King Henry IV’s camp near Shrewsbury.
(King Henry IV; Prince of Wales; Prince John of Lancaster; Sir Walter Blunt; Falstaff; Worcester; Sir Richard Vernon)
The King and Worcester clash over the rebellion’s validity, with the latter complaining that the King broke his word to the other nobles when he took the crown. Hal challenges Hotspur to single combat. The King offers the rebels pardon if they will surrender. Falstaff wishes that the battle were over and done with, but Hal is unsympathetic. Left alone, Falstaff questions why on earth anyone should die for an abstract concept like honor. (126 lines)
Enter the King, Prince of Wales, Lord John of Lancaster, Sir Walter Blunt, Falstaff.
How bloodily the sun begins to peer
Above yon bulky hill! The day looks pale
At his distemp’rature.
The southern wind
Doth play the trumpet to his purposes,
And by his hollow whistling in the leaves
Foretells a tempest and a blust’ring day.
Then with the losers let it sympathize,
For nothing can seem foul to those that win.
The trumpet sounds.
Enter Worcester and Sir Richard Vernon.
How now, my Lord of Worcester? ’Tis not well
That you and I should meet upon such terms
As now we meet. You have deceiv’d our trust,
And made us doff our easy robes of peace,
To crush our old limbs in ungentle steel.
This is not well, my lord, this is not well.
What say you to it? Will you again unknit
This churlish knot of all-abhorred war?
And move in that obedient orb again
Where you did give a fair and natural light,
And be no more an exhal’d meteor,
A prodigy of fear, and a portent
Of broached mischief to the unborn times?
Hear me, my liege.
For mine own part, I could be well content
To entertain the lag end of my life
With quiet hours; for I protest
I have not sought the day of this dislike.
You have not sought it, how comes it then?
Rebellion lay in his way, and he found it.
Peace, chewet, peace!
It pleas’d your Majesty to turn your looks
Of favor from myself and all our house,
And yet I must remember you, my lord,
We were the first and dearest of your friends.
For you my staff of office did I break
In Richard’s time, and posted day and night
To meet you on the way, and kiss your hand,
When yet you were in place and in account
Nothing so strong and fortunate as I.
It was myself, my brother, and his son,
That brought you home, and boldly did outdare
The dangers of the time. You swore to us,
And you did swear that oath at Doncaster,
That you did nothing purpose ’gainst the state,
Nor claim no further than your new-fall’n right,
The seat of Gaunt, dukedom of Lancaster.
To this we swore our aid. But in short space
It rain’d down fortune show’ring on your head,
And such a flood of greatness fell on you,
What with our help, what with the absent King,
What with the injuries of a wanton time,
The seeming sufferances that you had borne,
And the contrarious winds that held the King
So long in his unlucky Irish wars
That all in England did repute him dead;
And from this swarm of fair advantages
You took occasion to be quickly wooed
To gripe the general sway into your hand,
Forgot your oath to us at Doncaster,
And being fed by us you us’d us so
As that ungentle gull, the cuckoo’s bird,
Useth the sparrow; did oppress our nest,
Grew by our feeding to so great a bulk
That even our love durst not come near your sight
For fear of swallowing; but with nimble wing
We were enforc’d for safety sake to fly
Out of your sight and raise this present head,
Whereby we stand opposed by such means
As you yourself have forg’d against yourself
By unkind usage, dangerous countenance,
And violation of all faith and troth
Sworn to us in your younger enterprise.
These things indeed you have articulate,
Proclaim’d at market-crosses, read in churches,
To face the garment of rebellion
With some fine color that may please the eye
Of fickle changelings and poor discontents,
Which gape and rub the elbow at the news
Of hurly-burly innovation;
And never yet did insurrection want
Such water-colors to impaint his cause,
Nor moody beggars, starving for a time
Of pell-mell havoc and confusion.
In both your armies there is many a soul
Shall pay full dearly for this encounter,
If once they join in trial. Tell your nephew
The Prince of Wales doth join with all the world
In praise of Henry Percy. By my hopes,
This present enterprise set off his head,
I do not think a braver gentleman,
More active, valiant, or more valiant, young,
More daring or more bold, is now alive
To grace this latter age with noble deeds.
For my part, I may speak it to my shame,
I have a truant been to chivalry,
And so I hear he doth account me too;
Yet this before my father’s Majesty:
I am content that he shall take the odds
Of his great name and estimation,
And will, to save the blood on either side,
Try fortune with him in a single fight.
And, Prince of Wales, so dare we venture thee,
Albeit considerations infinite
Do make against it. No, good Worcester, no,
We love our people well, even those we love
That are misled upon your cousin’s part,
And, will they take the offer of our grace,
Both he and they and you, yea, every man
Shall be my friend again, and I’ll be his.
So tell your cousin, and bring me word
What he will do. But if he will not yield,
Rebuke and dread correction wait on us,
And they shall do their office. So be gone;
We will not now be troubled with reply.
We offer fair, take it advisedly.
Exit Worcester with Vernon.
It will not be accepted, on my life.
The Douglas and the Hotspur both together
Are confident against the world in arms.
Hence therefore, every leader to his charge,
For on their answer will we set on them,
And God befriend us as our cause is just!
Exeunt. Manent Prince, Falstaff.
Hal, if thou see me down in the battle and bestride me, so; ’tis a point of friendship.
Nothing but a Colossus can do thee that friendship. Say thy prayers, and farewell.
I would ’twere bed-time, Hal, and all well.
Why, thou owest God a death.
’Tis not due yet, I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, ’tis no matter, honor pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honor? A word. What is in that word honor? What is that honor? Air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. ’Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will’t not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I’ll none of it, honor is a mere scutcheon. And so ends my catechism.