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Henry IV, Part 2

Henry IV, Part 2 Translation Act 3, Scene 1

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Enter KING Henry in his nightgown, with a page

KING

Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick;But, ere they come, bid them o'erread these lettersAnd well consider of them. Make good speed.

KING

Go and call the Earls of Surrey and Warwick. But, before they come, tell them to read over these letters and think about them carefully. Go quickly now. 

Exit page

How many thousand of my poorest subjects Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep, Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down And steep my senses in forgetfulness? Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, Than in the perfumed chambers of the great, Under the canopies of costly state, And lull’d with sound of sweetest melody? O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile In loathsome beds and leavest the kingly couch A watch-case or a common 'larum bell? Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast Seal up the shipboy’s eyes, and rock his brains In cradle of the rude imperious surge And in the visitation of the winds, Who take the ruffian billows by the top, Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them With deafening clamor in the slippery clouds That with the hurly death itself awakes? Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude, And, in the calmest and most stillest night, With all appliances and means to boot, Deny it to a king? Then, happy low, lie down. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

How many thousands of even my poorest subjects are asleep right now! Oh, sleep, oh, lovely sleep, nature's kind nurse: what have I done to frighten you away? You refuse to make my eyelids heavy anymore, and you refuse to make me giddy and forgetful. But instead, sleep, you now lie in murky slums, stretched out on some unstable bed, listening only to the buzzing of flies as you drift off. You choose that space instead of lying in the sweet-smelling bedrooms of royalty, under luxurious canopies, being lulled to sleep by the sweetest music there is? Oh, you tiresome god, why do you lie with the vile masses in their horrible beds and leave the King's bed all alone, like a sentry post or any bell tower? Will you even close up the eyes of some sailor boy, as he stands high up on the wobbly mast, and rock him to sleep in a cradle of rough, powerful seas and violent winds—winds which grab hold of the waves, and, curling them over, make them crash back down with such a deafening racket that they would wake up death itself? Oh, biased sleep, are you going to let a wet sailor boy sleep through all of that noise, but still refuse to let a king sleep—even in the calmest and most peaceful night, when he has everything he needs to go to bed? Well then, happy people, go to bed. The man who wears the crown is not sleeping very well right now. 

Enter WARWICK and SURREY

WARWICK

Many good morrows to your Majesty.

WARWICK

A very good morning to you, your Majesty.

KING

Is it good morrow, lords?

KING

Is it morning, lords?

WARWICK

'Tis one o'clock, and past.

WARWICK

It's at least one o'clock, probably later. 

KING

Why then, good morrow to you all, my lords.Have you read o'er the letter that I sent you?

KING

Well then, good morning to both of you, my lords. Have you read over the letters that I sent you?

WARWICK

We have, my liege.

WARWICK

We have, my lord.

KING

Then you perceive the body of our kingdomHow foul it is, what rank diseases growAnd with what danger near the heart of it.

KING

Then you realize how sick our kingdom is, and what diseases are spreading across the land, right to the heart of our nation. 

WARWICK

It is but as a body yet distempered,Which to his former strength may be restoredWith good advice and little medicine.My Lord Northumberland will soon be cooled.

WARWICK

The body is only mildly unwell, and can be brought back to full strength with some good care and a little bit of medicine. Lord Northumberland will not be a problem for long. 

KING

O God, that one might read the book of fate And see the revolution of the times Make mountains level, and the continent, Weary of solid firmness, melt itself Into the sea, and other times to see The beachy girdle of the ocean Too wide for Neptune’s hips; how chance’s mocks And changes fill the cup of alteration With divers liquors! O, if this were seen, The happiest youth, viewing his progress through, What perils past, what crosses to ensue, Would shut the book, and sit him down and die. 'Tis not ten years gone Since Richard and Northumberland, great friends, Did feast together, and in two years after Were they at wars. It is but eight years since This Percy was the man nearest my soul, Who like a brother toiled in my affairs And laid his love and life under my foot, Yea, for my sake, even to the eyes of Richard Gave him defiance. But which of you was by [to WARWICK] You, cousin Nevil, as I may remember— When Richard, with his eye brimful of tears, Then checked and rated by Northumberland, Did speak these words, now proved a prophecy? “Northumberland, thou ladder by the which My cousin Bolingbroke ascends my throne” Though then, God knows, I had no such intent, But that necessity so bowed the state That I and greatness were compelled to kiss “The time shall come,” thus did he follow it, “The time will come that foul sin, gathering head, Shall break into corruption” —so went on, Foretelling this same time’s condition And the division of our amity.

KING

Oh God, if only we could read the book of fate and find out what's going to happen! If only we could see how time can completely transform things— making mountains change height, and making dry land, bored of being so solid and firm, melt into the sea. Other times, we might see that even a beach could be too wide for Neptune to overpower. We might see how luck can humiliate a person, and how change can affect you in so many different ways! Oh, even if the happiest youth could read this book of fate—if he could look at his life and see what dangers he had already overcome and what he still had left to deal with—he would shut the book right then and there, and just sit down and die. It hasn't even been ten years since Richard and Northumberland were the greatest friends, always feasting together. And then two years later, they were at war with each other. It's only been eight years since Northumberland was the person I was closest to in this world. He was like a brother to me, supporting everything that I did, and even committing both his love and his life to my cause. For my sake, he even showed his resistance to Richard directly. But which of you was there — 

[To WARWICK]
  I think it was you, Warwick, if I'm remembering rightly. Do you remember when Richard—with his eyes full of tears because of Northumberland's attack—spoke these words? They almost seem like a prophecy now: "Northumberland, you are just the ladder which Bolingbroke has climbed on to get to the throne." Although, God knows, I never planned on becoming king. But the country was struggling and needed help so I was forced to step up and become a great leader. Then he went on to say, "The time will come when this awful sin, as it continues to get bigger and bigger, will break out into rebellion." He kept talking, predicting our present situation and the loss of our allies. 

WARWICK

There is a history in all men’s lives Figuring the nature of the times deceased, The which observed, a man may prophesy, With a near aim, of the main chance of things As yet not come to life, which in their seeds And weak beginnings lie intreasurèd. Such things become the hatch and brood of time, And by the necessary form of this, King Richard might create a perfect guess That great Northumberland, then false to him, Would of that seed grow to a greater falseness, Which should not find a ground to root upon Unless on you.

WARWICK

There is a history book for every man's life, which reveals what has happened to him in the past. If you read this book, you can predict what is going to happen with more certainty. For we know that we can find evidence in the past for everything that is going to happen in the future. The seeds from the past grow up to become the children of our time. Because of this, it means that King Richard could predict that the great Northumberland—already a traitor to him—would continue to let his betrayal grow and grow, until the only other person for him to betray was you. 

KING

Are these things then necessities? Then let us meet them like necessities. And that same word even now cries out on us. They say the Bishop and Northumberland Are fifty thousand strong.

KING

Were all these things necessary then? Well, let's deal with them like necessities, even though the word "necessities" itself goes against us. It is rumored that the Archbishop of York and Northumberland have fifty thousand men in their army. 

WARWICK

It cannot be, my lord. Rumor doth double, like the voice and echo, The numbers of the feared. Please it your Grace To go to bed. Upon my soul, my lord, The powers that you already have sent forth Shall bring this prize in very easily. To comfort you the more, I have received A certain instance that Glendower is dead. Your Majesty hath been this fortnight ill, And these unseasoned hours perforce must add Unto your sickness.

WARWICK

That can't be true, my lord. Rumor, like an echoing voice, always doubles the amount of troops. Please go to bed now, your Grace. I swear on my life that the army you have already sent out will win this battle very easily. To make things even better, I've heard for certain that Glendower is dead. Your Majesty has been ill these past two weeks, and being up at these hours is only going to make you worse. 

KING

I will take your counsel.And were these inward wars once out of hand,We would, dear lords, unto the Holy Land.

KING

I will take your advice. And once we have stopped these civil wars, we will march to the Holy Land, my dear lords. 

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.