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HENRY IV. Henry, Duke of Lancaster, surnamed Bolingbroke, was son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, third son of Edward III., king of England. Richard II. was the predecessor of Henry IV. Richard was the rightful king, but he had no talent for government, and during his reign all England was in a state of confusion and civil warfare. Richard was, in consequence of his mis-government, deposed and thrown into prison. He was a son of Edward, called from the black armour which he wore, the Black Prince. The Black Prince was the eldest son of Edward III., the duke of Clarence was his second son, and John of Gaunt the third. When Richard was deposed, a descendant of the duke of Clarence, Mortimer, duke of York, was the legal successor to the throne, but Henry Bolingbroke set aside Mortimer's claim, and caused himself to be crowned King. Henry IV. died March, 1413, in the 14th year of his reign.
At the age of twenty-five Henry V. succeeded his father. During his short reign of nine years he exhibited such qualities as are much admired in a rude, age. He possessed great personal courage, a spirit of military enterprise, talent for command, and patient perseverance in the accomplishment of his purposes. According to history, his deportment was singularly graceful and dignified, and his power of self-government even more extraordinarythan his control of other men.
Shakspeare, in the last act of Henry IV. has given a very touching scene—it is the closing one of the king's life, in which he gives his latest counsel to the Prince of Wales. The king being ill, has his crown displaced from his head, and falls asleep. At this moment the prince enters the apartment of his father, and perceiving his condition, tenderly laments it, but removes the crown, and swears to maintain his right to it. The king awakes, eagerly demands who has taken away the crown, and seeing prince Henry, requests to be left alone with him, and they then confer together thus :
HENRY IV. and Prince HENRY.
K. Hen. Come hither to me, Harry.
P. Hen. I never thought to hear you speak again.
K. Hen. Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought:
I stay too long by thee, I weary thee.
Dost thou so hunger for my empty chair,
That thou wilt needs invest thee with mine honours
Before thy hour be ripe? O foolish youth!
Thou seek'st the greatness that will overwhelm thee.
Stay but a little ; for my cloud of dignity
Is held from falling with so weak a wind,
That it will quickly drop: my day is dim.
Thou hast stol'n that, which, after some few hours,
Were thine without offence; and, at my death,
Thou hast seal'd up my expectation :
Thy life did manifest, thou lov’dst me not,
And thou wilt have me die assured of it.
Thou hid’st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts ;
Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart,
To stab at half an hour of my life.
What! can’st thou not forbear me half an hour !
Then get thee gone ; and dig my grave thyself;
And bid the merry bells ring to thine ear,
That thou art crowned, not that I am dead.
Let all the tears that should bedew my hearse,
Be drops of balm, to sanctify thy head :
Only compound me with forgotten dust;
Give that, which gave thee life, unto the worms.
Pluck down my officers, break my decrees;
For now the time is come to mock at form,
Harry the fifth is crown'd :--Up, vanity!
Down, royal state! all you sage counsellors, hence!
And to the English court asseinble now,
From every region, apes of idleness!
Now, neighbour confines, purge you of your scum :
Have you a ruffian, that will swear, drink, dance,
Revel the night; rob, murder, and commit
The oldest sins the newest kind of ways ?
Be happy, he will trouble you no more:
England shall double gild his treble guilt;
England shall give him office, honour, might:
For the fifth Harry from curb'd licence plucks
The muzzle of restraint, and the wild dog
Shall flesh his tooth in every innocent.
O my poor kingdom, sick with civil blows !
When that my care could not withhold thy riots,
What wilt thou do, when riot is thy care ?
O, thou wilt be a wilderness again,
Peopled with wolves, thy old inhabitants !
P. Hen. 0, pardon me, my liege! but for my tears,
The moist impediments unto my speech, [Kneeling.
I had forestall’d this dear and deep rebuke,
Ere you with grief had spoke, and I had heard
The course of it so far. There is your crown ;
And He that wears the crown immortally,
Long guard it yours! If I affect it more,
Than as your honour, and as your renown,
Let me no more from this obedience rise,
(Which my most true and inward-duteous spirit
Teacheth,) this prostrate and exterior bending!
Heaven witness with me, when I here came in,
And found no course of breath within your majesty,
How cold it struck my heart! if I do feign,
0, let me in my present wildness die;
And never live to show th' incredulous world
The noble change that I have purposed !
Coming to look on you, thinking you dead,
(And dead almost, my liege, to think you were,)
I spake unto the crown, as having sense,
And thus upbraided it. The care on thee depending,
Hath fed upon the body of my father ;
Therefore, thou, best of gold, art worst of gold.
And thou, most fine, most honour'd, most renown'd,
Hast eat thy bearer up. Thus, my most royal liege,
Accusing it, I put it on my head;
To try with it, -as with an enemy,
That had before my face murdered my father,
The quarrel of a true inheritor.
But if it did infect my blood with joy,
Or swell my thoughts to any strain of pride;
If any rebel or vain spirit of mine
Did, with the least affection of a welcome,
Give entertainment to the might of it,
Let God for ever keep it from my head !
And make me as the poorest vassal is,
That doth with awe and terror kneel to it!
K. Hen. O my son!
Heaven put it in thy mind, to take it hence,
That thou might'st win the more thy father's love,
Pleading so wisely in excuse of it.
Come hither, Harry, sit thou by my bed;
And hear, I think, the very latest counsel
That ever I shall breathe. Heaven knows, my son,
By what by-paths, and indirect, crook'd ways,
I met this crown; and I myself know well,
How troublesome it sat upon my head :
To thee it shall descend with better quiet,
Better opinion, better confirmation;
For all the soil of the achievement goes
With me into the earth. It seem'd in me,
But as an honour snatch'd with boist'rous hand;
And I had many living, to upbraid
My gain of it by their assistances;
Which daily grew to quarrel, and to bloodshed.
What in me was purchas’d,
Falls upon thee in a more fairer sort;
So thou the garland wear'st successively.
Yet, though thou stand'st more sure than I could do,
Thou art not firm enough, since griefs are green;
And all thy friends, which thou must make thy friends,
Have but their stings and teeth newly ta'en out;
By whose fell working I was first advanc'd,
And by whose power I well might lodge a fear
To be again displac'd: which to avoid,
I cut them off; and had a purpose now
To lead out many to the Holy Land;
Lest rest, and lying still, might make them look
Too near unto my state. Therefore, my Harry,
Be it thy course, to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the inemory of the former days.
More would I, but my lungs are wasted so,
That strength of speech is utterly denied me.
How I came by the crown, O God, forgive!
And grant it may with thee in true peace live!
P. Hen. My gracious liege,
You won it, wore it, kept it, gave it me;
Then plain, and right, must my possession be:
Which I, with more than with a common pain,
'Gainst all the world will rightfully maintain.
What in me was purchas'd, &c.—The royal dignity which I possess was obtained by artifice—it is not my right, and I have held it precariously, and in fear. Thou the garland wear'st successively. The crown devolves to thee from thy father—thy hereditary right is established, and thou art secure in it.
HENRY V. The noble change that he had purposed, as he bound his brows with the crown of his dying father, was exemplified in Prince Henry when he became King of England. One circumstance of his public conduct, which is finely, exhibited by Shakspeare, is illustrative of his respect for the constitution and laws of his kingdom, and as an example of his disinterestedness and veneration for justice, does honour to his memory.
"Henry the Fifth, when'Prince of Wales, was wild, and in the disgraceful society of Sir John Falstaff, Poins, and other idlers, committed several offences against the laws. Some of his attendants had been taken up by the officers of justice, for a riot, and were brought before the chief justice, Sir William Gascoigne. While they were in court, prince Henry came, and rudely demanded that they should be released. The chief justice refused. The