Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Rosemary Gaby
Not Peer Reviewed

Henry IV, Part 2 (Modern)

Enter the king in his night-gown 1421.1[with a page].
Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick;
But ere they come, bid them o'er-read these letters
And well consider of them. Make good speed.
[Exit page.]
1425How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep? O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
1430Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
1435And lulled with sound of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leavest the kingly couch
A watch-case, or a common 'larum bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
1440Seal up the ship-boy's eyes and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
1445With deafing clamour in the slippery clouds,
That with the hurly death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose,
To the wet sea's son in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
1450With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low lie down,
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
Enter Warwick [and] Surrey.
Many good morrows to your majesty.
Is it good morrow lords?
'Tis one o'clock, and past.
Why then, good morrow to you all, my lords.
Have you read o'er the letter that I sent you?
We have my liege.
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.
It is but as a body yet distempered,
Which to his former strength may be restored,
1465With good advice and little medicine.
My Lord Northumberland will soon be cooled.
O god, that one might read the book of fate,
And see the revolution of the times
Make mountains level, and the continent,
1470Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
Into the sea; and other times to see
The beachy girdle of the ocean,
Too wide for Neptune's hips; how chance's mocks
And changes fill the cup of alteration
1475With divers liquors! O if this were seen,
1475.1The happiest youth, viewing his progress through,
What perils past, what crosses to ensue,
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 year after
Were they at wars. It is but eight years since
This Percy was the man nearest my soul,
1480Who like a brother toiled 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?
[To Warwick] You, cousin Neville, as I may remember,
1485When Richard with his eye brimful of tears,
Then checked and rated by Northumberland,
Did speak these words, now proved a prophecy:
"Northumberland, thou ladder by the which
My cousin Bolingbroke ascends my throne" --
1490Though then (god knows) I had no such intent,
But that necessity so bowed the state,
That I and greatness were compelled to kiss --
"The time shall come" -- thus did he follow it --
"The time will come that foul sin, gathering head,
1495Shall break into corruption" -- so went on,
Fortelling this same time's condition,
And the division of our amity.
There is a history in all men's lives
Figuring the natures of the times deceased;
1500The which observed, 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 intreasurèd.
Such things become the hatch and brood of time,
1505And 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,
Which should not find a ground to root upon
1510Unless on you.
Are these things then necessities?
Then let us meet them like necessities,
And that same word even now cries out on us.
They say the Bishop and Northumberland,
1515Are fifty thousand strong.
It cannot be my lord.
Rumor doth double, like the voice and echo,
The numbers of the feared. Please it your grace
To go to bed. Upon my soul, my lord,
1520The powers that you already have sent forth
Shall bring this prize in very easily.
To comfort you the more, I have received,
A certain instance that Glendower is dead.
Your majesty hath been this fortnight ill,
1525And these unseasoned hours perforce must add
Unto your sickness.
I will take your counsel,
And were these inward wars once out of hand,
We would, dear lords, unto the holy land.