York. A room in the Archbishop’s palace.
(Archbishop of York; Thomas Mowbray; Lord Hastings; Lord Bardolph)
The insurgents make their plans and wonder whether they can be successful without Northumberland’s help; they remember all too well that after promising to help in Hotspur’s rebellion, Northumberland pulled out at the last moment and therefore doomed the effort. Hastings points out that the King has to fight on three fronts, including the Welsh and the French. The Archbishop suggests that they put their efforts into gaining popular support. (113 lines)
Enter the Archbishop of York, Thomas Mowbray Earl Marshal, the Lord Hastings, and Lord Bardolph.
Thus have you heard our cause and known our means,
And, my most noble friends, I pray you all
Speak plainly your opinions of our hopes.
And first, Lord Marshal, what say you to it?
I well allow the occasion of our arms,
But gladly would be better satisfied
How in our means we should advance ourselves
To look with forehead bold and big enough
Upon the power and puissance of the King.
Our present musters grow upon the file
To five and twenty thousand men of choice,
And our supplies live largely in the hope
Of great Northumberland, whose bosom burns
With an incensed fire of injuries.
The question then, Lord Hastings, standeth thus:
Whether our present five and twenty thousand
May hold up head without Northumberland?
With him, we may.
Yea, marry, there’s the point!
But if without him we be thought too feeble,
My judgment is we should not step too far
Till we had his assistance by the hand.
For in a theme so bloody-fac’d as this,
Conjecture, expectation, and surmise
Of aids incertain should not be admitted.
’Tis very true, Lord Bardolph, for indeed
It was young Hotspur’s cause at Shrewsbury.
It was, my lord, who lin’d himself with hope,
Eating the air, and promise of supply,
Flatt’ring himself in project of a power
Much smaller than the smallest of his thoughts,
And so with great imagination,
Proper to madmen, led his powers to death,
And winking, leapt into destruction.
But by your leave, it never yet did hurt
To lay down likelihoods and forms of hope.
Yes, if this present quality of war—
Indeed the instant action, a cause on foot—
Lives so in hope, as in an early spring
We see th’ appearing buds, which to prove fruit
Hope gives not so much warrant, as despair
That frosts will bite them. When we mean to build,
We first survey the plot, then draw the model,
And when we see the figure of the house,
Then must we rate the cost of the erection,
Which if we find outweighs ability,
What do we then but draw anew the model
In fewer offices, or at least desist
To build at all? Much more, in this great work
(Which is, almost, to pluck a kingdom down
And set another up), should we survey
The plot of situation and the model,
Consent upon a sure foundation,
Question surveyors, know our own estate,
How able such a work to undergo,
To weigh against his opposite; or else
We fortify in paper and in figures,
Using the names of men in stead of men,
Like one that draws the model of an house
Beyond his power to build it, who, half thorough,
Gives o’er, and leaves his part-created cost
A naked subject to the weeping clouds
And waste for churlish winter’s tyranny.
Grant that our hopes (yet likely of fair birth)
Should be still-born, and that we now possess’d
The utmost man of expectation,
I think we are so a body strong enough,
Even as we are, to equal with the King.
What, is the King but five and twenty thousand?
To us no more, nay, not so much, Lord Bardolph,
For his divisions, as the times do brawl,
Are in three heads: one power against the French,
And one against Glendower; perforce a third
Must take up us. So is the unfirm King
In three divided, and his coffers sound
With hollow poverty and emptiness.
That he should draw his several strengths together,
And come against us in full puissance,
Need not to be dreaded.
If he should do so,
To French and Welsh he leaves his back unarm’d,
They baying him at the heels. Never fear that.
Who is it like should lead his forces hither?
The Duke of Lancaster and Westmorland;
Against the Welsh, himself and Harry Monmouth;
But who is substituted against the French,
I have no certain notice.
Let us on!
And publish the occasion of our arms.
The commonwealth is sick of their own choice,
Their over-greedy love hath surfeited.
An habitation giddy and unsure
Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart.
O thou fond many, with what loud applause
Didst thou beat heaven with blessing Bullingbrook
Before he was what thou wouldst have him be!
And being now trimm’d in thine own desires,
Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him,
That thou provok’st thyself to cast him up.
So, so, thou common dog, didst thou disgorge
Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard,
And now thou wouldst eat thy dead vomit up,
And howl’st to find it. What trust is in these times?
They that, when Richard liv’d, would have him die,
Are now become enamor’d on his grave.
Thou, that threw’st dust upon his goodly head
When through proud London he came sighing on
After th’ admired heels of Bullingbrook,
Cri’st now, “O earth, yield us that king again,
And take thou this!” O thoughts of men accurs’d!
Past and to come seems best; things present worst.
Shall we go draw our numbers and set on?
We are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone.