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Henry IV, Part 1

Henry IV, Part 1 Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter the KING, Lord John of LANCASTER, Earl of WESTMORELAND, with others

KING

So shaken as we are, so wan with care, Find we a time for frighted peace to pant And breathe short-winded accents of new broils To be commenced in strands afar remote. No more the thirsty entrance of this soil Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood. Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields, Nor bruise her flow’rets with the armed hoofs Of hostile paces. Those opposèd eyes, Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven, All of one nature, of one substance bred, Did lately meet in the intestine shock And furious close of civil butchery Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks, March all one way and be no more opposed Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies. The edge of war, like an ill-sheathèd knife, No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends, As far as to the sepulcher of Christ— Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross We are impressèd and engaged to fight— Forthwith a power of English shall we levy, Whose arms were molded in their mothers' womb To chase these pagans in those holy fields Over whose acres walked those blessèd feet Which fourteen hundred years ago were nailed For our advantage on the bitter cross. But this our purpose now is twelve month old, And bootless ’tis to tell you we will go. Therefor we meet not now. Then let me hear Of you, my gentle cousin Westmoreland, What yesternight our council did decree In forwarding this dear expedience.

KING

Even though we are shaken up and weak, we should try to find time in this moment of peace to catch our breath, and as we do this we can decide about where in the world to fight next. England's soil will no longer be wet with our own soldiers' blood; her fields will no longer be ruined by the invasions of war; and her flowers will no longer be crushed by the hooves of the warhorses. The two sides of this war—made up of men from the same countries, the same families even—are as similar to each other as shooting stars in the sky. Yet, even though these men have just fought against each other in a civil war and came close to destroying each other, they will now march together in a focused and orderly formation.  They will no longer stand against their friends and family. The violence of war, like a knife which has not been properly covered, will not hurt us any longer. Therefore friends, an English army will march as far as the Holy Land,  as soldiers of Christ, recruited and committed to fighting for what Jesus did for us on that cross. Our soldiers were born to remove atheists from the holy fields that Jesus walked on—as the feet which touched this sacred ground were nailed to the cross fourteen hundred years ago to redeem us of our sins. But we have been planning this trip for a year, and it is useless to tell you we are going as you already know—but that's not why we've met. Tell me now, my noble cousin Westmoreland: what did the Council decide last night about this vital expedition?

WESTMORELAND

My liege, this haste was hot in question, And many limits of the charge set down But yesternight: when all athwart there came A post from Wales loaden with heavy news, Whose worst was that the noble Mortimer, Leading the men of Herefordshire to fight Against the irregular and wild Glendower, Was by the rude hands of that Welshman taken, A thousand of his people butcherèd, Upon whose dead corpse there was such misuse, Such beastly shameless transformation By those Welshwomen done, as may not be Without much shame retold or spoken of.

WESTMORELAND

My lord, this speedy mission was being eagerly debated, and many of the resources and duties had already been decided. But, yesterday evening, a messenger suddenly arrived from Wales to report some sad news. He came to tell us that the noble Mortimer, who had been taking an army from Herefordshire to fight against the wild Glendower, was captured by him instead. A thousand men were murdered, and their corpses were violated by the Welshwomen so badly that I don't even want to repeat what I was told. 

KING

It seems then that the tidings of this broilBrake off our business for the Holy Land.

KING

I guess that the news of this attack will stop our mission to the Holy Land. 

WESTMORELAND

This matched with other did, my gracious lord. For more uneven and unwelcome news Came from the north and thus it did import: On Holy-rood Day, the gallant Hotspur there, Young Harry Percy, and brave Archibald, That ever valiant and approvèd Scot, At Holmedon met, where they did spend A sad and bloody hour— As by discharge of their artillery And shape of likelihood the news was told; For he that brought them, in the very heat And pride of their contention did take horse, Uncertain of the issue any way.

WESTMORELAND

Yes, my gracious lord, along with this. We have received even more horrible and unwelcome news from the north, which is this: On  September 14th young Harry Percy, known as the bold "Hotspur," fought against the brave Archibald, that fearless Scotsman proven in battle, at Holmedon. They fought against each other for an hour and it was awfully bloody, if the sound of the gunfire was any indication. Yet, the messenger who brought the news left in the midst of the battle, and so could only predict what had happened.  He didn't actually know the final outcome. 

KING

Here is a dear, a true-industrious friend, Sir Walter Blunt, new lighted from his horse. Stained with the variation of each soil Betwixt that Holmedon and this seat of ours, And he hath brought us smooth and welcome news. The Earl of Douglas is discomfited; Ten thousand bold Scots, two-and-twenty knights, Balked in their own blood, did Sir Walter see On Holmedon’s plains . Of prisoners Hotspur took Mordake, Earl of Fife, and eldest son To beaten Douglas, and the Earl of Atholl, Of Murray, Angus, and Menteith. And is not this an honorable spoil? A gallant prize? Ha, cousin, is it not?

KING

One of my dear, hardworking friends Sir Walter Blunt has only recently dismounted from his horse and arrived here in court. He has ridden across all of the ground from Holmedon to here to bring us happy and welcome news. The Earl of Douglas has been defeated and he saw ten thousand Scottish soldiers and twenty-two knights piled up in their own blood on the fields of Holmedon. Hotspur took some prisoners: he took Mordake, the Earl of Fife and the son of the defeated Earl of Douglas. And he also took the Earls of Antholl, Murray, Angus, and Menteith. Isn't this an honorable bunch? A great prize? Isn't it, cousin?

WESTMORELAND

In faith, it is a conquest for a prince to boast of.

WESTMORELAND

Certainly, it's the type of conquest that even a prince could boast about.

KING

Yea, there thou mak’st me sad, and mak’st me sin In envy that my Lord Northumberland Should be the father to so blest a son, A son who is the theme of Honor’s tongue, Amongst a grove the very straightest plant, Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride; Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him, See riot and dishonor stain the brow Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged In cradle-clothes our children where they lay, And called mine “Percy,” his “Plantagenet”! Then would I have his Harry, and he mine. But let him from my thoughts. What think you, coz, Of this young Percy’s pride? The prisoners, Which he in this adventure hath surprised To his own use he keeps, and sends me word I shall have none but Mordake, Earl of Fife.

KING

Don't say that—it makes me feel sad! And it is a sin every time I feel jealous of Lord Northumberland for having such an incredible son. His son is the topic of conversation when Honor speaks. Hotspur is the straightest plant in the whole forest; he is the favorite of sweet Fortune. When I see how he is praised, I also see the wildness and dishonor which ruins the reputation of my own son, Harry. If only I could prove that some fairy had switched them in their cradles when they were babies! Then the Percy family would have had Harry, and we Plantagenets would have gotten Hotspur! Anyway, I must stop thinking about Harry now. Westmoreland, what do you think about this young Hotspur and his pride? He has said that he is going to keep all of the prisoners that he captured himself, and tells me that I can only have Mordake, the Earl of Fife

WESTMORELAND

This is his uncle’s teaching. This is Worcester, Malevolent to you in all aspects, Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up The crest of youth against your dignity.

WESTMORELAND

It's his uncle who's told him to do that. This is Worcester through and through, a man who will always act against you. Now he has made Hotspur act like this, putting his youth against your dignity and age. 

KING

But I have sent for him to answer this. And for this cause awhile we must neglect Our holy purpose to Jerusalem. Cousin, on Wednesday next our council we Will hold at Windsor. So inform the lords. But come yourself with speed to us again, For more is to be said and to be done Than out of anger can be utterèd.

KING

Well, I have asked him to come here to answer for that. Therefore, we are going to have to put our mission to the Holy Land on hold for a while. Next Wednesday, we will have a meeting at Windsor. Go and tell the other lords, and then come back here as quickly as possible, as we have more to discuss and more to do.  But it will have to wait until I am less angry. 

WESTMORELAND

I will, my liege.

WESTMORELAND

I will do that, my lord. 

Exeunt

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Lani strange
About the Translator: Lani Strange

Lani is currently studying for an MA in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and Shakespeare's Globe. She has a BA in English and Latin Literature from the University of Warwick and worked as a Teacher of Drama for a year in between her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. She has a love for all things theatrical and spends all of her free time either watching theatre or taking part in it herself.