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 III. Scene I.

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth

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Act III. Scene I.

Act III. Scene I.—Bangor. A Room in the
Archdeacon's House,

Enter HOTSPUR, WORCESTER,
MORTIMER, and GLENDOWER.

Mort. These promises are fair, the parties
sure,
And our induction full of prosperous hope.
Hot. Lord Mortimer, and cousin Glendower,
Will you sit down?
And uncle Worcester: a plague upon it!
I have forgot the map.
Glend. No, here it is.
Sit, cousin Percy; sit, good cousin Hotspur;
For by that name as oft as Lancaster
Doth speak of you, his cheek looks pale and with
A rising sigh he wishes you in heaven.
Hot. And you in hell, as often as he hears
Owen Glendower spoke of.
Glend. I cannot blame him: at my nativity
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
Of burning cressets; and at my birth
The frame and huge foundation of the earth
Shak'd like a coward.
Hot. Why, so it would have done at the same
season, if your mother's eat had but kittened,
though yourself had never been born.
Glend. I say the earth did shake when I was
born.
Hot. And I say the earth was not of my
mind,
If you suppose as fearing you it shook.
Olend. The heavens were all on fire, the earth
did tremble.
Hot. O! then the earth shook to see the
heavens on fire,
And not in fear of your nativity.
Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth
In strange eruptions; oft the teeming earth
Is with a kind of colic pinch'd and vex'd
By the imprisoning of unruly wind
Within her womb; which, for enlargement
striving,
Shakes the old beldam earth, and topples down
Steeples and moss-grown towers. At your
birth
Our grandam earth, having this distemperature,
In passion shook.
Glend. Cousin, of many men
I do not bear these crossings. Give me leave
To tell you once again that at my birth
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
The goats ran from the mountains, and the
herds
Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.
These signs have mark'd me extraordinary;
And all the courses of my life do show
I am not in the roll of common men.
Where is he living, clipp'd in with the sea
That chides the banks of England, Scotland,
Wales,
Which calls me pupil, or hath read to me?
And bring him out that is but woman's son
Can trace me in the tedious ways of art
And hold me pace in deep experiments.
Hot. I think there's no man speaks better
Welsh.
I'll to dinner.
Mort. Peace, cousin Percy! you will make
him mad.
Glend. I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hot. Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
Glend. Why, I can teach thee, cousin, to com-
mand
The devil.
Hot. And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the
devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.
If thou have power to raise him, bring him
hither,
And I'll be sworn I have power to shame him
hence.
O! while you live, tell truth and shame the devil!
Mort. Come, come;
No more of this unprofitable chat.
Glend. Three times hath Henry Bolingbroke
made head
Against my power; thrice from the banks of Wye
And sandy-bottom'd Severn have I sent him
Bootless home and weather-beaten back.
Hot. Home without boots, and in foul wea-
ther too!
How 'scapes he agues, in the devil's name?
Glend. Come, here's the map: shall we divide
our right
According to our threefold order ta'en?
Mort. The archdeacon hath divided it
Into three limits very equally.
England, from Trent and Severn hitherto,
By south and east, is to my part assign'd:
All westward, Wales beyond the Severn shore,
And all the fertile land within that bound,
To Owen Glendower: and, dear coz, to you
The remnant northward, lying off from Trent.
And our indentures tripartite are drawn,
Which being sealed interchangeably,
A business that this night may execute,
To-morrow, cousin Percy, you and I
And my good Lord of Worcester will set forth
To meet your father and the Scottish power,
As is appointed us, at Shrewsbury.
My father Glendower is not ready yet,
Nor shall we need his help these fourteen days.
[To GLENDOWER.] Within that space you may
have drawn together
Your tenants, friends, and neighbouring gentle-
men.
Glend. A shorter time shall send me to you,
lords;
And in my conduct shall your ladies come,
From whom you now must steal and take no
leave;
For there will be a world of water shed
Upon the parting of your wives and you.
Hot. Methinks my moiety, north from Bur-
ton here,
In quantity equalis not one of yours:
See how this river comes me cranking in,
And cuts me from the best of all my land
A huge half-moon, a monstrous cantle out.
I'll have the current in this place damm'd up,
And here the smug and silver Trent shall run
In a new channel, fair and evenly:
It shall not wind with such a deep indent,
To rob me of so rich a bottom here.
Glend. Not wind! it shall, it must; you see
it doth.
Mort. Yea, but
Mark how he bears his course, and runs me up
With like advantage on the other side;
Gelding the opposed continent as much,
As on the other side it takes from you.
Wor. Yea, but a little charge will trench him
here,
And on this north side win this cape of land;
And then he runs straight and even.
Hot. I'll have it so; a little charge will do it.
Glend. I will not have it alter'd.
Hot. Will not you?
Glend. No, nor you shall not.
Hot. Who shall say me nay?
Glend. Why, that will I.
Hot. Let me not understand you then:
Speak it in Welsh.
Glend. I can speak English, lord, as well as
you,
For I was train'd up in the English court;
Where, being but young, I framed to the harp
Many an English ditty lovely well,
And gave the tongue an helpful ornament;
A virtue that was never seen in you.
Hot. Marry, and I'm glad of it with all my
heart.
I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers;
I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn'd,
Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree;
And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
Nothing so much as mincing poetry:
'Tis like the forc'd gait of a shuffling nag.
Glend. Come, you shall have Trent turn'd.
Hot. I do not care: I'll give thrice so much
land
To any well-deserving friend;
But in the way of bargain, mark you me,
I'll cavil on the ninth part of a hair.
Are the indentures drawn? shall we be gone?
Glend. The moon shines fair, you may away
by night:
I'll haste the writer and withal
Break with your wives of your departure hence:
I am afraid my daughter will run mad,
So much she doteth on her Mortimer. [Exit.
Mort. Fie, cousin Percy! how you cross my
father!
Hot. I cannot choose: sometimes he angers
me
With telling me of the moldwarp and the ant,
Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies,
And of a dragon, and a finless fish,
A clip-wing'd griffin, and a moulten raven,
A couching lion, and a ramping cat,
And such a deal of skimble-skamble stuff
As puts me from my faith. I'll tell thee what;
He held me last night at least nine hours
In reckoning up the several devils' names
That were his lackeys: I cried 'hum!' and
'well, go to.'
But mark'd him not a word. O! he's as tedious
As a tired horse, a railing wife;
Worse than a smoky house. I had rather live
With cheese and garlick in a windmill, far,
Than feed on cates and have him talk to me
In any summer-house in Christendom.
Mort. In faith, he is a worthy gentleman,
Exceedingly well read, and profited
In strange concealments, valiant as a lion
And wondrous affable, and as bountiful
As mines of India. Shall I tell you, cousin?
He holds your temper in a high respect,
And curbs himself even of his natural scope
When you do cross his humour; faith, he does.
I warrant you, thats-man is not alive
Might so have tempted him as you have done,
Without the taste of danger and reproof:
But do not use it oft, let me entreat you.
Wor. In faith, my lord, you are too wilful-
blame;
And since your coming hither have done enough
To put him quite beside his patience.
You must needs learn, lord, to amend this
fault:
Though sometimes it show greatness, courage,
blood,—
And that's the dearest grace it renders you,—
Yet oftentimes it doth present harsh rage,
Defect of manners, want of government,
Pride, haughtiness, opinion, and disdain:
The least of which haunting a nobleman
Loseth men's hearts and leaves behind a stain
Upon the beauty of all parts besides,
Beguiling them of commendation.
Hot. Well, I am school'd; good manners be
your speed!
Here come our wives, and let us take our leave.

Re-enter GLENDOWER, with the Ladies.
Mort. This is the deadly spite that angers
me,
My wife can speak no English, I no Welsh.
Glend. My daughter weeps; she will not part
with you:
She'll be a soldier too: she'll to the wars.
Mort. Good father, tell her that she and my
aunt Percy,
Shall follow in your conduct speedily.
[GLENDOWER speaks to LADY MORTIMER
in Welsh, and she answers him in
the same.
Glend. She's desperate here; a peevish self-
will'd harlotry, one that no persuasion can do
good upon. [She speaks to MORTIMER in Welsh.
Mort. I understand thy looks: that pretty
Welsh
Which thou pour'st down from these swelling
heavens
I am too perfect in; and, but for shame,
In such a parley would I answer thee.
[She speaks again.
I understand thy kisses and thou mine,
And that's a feeling disputation:
But I will never be a truant, love,
Till I have learn'd thy language; for thy tongue
Makes Welsh as sweet as ditties highly penn'd,
Sung by a fair queen in a summer's bower,
With ravishing division, to her lute.
Glend. Nay, if you melt, then will she run
mad. [She speaks again.
Mort. O! I am ignorance itself in this.
Glend. She bids you
Upon the wanton rushes lay you down
And rest your gentle head upon her lap.
And she will sing the song that pleaseth you,
And on your eye-lids crown the god of sleep,
Charming your blood with pleasing heaviness,
Making such difference 'twixt wake and sleep
As is the difference between day and night
The hour before the heavenly-harness'd team
Begins his golden progress in the east.
Mort. With all my heart I'll sit and hear her
sing:
By that time will our book, I think, be drawn.
Glend. Do so;
And those musicians that shall play to you
Hang in the air a thousand leagues from hence,
And straight they shall be here: sit, and at-
tend.
Hot. Come, Kate, thou art perfect in lying
down: come, quick, quick, that I may lay my
head in thy lap.
Lady P. Go, ye giddy goose.
[GLENDOWER speaks some Welsh words,
and music is heard.
Hot. Now I perceive the devil understands
Welsh;
And 'tis no marvel he is so humorous.
By'r lady, he's a good musician.
Lady P. Then should you be nothing but
musical for you are altogether governed by
humours. Lie still, ye thief, and hear the lady
sing in Welsh.
Hot. I had rather hear Lady, my brach, howl
in Irish.
Lady P. Wouldst thou have thy head broken?
Hot. No.
Lady P. Then be still.
Hot. Neither; 'tis a woman's fault.
Lady P. Now, God help thee!
Hot. To the Welsh lady's bed.
Lady P. What's that?
Hot. Peace! she sings.
[A Welsh song sung by LADY MORTIMER.
Hot. Come, Kate, I'll have your song too.
Lady P. Not mine, in good sooth.
Hot. Not yours, 'in good sooth!' Heart!
you swear like a comfit-maker's wife! Not you,
in good sooth;' and, 'as true as I live;' and,
'as God shall mend me;' and, 'as sure as day:'
And giv'st such sarcenet surety for thy oaths,
As if thou never walk'dst further than Fins-
bury.
Swear me, Kate, like a lady as thou art,
A good mouth-filling oath; and leave 'in sooth,'
And such protest of pepper-gingerbread,
To velvet-guards and Sunday-citizens.
Come, sing.
Lady P. I will not sing.
Hot. 'Tis the next way to turn tailor or be
red-breast teacher. An the indentures be drawn,
I'll away within these two hours; and so, come
in when ye will. [Exit.
Glend. Come, come, Lord Mortimer; you are
as slow
As hot Lord Percy is on fire to go.
By this our book is drawn; we will but seal,
And then to horse immediately.
Mort. With all my heart. [Exeunt.
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