A monologue from Act I, Scene iii

by: William Shakespeare

NOTE: Henry IV, Part I was originally published in 1598. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

HOTSPUR: My liege, I did deny no prisoners.
But I remember, when the fight was done,
When I was dry with rage and extreme toil,
Breathless and faint, leaning upon my sword,
Came there a certain lord, neat and trimly dressed,
Fresh as a bridegroom, and his chin new reaped
Showed like a stubble land at harvest time.
He was perfumèd like a milliner,
And twixt his finger and his thumb he held
A pouncet box [1], which ever and anon
He gave his nose, and took't away again;
Who therewith angry, when it next came there,
Took it in snuff; and still he smiled and talked;
And as the soldiers bore dead bodies by,
He called them untaught knaves, unmannerly,
To bring a slovenly unhandsome corse
Betwixt the wind and his nobility.
With many holiday and lady [2] terms
He questioned me, amongst the rest demanded
My prisoners in your majesty's behalf.
I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,
To be so pestered with a popingay,
Out of my grief and impatience
Answered neglectingly, I know not what--
He should, or he should not; for he made me mad
To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,
And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman
Of guns and drums and wounds -- God save the mark! [3] --
And telling me the sovereignest thing on earth
Was parmacity [4] for an inward bruise,
And that it was great pity, so it was,
This villainous saltpetre should be digged
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroyed
So cowardly, and but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.
This bald [5] unjointed chat of his, my lord,
I answered indirectly, as I said,
And I beseech you, let not his report
Come current [6] for an accusation
Betwixt my love and your high majesty.

1 perfume box

2 affected and effeminate

3 avert anything so ridiculous

4 spermaceti ointment

5 trivial

6 be accepted

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