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Home » Quotes » Henry IV Pt 1 » But soft, I pray you

But soft, I pray you

But soft, I pray you. Did King Richard then
Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer
Heir to the crown?
He did; myself did hear it.

And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
I’ll read you matter deep and dangerous

Nay then, I cannot blame his cousin king
That wished him on the barren mountains starve.
But shall it be that you that set the crown
Upon the head of this forgetful man
And for his sake wear the detested blot
Of murderous subornation—shall it be
That you a world of curses undergo,
Being the agents or base second means,
The cords, the ladder, or the hangman rather?
O, pardon me that I descend so low
To show the line and the predicament
Wherein you range under this subtle king.
Shall it for shame be spoken in these days,
Or fill up chronicles in time to come,
That men of your nobility and power
Did gage them both in an unjust behalf
(As both of you, God pardon it, have done)
To put down Richard, that sweet lovely rose,
And plant this thorn, this canker, Bolingbroke?
And shall it in more shame be further spoken
That you are fooled, discarded, and shook off
By him for whom these shames you underwent?
No, yet time serves wherein you may redeem
Your banished honors and restore yourselves
Into the good thoughts of the world again,
Revenge the jeering and disdained contempt
Of this proud king, who studies day and night
To answer all the debt he owes to you
Even with the bloody payment of your deaths.
Therefore I say—
Peace, cousin, say no more.
And now I will unclasp a secret book,
And to your quick-conceiving discontents
I’ll read you matter deep and dangerous,
As full of peril and adventurous spirit
As to o’erwalk a current roaring loud
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.
If he fall in, good night, or sink or swim!
Send danger from the east unto the west,
So honor cross it from the north to south,
And let them grapple. O, the blood more stirs
To rouse a lion than to start a hare!
Northumberland, to Worcester
Imagination of some great exploit
Drives him beyond the bounds of patience.
By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap
To pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drownèd honor by the locks,
So he that doth redeem her thence might wear
Without corrival all her dignities.
But out upon this half-faced fellowship!
He apprehends a world of figures here,
But not the form of what he should attend.—
Good cousin, give me audience for a while.
I cry you mercy.

Act 1
Scene 3
Line 158

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