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Henry V

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 Enter Chorus 
Chorus Now entertain conjecture of a time 
 When creeping murmur and the poring dark 
 Fills the wide vessel of the universe. 
 From camp to camp through the foul womb of night 5
 The hum of either army stilly sounds, 
 That the fixed sentinels almost receive 
 The secret whispers of each other's watch: 
 Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames 
 Each battle sees the other's umber'd face; 10
 Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs 
 Piercing the night's dull ear, and from the tents 
 The armourers, accomplishing the knights, 
 With busy hammers closing rivets up, 
 Give dreadful note of preparation: 15
 The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll, 
 And the third hour of drowsy morning name. 
 Proud of their numbers and secure in soul, 
 The confident and over-lusty French 
 Do the low-rated English play at dice; 20
 And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night 
 Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp 
 So tediously away. The poor condemned English, 
 Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires 
 Sit patiently and inly ruminate 25
 The morning's danger, and their gesture sad 
 Investing lank-lean; cheeks and war-worn coats 
 Presenteth them unto the gazing moon 
 So many horrid ghosts. O now, who will behold 
 The royal captain of this ruin'd band 30
 Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent, 
 Let him cry 'Praise and glory on his head!' 
 For forth he goes and visits all his host. 
 Bids them good morrow with a modest smile 
 And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen. 35
 Upon his royal face there is no note 
 How dread an army hath enrounded him; 
 Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour 
 Unto the weary and all-watched night, 
 But freshly looks and over-bears attaint 40
 With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty; 
 That every wretch, pining and pale before, 
 Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks: 
 A largess universal like the sun 
 His liberal eye doth give to every one, 45
 Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all, 
 Behold, as may unworthiness define, 
 A little touch of Harry in the night. 
 And so our scene must to the battle fly; 
 Where--O for pity!--we shall much disgrace 50
 With four or five most vile and ragged foils, 
 Right ill-disposed in brawl ridiculous, 
 The name of Agincourt. Yet sit and see, 
 Minding true things by what their mockeries be. 
ACT IV SCENE I The English camp at Agincourt. 55
KING HENRY V Gloucester, 'tis true that we are in great danger; 
 The greater therefore should our courage be. 
 Good morrow, brother Bedford. God Almighty! 
 There is some soul of goodness in things evil, 
 Would men observingly distil it out. 60
 For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers, 
 Which is both healthful and good husbandry: 
 Besides, they are our outward consciences, 
 And preachers to us all, admonishing 
 That we should dress us fairly for our end. 65
 Thus may we gather honey from the weed, 
 And make a moral of the devil himself. 
 Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham: 
 A good soft pillow for that good white head 
 Were better than a churlish turf of France. 70
ERPINGHAM Not so, my liege: this lodging likes me better, 
 Since I may say 'Now lie I like a king.' 
KING HENRY V 'Tis good for men to love their present pains 
 Upon example; so the spirit is eased: 
 And when the mind is quicken'd, out of doubt, 75
 The organs, though defunct and dead before, 
 Break up their drowsy grave and newly move, 
 With casted slough and fresh legerity. 
 Lend me thy cloak, Sir Thomas. Brothers both, 
 Commend me to the princes in our camp; 80
 Do my good morrow to them, and anon 
 Desire them an to my pavilion. 
GLOUCESTER We shall, my liege. 
ERPINGHAM Shall I attend your grace? 
KING HENRY V No, my good knight; 85
 Go with my brothers to my lords of England: 
 I and my bosom must debate awhile, 
 And then I would no other company. 
ERPINGHAM The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry! 
 Exeunt all but KING HENRY. 
KING HENRY V God-a-mercy, old heart! thou speak'st cheerfully. 90
 Enter PISTOL 
PISTOL Qui va la? 
KING HENRY V A friend. 
PISTOL Discuss unto me; art thou officer? 
 Or art thou base, common and popular? 
KING HENRY V I am a gentleman of a company. 95
PISTOL Trail'st thou the puissant pike? 
KING HENRY V Even so. What are you? 
PISTOL As good a gentleman as the emperor. 
KING HENRY V Then you are a better than the king. 
PISTOL The king's a bawcock, and a heart of gold, 100
 A lad of life, an imp of fame; 
 Of parents good, of fist most valiant. 
 I kiss his dirty shoe, and from heart-string 
 I love the lovely bully. What is thy name? 
KING HENRY V Harry le Roy. 105
PISTOL Le Roy! a Cornish name: art thou of Cornish crew? 
KING HENRY V No, I am a Welshman. 
PISTOL Know'st thou Fluellen? 
PISTOL Tell him, I'll knock his leek about his pate 110
 Upon Saint Davy's day. 
KING HENRY V Do not you wear your dagger in your cap that day, 
 lest he knock that about yours. 
PISTOL Art thou his friend? 
KING HENRY V And his kinsman too. 115
PISTOL The figo for thee, then! 
KING HENRY V I thank you: God be with you! 
PISTOL My name is Pistol call'd. 
KING HENRY V It sorts well with your fierceness. 
GOWER Captain Fluellen! 120
FLUELLEN So! in the name of Jesu Christ, speak lower. It is 
 the greatest admiration of the universal world, when 
 the true and aunchient prerogatifes and laws of the 
 wars is not kept: if you would take the pains but to 

examine the wars of Pompey the Great, you shall
 find, I warrant you, that there is no tiddle toddle 
 nor pibble pabble in Pompey's camp; I warrant you, 
 you shall find the ceremonies of the wars, and the 
 cares of it, and the forms of it, and the sobriety 
 of it, and the modesty of it, to be otherwise. 130
GOWER Why, the enemy is loud; you hear him all night. 
FLUELLEN If the enemy is an ass and a fool and a prating 
 coxcomb, is it meet, think you, that we should also, 
 look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating 
 coxcomb? in your own conscience, now? 135
GOWER I will speak lower. 
FLUELLEN I pray you and beseech you that you will. 
 Exeunt GOWER and FLUELLEN. 
KING HENRY V Though it appear a little out of fashion, 
 There is much care and valour in this Welshman. 
COURT Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which 140
 breaks yonder? 
BATES I think it be: but we have no great cause to desire 
 the approach of day. 
WILLIAMS We see yonder the beginning of the day, but I think 
 we shall never see the end of it. Who goes there? 145
KING HENRY V A friend. 
WILLIAMS Under what captain serve you? 
KING HENRY V Under Sir Thomas Erpingham. 
WILLIAMS A good old commander and a most kind gentleman: I 
 pray you, what thinks he of our estate? 150
KING HENRY V Even as men wrecked upon a sand, that look to be 
 washed off the next tide. 
BATES He hath not told his thought to the king? 
KING HENRY V No; nor it is not meet he should. For, though I 
 speak it to you, I think the king is but a man, as I 155
 am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the 
 element shows to him as it doth to me; all his 
 senses have but human conditions: his ceremonies 
 laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and 
 though his affections are higher mounted than ours, 160
 yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like 
 wing. Therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we 
 do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish 
 as ours are: yet, in reason, no man should possess 
 him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing 165
 it, should dishearten his army. 
BATES He may show what outward courage he will; but I 
 believe, as cold a night as 'tis, he could wish 
 himself in Thames up to the neck; and so I would he 
 were, and I by him, at all adventures, so we were quit here. 170
KING HENRY V By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the king: 
 I think he would not wish himself any where but 
 where he is. 
BATES Then I would he were here alone; so should he be 
 sure to be ransomed, and a many poor men's lives saved. 175
KING HENRY V I dare say you love him not so ill, to wish him here 
 alone, howsoever you speak this to feel other men's 
 minds: methinks I could not die any where so 
 contented as in the king's company; his cause being 
 just and his quarrel honourable. 180
WILLIAMS That's more than we know. 
BATES Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know 
 enough, if we know we are the kings subjects: if 
 his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes 
 the crime of it out of us. 185
WILLIAMS But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath 
 a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and 
 arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join 
 together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at 
 such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a 190
 surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind 
 them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their 
 children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die 
 well that die in a battle; for how can they 
 charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their 195
 argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it 
 will be a black matter for the king that led them to 
 it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of 
KING HENRY V So, if a son that is by his father sent about 200
 merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the 
 imputation of his wickedness by your rule, should be 
 imposed upon his father that sent him: or if a 
 servant, under his master's command transporting a 
 sum of money, be assailed by robbers and die in 205
 many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the 
 business of the master the author of the servant's 
 damnation: but this is not so: the king is not 
 bound to answer the particular endings of his 
 soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of 210
 his servant; for they purpose not their death, when 
 they purpose their services. Besides, there is no 
 king, be his cause never so spotless, if it come to 
 the arbitrement of swords, can try it out with all 
 unspotted soldiers: some peradventure have on them 215
 the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; 
 some, of beguiling virgins with the broken seals of 
 perjury; some, making the wars their bulwark, that 
 have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with 
 pillage and robbery. Now, if these men have 220
 defeated the law and outrun native punishment, 
 though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to 
 fly from God: war is his beadle, war is vengeance; 
 so that here men are punished for before-breach of 
 the king's laws in now the king's quarrel: where 225
 they feared the death, they have borne life away; 
 and where they would be safe, they perish: then if 
 they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of 
 their damnation than he was before guilty of those 
 impieties for the which they are now visited. Every 230
 subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's 
 soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in 
 the wars do as every sick man in his bed, wash every 
 mote out of his conscience: and dying so, death 
 is to him advantage; or not dying, the time was 235
 blessedly lost wherein such preparation was gained: 
 and in him that escapes, it were not sin to think 
 that, making God so free an offer, He let him 
 outlive that day to see His greatness and to teach 
 others how they should prepare. 240
WILLIAMS 'Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill upon 
 his own head, the king is not to answer it. 
BATES But I do not desire he should answer for me; and 
 yet I determine to fight lustily for him. 
KING HENRY V I myself heard the king say he would not be ransomed. 245
WILLIAMS Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully: but 
 when our throats are cut, he may be ransomed, and we 
 ne'er the wiser. 
KING HENRY V If I live to see it, I will never trust his word after. 
WILLIAMS You pay him then. That's a perilous shot out of an 250
 elder-gun, that a poor and private displeasure can 
 do against a monarch! you may as well go about to 
 turn the sun to ice with fanning in his face with a 
 peacock's feather. You'll never trust his word 
 after! come, 'tis a foolish saying. 255
KING HENRY V Your reproof is something too round: I should be 
 angry with you, if the time were convenient. 
WILLIAMS Let it be a quarrel between us, if you live. 
KING HENRY V I embrace it. 
WILLIAMS How shall I know thee again? 260
KING HENRY V Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my 
 bonnet: then, if ever thou darest acknowledge it, I 
 will make it my quarrel. 
WILLIAMS Here's my glove: give me another of thine. 
KING HENRY V There. 265
WILLIAMS This will I also wear in my cap: if ever thou come 
 to me and say, after to-morrow, 'This is my glove,' 
 by this hand, I will take thee a box on the ear. 
KING HENRY V If ever I live to see it, I will challenge it. 
WILLIAMS Thou darest as well be hanged. 270
KING HENRY V Well. I will do it, though I take thee in the 
 king's company. 
WILLIAMS Keep thy word: fare thee well. 
BATES Be friends, you English fools, be friends: we have 
 French quarrels enow, if you could tell how to reckon. 275
KING HENRY V Indeed, the French may lay twenty French crowns to 
 one, they will beat us; for they bear them on their 
 shoulders: but it is no English treason to cut 
 French crowns, and to-morrow the king himself will 
 be a clipper. 280
 Exeunt soldiers. 
 Upon the king! let us our lives, our souls, 
 Our debts, our careful wives, 
 Our children and our sins lay on the king! 
 We must bear all. O hard condition, 
 Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath 285
 Of every fool, whose sense no more can feel 
 But his own wringing! What infinite heart's-ease 
 Must kings neglect, that private men enjoy! 
 And what have kings, that privates have not too, 
 Save ceremony, save general ceremony? 290
 And what art thou, thou idle ceremony? 
 What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st more 
 Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers? 
 What are thy rents? what are thy comings in? 
 O ceremony, show me but thy worth! 295
 What is thy soul of adoration? 
 Art thou aught else but place, degree and form, 
 Creating awe and fear in other men? 
 Wherein thou art less happy being fear'd 
 Than they in fearing. 300
 What drink'st thou oft, instead of homage sweet, 
 But poison'd flattery? O, be sick, great greatness, 
 And bid thy ceremony give thee cure! 
 Think'st thou the fiery fever will go out 
 With titles blown from adulation? 305
 Will it give place to flexure and low bending? 
 Canst thou, when thou command'st the beggar's knee, 
 Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream, 
 That play'st so subtly with a king's repose; 
 I am a king that find thee, and I know 310
 'Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball, 
 The sword, the mace, the crown imperial, 
 The intertissued robe of gold and pearl, 
 The farced title running 'fore the king, 
 The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp 315
 That beats upon the high shore of this world, 
 No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony, 
 Not all these, laid in bed majestical, 
 Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave, 
 Who with a body fill'd and vacant mind 320
 Gets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread; 
 Never sees horrid night, the child of hell, 
 But, like a lackey, from the rise to set 
 Sweats in the eye of Phoebus and all night 
 Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn, 325
 Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse, 
 And follows so the ever-running year, 
 With profitable labour, to his grave: 
 And, but for ceremony, such a wretch, 
 Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep, 330
 Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king. 
 The slave, a member of the country's peace, 
 Enjoys it; but in gross brain little wots 
 What watch the king keeps to maintain the peace, 
 Whose hours the peasant best advantages. 335
ERPINGHAM My lord, your nobles, jealous of your absence, 
 Seek through your camp to find you. 
KING HENRY V Good old knight, 
 Collect them all together at my tent: 
 I'll be before thee. 340
ERPINGHAM I shall do't, my lord. 
KING HENRY V O God of battles! steel my soldiers' hearts; 
 Possess them not with fear; take from them now 
 The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers 
 Pluck their hearts from them. Not to-day, O Lord, 345
 O, not to-day, think not upon the fault 
 My father made in compassing the crown! 
 I Richard's body have interred anew; 
 And on it have bestow'd more contrite tears 
 Than from it issued forced drops of blood: 350
 Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay, 
 Who twice a-day their wither'd hands hold up 
 Toward heaven, to pardon blood; and I have built 
 Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests 
 Sing still for Richard's soul. More will I do; 355
 Though all that I can do is nothing worth, 
 Since that my penitence comes after all, 
 Imploring pardon. 
KING HENRY V My brother Gloucester's voice? Ay; 360
 I know thy errand, I will go with thee: 
 The day, my friends and all things stay for me. 

Henry V, Act 4, Scene 2


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