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Henry IV, Part 2

Henry IV, Part 2 Translation Epilogue

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Enter the EPILOGUE.

First my fear; then my curtsy, last my speech. My fear is your displeasure my curtsy my duty; and my speech, to beg your pardons. If you look for a good speech now, you undo me, for what I have to say is of mine own making, and what indeed I should say will, I doubt, prove mine own marring. But to the purpose, and so to the venture. Be it known to you, as it is very well, I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play to pray your patience for it and to promise you a better. I meant indeed to pay you with this, which, if like an ill venture it come unluckily home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here I promised you I would be, and here I commit my body to your mercies. Bate me some, and I will pay you some, and, as most debtors do, promise you infinitely. And so I kneel down before you, but, indeed, to pray for the Queen. If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me, will you command me to use my legs? And yet that were but light payment, to dance out of your debt. But a good conscience will make any possible satisfaction, and so would I. All the gentlewomen here have forgiven me; if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the gentlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly. One word more, I beseech you: if you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katherine of France , where, for anything I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this isnot the man. My tongue is weary; when my legs are too, I will bid you good night.

First, I will tell you about my worries. Then I will bow to you. And, after that, I will finally end with my speech. I am worried that you didn't like the play, and so I bow to you out of duty and will make my speech to ask you for forgiveness. If you are expecting a great speech, then that is a bad thing. For I wrote the speech myself, and I am sure that what I'm going to say will lead to bad things for me. But, as for the matter at hand, I will just have to risk it. Hopefully you will know that I was here on this stage recently at the end of another annoying play to ask you to have patience with it, and to promise you a better play next time. I was hoping to pay you off with this one, but if that didn't work, then I'm just like a businessman coming home from an unsuccessful trading trip—I have broken my promise and gone bankrupt. And you, my lovely creditors, have lost out. I promised you that I would be here, and so here I will give myself up to your mercy. Let me off, and I promise I will pay you back at some point. That's what most people in debt do, they just keep promising to pay next time. So I will kneel down before you, but not to beg you, but to pray for the Queen. If my words can't convince you to forgive me, then maybe you will let me try dancing? That would be easy, if you could dance your way out of your debt. But anyone with a good conscience will make sure that they repay their debt, and I plan on doing the same. All the women here have forgiven me. If the men will not forgive me, then the men don't agree with the women—and I think that would be the first time that's happened in a theater audience. One thing more, please. If this fat flesh hasn't clogged you up too much already, then our author will continue the story in his next play, with Sir John in it, and entertain you with the story of the beautiful Catherine of France. As far as I know, Falstaff is going to die of some kind of sweating fever—if he hasn't already been killed off because of your negative opinions of him from this play. Let it be said that Oldcastle died a martyr, and so he is nothing like this man at all. My tongue is tired now, and so are my legs. This is where I say good night to you all.

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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.