Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Rosemary Gaby
Peer Reviewed

Henry IV, Part 1 (Modern)


[4.1]
[Enter Hotspur, Worcester, and Douglas.]
Hotspur Well said, my noble Scot! If speaking truth
In this fine age were not thought flattery,
Such attribution should the Douglas have
As not a soldier of this season's stamp
2225Should go so general current through the world.
By god, I cannot flatter, I do defy
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.
2230Douglas Thou art the king of honor.
No man so potent breathes upon the ground
But I will beard him.
Enter [Messenger] with letters.
Hotspur
Do so, and 'tis well.
2235What letters hast thou there? [To Douglas] I can but thank you.
Messenger These letters come from your father.
Hotspur Letters from him? Why comes he not himself?
Messenger He cannot come, my lord; he is grievous sick.
Hotspur Zounds, how has he the leisure to be sick
In such a jostling time? Who leads his power?
Under whose government come they along?
Messenger His letters bears his mind, not I, my lord.
[Hotspur reads the letter]
2245Worcester I prithee tell me, doth he keep his bed?
Messenger He did, my lord, four days ere I set forth;
And at the time of my departure thence
He was much feared by his physicians.
Worcester I would the state of time had first been whole
2250Ere he by sickness had been visited.
His health was never better worth than now.
Hotspur Sick now? Droop now? This sickness doth infect
The very life-blood of our enterprise.
'Tis catching hither, even to our camp.
2255He 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
On any soul removed but on his own.
2260Yet 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,
Because the king is certainly possessed
2265Of all our purposes. What say you to it?
Worcester Your father's sickness is a maim to us.
Hotspur A perilous gash, a very limb lopped off.
And yet, in faith, it is not. His present want
Seems more than we shall find it. Were it good
2270To 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
The very bottom and the soul of hope,
2275The very list, the very utmost bound,
Of all our fortunes.
Douglas Faith, and so we should, where now remains
A sweet reversion -- we may boldly spend
Upon the hope of what is to come in.
A comfort of retirement lives in this.
Hotspur A rendezvous, a home to fly unto,
If that the devil and mischance look big
Upon the maidenhead of our affairs.
2285Worcester 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
That wisdom, loyalty, and mere dislike
2290Of 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.
For, well you know, we of the off'ring side
2295Must keep aloof from strict arbitrament,
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
That shows the ignorant a kind of fear
2300Before not dreamt of.
Hotspur
You strain too far.
I rather of his absence make this use:
It lends a luster, and more great opinion,
A larger dare to our great enterprise,
2305Than 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.
Yet all goes well, yet all our joints are whole.
2310Douglas As heart can think, there is not such a word
Spoke of in Scotland as this term of fear.
Enter Sir Richard Vernon.
Hotspur My cousin Vernon! Welcome, by my soul!
2315Vernon Pray god my news be worth a welcome, lord.
The Earl of Westmorland, seven thousand strong,
Is marching hitherwards; with him Prince John.
Hotspur
No harm. What more?
Vernon And further I have learned
2320The king himself in person is set forth,
Or hitherwards intended speedily,
With strong and mighty preparation.
Hotspur He shall be welcome too. Where is his son,
2325The nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales,
And his comrades that daffed the world aside
And bid it pass?
Vernon
All furnished, all in arms,
All plumed like ostriches, that with the wind
2330Baited like eagles having lately bathed,
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.
2335I saw young Harry with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly armed,
Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury,
And vaulted with such ease into his seat
As if an angel dropped down from the clouds
2340To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.
Hotspur No more, no more! Worse than the sun in March,
This praise doth nourish agues. Let them come!
2345They come like sacrifices in their trim,
And to the fire-eyed maid of smoky war
All hot and bleeding will we offer them.
The mailèd Mars shall on his altars sit
Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire
2350To hear this rich reprisal is so nigh,
And yet not ours! Come, let me taste my horse,
Who is to bear me like a thunderbolt
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales.
Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse,
2355Meet and ne'er part till one drop down a corse.
Oh, that Glendower were come!
Vernon
There is more news,
I learned in Worcester, as I rode along,
He cannot draw his power this fourteen days.
2360Douglas That's the worst tidings that I hear of yet.
Worcester Ay, by my faith, that bears a frosty sound.
Hotspur What may the king's whole battle reach unto?
2365Vernon
To thirty thousand.
My father and Glendower being both away,
The powers of us may serve so great a day.
Come, let us take a muster speedily.
2370Doomsday is near: die all, die merrily.
Douglas Talk not of dying; I am out of fear
Of death or death's hand for this one half year.
Exeunt.