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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 enforced, 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 forged against yourself ;
By unkind usage, dangerous countenance,
And violation of all faith and troth
Sworn to us in your younger enterprise.
K. Hen. These things, indeed, you have articulated,
Proclaimed 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 pellmeil havoc and confusion.
P. Hen. In both our armies, there is many à 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.
K. Hen. 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.
[Exeunt WORCESTER and VERNON.
P. Hen. It will not be accepted, on my life.
The Douglas and the Hotspur both together
Are confident against the world in arms.
K. Hen. 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 KING, BLUNT, and PRINCE JOHN. Fal. Hal, if thou see me down in the battle, and bestride me, so; ’tis a point of friendship.
P. Hen. Nothing but a colossus can do thee that friendship. Say thy prayers, and farewell.
Fal. I would it were bed-time, Hal, and all well.
P. Hen. Why, thou owest God a death.
[Erit. Fal. '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 o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it 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.
Wor. O, no, my nephew must not know, sir Richard,
The liberal, kind offer of the king.
Ver. 'Twere best, he did.
Then we are 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 offence in other faults:
Suspicion all our lives shall be stuck full of eyes;
For treason is but trusted like the fox;
Who, ne'er so tame, so cherished, and locked 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 cherished, 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-brained Hotspur, governed by a spleen.
All his offences 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.
Ver. Deliver what you will, I'll say, 'tis so.
Here comes your cousin.
Enter HOTSPUR and DOUGLAS; and Officers and Soldiers,
Hot. My uncle is returned.- Deliver up
My lord of Westmoreland.- Uncle, what news?
Wor. The king will bid you battle presently.
Doug. Defy him by the lord of Westmoreland.
Hot. Lord Douglas, go you and tell him so.
Doug. Marry, and shall, and very willingly. [Exit.
Wor. There is no seeming mercy in the king.
Hot. Did you beg any? God forbid !
Wor. 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.
Doug. Arm, gentlemen; to arms! for I have thrown
A brave defiance in king Henry's teeth,
And Westmoreland, that was engaged, did bear it;
Which cannot choose but bring him quickly on.
Wor. The prince of Wales stepped forth before the king, And, nephew, challenged you to single fight.
Hot. O, 'would the quarrel lay upon our heads;
And that no man might draw short breath to-day,
But I and Harry Monmouth! Tell me, tell me,
How showed his tasking? Seemed it in contempt ?
Ver. No, by my soul; I never in my life
Did hear a challenge urged 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;
Trimmed 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 mastered 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.
Hot. Cousin, I think thou art enamored
Upon his follies. Never did I hear
Of any prince, so wild at 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 a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, here are letters for you.
Hot. 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 another Messenger.
Mess. My lord, prepare; the king comes on apace,
Hot. 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.
[The trumpets sound. They embrace, and exeunt.
SCENE III. Plain near Shrewsbury. Excursions and
Parties fighting. Alarum to the Battle. Then
Enter DOUGLAS and BLUNT, meeting.
Blunt. What is thy name, that in the battle thus
Thou crossest me? What honor dost thou seek
Upon my head?
Doug. Know, then, my name is Douglas;
And I do haunt thee in the battle thus,
Because some tell me that thou art a king.
Blunt. They tell thee true.
Doug. The lord of Stafford dear to-day hath bought Thy likeness; for, instead of thee, king Harry, This sword hath ended him. So shall it thee, Unless thou yield thee as my prisoner.
Blunt. I was not born a yielder, thou proud Scot; And thou shalt find a king that will revenge Lord Stafford's death. [They fight, and Blunt is slain.
Hot. O, Douglas, hadst thou fought at Holmedon thus,
I never had triumphed upon a Scot.
Doug. All's done, all's won; here breathless lies the king.
Hot. This, Douglas ? no, I know this face full well. A gallant knight he was; his name was Blunt; Semblably furnished like the king himself.
Doug. A fool go with thy soul, whither it goes !