Henry IV Part 2
How we cite our quotes:
PRINCE HENRY No; I will sit and watch here by the king.
Thy due from me
Is tears and heavy sorrows of the blood,
Which nature, love, and filial tenderness,
Shall, O dear father, pay thee plenteously:
My due from thee is this imperial crown,
Which, as immediate as thy place and blood,
Derives itself to me. Lo, here it sits,
Which God shall guard: and put the world's whole strength
Into one giant arm, it shall not force
This lineal honour from me: this from thee
Will I to mine leave, as 'tis left to me.(4.3.3)
This is a rather tender moment, wouldn't you say? Here, Prince Hal sits beside his slumbering father and promises to defend the crown when he is king. Unfortunately, the king is sleeping when his son pours his heart out.
I never thought to hear you speak again.
KING HENRY IV
Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought:
I stay too long by thee, I weary thee.
Dost thou so hunger for mine empty chair
That thou wilt needs invest thee with my honours
Before thy hour be ripe? O foolish youth!
Thou seek'st the greatness that will o'erwhelm 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 stolen 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 lovedst me not,
And thou wilt have me die assured of it.
Thou hidest a thousand daggers in thy thoughts,
Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart,
To stab at half an hour of my life. (4.5.4)
In one of the play's most striking moments, Prince Hal, thinking his father has died, takes the royal crown and leaves the room. When the king wakes up from his nap, he's ticked and goes off on his son, accusing Hal of hiding a "thousand daggers" in his "thoughts." In other words, Henry has always suspected that Hal doesn't love him and wants to see him dead so he, Hal, can get his hands on the crown. (Apparently, Henry has forgotten all about how Hal saved his life during battle in act five of Henry IV Part 1.)
This passage speaks to the delicacy of lineal succession and the consequences of primogeniture (the system by which eldest sons inherit their fathers' wealth, titles, lands, power, debt, etc.). As long as one's father is alive, a son has limited power and wealth, which can strain even the best father-son relationships. Shakespeare explores the idea that all sons (not just princes who stand to inherit kingdoms) inevitably look forward to their fathers' deaths in other plays as well – particularly Hamlet and King Lear.
We also want to point out Henry's witty remark that Hal "fathered" the idea that King Henry was dead. In other words, Henry claims that Hal "wish[ed]" his father was dead and, was therefore, quick to imagine that the old man had passed away when, in fact, he was only sleeping.
O, pardon me, my liege! but for my tears,
The moist impediments unto my speech,
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! […] (4.5.5).
Hmm. Hal seems sincere when he apologizes to his father for laying claim to the crown prematurely. What do you think? Should we believe him?