Henry IV, Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 2

page Act 5 Scene 2 Page 3

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O, would the quarrel lay upon our heads,
And that no man might draw short breath today
But I and Harry Monmouth! Tell me, tell me,
50How showed his tasking? Seemed it in contempt?


Oh, I wish the whole battle were between us, and that the only people who would lose their breath today would be me and Harry


Monmouth is the town in Wales where Hal was born.

Tell me, tell me, what was the tone of his challenge? Did he show contempt for me?


No, by my soul. I never in my life
Did hear a challenge urged more modestly,
Unless a brother should a brother dare
To gentle exercise and proof of arms.
55He gave you all the duties of a man,
Trimmed up your praises with a princely tongue,
Spoke your deservings like a chronicle,
Making you ever better than his praise
By still dispraising praise valued in you,
60And, which became him like a prince indeed,
He made a blushing cital of himself,
And chid his truant youth with such a grace
As if he mastered there a double spirit
Of teaching and of learning instantly.
65There did he pause: but let me tell the world:
If he outlive the envy of this day,
England did never owe so sweet a hope,
So much misconstrued in his wantonness.


No, I swear; I never heard a challenge issued more gracefully. It was like a brother asking a brother to a little friendly competition. He paid you all due respect, and he summed up your good qualities in the most princely language. He spoke of how deserving you are, as though he were your biographer. He claimed you were even above praise, for simple praise could never measure up to your true merits. And he gave a modest account of himself, as well, which made him seem like a true prince indeed. He berated himself for having behaved wildly, but he said this so gracefully that he sounded like a teacher giving a lesson and a student learning one at the same time. There he stopped, but let me say this: if he survives this battle, then England never had a sweeter hope, nor one so misunderstood in his recklessness.


Cousin, I think thou art enamorèd
70On his follies. Never did I hear
Of any Prince so wild a liberty.
But be he as he will, yet once ere night
I will embrace him with a soldier’s arm,
That he shall shrink under my courtesy.—
75Arm, arm with speed, and, fellows, soldiers, friends,
Better consider what you have to do
Than I that have not well the gift of tongue
Can lift your blood up with persuasion.


I think you’ve been charmed by his foolishness. I’ve never heard of a Prince who was so wild and loose. But however he wants to seem, before night falls I will embrace him with these soldier’s arms, and he will tremble at my affection.
Get ready, get ready quickly! And friends, partners, soldiers, take a moment to think for yourselves about what you have to do. I’m not a good enough speaker to motivate you.