William Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth is forever famous for the comic character Falstaff who infamously proclaims "discretion is the better part of valour".
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HOME > Plays > The First Part of King Henry the Fourth > Act II. Scene III.

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth

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Act II. Scene III.

Scene III.—Warkworth. A Room in the
Castle.

Enter HOTSPUR, reading a letter.

But for mine own part, my lord, I could be well
contented to be there, in respect of the love I bear
your house.
He could be contented; why is he not then? In
respect of the love he bears our house: he shows
in this he loves his own barn better than he
loves our house. Let me see some more.
The purpose you undertake is dangerous;—
Why, that's certain: 'tis dangerous to take a
cold, to sleep, to drink; but I tell you, my lord
fool, out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this
flower, safety.
The purpose you undertake is dangerous; the
friends you have named uncertain; the time itself
unsorted; and your whole plot too light for the
counterpoise of so great an opposition.
Say you so, say you so? I say unto you again,
you are a shallow cowardly hind, and you lie.
What a lack-brain is this! By the Lord, our plot
is a good plot as ever was laid; our friends true
and constant: a good plot, good friends, and full
of expectation; an excellent plot, very good
friends. What a frosty-spirited rogue is this!
Why, my Lord of York commends the plot and
the general course of the action. 'Zounds! an
I were now by this rascal, I could brain him
with his lady's fan. Is there not my father, my
uncle, and myself? Lord Edmund Mortimer, my
Lord of York, and Owen Glendower? Is there
not besides the Douglas? Have I not all their
letters to meet me in arms by the ninth of the
next month, and are they not some of them set
forward already? What a pagan rascal is this!
an infidel! Ha! you shall see now in very sin-
cerity of fear and cold heart, will he to the king
and lay open all our proceedings. O! I could
divide myself and go to buffets, for moving such
a dish of skim milk with so honourable an
action. Hang him! let him tell the king; we
are prepared. I will set forward to-night,

Enter LADY PERCY.
How now, Kate! I must leave you within these
two hours.
Lady P. O, my good lord! why are you thus
alone?
For what offence have I this fortnight been
A banish'd woman from my Harry's bed?
Tell me, sweet lord, what is't that takes from thee
Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,
And start so often when thou sitt'st alone?
Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks,
And given my treasures and my rights of thee
To thick-eyed musing and curst melancholy?
In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watch'd,
And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars,
Speak terms of manage to thy bounding steed,
Cry, 'Courage! to the field!' And thou hast
talk'd
Of sallies and retires, of trenches, tents,
Of palisadoes, frontiers, parapets,
Of basilisks, of cannon, culverin,
Of prisoners' ransom, and of soldiers slain,
And all the currents of a heady fight,
Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war,
And that hath so bestirr'd thee in thy sleep,
That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow,
Like bubbles in a late-disturbed stream;
And in thy face strange motions have appear'd,
Such as we see when men restrain their breath
On some great sudden best. O! what portents
are these?
Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,
And I must know it, else he loves me not,
Hot. What, ho!

Enter Servant.
Is Gilliams with the packet gone?
Serv. He is, my lord, an hour ago.
Hot. Hath Butler brought those horses from
the sheriff?
Serv. One horse, my lord, he brought even
now.
Hot. What horse? a roan, a crop-ear, is it
not?
Serv. It is, my lord.
Hot. That roan shall be my throne.
Well, I will back him straight: O, Esperance!
Bid Butler lead him forth into the park.
[Exit Servant.
Lady P. But hear you, my lord.
Hot. What sayst thou, my lady?
Lady P. What is it carries you away?
Hot. Why, my horse, my love, my horse.
Lady P. Out, you mad-headed ape!
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen
As you are toss'd with. In faith,
I'll know your business, Harry, that I will.
I fear my brother Mortimer doth stir
About his title, and hath sent for you
To line his enterprise. But if you go—
Hot. So far afoot, I shall be weary, love.
Lady P. Come, come, you paraquito, answer
me
Directly unto this question that I ask.
In faith, I'll break thy little finger, Harry,
An if thou wilt not tell me all things true.
Hot. Away,
Away, you trifler! Love! I love thee not,
I care not for thee, Kate: this is no world
To play with mammets and to tilt with lips:
We must have bloody noses and crack'd crowns,
And pass them current too. God's me, my
horse!
What sayst thou, Kate? what wouldst thou
have with me?
Lady P. Do you not love me? do you not,
indeed?
Well, do not, then; for since you love me not,
I will not love myself. Do you not love me?
Nay, tell me if you speak in jest or no.
Hot. Come, wilt thou see me ride?
And when I am o' horseback, I will swear
I love thee infinitely. But hark you, Kate;
I must not have you henceforth question me
Whither I go, nor reason whereabout.
Whither I must, I must; and, to conclude,
This evening must I leave you, gentle Kate.
I know you wise; but yet no further wise
Than Harry Percy's wife: constant you are,
But yet a woman: and for secrecy,
No lady closer; for I well believe
Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know;
And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate.
Lady P. How! so far?
Hot. Not an inch further. But, hark you,
Kate;
Whither I go, thither shall you go too;
To-day will I set forth, to-morrow you.
Will this content you, Kate?
Lady P. It must, of force.
[Exeunt.
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