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King Henry IV, Part I

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ACT IV SCENE I The rebel camp near Shrewsbury.
HOTSPURWell said, my noble Scot: if speaking truth
In this fine age were not thought flattery,
Such attribution should the Douglas have,
As not a soldier of this season's stamp
Should go so general current through the world.5
By God, I cannot flatter; I do defy
The tongues of soothers; but a braver place
In my heart's love hath no man than yourself:
Nay, task me to my word; approve me, lord.
EARL OF DOUGLASThou art the king of honour:10
No man so potent breathes upon the ground
But I will beard him.
HOTSPURDo so, and 'tis well.
[Enter a Messenger with letters]
What letters hast thou there?--I can but thank you.
MessengerThese letters come from your father.15
HOTSPURLetters from him! why comes he not himself?
MessengerHe cannot come, my lord; he is grievous sick.
HOTSPUR'Zounds! how has he the leisure to be sick
In such a rustling time? Who leads his power?
Under whose government come they along?20
MessengerHis letters bear his mind, not I, my lord.
EARL OF WORCESTERI prithee, tell me, doth he keep his bed?
MessengerHe did, my lord, four days ere I set forth;
And at the time of my departure thence
He was much fear'd by his physicians.25
EARL OF WORCESTERI would the state of time had first been whole
Ere he by sickness had been visited:
His health was never better worth than now.
HOTSPURSick now! droop now! this sickness doth infect
The very life-blood of our enterprise;30
'Tis catching hither, even to our camp.
He writes me here, that inward sickness--
And that his friends by deputation could not
So soon be drawn, nor did he think it meet
To lay so dangerous and dear a trust35
On any soul removed but on his own.
Yet doth he give us bold advertisement,
That with our small conjunction we should on,
To see how fortune is disposed to us;
For, as he writes, there is no quailing now.40
Because the king is certainly possess'd
Of all our purposes. What say you to it?
EARL OF WORCESTERYour father's sickness is a maim to us.
HOTSPURA perilous gash, a very limb lopp'd off:
And yet, in faith, it is not; his present want45
Seems more than we shall find it: were it good
To set the exact wealth of all our states
All at one cast? to set so rich a main
On the nice hazard of one doubtful hour?
It were not good; for therein should we read50
The very bottom and the soul of hope,
The very list, the very utmost bound
Of all our fortunes.
EARL OF DOUGLAS'Faith, and so we should;
Where now remains a sweet reversion:55
We may boldly spend upon the hope of what
Is to come in:
A comfort of retirement lives in this.
HOTSPURA rendezvous, a home to fly unto.
If that the devil and mischance look big60
Upon the maidenhead of our affairs.
EARL OF WORCESTERBut yet I would your father had been here.

The quality and hair of our attempt
Brooks no division: it will be thought
By some, that know not why he is away,65
That wisdom, loyalty and mere dislike
Of our proceedings kept the earl from hence:
And think how such an apprehension
May turn the tide of fearful faction
And breed a kind of question in our cause;70
For well you know we of the offering side
Must keep aloof from strict arbitrement,
And stop all sight-holes, every loop from whence
The eye of reason may pry in upon us:
This absence of your father's draws a curtain,75
That shows the ignorant a kind of fear
Before not dreamt of.
HOTSPURYou strain too far.
I rather of his absence make this use:
It lends a lustre and more great opinion,80
A larger dare to our great enterprise,
Than if the earl were here; for men must think,
If we without his help can make a head
To push against a kingdom, with his help
We shall o'erturn it topsy-turvy down.85
Yet all goes well, yet all our joints are whole.
EARL OF DOUGLASAs heart can think: there is not such a word
Spoke of in Scotland as this term of fear.
HOTSPURMy cousin Vernon, welcome, by my soul.
VERNONPray God my news be worth a welcome, lord.90
The Earl of Westmoreland, seven thousand strong,
Is marching hitherwards; with him Prince John.
HOTSPURNo harm: what more?
VERNONAnd further, I have learn'd,
The king himself in person is set forth,95
Or hitherwards intended speedily,
With strong and mighty preparation.
HOTSPURHe shall be welcome too. Where is his son,
The nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales,
And his comrades, that daff'd the world aside,100
And bid it pass?
VERNONAll furnish'd, all in arms;
All plumed like estridges that with the wind
Baited like eagles having lately bathed;
Glittering in golden coats, like images;105
As full of spirit as the month of May,
And gorgeous as the sun at midsummer;
Wanton as youthful goats, wild as young bulls.
I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm'd110
Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury,
And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds,
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.115
HOTSPURNo more, no more: worse than the sun in March,
This praise doth nourish agues. Let them come:
They come like sacrifices in their trim,
And to the fire-eyed maid of smoky war
All hot and bleeding will we offer them:120
The mailed Mars shall on his altar sit
Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire
To hear this rich reprisal is so nigh
And yet not ours. Come, let me taste my horse,
Who is to bear me like a thunderbolt125
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales:
Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse,
Meet and ne'er part till one drop down a corse.
O that Glendower were come!
VERNONThere is more news:130
I learn'd in Worcester, as I rode along,
He cannot draw his power this fourteen days.
EARL OF DOUGLASThat's the worst tidings that I hear of yet.
WORCESTERAy, by my faith, that bears a frosty sound.
HOTSPURWhat may the king's whole battle reach unto?135
VERNONTo thirty thousand.
HOTSPURForty let it be:
My father and Glendower being both away,
The powers of us may serve so great a day
Come, let us take a muster speedily:140
Doomsday is near; die all, die merrily.
EARL OF DOUGLASTalk not of dying: I am out of fear
Of death or death's hand for this one-half year.

Continue to Henry IV, Part I, Act 4, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 1
From Henry IV, Part I. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

3. Such attribution, such an ascription of worth.

6. Defy, abjure.

7. Soothers, flatterers.

32. That his friends, etc. That his friends could not so soon be raised by means of a deputy.

45. His present want, his not being with us now. Our want of him.

50. Therein should we read, etc. In the assemblage of all our powers at once we should see the utmost depth and the entire soul of the resources we have to depend on.

52. List, circumscribing limit.

58. A comfort of retirement, the comfort of having something to fail back upon.

61. The maidenhead, the young beginning.

63. Hair, character.

70. Question, misgiving.

71. Offering, aggressive.

88. This term of fear. Douglas here refers to the conclusion of Worcester's last speech.

99. Nimble-footed. Stowe says, "He was passing swift in running, insomuch that he, with two other of his lords, without hounds, bows, or other engine, would take a wild buck or doe in a large park.

103. Estridges, etc. Ostriches that strove with, or strove to outstrip, the wind.

109. Beaver. The word here seems to denote, not the part of the helmet usually so called, but the helmet itself.

110. Cuisses, defensive armor for the thighs. Fr. cuisse, the thigh.

123. Reprisal, object of seizure.

135. Battle, army.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. King Henry IV, Part 1. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard, 1885. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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