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Henry IV, Part 2 Scenes

Scene 4

Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster.

(King Henry the Fourth; Warwick; Thomas Duke of Clarence; Humphrey of Gloucester; Earl of Westmorland; Harcourt)

The King is ready for his crusade, except that he is too weak to leave at present. Worried about Hal’s dissipation, he begs his son Thomas, Duke of Clarence, to exert his good influence on the oldest son, as the latter likes Clarence better than his other siblings. Henry bewails Hal’s attraction to unworthy companions, but Warwick insists the Prince is simply studying them. Westmoreland brings the news of the rebels’ defeat, and further news arrives of Northumberland and Lord Bardolph’s defeat by the sheriff of Yorkshire. Though overjoyed, the King suffers a fit of his illness. The King’s sons realize that he is dying. (137 lines)

Enter the King, carried in a chair, Warwick, Thomas Duke of Clarence, Humphrey of Gloucester, and others.


Now, lords, if God doth give successful end

To this debate that bleedeth at our doors,

We will our youth lead on to higher fields,

And draw no swords but what are sanctified.

Our navy is address’d, our power collected,

Our substitutes in absence well invested,

And every thing lies level to our wish.

Only, we want a little personal strength;

And pause us till these rebels, now afoot,

Come underneath the yoke of government.


Both which we doubt not but your Majesty

Shall soon enjoy.


Humphrey, my son of Gloucester,

Where is the Prince your brother?


I think he’s gone to hunt, my lord, at Windsor.


And how accompanied?


I do not know, my lord.


Is not his brother Thomas of Clarence with him?


No, my good lord, he is in presence here.


What would my lord and father?


Nothing but well to thee, Thomas of Clarence.

How chance thou art not with the Prince thy brother?

He loves thee, and thou dost neglect him, Thomas.

Thou hast a better place in his affection

Than all thy brothers. Cherish it, my boy;

And noble offices thou mayst effect

Of mediation, after I am dead,

Between his greatness and thy other brethren.

Therefore omit him not, blunt not his love,

Nor lose the good advantage of his grace

By seeming cold or careless of his will,

For he is gracious if he be observ’d,

He hath a tear for pity, and a hand

Open as day for meting charity;

Yet notwithstanding, being incens’d, he is flint,

As humorous as winter, and as sudden

As flaws congealed in the spring of day.

His temper therefore must be well observ’d.

Chide him for faults, and do it reverently,

When you perceive his blood inclin’d to mirth;

But, being moody, give him time and scope,

Till that his passions, like a whale on ground,

Confound themselves with working. Learn this, Thomas,

And thou shalt prove a shelter to thy friends,

A hoop of gold to bind thy brothers in,

That the united vessel of their blood,

Mingled with venom of suggestion

(As, force perforce, the age will pour it in),

Shall never leak, though it do work as strong

As aconitum or rash gunpowder.


I shall observe him with all care and love.


Why art thou not at Windsor with him, Thomas?


He is not there today, he dines in London.


And how accompanied? Canst thou tell that?


With Poins, and other his continual followers.


Most subject is the fattest soil to weeds,

And he, the noble image of my youth,

Is overspread with them; therefore my grief

Stretches itself beyond the hour of death.

The blood weeps from my heart when I do shape,

In forms imaginary, th’ unguided days

And rotten times that you shall look upon,

When I am sleeping with my ancestors.

For when his headstrong riot hath no curb,

When rage and hot blood are his counsellors,

When means and lavish manners meet together,

O, with what wings shall his affections fly

Towards fronting peril and oppos’d decay!


My gracious lord, you look beyond him quite:

The Prince but studies his companions

Like a strange tongue, wherein, to gain the language,

’Tis needful that the most immodest word

Be look’d upon and learnt, which once attain’d,

Your Highness knows, comes to no further use

But to be known and hated. So, like gross terms,

The Prince will in the perfectness of time

Cast off his followers, and their memory

Shall as a pattern or a measure live,

By which his Grace must mete the lives of other,

Turning past evils to advantages.


’Tis seldom when the bee doth leave her comb

In the dead carrion.

Enter Westmorland.

Who’s here? Westmorland?


Health to my sovereign, and new happiness

Added to that that I am to deliver!

Prince John your son doth kiss your Grace’s hand.

Mowbray, the Bishop Scroop, Hastings, and all,

Are brought to the correction of your law.

There is not now a rebel’s sword unsheath’d,

But Peace puts forth her olive every where.

The manner how this action hath been borne

Here at more leisure may your Highness read,

With every course in his particular.


O Westmorland, thou art a summer bird,

Which ever in the haunch of winter sings

The lifting up of day.

Enter Harcourt.

Look here’s more news.


From enemies heavens keep your Majesty,

And, when they stand against you, may they fall

As those that I am come to tell you of!

The Earl Northumberland and the Lord Bardolph,

With a great power of English and of Scots,

Are by the shrieve of Yorkshire overthrown.

The manner and true order of the fight

This packet, please it you, contains at large.


And wherefore should these good news make me sick?

Will Fortune never come with both hands full,

But write her fair words still in foulest terms?

She either gives a stomach and no food—

Such are the poor, in health; or else a feast

And takes away the stomach—such are the rich,

That have abundance and enjoy it not.

I should rejoice now at this happy news,

And now my sight fails, and my brain is giddy.

O me! Come near me, now I am much ill.


Comfort, your Majesty!


O my royal father!


My sovereign lord, cheer up yourself, look up.


Be patient, Princes, you do know these fits

Are with his Highness very ordinary.

Stand from him, give him air, he’ll straight be well.


No, no, he cannot long hold out these pangs.

Th’ incessant care and labor of his mind

Hath wrought the mure that should confine it in

So thin that life looks through and will break out.


The people fear me, for they do observe

Unfather’d heirs and loathly births of nature.

The seasons change their manners, as the year

Had found some months asleep and leapt them over.


The river hath thrice flowed, no ebb between,

And the old folk (time’s doting chronicles)

Say it did so a little time before

That our great-grandsire, Edward, sick’d and died.


Speak lower, Princes, for the King recovers.


This apoplexy will certain be his end.


I pray you take me up, and bear me hence

Into some other chamber. Softly, pray.

The King is carried to one side of the stage and placed on a bed.


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