Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - The First Part of King Henry the Fourth
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ACT I. - William Shakespeare, The First Part of King Henry the Fourth 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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London. The Palace.
EnterKing Henry, Westmoreland,and Others.
So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenc’d in stronds afar remote.
No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood;
No more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flowerets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile paces: those opposed eyes,
Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
Did lately meet in the intestine shock
And furious close of civil butchery,
Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks,
March all one way, and be no more oppos’d
Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies:
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,
No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
As far as to the sepulchre of Christ,—
Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
We are impressed and engag’d to fight,—
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy,
Whose arms were moulded in their mother’s womb
To chase these pagans in those holy fields
Over whose acres walk’d those blessed feet
Which fourteen hundred years ago were nail’d
For our advantage on the bitter cross.
But this our purpose is a twelvemonth old,
And bootless ’tis to tell you we will go:
Therefore we meet not now. Then let me hear
Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland,
What yesternight our council did decree
In forwarding this dear expedience.
My liege, this haste was hot in question,
And many limits of the charge set down
But yesternight; when all athwart there came
A post from Wales loaden with heavy news;
Whose worst was, that the noble Mortimer,
Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight
Against the irregular and wild Glendower,
Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken,
And a thousand of his people butchered;
Upon whose dead corpse’ there was such misuse,
Such beastly shameless transformation
By those Welshwomen done, as may not be
Without much shame re-told or spoken of.
It seems then that the tidings of this broil
Brake off our business for the Holy Land.
This match’d with other like, my gracious lord;
For more uneven and unwelcome news
Came from the north and thus it did import:
On Holy-rood day, the gallant Hotspur there,
Young Harry Percy and brave Archibald,
That ever-valiant and approved Scot,
At Holmedon met,
Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour;
As by discharge of their artillery,
And shape of likelihood, the news was told;
For he that brought them, in the very heat
And pride of their contention did take horse,
Uncertain of the issue any way.
Here is a dear and true industrious friend,
Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse,
Stain’d with the variation of each soil
Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours;
And he hath brought us smooth and welcome news.
The Earl of Douglas is discomfited;
Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights,
Balk’d in their own blood did Sir Walter see
On Holmedon’s plains: of prisoners Hotspur took
Mordake the Earl of Fife, and eldest son
To beaten Douglas, and the Earls of Athol,
Of Murray, Angus, and Menteith.
And is not this an honourable spoil?
A gallant prize? ha, cousin, is it not?
It is a conquest for a prince to boast of.
Yea, there thou mak’st me sad and mak’st me sin
In envy that my Lord Northumberland
Should be the father to so blest a son,
A son who is the theme of honour’s tongue;
Amongst a grove the very straightest plant;
Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride:
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him,
See riot and dishonour stain the brow
Of my young Harry. O! that it could be prov’d
That some night-tripping fairy had exchang’d
In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,
And call’d mine Percy, his Plantagenet.
Then would I have his Harry, and he mine.
But let him from my thoughts. What think you, coz,
Of this young Percy’s pride? the prisoners,
Which he in this adventure hath surpris’d,
To his own use he keeps, and sends me word,
I shall have none but Mordake Earl of Fife.
This is his uncle’s teaching, this is Worcester,
Malevolent to you in all aspects;
Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up
The crest of youth against your dignity.
But I have sent for him to answer this;
And for this cause a while we must neglect
Our holy purpose to Jerusalem.
Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we
Will hold at Windsor; so inform the lords:
But come yourself with speed to us again;
For more is to be said and to be done
Than out of anger can be uttered.
I will, my hege.
The Same. An Apartment of thePrince’s.
Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?
Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-colour’d taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
Indeed, you come near me now, Hal; for we that take purses go by the moon and the seven stars, and not by Phœbus, he, ‘that wandering knight so fair.’ And, I prithee, sweet wag, when thou art king,—as, God save thy Grace,—majesty, I should say, for grace thou wilt have none,—
No, by my troth; not so much as will serve to be prologue to an egg and butter.
Well, how then? come, roundly, roundly.
Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us that are squires of the night’s body be called thieves of the day’s beauty: let us be Diana’s foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon; and let men say, we be men of good government, being governed as the sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress the moon, under whose countenance we steal.
Thou sayest well, and it holds well too; for the fortune of us that are the moon’s men doth ebb and flow like the sea, being governed as the sea is, by the moon. As for proof now: a purse of gold most resolutely snatched on Monday night and most dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning; got with swearing ‘Lay by;’ and spent with crying ‘Bring in:’ now in as low an ebb as the foot of the ladder, and by and by in as high a flow as the ridge of the gallows.
By the Lord, thou sayest true, lad. And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?
As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle. And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance?
How now, how now, mad wag! what, in thy quips and thy quiddities? what a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin?
Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern?
Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning many a time and oft.
Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?
No; I’ll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all there.
Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would stretch; and where it would not, I have used my credit.
Yea, and so used it that, were it not here apparent that thou art their apparent.—But, I prithee, sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in England when thou art king, and resolution thus fobbed as it is with the rusty curb of old father antick the law? Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief.
No; thou shalt.
Shall I? O rare! By the Lord, I’ll be a brave judge.
Thou judgest false already; I mean, thou shalt have the hanging of the thieves and so become a rare hangman.
Well, Hal, well; and in some sort it jumps with my humour as well as waiting in the court, I can tell you.
For obtaining of suits?
Yea, for obtaining of suits, whereof the hangman hath no lean wardrobe. ’Sblood, I am as melancholy as a gib cat, or a lugged bear.
Or an old lion, or a lover’s lute.
Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe.
What sayest thou to a hare, or the melancholy of Moor-ditch?
Thou hast the most unsavory similes, and art, indeed, the most comparative, rascalliest, sweet young prince; but, Hal, I prithee, trouble me no more with vanity. I would to God thou and I knew where a commodity of good names were to be bought. An old lord of the council rated me the other day in the street about you, sir, but I marked him not; and yet he talked very wisely, but I regarded him not; and yet he talked wisely, and in the street too.
Thou didst well; for wisdom cries out in the streets, and no man regards it.
O! thou hast damnable iteration, and art indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm upon me, Hal; God forgive thee for it! Before I knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing; and now am I, if a man should speak truly, little better than one of the wicked. I must give over this life, and I will give it over; by the Lord, an I do not, I am a villain: I’ll be damned for never a king’s son in Christendom.
Where shall we take a purse to-morrow, Jack?
Zounds! where thou wilt, lad, I’ll make one; an I do not, call me a villain and baffle me.
I see a good amendment of life in thee; from praying to purse-taking.
EnterPoins,at a distance.
Why, Hal, ’tis my vocation, Hal; ’tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation. Poins! Now shall we know if Gadshill have set a match. O! if men were to be saved by merit, what hole in hell were hot enough for him? This is the most omnipotent villain that ever cried ‘Stand!’ to a true man.
Good morrow, Ned.
Good morrow, sweet Hal. What says Monsieur Remorse? What says Sir John Sack-and-Sugar? Jack! how agrees the devil and thee about thy soul, that thou soldest him on Good-Friday last for a cup of Madeira and a cold capon’s leg?
Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his bargain; for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs: he will give the devil his due.
Then art thou damned for keeping thy word with the devil.
Else he had been damned for cozening the devil.
But my lads, my lads, to-morrow morning, by four o’clock, early at Gadshill! There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses: I have vizards for you all; you have horses for yourselves. Gadshill lies to night in Rochester; I have bespoke supper to-morrow night in Eastcheap: we may do it as secure as sleep. If you will go I will stuff your purses full of crowns; if you will not, tarry at home and be hanged.
Hear ye, Yedward: if I tarry at home and go not, I’ll hang you for going.
You will, chops?
Hal, wilt thou make one?
Who, I rob? I a thief? not I, by my faith.
There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee, nor thou camest not of the blood royal, if thou darest not stand for ten shillings.
Well, then, once in my days I’ll be a madcap.
Why, that’s well said.
Well, come what will, I’ll tarry at home.
By the Lord, I’ll be a traitor then, when thou art king.
I care not.
Sir John, I prithee, leave the prince and me alone: I will lay him down such reasons for this adventure that he shall go.
Well, God give thee the spirit of persuasion and him the ears of profiting, that what thou speakest may move, and what he hears may be believed, that the true prince may, for recreation sake, prove a false thief; for the poor abuses of the time want countenance. Farewell: you shall find me in Eastcheap.
Farewell, thou latter spring! Farewell, All-hallown summer!
Now, my good sweet honey lord, ride with us to-morrow: I have a jest to execute that I cannot manage alone. Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill shall rob those men that we have already waylaid; yourself and I will not be there; and when they have the booty, if you and I do not rob them, cut this head from my shoulders.
But how shall we part with them in setting forth?
Why, we will set forth before or after them, and appoint them a place of meeting, wherein it is at our pleasure to fail; and then will they adventure upon the exploit themselves, which they shall have no sooner achieved but we’ll set upon them.
Yea, but ’tis like that they will know us by our horses, by our habits, and by every other appointment, to be ourselves.
Tut! our horses they shall not see, I’ll tie them in the wood; our vizards we will change after we leave them; and, sirrah, I have cases of buckram for the nonce, to inmask our noted outward garments.
Yea, but I doubt they will be too hard for us.
Well, for two of them, I know them to be as true-bred cowards as ever turned back; and for the third, if he fight longer than he sees reason, I’ll forswear arms. The virtue of this jest will be, the incomprehensible lies that this same fat rogue will tell us when we meet at supper: how thirty, at least, he fought with; what wards, what blows, what extremities he endured; and in the reproof of this lies the jest.
Well, I’ll go with thee: provide us all things necessary and meet me to-morrow night in Eastcheap; there I’ll sup. Farewell.
Farewell, my lord.
I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyok’d humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish’d for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off,
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o’er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will.
The Same. The Palace.
EnterKing Henry, Northumberland, Worcester, Hotspur, Sir Walter Blunt,and Others.
My blood hath been too cold and temperate,
Unapt to stir at these indignities,
And you have found me; for accordingly
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
Which the proud soul ne’er pays but to the proud.
Our house, my sovereign liege, little deserves
The scourge of greatness to be us’d on it;
And that same greatness too which our own hands
Have holp to make so portly.
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
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.
[ToNorthumberland.] You were about to speak.
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
As is deliver’d to your majesty:
Either envy, therefore, or misprision
Is guilty of this fault and not my son.
My liege, I did deny no prisoners:
But I remember, when the fight was done,
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:
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,
Took it in snuff: and still he smil’d and talk’d;
And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
He call’d them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly unhandsome corpse
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady terms
He question’d me; among 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,
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
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 saltpetre should be digg’d
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,
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.
The circumstance consider’d, good my lord,
Whatever Harry Percy then had said
To such a person and in such a place,
At such a time, with all the rest re-told,
May reasonably die and never rise
To do him wrong, or any way impeach
What then he said, so he unsay it now.
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;
Who, on my soul, hath wilfully betray’d
The lives of those that he did lead to fight
Against the great magician, damn’d Glendower,
Whose daughter, as we hear, the Earl of March
Hath lately married. Shall our coffers then
Be emptied to redeem a traitor home?
Shall we buy 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
Whose tongue shall ask me for one penny cost
To ransom home revolted Mortimer.
He never did fall off, my sovereign liege,
But by the chance of war: to prove that true
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
In changing hardiment with great Glendower.
Three times they breath’d and three times did they drink,
Upon agreement, of swift Severn’s flood,
Who then, affrighted with their bloody looks,
Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
And hid his crisp head in the hollow bank
Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.
Never did base and rotten policy
Colour her working with such deadly wounds;
Nor never could the noble Mortimer
Receive so many, and all willingly:
Then let him not be slander’d with revolt.
Thou dost belie him, Percy, thou dost belie him:
He never did encounter with Glendower:
I tell thee,
He durst as well have met the devil alone
As Owen Glendower for an enemy.
Art thou not asham’d? But, sirrah, henceforth
Let me not hear you speak of Mortimer:
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 license your departure with your son.
Send us your prisoners, or you’ll hear of it.
[ExeuntKing Henry, Blunt,and Train.
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.
What! drunk with choler? stay, and pause awhile:
Here comes your uncle.
Speak of Mortimer!
’Zounds! I will speak of him; and let my soul
Want mercy if I do not join with him:
In his behalf I’ll empty all these veins,
And shed my dear blood drop by drop i’ the dust,
But I will lift the down-trod Mortimer
As high i’ the air as this unthankful king,
As this ingrate and canker’d Bolingbroke.
Brother, the king hath made your nephew mad.
Who struck this heat up after I was gone?
He will, forsooth, have all my prisoners;
And when I urg’d the ransom once again
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.
I cannot blame him: was he not proclaim’d
By Richard that dead is the next of blood?
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
To be depos’d, and shortly murdered.
And for whose death we in the world’s wide mouth
Live scandaliz’d and foully spoken of.
But, soft! I pray you, did King Richard then
Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer
Heir to the crown?
He did; myself did hear it.
Nay, then I cannot blame his cousin king,
That wish’d him on the barren mountains starve.
But shall it be that you, that set the crown
Upon the head of this forgetful man,
And for his sake wear the detested blot
Of murd’rous subornation, shall it be,
That you a world of curses undergo,
Being the agents, or base second means,
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,
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,
And 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
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,
Even with the bloody payment of your deaths.
Therefore, I say,—
Peace, cousin! say no more:
And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
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.
If he fall in, good night! or sink or swim:
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.
Imagination of some great exploit
Drives him beyond the bounds of patience.
By heaven methinks it were an easy leap
To pluck bright honour from the pale-fac’d moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
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-fac’d fellowship!
He apprehends a world of figures here,
But not the form of what he should attend.
Good cousin, give me audience for a while.
I cry you mercy.
Those same noble Scots
That are your prisoners,—
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.
You start away,
And lend no ear unto my purposes.
Those prisoners you shall keep.
Nay, I will; that’s flat:
He said he would not ransom Mortimer;
Forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer;
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,
To keep his anger still in motion.
Hear you, cousin; a word.
All studies here I solemnly defy,
Save how to gall and pinch this Bolingbroke:
And that same sword-and-buckler Prince of Wales,
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.
Farewell, kinsman: I will talk to you
When you are better temper’d to attend.
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!
Why, look you, I am whipp’d and scourg’d with rods,
Nettled, and stung with pismires, when I hear
Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke.
In Richard’s time,—what do ye call the place?—
A plague upon’t—it is in Gloucestershire;—
’Twas where the madcap duke his uncle kept,
His uncle York; where I first bow’d my knee
Unto this king of smiles, this Bolingbroke,
When you and he came back from Ravenspurgh.
At Berkeley Castle.
You say true.
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!
Good uncle, tell your tale, for I have done.
Nay, if you have not, to’t again;
We’ll stay your leisure.
I have done, i’ faith.
Then once more to your Scottish prisoners.
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 assur’d,
Will easily be granted. [ToNorthumberland.] You, my lord,
Your son in Scotland being thus employ’d,
Shall secretly into the bosom creep
Of that same noble prelate well belov’d,
Of York, is it not?
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
Is ruminated, plotted and set down;
And only stays but to behold the face
Of that occasion that shall bring it on.
I smell it.
Upon my life it will do wondrous well.
Before the game’s afoot thou still lett’st slip.
Why, it cannot choose but be a noble plot:
And then the power of Scotland and of York,
To join with Mortimer, ha?
And so they shall.
In faith, it is exceedingly well aim’d.
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,
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.
He does, he does: we’ll be reveng’d on him.
Cousin, farewell: no further go in this,
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,
To bear our fortunes in our own strong arms,
Which now we hold at much uncertainty.
Farewell, good brother: we shall thrive, I trust.
Uncle, adieu: O! let the hours be short,
Till fields and blows and groans applaud our sport!