The acts commenced on this ball of earth:
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride;
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
I speak of peace, while covert enmity,
Under the smile of safety, wounds the world:
And who but Rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful musters, and prepared defence;
Whilst the big year, swoll'n with some other grief,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
And no such matter? Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures;
And of so easy and so plain a stop,
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.

But what need I thus
My well-known body to anatomize
Among my household? Why is Rumour here?
I run before King Harry's victory;
Who, in a bloody field by Shrewsbury,
Hath beaten down young Hotspur, and his troops,
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebel's blood. But what mean I
To speak so true at first? my office is
To noise abroad,—that Harry Monmouth fell
Under the wrath of noble Hotspur's sword;
And that the king before the Douglas' rage
Stoop'd his anointed head as low as death.

This have I rumour'd through the peasant towns
Between that royal field of Shrewsbury
And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
Where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-sick: the posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learn'd of me. From Rumour's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.


War. There is a history in all men's lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceased:
The which observed, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things

As yet not come to life; which in their seeds,

And weak beginnings, lie intreasured.

Such things become the hatch and brood of time;

And by the necessary form of this,

King Richard might create a perfect guess,

That great Northumberland, then false to him,

Would, of that seed, grow to a greater falseness;

Which should not find a ground to root upon,

Unless on you.

K. Hen. Are these things then necessities?
Then let us meet them like necessities:—.
And that same word even now cries out on us;
They say, the bishop and Northumberland
Are fifty thousand strong.

War. It cannot be, my lord;
Rumour doth double, like the voice and echo,
The numbers of the fear'd:
The powers that you already have sent forth,
Shall bring this prize in very easily.
To comfort you the more, I have received
A certain instance, that Glendower is dead.
Your majesty hath been this fortnight ill;
And these unseason'd hours, perforce, must add
Unto your sickness.

K. Ren. I will take your counsel:
And, were these inward wars once out of hand,
We would, dear lords, unto the Holy Land.


Cla. What would my lord and father?

K. Ren. Nothing but well to thee, Thomas of Clarence. How chance thou art not with the prince thy brother? He loves thee, and thou dost neglect him, Thomas. Thou hast a better place in his affection Than all thy brothers: cherish it, my boy; And noble offices thou may'st effect Of mediation, after I am dead, Between his greatness and thy other brethren. Therefore, omit him not; blunt not his love; Nor lose the good advantage of his grace, By seeming cold, or careless of his will. For he is gracious, if he be observed; He hath a tear for pity, and a hand

Open as day for melting charity:

Yet notwithstanding, heing incensed, he's flint;

As humourous as winter, and as sudden

As flaws congealed in the spring of day.

His temper, therefore, must be well observed: Chide him for faults, and do it reverently, When you perceive his blood inclined to mirth: But, being moody, give him line and scope; Till that his passions, like a whale on ground, Confound themselves with working. Learn this, Thomas, And thou shalt prove a shelter to thy friends; A hoop of gold, to bind thy brothers in; That the united vessel of their blood, Mingled with venom of suggestion, (As, force perforce, the age will pour it in,) Shall never leak, though it do work as strong As aconitum, or rash gunpowder.


Fal. God save thee, my sweet boy!

King. My lord chief justice, speak to that vain man.

Ch. Just. Have you your wits? know you what 'tis you speak?

Fal. My king! my Jove! I speak to thee, my heart!

King. I know thee not, old man: Fall to thy prayers.
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
I have long dream'd of such a kind of man,
So surfeit-swell'd, so old, and so profane;
But being awake, I do despise my dream.
Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace;
Leave gormandizing; know, the grave doth gape
For thee thrice wider than for other men:—
Reply not to me with a fool-born jest;
Presume not, that I am the thing I was:
For Heaven doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn'd away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company.

When thou dost hear I am as I have been,
Approach me; and thou shalt be as thou wast,
The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
Till then, I banish thee, on pain of death,—
As I have done the rest of my misleaders,—
Not to come near our person by ten mile.

For competence of life, I will allow you,

That lack of means enforce you not to evil:

And, as we hear you do reform yourselves,

We will, according to your strength and qualities,

Give you advancement.—Be it your charge, my lord,

To see perform'd the tenor of our word.

Set on.


Enter Chorus.

O For a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,
Crouch for employment.

But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraised spirit that hath dared,
On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth
So great an object: Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest, in little place, a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work:
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder.

Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance:
Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth:
For 't is your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times;
Turning the accomplishment of many years

Into an hour-glass; For the which supply,
Admit me chorus to this history;
Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.


Chor. Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur, and the poring dark,
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp, through the foul womb of night,
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fix'd sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other's watch:
Fire answers fire; and through their paly flames
Each battle sees the other's umber'd face:
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night's dull ear; and from the tents
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.

The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
Proud of their numbers, and secure in soul,
The confident and over-lusty French
Do the low-rated English play at dice.
And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night.
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp
So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate
The morning's danger; and their gesture sad,
Investing lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats,
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts.

O, now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin'd band
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry, Praise and glory on his head!
For forth he goes, and visits all his host;
Bids them good morrow, with a modest smile;
And calls them brothers, friends, and countrymen.

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