William Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth, Part II in the complete original text.
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The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth

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Act IV. Scene I.

Act IV. Scene I.—A Forest in Yorkshire.

Enter the ARCHBISHOP OF YORK,
MOWBRAY, HASTINGS, and Others.

Arch. What is this forest call'd?
Hast. 'Tis Gaultree Forest, an't shall please
your Grace.
Arch. Here stand, my lords, and send dis-
coverers forth,
To know the numbers of our enemies.
Hast. We have sent forth already.
Arch. 'Tis well done.
My friends and brethren in these great affairs,
I must acquaint you that I have receiv'd
New-dated letters from Northumberland;
Their cold intent, tenour and substance, thus:
Here doth he wish his person, with such powers
As might hold sortance with his quality;
The which he could not levy; whereupon
He is retir'd, to ripe his growing fortunes,
To Scotland; and concludes in hearty prayers
That your attempts may overlive the hazard
And fearful meeting of their opposite.
Mowb. Thus do the hopes we have in him
touch ground
And dash themselves to pieces.

Enter a Messenger.
Hast. Now, what news?
Mess. West of this forest, scarcely off a mile,
In goodly form comes on the enemy;
And, by the ground they hide, I judge their
number
Upon or near the rate of thirty thousand.
Mowb. The just proportion that we gave them
out.
Let us sway on and face them in the field.

Enter WESTMORELAND.
Arch. What well-appointed leader fronts us
here?
Mowb. I think it is my Lord of Westmore-
land.
West. Health and fair greeting from our
general,
The Prince, Lord John and Duke of Lancaster.
Arch. Say on, my Lord of Westmorland, in
peace,
What doth concern your coming.
West. Then, my lord,
Unto your Grace do I in chief address
The substance of my speech. If that rebellion
Came like itself, in base and abject routs,
Led on by bloody youth, guarded with rags,
And countenanc'd by boys and beggary;
I say, if damn'd commotion so appear'd,
In his true, native, and most proper shape,
You, reverend father, and these noble lords
Had not been here, to dress the ugly form
Of base and bloody insurrection
With your fair honours. You, lord archbishop,
Whose see is by a civil peace maintained,
Whose beard the silver hand of peace hath
touch'd,
Whose learning and good letters peace hath
tutor'd,
Whose white investments figure innocence,
The dove and very blessed spirit of peace,
Wherefore do you so ill translate yourself
Out of the speech of peace that bears such grace
Into the harsh and boisterous tongue of war;
Turning your books to greaves, your ink to
blood,
Your pens to lances, and your tongue divine
To a loud trumpet and a point of war?
Arch. Wherefore do I this? so the question
stands.
Briefly to this end: we are all diseased;
And, with our surfeiting and wanton hours
Have brought ourselves into a burning fever,
And we must bleed for it: of which disease
Our late king, Richard, being infected, died.
But, my most noble Lord of Westmoreland,
I take not on me here as a physician,
Nor do I as an enemy to peace
Troop in the throngs of military men;
But rather show a while like fearful war,
To diet rank minds sick of happiness
And purge the obstructions which begin to stop
Our very veins of life. Hear me more plainly:
I have in equal balance justly weigh'd
What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we
suffer,
And find our griefs heavier than our offences.
We see which way the stream of time doth run
And are enforc'd from our most quiet sphere
By the rough torrent of occasion;
And have the summary of all our griefs,
When time shall serve, to show in articles,
Which long ere this we offer'd to the king,
And might by no suit gain our audience.
When we are wrong'd and would unfold our
griefs,
We are denied access unto his person
Even by those men that most have done us
wrong.
The dangers of the days but newly gone,—
Whose memory is written on the earth
With yet appearing blood,—and the examples
Of every minute's instance, present now,
Have put us in these ill-beseeming arms;
Not to break peace, or any branch of it,
But to establish here a peace indeed,
Concurring both in name and quality.
West. When ever yet was your appeal denied?
Wherein have you been galled by the king?
What peer hath been suborn'd to grate on you,
That you should seal this lawless bloody book
Of forg'd rebellion with a seal divine,
And consecrate commotion's bitter edge?
Arch. My brother general, the common-
wealth,
To brother born an household cruelty,
I make my quarrel in particular.
West. There is no need of any such redress;
Or if there were, it not belongs to you.
Mowb. Why not to him in part, and to us all
That feel the bruises of the days before,
And suffer the condition of these times
To lay a heavy and unequal hand
Upon our honours?
West. O! my good Lord Mowbray,
Construe the times to their necessities,
And you shall say indeed, it is the time,
And not the king, that doth you injuries.
Yet, for your part, it not appears to me
Either from the king or in the present time
That you should have an inch of any ground
To build a grief on: were you not restor'd
To all the Duke of Norfolk's signories,
Your noble and right well-remember'd father's?
Mowb. What thing, in honour, had my father
lost,
That need to be reviv'd and breath'd in me?
The king that lov'd him as the state stood then,
Was force perforce compelled to banish him:
And then that Harry Bolingbroke and he,
Being mounted and both roused in their scats,
Their neighing coursers daring of the spur,
Their armed staves in charge, their beavers down,
Their eyes of fire sparkling through sights of
steel,
And the loud trumpet blowing them together,
Then, then, when there was nothing could have
stay'd
My father from the breast of Bolingbroke,
O! when the king did throw his warder down,
His own life hung upon the staff he threw;
Then threw he down himself and all their lives
That by indictment and by dint of sword
Have since miscarried under Bolingbroke.
West. You speak. Lord Mowbray, now you
know not what.
The Earl of Hereford was reputed then
In England the most valiant gentleman:
Who knows on whom Fortune would then have
smil'd?
But if your father had been victor there,
He ne'er had borne it out of Coventry;
For all the country in a general voice
Cried hate upon him; and all their prayers and
love
Were set on Hereford, whom they doted on
And bless'd and grac'd indeed, more than the
king.
But this is mere digression from my purpose.
Here come I from our princely general
To know your griefs; to tell you from his Grace
That he will give you audience; and wherein
It shall appear that your demands are just,
You shall enjoy them; every thing set off
That might so much as think you enemies.
Mowb. But he hath forc'd us to compel this
offer,
And it proceeds from policy, not love.
West. Mowbray, you overween to take it so.
This offer comes from mercy, not from fear;
For, lo! within a ken our army lies
Upon mine honour, all too confident
To give admittance to a thought of fear.
Our battle is more full of names than yours,
Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
Our armour all as strong, our cause the best;
Then reason will our hearts should be as good:
Say you not then our offer is compell'd.
Mowb. Well, by my will we shall admit no
parley.
West. That argues but the shame of your
offence:
A rotten case abides no handling.
Hast. Hath the Prince John a full com-
mission,
In very ample virtue of his father,
To hear and absolutely to determine
Of what conditions we shall stand upon?
West. That is intended in the general's name.
I muse you make so slight a question.
Arch. Then take, my Lord of Westmoreland,
this schedule,
For this contains our general grievances:
Each several article herein redress'd;
All members of our cause, both here and hence,
That are insinew'd to this action,
Acquitted by a true substantial form
And present execution of our wills
To us and to our purposes consign'd;
We come within our awful banks again
And knit our powers to the arm of peace.
West. This will I show the general. Please
you, lords,
In sight of both our battles we may meet;
And either end in peace, which God so frame!
Or to the place of difference call the swords
Which must decide it.
Arch. My lord, we will do so.
[Exit WESTMORELAND.
Mowb. There is a thing within my bosom
tells me
That no conditions of our peace can stand.
Bast. Fear you not that: if we can make
our peace
Upon such large terms, and so absolute
As our conditions shall consist upon,
Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains.
Mowb. Yea, but our valuation shall be such
That every slight and false-derived cause,
Yea, every idle, nice, and wanton reason
Shall to the king taste of this action;
That, were our royal faiths martyrs in love,
We shall be winnow'd with so rough a wind
That even our corn shall seem as light as chaff
And good from bad find no partition.
Arch. No, no, my lord. Note this; the king
is weary
Of dainty and such picking grievances:
For he hath found to end one doubt by death
Revives two greater in the heirs of life;
And therefore will he wipe his tables clean,
And keep no tell-tale to his memory
That may-repeat and history his loss
To new remembrance; for full well he knows
He cannot so precisely weed this land
As his misdoubts present occasion:
His foes are so enrooted with his friends
That, plucking to unfix an enemy,
He doth unfasten so and shake a friend.
So that this land, like an offensive wife,
That hath enrag'd him on to offer strokes,
As he is striking, holds his infant up
And hangs resolv'd correction in the arm
That was uprear'd to execution.
Hast. Besides, the king hath wasted all his
rods
On late offenders, that he now doth lack
The very instruments of chastisement;
So that his power, like to a fangless lion,
May offer, but not hold.
Arch. 'Tis very true:
And therefore be assur'd, my good lord marshal,
If we do now make our atonement well,
Our peace will, like a broken limb united,
Grow stronger for the breaking.
Mowb. Be it so.
Here is returned my Lord of Westmoreland.

Re-enter WESTMORELAND.
West. The prince is here at hand: pleaseth
your lordship,
To meet his Grace just distance 'tween our
armies?
Mowb. Your Grace of York, in God's name
then, set forward.
Arch. Before, and greet his Grace: my lord,
we come. [Exeunt.
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