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Falstaff and Bardolph.
ACT II. At the Boar's Head Tavern. Called into service by the Prince himself.
ACT III. Scene 1. Hotspur and Douglas waiting on the battle field for their allies.
Scene 2. The King and princes receive the embassy of Worcester and Vernon. The battle. Victory. The lights will be cut a number of times during the battle, to suggest the confusion and rapid changes of scene.
This play is from the second half of Henry IV, Part I. It is the story of the rebellion of the powerful Earl of Northumberland and his relatives, the Percy family, against the King. It marks the beginning of the titanic struggle of the barons against the close consolidation of the realm under the English king, which resulted in the decline of the feudal system and whatever we have been pleased to associate with the term knighthood.
Hotspur, the powerful Earl's son, is the idol of his time. The King wishes that Harry Percy (Hotspur) had been his son. His own son Harry, he thinks, has wasted his youth with Falstaff and other loose and riotous companionship. The crown by which he came at such cost of worry and of devious means is like to descend to a prodigal.
Joined with Hotspur is Worcester, the arch rebel and King Henry's bitterest foe; then later Mortimer and Glendower. Mortimer is the heir presumptive of the preceding king, whose place King Henry obtained. Glendower is Welsh and has the name of being a magician. Of one who it was reputed fought Glendower, the King exclaimed, "He durst as well have met the devil alone as Owen Glendower for an enemy."
Against these rebels, King Henry must oppose his son and soldiers of a lesser note. Even Falstaff is pressed into the fray. The glory and the wonder is that Prince Hal turns out to be a warrior, bests Douglas, and even Hotspur; and that Falstaff, though a liar and great cheat, has courage to lead his soldiers into the very thickest of the shot and battle of the enemy.
Still the rebels never would have lost had it not been for the desertions from their cause; the hand of destiny, apparently, slips in, and Henry V, destined to be the conqueror of France and Shakespeare's favorite of the English kings, comes off victorious.
The first scene is of the beginnings of the conspiracy. Hotspur, Northumberland, and Worcester are the characters.
Scene 1. London. The palace
[Hotspur, Northumberland, and Worcester are discovered.]
Heir to the crown?
Northumberland. He did, myself did hear it.
Shall for his sake wear the detested blot
Of murder and rebellion!
I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-discerning discontents
To pluck bright Honor from the pale-faced moon,
Peace, say no more;
And pluck up drowned Honor by the locks.
That are your prisoners,
I'll keep them all! He shall not have a Scot of them;
No, if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not!
1 brother: brother-in-law.
2 deep: ocean.
Worcester. Release them without ransom,
Scene 2. In Wales
Hotspur, Mortimer, and Glendower.
Hotspur. The earth was not of my mind,
If you suppose as fearing you it shook.
As often as the King
Doth speak of you, his cheek looks pale and with
A rising sigh he wisheth you in heaven.
Hotspur. And you in hell, as oft as he hears Glendower
Glendower. I cannot blame him. At my nativity
The frame and huge foundation of the earth
Glendower. The heavens were all on fire, the earth did tremble.
And all the courses of my life so show.
Where is he living,
Who calls me pupil, or hath read to me?
Hotspur. I think there's no man speaks better Welsh.
Glendower. I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
But will they come when you do call for them?
Hotspur. And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
If thou have power to raise him, bring him hither,
Against my power; thrice have I sent him
Hotspur. Home without boots, and in foul weather too! Mortimer. Come, here's the map. We here divide our rights
According to the threefold oath we took.
Hotspur. Methinks mine does not equal one of yours.
See how this river
Cuts me from the best of all my land.
I'll have the current in this place damm'd up;
The Trent shall run in a new channel.
It shall not wind, to rob me of so rich a bottom here. Glendower. I'll not have it altered.
Will not you?
Glendower. No, nor you shall not.
Who shall say me nay?
Glendower. Why, that will I.
Hotspur. Let me not understand you, then, speak it in Welsh.
Glendower. I can speak English, lord, as well as you,
For I was train'd up in the English court;
Where being but young, I framed to the harp
Hotspur. I had rather be a kitten and cry mew;
I had rather hear a dry wheel grate on axle-tree. Glendower. Come, you shall have Trent turned. Hotspur. I do not care. I'll give thrice so much land To any well-deserving friend. —
If the agreement's made, I'll away.
Glendower. Come, come, Lord Mortimer, to horse immedi
Mortimer. With all my heart.
The Boar's Head Tavern.
Falstaff and Bardolph,1 drinking. Falstaff. Do thou amend thy face, and I'll amend my life. Thou art our admiral 2; thou bearest the lantern, but 'tis in the nose of thee. Thou art the Knight of the Burning Lamp.
Bardolph. Why, Sir John, my face does you no harm. Falstaff. No, I'll be sworn, I make good use of it: I never see thy face but I think upon hell-fire and burning, burning. Thou wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter darkness. When thou rannest up Gadshill in the night to catch my horse, if I did not think thou hadst been a ball of wildfire, there's no purchase in money. O, thou art a perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! Thou hast saved me a thousand marks in torches, walking with thee in the night betwixt tavern and tavern; but the wine thou hast drunk me would have bought me lights as good as the dearest in Europe.
1 Bardolph's nose is very red, and his face flushed from drinking. The fun in this scene turns upon the noticeableness of this.
2 admiral: flagship. The ship carrying the admiral or commander of the fleet bore a light for identification purposes.