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  • Title: Henry IV, Part 1 (Modern)
  • Editor: Rosemary Gaby
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-371-7

    Copyright Rosemary Gaby. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Rosemary Gaby
    Peer Reviewed

    Henry IV, Part 1 (Modern)

    [Enter Hotspur, Worcester, and Douglas.]
    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.
    Thou art the king of honor.
    No man so potent breathes upon the ground
    But I will beard him.
    Enter [Messenger] with letters.
    Do so, and 'tis well.
    2235What letters hast thou there? [To Douglas] I can but thank you.
    These letters come from your father.
    Letters from him? Why comes he not himself?
    He cannot come, my lord; he is grievous sick.
    Zounds, how has he the leisure to be sick
    In such a jostling time? Who leads his power?
    Under whose government come they along?
    His letters bears his mind, not I, my lord.
    [Hotspur reads the letter]
    I prithee tell me, doth he keep his bed?
    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.
    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.
    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?
    Your father's sickness is a maim to us.
    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.
    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.
    A rendezvous, a home to fly unto,
    If that the devil and mischance look big
    Upon the maidenhead of our affairs.
    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.
    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.
    As heart can think, there is not such a word
    Spoke of in Scotland as this term of fear.
    Enter Sir Richard Vernon.
    My cousin Vernon! Welcome, by my soul!
    Pray god my news be worth a welcome, lord.
    The Earl of Westmorland, seven thousand strong,
    Is marching hitherwards; with him Prince John.
    No harm. What more?
    And further I have learned
    2320The king himself in person is set forth,
    Or hitherwards intended speedily,
    With strong and mighty preparation.
    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?
    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.
    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!
    There is more news,
    I learned in Worcester, as I rode along,
    He cannot draw his power this fourteen days.
    That's the worst tidings that I hear of yet.
    Ay, by my faith, that bears a frosty sound.
    What may the king's whole battle reach unto?
    To thirty thousand.
    Forty let it be.
    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.
    Talk not of dying; I am out of fear
    Of death or death's hand for this one half year.