ACT 4, SCENE I: The rebel camp near Shrewsbury.


HOTSPUR: Well said, my noble Scot: if speaking truth
In this fine age were not thought flattery,
Such attribution should the Douglas have,
As not a soldier of this season's stamp
Should go so general current through the world.                              [5]
By God, I cannot flatter; I do defy
The tongues of soothers; but a braver place
In my heart's love hath no man than yourself:
Nay, task me to my word; approve me, lord.

EARL OF DOUGLAS: Thou art the king of honour:                                     [10]
No man so potent breathes upon the ground
But I will beard him.

HOTSPUR:                           Do so, and 'tis well.
[Enter a Messenger with letters.]
What letters hast thou there?--I can but thank you.

Messenger: These letters come from your father.

HOTSPUR: Letters from him! why comes he not himself?                        [15]

Messenger: He cannot come, my lord; he is grievous sick.

HOTSPUR: 'Zounds! how has he the leisure to be sick
In such a justling time? Who leads his power?
Under whose government come they along?

Messenger: His letters bear his mind, not I, my lord.                                    [20]

EARL OF WORCESTER: I prithee, tell me, doth he keep his bed?

Messenger: He did, my lord, four days ere I set forth;
And at the time of my departure thence
He was much fear'd by his physicians.

EARL OF WORCESTER: I would the state of time had first been whole             [25]
Ere he by sickness had been visited:
His health was never better worth than now.

HOTSPUR: Sick now! droop now! this sickness doth infect
The very life-blood of our enterprise;
'Tis catching hither, even to our camp.                                                [30]
He writes me here, that inward sickness--
And that his friends by deputation could not
So soon be drawn, nor did he think it meet
To lay so dangerous and dear a trust
On any soul removed but on his own.                                                 [35]
Yet doth he give us bold advertisement,
That with our small conjunction we should on,
To see how fortune is disposed to us;
For, as he writes, there is no quailing now.
Because the king is certainly possess'd                                                  [40]
Of all our purposes. What say you to it?

EARL OF WORCESTER: Your father's sickness is a maim to us.

HOTSPUR: A perilous gash, a very limb lopp'd off:
And yet, in faith, it is not; his present want
Seems more than we shall find it: were it good                                 [45]
To set the exact wealth of all our states
All at one cast? to set so rich a main
On the nice hazard of one doubtful hour?
It were not good; for therein should we read
The very bottom and the soul of hope,                                                 [50]
The very list, the very utmost bound
Of all our fortunes.

EARL OF DOUGLAS:                           'Faith, and so we should;
Where now remains a sweet reversion:
We may boldly spend upon the hope of what is to come in:
A comfort of retirement lives in this.                                                   [55]

HOTSPUR: A rendezvous, a home to fly unto,
If that the devil and mischance look big
Upon the maidenhead of our affairs.

EARL OF WORCESTER: But yet I would your father had been here.
The quality and hair of our attempt                                                      [60]
Brooks no division: it will be thought
By some, that know not why he is away,
That wisdom, loyalty and mere dislike
Of our proceedings kept the earl from hence:
And think how such an apprehension                                                 [65]
May turn the tide of fearful faction
And breed a kind of question in our cause;
For well you know we of the offering side
Must keep aloof from strict arbitrement,
And stop all sight-holes, every loop from whence                            [70]
The eye of reason may pry in upon us:
This absence of your father's draws a curtain,
That shows the ignorant a kind of fear
Before not dreamt of.

HOTSPUR:                           You strain too far.
I rather of his absence make this use:                                                    [75]
It lends a lustre and more great opinion,
A larger dare to our great enterprise,
Than if the earl were here; for men must think,
If we without his help can make a head
To push against a kingdom, with his help                                           [80]
We shall o'erturn it topsy-turvy down.
Yet all goes well, yet all our joints are whole.

EARL OF DOUGLAS: As heart can think: there is not such a word
Spoke of in Scotland as this term of fear.


HOTSPUR: My cousin Vernon, welcome, by my soul.                                 [85]

VERNON: Pray God my news be worth a welcome, lord.
The Earl of Westmoreland, seven thousand strong,
Is marching hitherwards; with him Prince John.

HOTSPUR: No harm: what more?

VERNON:                           And further, I have learn'd,
The king himself in person is set forth,                                                [90]
Or hitherwards intended speedily,
With strong and mighty preparation.

HOTSPUR: He shall be welcome too. Where is his son,
The nimble-footed madcap Prince of Wales,
And his comrades, that daff'd the world aside,                                   [95]
And bid it pass?

VERNON:                           All furnish'd, all in arms;
All plumed like estridges that with the wind
Baited like eagles having lately bathed;
Glittering in golden coats, like images;
As full of spirit as the month of May,                                                   [100]
And gorgeous as the sun at midsummer;
Wanton as youthful goats, wild as young bulls.
I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm'd,
Rise from the ground like feather'd Mercury,                                     [105]
And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
As if an angel dropp'd down from the clouds,
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus
And witch the world with noble horsemanship.

HOTSPUR: No more, no more: worse than the sun in March,                 [110]
This praise doth nourish agues. Let them come:
They come like sacrifices in their trim,
And to the fire-eyed maid of smoky war
All hot and bleeding will we offer them:
The mailed Mars shall on his altar sit                                                   [115]
Up to the ears in blood. I am on fire
To hear this rich reprisal is so nigh
And yet not ours. Come, let me taste my horse,
Who is to bear me like a thunderbolt
Against the bosom of the Prince of Wales:                                          [120]
Harry to Harry shall, hot horse to horse,
Meet and ne'er part till one drop down a corse.
O that Glendower were come!

VERNON:                           There is more news:
I learn'd in Worcester, as I rode along,
He cannot draw his power this fourteen days.                                    [125]

EARL OF DOUGLAS: That's the worst tidings that I hear of yet.

WORCESTER: Ay, by my faith, that bears a frosty sound.

HOTSPUR: What may the king's whole battle reach unto?

VERNON: To thirty thousand.

HOTSPUR:                           Forty let it be:
My father and Glendower being both away,                                        [130]
The powers of us may serve so great a day.
Come, let us take a muster speedily:
Doomsday is near; die all, die merrily.

EARL OF DOUGLAS: Talk not of dying: I am out of fear
Of death or death's hand for this one-half year.                                  [135]


Go to the next scene.
Go to the previous scene.
Return to the list of scenes