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Henry IV Part 2

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 5 Scene 2
No Fear Act 5 Scene 2 Page 4

Original Text

Modern Text


How might a prince of my great hopes forget
So great indignities you laid upon me?
70What, rate, rebuke, and roughly send to prison
Th' immediate heir of England? Was this easy?
May this be washed in Lethe and forgotten?


No? How can a great prince like me forget the terrible wrongs you did me? What were you thinking, to scold, punish, and violently imprison the heir to the English throne? Was this nothing? Should this be dipped in the river of forgetfulness and simply ignored?


I then did use the person of your father;
The image of his power lay then in me.
75And in th' administration of his law,
Whiles I was busy for the commonwealth,
Your Highness pleasèd to forget my place,
The majesty and power of law and justice,
The image of the King whom I presented,
80And struck me in my very seat of judgment,
Whereon, as an offender to your father,
I gave bold way to my authority
And did commit you. If the deed were ill,
Be you contented, wearing now the garland,
85To have a son set your decrees at nought?
To pluck down justice from your awful bench?
To trip the course of law and blunt the sword
That guards the peace and safety of your person?
Nay more, to spurn at your most royal image
90And mock your workings in a second body?
Question your royal thoughts, make the case yours;
Be now the father and propose a son,
Hear your own dignity so much profaned,
See your most dreadful laws so loosely slighted,
95Behold yourself so by a son disdained,
And then imagine me taking your part
And in your power soft silencing your son.
After this cold considerance, sentence me,
And, as you are a king, speak in your state


I acted with the authority of your father, whose power was vested in me. And when it came to the law—which I was busy enforcing, for the good of the country—you chose to ignore my rank, and the majesty and power of law and justice which I bore as a representative of the King. You struck me in the head, the very location of my judgment. With that action, you committed a crime against your father’s own laws. So I did what my power demanded, and imprisoned you. If that was wrong, then—now that you wear the crown—I hope you’ll someday be satisfied with a son who mocks your laws, who scorns the judges who rule in your authority, who disrupts the course of law, and blunts the swords that guard your personal peace and safety.
No, even worse than that: a son who disrespects your deputies, and the officers you appoint in your name. Question yourself, and imagine being in your father’s position. Be a father, and imagine a son. Listen to your own dignity being profaned. Watch as your most solemn laws are laughed at so lightly. Behold yourself being so disdained by a son. And then imagine that I take your side, and that in your name I gently silence your son. Soberly consider this, and then pronounce my sentence. As king, tell me

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