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Henry IV Part 2

No Fear Act 1 Scene 1
No Fear Act 1 Scene 1 Page 7

Original Text

Modern Text

To feed contention in a lingering act;
But let one spirit of the firstborn Cain
160Reign in all bosoms, that, each heart being set
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end,
And darkness be the burier of the dead.
Cain, who committed the first murder against his brother Abel, live in every heart. If every heart is a murderer’s heart, this violent play will end, and darkness will shroud the corpses.

LORD BARDOLPH

This strainèd passion doth you wrong, my lord.

LORD BARDOLPH

This extreme passion is bad for you, sir.

MORTON

Sweet Earl, divorce not wisdom from your honor.
165The lives of all your loving complices
Lean on your health, the which, if you give o'er
To stormy passion, must perforce decay.
You cast th' event of war, my noble lord,
And summed the account of chance before you said
170“Let us make head.” It was your presurmise
That, in the dole of blows your son might drop.
You knew he walked o'er perils on an edge,
More likely to fall in than to get o'er.
You were advised his flesh was capable
175Of wounds and scars, and that his forward spirit
Would lift him where most trade of danger ranged.
Yet did you say “Go forth,” and none of this,
Though strongly apprehended, could restrain
The stiff-borne action. What hath then befall'n,
180Or what did this bold enterprise brought forth,
More than that being which was like to be?

MORTON

Gentle Earl, don’t abandon your wisdom. All your allies are depending on you and your well-being. If you allow yourself to indulge in this kind of stormy emotion, your health will deteriorate even further. Before you said, “Let’s raise an army,” you calculated how the war might end, and you thought carefully about the likeliness of a victory. You knew from the beginning that, once the fighting started, your son might die. You knew that he was treading dangerously, as if on the edge of a precipice: you knew he was more likely to fall over than make it across. You were warned that your son was made of flesh and blood, and that it was possible he’d get hurt. You were warned that his temper and hot-headedness would push him into the most dangerous situations. But you still said, “Go forward.” None of this consideration, even though it was clearly understood, could stop the stubborn course of events. So what happened here? What has been the result of this brave undertaking? Only this: precisely what was likely to happen in the first place.

LORD BARDOLPH

We all that are engagèd to this loss
Knew that we ventured on such dangerous seas
That if we wrought out life, ’twas ten to one;
185And yet we ventured, for the gain proposed
Choked the respect of likely peril feared;

LORD BARDOLPH

We all knew that we were venturing into dangerous waters. We knew the odds were ten to one that we would come out alive, and yet we ventured forward anyway. The potential reward of winning outweighed the fear of our probable loss.

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