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  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 3

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Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal:
Tis not the trial of a woman’s war,
The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
50Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain;
The blood is hot that must be cool’d for this:
Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
As to be hush’d and nought at all to say:
First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
55From giving reins and spurs to my free speech;
Which else would post until it had return’d
These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
Setting aside his high blood’s royalty,
And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
60I do defy him, and I spit at him;
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain:
Which to maintain I would allow him odds,
And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
65Or any other ground inhabitable,
Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.
Mean time let this defend my loyalty,
By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.


Don’t let my calm words cast doubt on my loyalty. I know that angry words will not settle this argument, so I’ll try to keep myself under control. But I can’t be so calm as to not say anything in my own defense. First, my respect for you, my king, prevents me from saying what I want and throwing those charges of treason right back at Bolingbroke. I defy him and spit on him as if he weren’t your relative, my lord. He’s a trash-talking coward and a villain, and I’d back up those charges in a duel, even if I gave him an advantage by handicapping myself. For now, I’ve defended my loyalty and made it known that he lies.


Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
70Disclaiming here the kindred of the king,
And lay aside my high blood’s royalty,
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
If guilty dread have left thee so much strength
As to take up mine honour’s pawn, then stoop:
75By that and all the rites of knighthood else,
Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,
What I have spoke, or thou canst worse devise.


You pale coward. There I’ll throw my glove in challenge to you and set aside my relationship to the king and my royal blood. It’s fear—not respect for the king’s bloodline—that keeps you quiet. If your guilt has given you the guts to accept my challenge, then pick up my glove. I’ll show your cowardice and treason by defeating you in knightly combat.

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