The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Henry IV, Part 1 Scenes

Scene 2

London. The palace.

(King Henry IV; Prince of Wales; Lords; Blunt)

The King berates his son, accusing him of being as flighty and unworthy to rule as was King Richard when Henry deposed him. He contrasts his own aloofness to Richard and Hal’s taste for popularity, and extols Hotspur’s valiance, which is so sorely lacking in his son. Hal swears to redeem himself and prove himself against Hotspur. The King gives him charge of part of the army. (181 lines)

Enter the King, Prince of Wales, Lords, and others.


Lords, give us leave, the Prince of Wales and I

Must have some private conference, but be near at hand,

For we shall presently have need of you.

Exeunt Lords.

I know not whether God will have it so

For some displeasing service I have done,

That in his secret doom, out of my blood

He’ll breed revengement and a scourge for me;

But thou dost in thy passages of life

Make me believe that thou art only mark’d

For the hot vengeance, and the rod of heaven,

To punish my mistreadings. Tell me else,

Could such inordinate and low desires,

Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such mean attempts,

Such barren pleasures, rude society,

As thou art match’d withal and grafted to,

Accompany the greatness of thy blood,

And hold their level with thy princely heart?


So please your Majesty, I would I could

Quit all offenses with as clear excuse

As well as I am doubtless I can purge

Myself of many I am charg’d withal;

Yet such extenuation let me beg

As in reproof of many tales devis’d,

Which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear

By smiling pick-thanks and base newsmongers,

I may for some things true, wherein my youth

Hath faulty wand’red and irregular,

Find pardon on my true submission.


God pardon thee! Yet let me wonder, Harry,

At thy affections, which do hold a wing

Quite from the flight of all thy ancestors.

Thy place in Council thou hast rudely lost,

Which by thy younger brother is supplied,

And art almost an alien to the hearts

Of all the court and princes of my blood;

The hope and expectation of thy time

Is ruin’d, and the soul of every man

Prophetically do forethink thy fall.

Had I so lavish of my presence been,

So common-hackney’d in the eyes of men,

So stale and cheap to vulgar company,

Opinion, that did help me to the crown,

Had still kept loyal to possession,

And left me in reputeless banishment,

A fellow of no mark nor likelihood.

By being seldom seen, I could not stir

But like a comet I was wond’red at,

That men would tell their children, “This is he”;

Others would say, “Where, which is Bullingbrook?”

And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,

And dress’d myself in such humility

That I did pluck allegiance from men’s hearts,

Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,

Even in the presence of the crowned King.

Thus did I keep my person fresh and new,

My presence, like a robe pontifical,

Ne’er seen but wond’red at, and so my state,

Seldom but sumptuous, show’d like a feast,

And wan by rareness such solemnity.

The skipping King, he ambled up and down,

With shallow jesters, and rash bavin wits,

Soon kindled and soon burnt, carded his state,

Mingled his royalty with cap’ring fools,

Had his great name profaned with their scorns,

And gave his countenance, against his name,

To laugh at gibing boys, and stand the push

Of every beardless vain comparative,

Grew a companion to the common streets,

Enfeoff’d himself to popularity,

That, being daily swallowed by men’s eyes,

They surfeited with honey and began

To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little

More than a little is by much too much.

So when he had occasion to be seen,

He was but as the cuckoo is in June,

Heard, not regarded; seen, but with such eyes

As, sick and blunted with community,

Afford no extraordinary gaze,

Such as is bent on sunlike majesty

When it shines seldom in admiring eyes;

But rather drows’d and hung their eyelids down,

Slept in his face and rend’red such aspect

As cloudy men use to their adversaries,

Being with his presence glutted, gorg’d, and full.

And in that very line, Harry, standest thou,

For thou hast lost thy princely privilege

With vile participation. Not an eye

But is a-weary of thy common sight,

Save mine, which hath desir’d to see thee more,

Which now doth that I would not have it do,

Make blind itself with foolish tenderness.


I shall hereafter, my thrice-gracious lord,

Be more myself.


For all the world

As thou art to this hour was Richard then

When I from France set foot at Ravenspurgh,

And even as I was then is Percy now.

Now by my sceptre, and my soul to boot,

He hath more worthy interest to the state

Than thou the shadow of succession.

For of no right, nor color like to right,

He doth fill fields with harness in the realm,

Turns head against the lion’s armed jaws,

And being no more in debt to years than thou,

Leads ancient lords and reverend bishops on

To bloody battles and to bruising arms.

What never-dying honor hath he got

Against renowned Douglas! Whose high deeds,

Whose hot incursions and great name in arms,

Holds from all soldiers chief majority

And military title capital

Through all the kingdoms that acknowledge Christ.

Thrice hath this Hotspur, Mars in swathling clothes,

This infant warrior, in his enterprises

Discomfited great Douglas, ta’en him once,

Enlarg’d him and made a friend of him,

To fill the mouth of deep defiance up,

And shake the peace and safety of our throne.

And what say you to this? Percy, Northumberland,

The Archbishop’s grace of York, Douglas, Mortimer,

Capitulate against us, and are up.

But wherefore do I tell these news to thee?

Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes,

Which art my nearest and dearest enemy?

Thou that art like enough, through vassal fear,

Base inclination, and the start of spleen,

To fight against me under Percy’s pay,

To dog his heels and curtsy at his frowns,

To show how much thou art degenerate.


Do not think so, you shall not find it so,

And God forgive them that so much have sway’d

Your Majesty’s good thoughts away from me!

I will redeem all this on Percy’s head,

And in the closing of some glorious day

Be bold to tell you that I am your son,

When I will wear a garment all of blood,

And stain my favors in a bloody mask,

Which wash’d away shall scour my shame with it.

And that shall be the day, when e’er it lights,

That this same child of honor and renown,

This gallant Hotspur, this all-praised knight,

And your unthought-of Harry chance to meet.

For every honor sitting on his helm,

Would they were multitudes, and on my head

My shames redoubled! For the time will come

That I shall make this northern youth exchange

His glorious deeds for my indignities.

Percy is but my factor, good my lord,

To engross up glorious deeds on my behalf;

And I will call him to so strict account

That he shall render every glory up,

Yea, even the slightest worship of his time,

Or I will tear the reckoning from his heart.

This in the name of God I promise here,

The which if he be pleas’d I shall perform,

I do beseech your Majesty may salve

The long-grown wounds of my intemperance.

If not, the end of life cancels all bands,

And I will die a hundred thousand deaths

Ere break the smallest parcel of this vow.


A hundred thousand rebels die in this.

Thou shalt have charge and sovereign trust herein.

Enter Blunt.

How now, good Blunt? Thy looks are full of speed.


So hath the business that I come to speak of.

Lord Mortimer of Scotland hath sent word

That Douglas and the English rebels met

The eleventh of this month at Shrewsbury.

A mighty and a fearful head they are,

If promises be kept on every hand,

As ever off’red foul play in a state.


The Earl of Westmorland set forth today,

With him my son, Lord John of Lancaster,

For this advertisement is five days old.

On Wednesday next, Harry, you shall set forward,

On Thursday we ourselves will march. Our meeting

Is Bridgenorth. And, Harry, you shall march

Through Gloucestershire; by which account,

Our business valued, some twelve days hence

Our general forces at Bridgenorth shall meet.

Our hands are full of business, let’s away,

Advantage feeds him fat while men delay.



Use Power Search to search the works

Please consider making a small donation to help keep this site free.


Log in or Register

Forgot username  Forgot password
Get the Shakespeare Pro app