Henry IV, Part 1
Important Quotations Explained
there thou mak’st me sad and mak’st me sin
In envy that my Lord Northumberland
Should be the father to so blest a son—
A son who is the theme of honour’s tongue,
Amongst a grove the very straightest plant,
Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride—
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him
See riot and dishonor stain the brow
Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle clothes our children where they lay,
And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!
know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off
And pay the debt I never promisèd,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.
I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
. . .
Came there a certain lord, neat and trimly dressed,
Fresh as a bridegroom, and his chin, new-reaped
Showed like a stubble-land at harvest-home.
He was perfumèd like a milliner,
. . .
With many holiday and lady terms
He questioned me; amongst the rest demanded
My prisoners in your majesty’s behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold —
To be so pestered with a popinjay! —
Out of my grief and my impatience
Answered neglectingly, I know not what —
He should, or should not — for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman
. . .
So cowardly, and but for these vile guns
He would himself have been a soldier.
But to say I know more harm in him than in myself were to say more
than I know. That he is old, the more the pity, his white hairs
do witness it. But that he is, saving your reverence, a whoremaster,
that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the
wicked. If to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that
I know is damned. If to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh’s lean
kine are to be loved. No, my good lord, banish Peto, banish Bardolph,
banish Poins, but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true
Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant
being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff,
Banish not him thy Harry’s company,
Banish not him thy Harry’s company.
Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.
Prince: I do; I will.
’tis no matter; honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick
me off when I come on? How then? Can honour set-to a leg? No. Or
an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no
skill in surgery, then? No. What is honour? A word. What is in that
word “honour”? What is that “honour”? Air. A trim reckoning! Who
hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he
hear it? No. ’Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it
not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it.
Therefore I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon. And so ends