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Henry IV, Part 1 Scenes

Scene 2

The rebel camp.

(Worcester; Sir Richard Vernon; Henry Percy; Douglas; Second Messenger; Third Messenger)

Worcester is certain that the King’s offer of pardon is dangerous, for the King will always suspect them and find some other occasion to be done with them. He therefore claims that the King is in a rage and eager for battle. Told of Hal’s offer of single combat, Hotspur refuses to believe the prince has reformed from his wild ways, though he is certain they will meet on the field of battle. (102 lines)

Enter Worcester, Sir Richard Vernon.


O no, my nephew must not know, Sir Richard,

The liberal and kind offer of the King.


’Twere best he did.


Then are we all undone;

It is not possible, it cannot be,

The King should keep his word in loving us.

He will suspect us still, and find a time

To punish this offense in other faults.

Supposition all our lives shall be stuck full of eyes,

For treason is but trusted like the fox,

Who never so tame, so cherish’d and lock’d up,

Will have a wild trick of his ancestors.

Look how we can, or sad or merrily,

Interpretation will misquote our looks,

And we shall feed like oxen at a stall,

The better cherish’d, still the nearer death.

My nephew’s trespass may be well forgot,

It hath the excuse of youth and heat of blood,

And an adopted name of privilege,

A hare-brain’d Hotspur, govern’d by a spleen.

All his offenses live upon my head

And on his father’s. We did train him on,

And his corruption being ta’en from us,

We as the spring of all shall pay for all.

Therefore, good cousin, let not Harry know,

In any case, the offer of the King.


Deliver what you will, I’ll say ’tis so.

Here comes your cousin.

Enter Percy Hotspur and Douglas.


My uncle is return’d,

Deliver up my Lord of Westmorland.

Uncle, what news?


The King will bid you battle presently.


Defy him by the Lord of Westmorland.


Lord Douglas, go you and tell him so.


Marry, and shall, and very willingly.

Exit Douglas.


There is no seeming mercy in the King.


Did you beg any? God forbid!


I told him gently of our grievances,

Of his oath-breaking, which he mended thus,

By now forswearing that he is forsworn.

He calls us rebels, traitors, and will scourge

With haughty arms this hateful name in us.

Enter Douglas.


Arm, gentlemen, to arms! For I have thrown

A brave defiance in King Henry’s teeth,

And Westmorland, that was engag’d, did bear it,

Which cannot choose but bring him quickly on.


The Prince of Wales stepp’d forth before the King,

And, nephew, challeng’d you to single fight.


O would the quarrel lay upon our heads,

And that no man might draw short breath today

But I and Harry Monmouth! Tell me, tell me,

How show’d his tasking? Seem’d it in contempt?


No, by my soul, I never in my life

Did hear a challenge urg’d more modestly,

Unless a brother should a brother dare

To gentle exercise and proof of arms.

He gave you all the duties of a man,

Trimm’d up your praises with a princely tongue,

Spoke your deservings like a chronicle,

Making you ever better than his praise

By still dispraising praise valued with you,

And which became him like a prince indeed,

He made a blushing cital of himself,

And chid his truant youth with such a grace

As if he mast’red there a double spirit

Of teaching and of learning instantly.

There did he pause, but let me tell the world,

If he outlive the envy of this day,

England did never owe so sweet a hope,

So much misconstrued in his wantonness.


Cousin, I think thou art enamored

On his follies. Never did I hear

Of any prince so wild a liberty.

But be he as he will, yet once ere night

I will embrace him with a soldier’s arm

That he shall shrink under my courtesy.

Arm, arm with speed! And, fellows, soldiers, friends,

Better consider what you have to do

Than I, that have not well the gift of tongue,

Can lift your blood up with persuasion.

Enter Second Messenger.

2. MESS.

My lord, here are letters for you.


I cannot read them now.

O gentlemen, the time of life is short!

To spend that shortness basely were too long

If life did ride upon a dial’s point,

Still ending at the arrival of an hour.

And if we live, we live to tread on kings,

If die, brave death, when princes die with us!

Now for our consciences, the arms are fair

When the intent of bearing them is just.

Enter Third Messenger.

3. MESS.

My lord, prepare, the King comes on apace.


I thank him that he cuts me from my tale,

For I profess not talking; only this—

Let each man do his best, and here draw I

A sword, whose temper I intend to stain

With the best blood that I can meet withal

In the adventure of this perilous day.

Now Esperance! Percy! And set on.

Sound all the lofty instruments of war,

And by that music let us all embrace,

For, heaven to earth, some of us never shall

A second time do such a courtesy.

Here they embrace and exeunt.


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