William Shakespeare: Henry IV (Pt 2), Act IV
Enter the Archbishop of York, Mowbray, Lord Hastings, and others
Here stand, my lords; and send discoverers forth To know the numbers of our enemies.
'Tis well done. My friends and brethren in these great affairs, I must acquaint you that I have received New-dated letters from Northumberland; Their cold intent, tenor 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 retired, to ripe his growing fortunes, To Scotland: and concludes in hearty prayers That your attempts may overlive the hazard And fearful melting of their opposite.
Enter a Messenger
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.
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 countenanced 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 ourself Out of the speech of peace that bears such grace, Into the harsh and boisterous tongue of war; Turning your books to graves, your ink to blood, Your pens to lances and your tongue divine To a trumpet and a point of war?
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 awhile 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 enforced from our most quiet there 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, Hath 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.
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 forged rebellion with a seal divine And consecrate commotion's bitter edge?
My brother general, the commonwealth, To brother born an household cruelty, I make my quarrel in particular.
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?
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 restored To all the Duke of Norfolk's signories, Your noble and right well remember'd father's?
What thing, in honour, had my father lost, That need to be revived and breathed in me? The king that loved him, as the state stood then, Was force perforce compell'd to banish him: And then that Harry Bolingbroke and he, Being mounted and both roused in their seats, Their neighing coursers daring of the spur, Their armed staves in charge, their beavers down, Their eyes of fire sparking 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.
You speak, Lord Mowbray, now you know not what. The Earl of Hereford was reputed then In England the most valiant gentlemen: Who knows on whom fortune would then have smiled? 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 graced 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.
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 heart should be as good Say you not then our offer is compell'd.
Hath the Prince John a full commission, In very ample virtue of his father, To hear and absolutely to determine Of what conditions we shall stand upon?
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 confined, We come within our awful banks again And knit our powers to the arm of peace.
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.
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.
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.
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 enraged him on to offer strokes, As he is striking, holds his infant up And hangs resolved correction in the arm That was uprear'd to execution.
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.
'Tis very true: And therefore be assured, 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.
The prince is here at hand: pleaseth your lordship To meet his grace just distance 'tween our armies.