer;
    And it proceeds from policy, not love.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Mowbray. you overween to take it so. 2355
    This offer comes from mercy, not from fear;
    For, lo! within a ken our army lies-
    Upon mine honour, all too confident
    To give admittance to a thought of fear.
    Our battle is more full of names than yours, 2360
    Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
    Our armour all as strong, our cause the best;
    Then reason will our hearts should be as good.
    Say you not, then, our offer is compell'd.
  • Lord Mowbray. Well, by my will we shall admit no parley. 2365
  • Lord Hastings. Hath the Prince John a full commission,
    In very ample virtue of his father,
    To hear and absolutely to determine 2370
    Of what conditions we shall stand upon?
  • Earl of Westmoreland. That is intended in the general's name.
    I muse you make so slight a question.
  • Archbishop Scroop. Then take, my Lord of Westmoreland, this schedule,
    For this contains our general grievances. 2375
    Each several article herein redress'd,
    All members of our cause, both here and hence,
    That are insinewed to this action,
    Acquitted by a true substantial form,
    And present execution of our wills 2380
    To us and to our purposes confin'd-
    We come within our awful banks again,
    And knit our powers to the arm of peace.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. This will I show the general. Please you, lords,
    In sight of both our battles we may meet; 2385
    And either end in peace—which God so frame!-
    Or to the place of diff'rence call the swords
    Which must decide it.
  • Lord Mowbray. There is a thing within my bosom tells me 2390
    That no conditions of our peace can stand.
  • Lord Hastings. Fear you not that: if we can make our peace
    Upon such large terms and so absolute
    As our conditions shall consist upon,
    Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains. 2395
  • Lord Mowbray. Yea, but our valuation shall be such
    That every slight and false-derived cause,
    Yea, every idle, nice, and wanton reason,
    Shall to the King taste of this action;
    That, were our royal faiths martyrs in love, 2400
    We shall be winnow'd with so rough a wind
    That even our corn shall seem as light as chaff,
    And good from bad find no partition.
  • Archbishop Scroop. No, no, my lord. Note this: the King is weary
    Of dainty and such picking grievances; 2405
    For he hath found to end one doubt by death
    Revives two greater in the heirs of life;
    And therefore will he wipe his tables clean,
    And keep no tell-tale to his memory
    That may repeat and history his los 2410
    To new remembrance. For full well he knows
    He cannot so precisely weed this land
    As his misdoubts present occasion:
    His foes are so enrooted with his friends
    That, plucking to unfix an enemy, 2415
    He doth unfasten so and shake a friend.
    So that this land, like an offensive wife
    That hath enrag'd him on to offer strokes,
    As he is striking, holds his infant up,
    And hangs resolv'd correction in the arm 2420
    That was uprear'd to execution.
  • Lord Hastings. Besides, the King hath wasted all his rods
    On late offenders, that he now doth lack
    The very instruments of chastisement;
    So that his power, like to a fangless lion, 2425
    May offer, but not hold.
  • Archbishop Scroop. 'Tis very true;
    And therefore be assur'd, my good Lord Marshal,
    If we do now make our atonement well,
    Our peace will, like a broken limb united, 2430
    Grow stronger for the breaking.
  • Lord Mowbray. Be it so.
    Here is return'd my Lord of Westmoreland.


  • Earl of Westmoreland. The Prince is here at hand. Pleaseth your 2435
    To meet his Grace just distance 'tween our armies?
  • Lord Mowbray. Your Grace of York, in God's name then, set forward.