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Henry IV, Part 1

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 3 Scene 2
No Fear Act 3 Scene 2 Page 1

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter KING, PRINCE HENRY of Wales, and others
The KING, PRINCE HENRY of Wales, and others enter.


Lords, give us leave; the Prince of Wales and I
Must have some private conference, but be near at hand,
For we shall presently have need of you.


Gentlemen, please leave; the Prince of Wales and I must speak in private. But stay close by, for I’ll need you in a moment.
Exeunt lords
The lords exit.
I know not whether God will have it so
5For some displeasing service I have done,
That, in his secret doom, out of my blood
He’ll breed revengement and a scourge for me.
But thou dost in thy passages of life
Make me believe that thou art only marked
10For the hot vengeance and the rod of heaven
To punish my mistreadings. Tell me else,
Could such inordinate and low desires,
Such poor, such bare, such lewd, such mean attempts,
Such barren pleasures, rude society
15As thou art matched withal, and grafted to,
Accompany the greatness of thy blood,
And hold their level with thy princely heart?
I don’t know whether God decided, because of some displeasing crime I have committed, to turn my own flesh and blood into a punisher and a plague upon me. The course of your life has me convinced that you are only meant for one purpose in this world: to be God’s vengeance against me for all my misdeeds. Why else would such disorderly and low desires, such poor, such wretched, such lewd, such despicable actions, such wasteful pleasures, and such vulgar company become associated with your high-born self, and call themselves equals with a Prince like you?


So please your Majesty, I would I could
Quit all offenses with as clear excuse
20As well as I am doubtless I can purge
Myself of many I am charged withal.
Yet such extenuation let me beg
As, in reproof of many tales devised,
Which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear,
25By smiling pickthanks and base newsmongers,
I may for some things true, wherein my youth
Hath faulty wandered and irregular,
Find pardon on my true submission.


Your majesty, I wish I could be proven innocent of all those accusations, for I can certainly clear myself of many of them. But let me beg one favor of you: if I can demonstrate that I’m not guilty of the false charges of these smiling flatterers and wretched gossips (the kinds of stories that are always told about great men), then you will forgive me when I confess to the youthful indiscretions I actually did commit.