home contact

King Henry IV, Part I

Please see the bottom of the page for extensive explanatory notes and other helpful resources.

ACT II SCENE III Warkworth castle.
[Enter HOTSPUR, solus, reading a letter]
HOTSPUR'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 than5
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. 'The10
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, and15
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 is20
this! Why, my lord of York commends the plot and the
general course of 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?25
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 sincerity30
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 set35
forward to-night.
How now, Kate! I must leave you within these two hours.
LADY PERCYO, 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?40
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 sit'st alone?
Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks;45
And given my treasures and my rights of thee
To thick-eyed musing and cursed 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;50
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,55
And all the currents of a heady fight.
Thy spirit within thee hath been so at war
And thus hath so bestirr'd thee in thy sleep,
That beads of sweat have stood upon thy brow
Like bubbles in a late-disturbed stream;60
And in thy face strange motions have appear'd,
Such as we see when men restrain their breath
On some great sudden hest. O, what portents are these?
Some heavy business hath my lord in hand,
And I must know it, else he loves me not.65
HOTSPURWhat, ho!
[Enter Servant]
Is Gilliams with the packet gone?
ServantHe is, my lord, an hour ago.
HOTSPURHath Butler brought those horses from the sheriff?
ServantOne horse, my lord, he brought even now.70
HOTSPURWhat horse? a roan, a crop-ear, is it not?
ServantIt is, my lord.
HOTSPURThat roan shall by my throne.
Well, I will back him straight: O esperance!
Bid Butler lead him forth into the park.75
[Exit Servant]
LADY PERCYBut hear you, my lord.
HOTSPURWhat say'st thou, my lady?
LADY PERCYWhat is it carries you away?
HOTSPURWhy, my horse, my love, my horse.
LADY PERCYOut, you mad-headed ape!80
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 you85
To line his enterprise: but if you go,--
HOTSPURSo far afoot, I shall be weary, love.
LADY PERCYCome, come, you paraquito, answer me
Directly unto this question that I ask:
In faith, I'll break thy little finger, Harry,90
An if thou wilt not tell me all things true.
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:95
We must have bloody noses and crack'd crowns,
And pass them current too. God's me, my horse!
What say'st thou, Kate? what would'st thou
have with me?
LADY PERCYDo you not love me? do you not, indeed?100
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.
HOTSPURCome, wilt thou see me ride?
And when I am on horseback, I will swear105
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.110
I know you wise, but yet no farther 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;115
And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate.
LADY PERCYHow! so far?
HOTSPURNot an inch further. But hark you, Kate:
Whither I go, thither shall you go too;
To-day will I set forth, to-morrow you.120
Will this content you, Kate?
LADY PERCYIt must of force.

Continue to Henry IV, Part I, Act 2, Scene 4

While Hal engages in his childish antics, Hotspur, in his castle in Northumberland, is organizing the rebellion against King Henry. But things are not going well for Hotspur. He has just received a letter from one of the noblemen that he has asked to join his side. The nobleman writes that he will not fight for Hotspur because the purpose he undertakes is dangerous and the men he has so far collected are not completely trustworthy. He adds to his list of problems that "your whole plot [is] too light for the counterpoise of so great an opposition." Hotspur agrees that his plot is dangerous, but that is no excuse to behave in so cowardly a fashion. He tells himself that he was foolish to try to recruit the nobleman, who is but "a dish of skim milk", sorely lacking honour and virtue. Lady Percy enters, and Hotspur informs her that he must leave within two hours. Anxious, Lady Percy asks Hotspur what has troubled him over the last few weeks and, in a wonderful speech, describes his strange behaviour.


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 3
From Henry IV, Part I. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

Warkworth Castle, still standing on a lofty rock in Warkworth, Northumberland.

12. Unsorted, ill-selected, unsuitable.

33. Moving, trying to stir or incite.

35. Let him tell the king. The letter was from George, Earl of Dunbar and March, who warned the king, and also attended him at Shrewsbury, where he rescued him from the fierce onslaught of the Douglas, and carried King Henry out of danger.

48. Curst, sullen or ill-tempered.

51. Terms of manage, technical terms of horsemanship.

53. Frontiers, here forts along the boundaries, or frontiers.

54. Basilisks, large guns, so called from their supposed resemblance to the basilisk or cockatrice. Culverin, cannon.

74. O Esperance. Esperance, i.e. hope, was the motto of the Percy family, and is here used by Percy in anticipation of his war-cry.

82. As you are tossed with. An irritable temper was supposed to be connected with a swelling or agitation of the spleen.

86. To line his enterprise. To line is to support or fortify.

88. Paraquito, a small parrot.

95. Mammets, puppets.

97. Current, as current coins. Any coin, as a crown, when cracked was uncurrent.

How to cite the introduction:

Mabillard, Amanda. Introduction to King Henry IV, Part 1 (2.3). Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. King Henry IV, Part 1. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard, 1885. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


Related Articles

 1 Henry IV Overview (with theme analysis)
 1 Henry IV Play History
 1 Henry IV Plot Summary
 1 Henry IV: Q & A

 Sources for 1 Henry IV
 Essay Topics for 1 Henry IV
 Famous Quotations from 1 Henry IV

 Shakespeare's Falstaff
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England

 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Why Study Shakespeare?
 Quotations About William Shakespeare

 Why Shakespeare is so Important
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels