Henry IV, Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 2

page Act 5 Scene 2 Page 4

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Enter a MESSENGER
A MESSENGER enters.

MESSENGER

My lord, here are letters for you.

MESSENGER

My lord, I have some letters for you.

HOTSPUR

80I cannot read them now.—
O gentlemen, the time of life is short;
To spend that shortness basely were too long
If life did ride upon a dial’s point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.
85An if we live, we live to tread on kings;
If die, brave death, when princes die with us.
Now, for our consciences, the arms are fair
When the intent of bearing them is just.

HOTSPUR

I can’t read them now. Oh, gentlemen, life is short. But if you spend that brief time shamefully, you are wasting your time: even if life lasted only an hour, it would still be too long. If we live, it will be in triumph over kings. If we die, it will be a glorious death, since princes will die with us. As for our consciences, our battle is fair: it’s right to bear arms when the cause is just.
Enter another MESSENGER
Another MESSENGER enters.

SECOND MESSENGER

My lord, prepare. The King comes on apace.

SECOND MESSENGER

My lord, get ready. The King has launched his attack.

HOTSPUR

90I thank him that he cuts me from my tale,
For I profess not talking. Only this:
Let each man do his best. And here draw I a sword,
Whose temper I intend to stain
With the best blood that I can meet withal
95In the adventure of this perilous day.
Now, Esperance! Percy! And set on.
Sound all the lofty instruments of war,
And by that music let us all embrace,
For, heaven to earth, some of us never shall
100A second time do such a courtesy.

HOTSPUR

I thank him for cutting off my speech, since I have no talent for speaking. Only one more thing: each man should do his best, and with that I will draw my sword. On this dangerous day, I intend to stain it with the best blood I can find. “Hope is my comfort!” Percy! Let’s go! Sound all the imposing instruments of battle, and let’s embrace one another to the tune of that music. For, by heaven, some of us will never be able to do that again.
Here they embrace. The trumpets sound.
They embrace. The trumpets sound.
Exeunt
They exit.