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Henry IV, Part 1

Henry IV, Part 1 Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter KING, PRINCE HENRY of Wales, and others

KING

Lords, give us leave; the Prince of Wales and I Must have some private conference, but be near at hand, For we shall presently have need of you.

KING

Lords, leave us alone for a bit. I need to talk in private with my son. But stay close though, because we will need you again soon. 

Exeunt lords

I know not whether God will have it so For some displeasing service I have done, That, in his secret doom, out of my blood He’ll breed revengement and a scourge for me. But thou dost in thy passages of life Make me believe that thou art only marked For the hot vengeance and the rod of heaven To punish my mistreadings. Tell me else, Could such inordinate and low desires, Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such mean attempts, Such barren pleasures, rude society As thou art matched withal, and grafted to, Accompany the greatness of thy blood, And hold their level with thy princely heart?

I don't know if it's because I've done something to annoy him, but God has decided, with his sharp judgement, to turn my own offspring into an instrument of vengeance and torture for me. But the way you are living your life makes me believe that you God destined you only to punish me for all my missteps. Tell me, how else would someone with such noble blood be associated with such inappropriate and base desires; such poor, such wretched, such vulgar and appalling actions; such pointless pleasures and such vile companions—and still think they are on the same level as you, a prince?

PRINCE HENRY

So please your Majesty, I would I could Quit all offenses with as clear excuse As well as I am doubtless I can purge Myself of many I am charged withal. Yet such extenuation let me beg As, in reproof of many tales devised, Which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear, By smiling pickthanks and base newsmongers, I may for some things true, wherein my youth Hath faulty wandered and irregular, Find pardon on my true submission.

PRINCE HENRY

If I may please speak, your Majesty, I wish I could prove my innocence against all of these charges. And I am confident that I can clear myself of many of them. Yet, let me beg one thing of you. Do not believe all of the false things you have heard about me, stories that smiling informers and silly gossips love to tell great men like you. With this in mind, try and forgive me for the things which I will admit  are true—the offenses that I have committed in my reckless and foolish youth.

KING

God pardon thee. Yet let me wonder, Harry, At thy affections, which do hold a wing Quite from the flight of all thy ancestors. Thy place in council thou hast rudely lost, Which by thy younger brother is supplied, And art almost an alien to the hearts Of all the court and princes of my blood. The hope and expectation of thy time Is ruined, and the soul of every man Prophetically doth forethink thy fall. Had I so lavish of my presence been, So common-hackneyed in the eyes of men, So stale and cheap to vulgar company, Opinion, that did help me to the crown, Had still kept loyal to possession And left me in reputeless banishment, A fellow of no mark nor likelihood. By being seldom seen, I could not stir But like a comet I was wondered at; That men would tell their children “This is he.” Others would say “Where? Which is Bolingbroke?” And then I stole all courtesy from heaven, And dressed myself in such humility That I did pluck allegiance from men’s hearts, Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths, Even in the presence of the crownèd King. Thus did I keep my person fresh and new, My presence, like a robe pontifical, Ne'er seen but wondered at, and so my state, Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast And won by rareness such solemnity. The skipping King, he ambled up and down With shallow jesters and rash bavin wits, Soon kindled and soon burnt; carded his state, Mingled his royalty with cap'ring fools, Had his great name profanèd with their scorns, And gave his countenance, against his name, To laugh at gibing boys and stand the push Of every beardless vain comparative; Grew a companion to the common streets, Enfeoffed himself to popularity, That, being daily swallowed by men’s eyes, They surfeited with honey and began To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little More than a little is by much too much. So, when he had occasion to be seen, He was but as the cuckoo is in June, Heard, not regarded; seen, but with such eyes As, sick and blunted with community, Afford no extraordinary gaze Such as is bent on sunlike majesty When it shines seldom in admiring eyes, But rather drowsed and hung their eyelids down, Slept in his face, and rendered such aspect As cloudy men use to their adversaries, Being with his presence glutted, gorged, and full. And in that very line, Harry, standest thou, For thou has lost thy princely privilege With vile participation. Not an eye But is aweary of thy common sight, Save mine, which hath desired to see thee more, Which now doth that I would not have it do, Make blind itself with foolish tenderness.

KING

God forgive you. But, I am surprised, Harry, at your tendencies, which are so different from any of your ancestors. Your rude behavior has lost you your place in the Council, and now your younger brother holds that position. You are almost a stranger in the hearts of all the members of the court, and the other members of our family. All the hope and the expectations for your life have been lost, and in their hearts every man anticipates your downfall. If I had been so visible in public—considered so cheap and vulgar in men's eyes—and so friendly with the common masses, then the public opinion which helped me to get this crown, would have instead stayed loyal to Richard. I would have been left in exile, a man with no reputation, or promise of success. But because I stayed away from the public eye, I could only be admired, like a comet, when I did appear. Men tell their children, "That's him." Others say "Where? Which one is Bolingbroke?" I became almost a godlike figure, and behaved with such modesty that I won the support of men's hearts and the loud shouts and tributes from their mouths, even when King Richard himself was present. This is how I keep myself fresh and new. My presence is like a bishop's robe—admired on the infrequent occasions it is seen—and my public appearances, although they are rare, are magnificent, like a feast which wins great respect because of its rarity. Frivolous King Richard, he skipped everywhere with shallow clowns and flashy, superficial jokers.  Like brushwood, he burned out almost as quickly as he was lit. He destroyed his kingdom by mixing royalty with prancing idiots. His reputation was destroyed because he was scorned for the fools he associated with.  And he lost respect by laughing with these joking boys and exposing himself to the mockery of every young joker around. He got used to spending time in common places, and committed himself to being popular. Soon they saw him every day, and he became like the taste of too much honey—when you start to hate the taste, and even a little bit of it is too much. In the end, when he was seen, he was like a cuckoo in June—people heard him but they didn't pay attention. When people's eyes are so used to seeing something, they don't pay much attention to it. They didn't look with a special gaze, like they would when the sun shines into their wondering eyes, as it does so rarely. Instead, they lost interest, and looked at the ground.  It was as like they were asleep in front of him, and looked at him with the same sort of expression that frowning men use for their enemies, as they were so crammed full, stuffed, and full with his presence. And that is where you currently stand, Harry. For you have lost your status as a prince by hanging out with vulgar people. There's not an eye in this world that isn't tired of seeing you. Except mine, which would like to see you more, yet now act against instructions, by filling with tears. 

PRINCE HENRY

I shall hereafter, my thrice gracious lord,Be more myself.

PRINCE HENRY

I will try and behave more like myself from now on, my gracious father. 

KING

For all the world As thou art to this hour was Richard then When I from France set foot at Ravenspurgh, And even as I was then is Percy now. Now, by my scepter, and my soul to boot, He hath more worthy interest to the state Than thou, the shadow of succession. For of no right, nor color like to right, He doth fill fields with harness in the realm, Turns head against the lion’s armèd jaws, And, being no more in debt to years than thou, Leads ancient lords and reverend bishops on To bloody battles and to bruising arms. What never-dying honor hath he got Against renownèd Douglas, whose high deeds, Whose hot incursions and great name in arms, Holds from all soldiers chief majority And military title capital Through all the kingdoms that acknowledge Christ. Thrice hath this Hotspur, Mars in swathling clothes, This infant warrior, in his enterprises Discomfited great Douglas, ta'en him once, Enlargèd him, and made a friend of him, To fill the mouth of deep defiance up And shake the peace and safety of our throne. And what say you to this? Percy, Northumberland, The Archbishop’s Grace of York, Douglas, Mortimer, Capitulate against us and are up. But wherefore do I tell these news to thee? Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes, Which art my nearest and dearest enemy? Thou that art like enough, through vassal fear, Base inclination, and the start of spleen, To fight against me under Percy’s pay, To dog his heels, and curtsy at his frowns, To show how much thou art degenerate.

KING

I must say that up to now, you have acted like Richard did when I first returned to Ravenspurgh from France. I recognize that Percy is acting a lot like I did then. Now, on my sword, and on my soul as well, he has a more valid claim to the kingdom than you do, as you are a poor imitation of a successor. For without a right to the throne—without anything which even resembles a right to the throne—he has filled our fields with troops. He leads an army against the King, into the jaws of a lion. And even though he is no older than you, he leads old lords and distinguished bishops into bloody battles and violent deeds. He has received such honor already from defeating the renowned Douglas! Hotspur's noble actions, his fierce assaults, and his great military reputation have meant he is known in every Christian country as one of the best soldiers there is. This Hotspur, this Mars in baby clothes, this infant warrior, has defeated Douglas three times, captured him once, freed him again, and now made him an ally. Now they pose a huge problem in rebelling against my throne. What do you have to say about this? Percy, Northumberland, The Archbishop of York, Douglas, Mortimer— they all have formed a league against us and are openly rebelling. But why am I telling you about my foes, when you are my closest and most loved enemy? With your lowly fear, your base behavior, and your bad temper, you are very likely to fight against me under Percy. I wouldn't be surprised if you followed Hotspur at his heels like a dog, and bowed to him when he frowns—that is how corrupt you are. 

PRINCE HENRY

Do not think so. You shall not find it so. And God forgive them that so much have swayed Your Majesty’s good thoughts away from me. I will redeem all this on Percy’s head, And, in the closing of some glorious day, Be bold to tell you that I am your son, When I will wear a garment all of blood And stain my favors in a bloody mask, Which, washed away, shall scour my shame with it. And that shall be the day, whene'er it lights, That this same child of honor and renown, This gallant Hotspur, this all-praisèd knight, And your unthought-of Harry chance to meet. For every honor sitting on his helm, Would they were multitudes, and on my head My shames redoubled! For the time will come That I shall make this northern youth exchange His glorious deeds for my indignities. Percy is but my factor, good my lord, To engross up glorious deeds on my behalf. And I will call him to so strict account That he shall render every glory up, Yea, even the slightest worship of his time, Or I will tear the reckoning from his heart. This in the name of God I promise here, The which if He be pleased I shall perform, I do beseech your Majesty may salve The long-grown wounds of my intemperance. If not, the end of life cancels all bands, And I will die a hundred thousand deaths Ere break the smallest parcel of this vow.

PRINCE HENRY

Don't think that. It won't happen. May God forgive whoever has turned your good opinion against me! I will make up for everything that I have done by killing Percy, and at the triumphant end of some battle I will be worthy of calling myself your son. Only when I am wearing clothes covered in blood and my face is stained with blood, will I be able to wash this away and wash my shame away with it. That will be the day, whenever it comes, that this honorable and renowned child, this brave Hotspur—a knight who is praised for everything and by everyone—will happen to meet with the disregarded Harry. If only every honor he had could be multiplied and every shame on my head could be doubled! For there will come a time when I will make this youth from the north give me his glorious honors in exchange for my offenses. Percy is like my agent, my lord, collecting glorious honors on my behalf. And I will make sure that he gives back every honor to me, even the smallest one, or I will tear it from his heart instead by killing him. I promise this to you here, in the name of God.  And if God is willing, I will do these things, and I ask you to forgive the long-standing wounds I have caused with my lack of self-control. If not, death will cancel all of my promises. I would rather die a hundred thousand deaths than break even the smallest part of this promise. 

KING

A hundred thousand rebels die in this.Thou shalt have charge and sovereign trust herein.

KING

A hundred thousand rebels will die because of this promise that you have made. You will have command and royal responsibility from now on. 

Enter BLUNT

How now, good Blunt? Thy looks are full of speed.

How is it going, good Blunt? You look like you have something urgent to say.

BLUNT

So hath the business that I come to speak of. Lord Mortimer of Scotland hath sent word That Douglas and the English rebels met The eleventh of this month at Shrewsbury. A mighty and a fearful head they are, If promises be kept on every hand, As ever offered foul play in the state.

BLUNT

The news that I have come to tell you is urgent. Lord Mortimer of Scotland has sent word that Douglas and the English rebels met at Shrewsbury on the eleventh of this month. If they all keep their promises, their army will be as big and as terrifying as any army that has ever rebelled against this kingdom. 

KING

The Earl of Westmoreland set forth today, With him my son, Lord John of Lancaster, For this advertisement is five days old.— On Wednesday next, Harry, you shall set forward. On Thursday we ourselves will march. Our meeting Is Bridgenorth. And, Harry, you shall march Through Gloucestershire; by which account, Our business valuèd, some twelve days hence Our general forces at Bridgenorth shall meet. Our hands are full of business. Let’s away. Advantage feeds him fat while men delay.

KING

This news is five days old. The Earl of Westmoreland and my son, Lord John of Lancaster, left today. You will leave next Wednesday, Harry. Then on Thursday, I will leave. We will meet at Bridgenorth. And, Harry, you will march through Gloucestershire. Therefore, considering what we have to do, we should be able to meet at Bridgenorth in twelve days with our full forces. We have a lot to do, so let's go. Our enemies will take advantage if we are slow.

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.