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Henry V

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ACT I SCENE II The same. The Presence chamber. 
KING HENRY V Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury? 
EXETER Not here in presence. 
KING HENRY V Send for him, good uncle. 
WESTMORELAND Shall we call in the ambassador, my liege? 5
KING HENRY V Not yet, my cousin: we would be resolved, 
 Before we hear him, of some things of weight 
 That task our thoughts, concerning us and France. 
CANTERBURY God and his angels guard your sacred throne 
 And make you long become it! 10
KING HENRY V Sure, we thank you. 
 My learned lord, we pray you to proceed 
 And justly and religiously unfold 
 Why the law Salique that they have in France 
 Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim: 15
 And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord, 
 That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your reading, 
 Or nicely charge your understanding soul 
 With opening titles miscreate, whose right 
 Suits not in native colours with the truth; 20
 For God doth know how many now in health 
 Shall drop their blood in approbation 
 Of what your reverence shall incite us to. 
 Therefore take heed how you impawn our person, 
 How you awake our sleeping sword of war: 25
 We charge you, in the name of God, take heed; 
 For never two such kingdoms did contend 
 Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless drops 
 Are every one a woe, a sore complaint 
 'Gainst him whose wrong gives edge unto the swords 30
 That make such waste in brief mortality. 
 Under this conjuration, speak, my lord; 
 For we will hear, note and believe in heart 
 That what you speak is in your conscience wash'd 
 As pure as sin with baptism. 35
CANTERBURY Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers, 
 That owe yourselves, your lives and services 
 To this imperial throne. There is no bar 
 To make against your highness' claim to France 
 But this, which they produce from Pharamond, 40
 'In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant:' 
 'No woman shall succeed in Salique land:' 
 Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze 
 To be the realm of France, and Pharamond 
 The founder of this law and female bar. 45
 Yet their own authors faithfully affirm 
 That the land Salique is in Germany, 
 Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe; 
 Where Charles the Great, having subdued the Saxons, 
 There left behind and settled certain French; 50
 Who, holding in disdain the German women 
 For some dishonest manners of their life, 
 Establish'd then this law; to wit, no female 
 Should be inheritrix in Salique land: 
 Which Salique, as I said, 'twixt Elbe and Sala, 55
 Is at this day in Germany call'd Meisen. 
 Then doth it well appear that Salique law 
 Was not devised for the realm of France: 
 Nor did the French possess the Salique land 
 Until four hundred one and twenty years 60
 After defunction of King Pharamond, 
 Idly supposed the founder of this law; 
 Who died within the year of our redemption 
 Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great 
 Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French 65
 Beyond the river Sala, in the year 
 Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say, 
 King Pepin, which deposed Childeric, 
 Did, as heir general, being descended 
 Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair, 70
 Make claim and title to the crown of France. 
 Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown 
 Of Charles the duke of Lorraine, sole heir male 
 Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great, 
 To find his title with some shows of truth, 75
 'Through, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught, 
 Convey'd himself as heir to the Lady Lingare, 
 Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son 
 To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son 
 Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth, 80
 Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet, 
 Could not keep quiet in his conscience, 
 Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied 
 That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother, 
 Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare, 85
 Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorraine: 
 By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great 
 Was re-united to the crown of France. 
 So that, as clear as is the summer's sun. 
 King Pepin's title and Hugh Capet's claim, 90
 King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear 
 To hold in right and title of the female: 
 So do the kings of France unto this day; 
 Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law 
 To bar your highness claiming from the female, 95
 And rather choose to hide them in a net 
 Than amply to imbar their crooked titles 
 Usurp'd from you and your progenitors. 
KING HENRY V May I with right and conscience make this claim? 
CANTERBURY The sin upon my head, dread sovereign! 100
 For in the book of Numbers is it writ, 
 When the man dies, let the inheritance 

Descend unto the daughter. Gracious lord,
 Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag; 
 Look back into your mighty ancestors: 105
 Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire's tomb, 
 From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit, 
 And your great-uncle's, Edward the Black Prince, 
 Who on the French ground play'd a tragedy, 
 Making defeat on the full power of France, 110
 Whiles his most mighty father on a hill 
 Stood smiling to behold his lion's whelp 
 Forage in blood of French nobility. 
 O noble English. that could entertain 
 With half their forces the full Pride of France 115
 And let another half stand laughing by, 
 All out of work and cold for action! 
ELY Awake remembrance of these valiant dead 
 And with your puissant arm renew their feats: 
 You are their heir; you sit upon their throne; 120
 The blood and courage that renowned them 
 Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege 
 Is in the very May-morn of his youth, 
 Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises. 
EXETER Your brother kings and monarchs of the earth 125
 Do all expect that you should rouse yourself, 
 As did the former lions of your blood. 
WESTMORELAND They know your grace hath cause and means and might; 
 So hath your highness; never king of England 
 Had nobles richer and more loyal subjects, 130
 Whose hearts have left their bodies here in England 
 And lie pavilion'd in the fields of France. 
CANTERBURY O, let their bodies follow, my dear liege, 
 With blood and sword and fire to win your right; 
 In aid whereof we of the spiritualty 135
 Will raise your highness such a mighty sum 
 As never did the clergy at one time 
 Bring in to any of your ancestors. 
KING HENRY V We must not only arm to invade the French, 
 But lay down our proportions to defend 140
 Against the Scot, who will make road upon us 
 With all advantages. 
CANTERBURY They of those marches, gracious sovereign, 
 Shall be a wall sufficient to defend 
 Our inland from the pilfering borderers. 145
KING HENRY V We do not mean the coursing snatchers only, 
 But fear the main intendment of the Scot, 
 Who hath been still a giddy neighbour to us; 
 For you shall read that my great-grandfather 
 Never went with his forces into France 150
 But that the Scot on his unfurnish'd kingdom 
 Came pouring, like the tide into a breach, 
 With ample and brim fulness of his force, 
 Galling the gleaned land with hot assays, 
 Girding with grievous siege castles and towns; 155
 That England, being empty of defence, 
 Hath shook and trembled at the ill neighbourhood. 
CANTERBURY She hath been then more fear'd than harm'd, my liege; 
 For hear her but exampled by herself: 
 When all her chivalry hath been in France 160
 And she a mourning widow of her nobles, 
 She hath herself not only well defended 
 But taken and impounded as a stray 
 The King of Scots; whom she did send to France, 
 To fill King Edward's fame with prisoner kings 165
 And make her chronicle as rich with praise 
 As is the ooze and bottom of the sea 
 With sunken wreck and sunless treasuries. 
WESTMORELAND But there's a saying very old and true, 
 'If that you will France win, 170
 Then with Scotland first begin:' 
 For once the eagle England being in prey, 
 To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot 
 Comes sneaking and so sucks her princely eggs, 
 Playing the mouse in absence of the cat, 175
 To tear and havoc more than she can eat. 
EXETER It follows then the cat must stay at home: 
 Yet that is but a crush'd necessity, 
 Since we have locks to safeguard necessaries, 
 And pretty traps to catch the petty thieves. 180
 While that the armed hand doth fight abroad, 
 The advised head defends itself at home; 
 For government, though high and low and lower, 
 Put into parts, doth keep in one consent, 
 Congreeing in a full and natural close, 185
 Like music. 
CANTERBURY Therefore doth heaven divide 
 The state of man in divers functions, 
 Setting endeavour in continual motion; 
 To which is fixed, as an aim or butt, 190
 Obedience: for so work the honey-bees, 
 Creatures that by a rule in nature teach 
 The act of order to a peopled kingdom. 
 They have a king and officers of sorts; 
 Where some, like magistrates, correct at home, 195
 Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad, 
 Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings, 
 Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds, 
 Which pillage they with merry march bring home 
 To the tent-royal of their emperor; 200
 Who, busied in his majesty, surveys 
 The singing masons building roofs of gold, 
 The civil citizens kneading up the honey, 
 The poor mechanic porters crowding in 
 Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate, 205
 The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum, 
 Delivering o'er to executors pale 
 The lazy yawning drone. I this infer, 
 That many things, having full reference 
 To one consent, may work contrariously: 210
 As many arrows, loosed several ways, 
 Come to one mark; as many ways meet in one town; 
 As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea; 
 As many lines close in the dial's centre; 
 So may a thousand actions, once afoot. 215
 End in one purpose, and be all well borne 
 Without defeat. Therefore to France, my liege. 
 Divide your happy England into four; 
 Whereof take you one quarter into France, 
 And you withal shall make all Gallia shake. 220
 If we, with thrice such powers left at home, 
 Cannot defend our own doors from the dog, 
 Let us be worried and our nation lose 
 The name of hardiness and policy. 
KING HENRY V Call in the messengers sent from the Dauphin. 225
 Exeunt some Attendants 
 Now are we well resolved; and, by God's help, 
 And yours, the noble sinews of our power, 
 France being ours, we'll bend it to our awe, 
 Or break it all to pieces: or there we'll sit, 
 Ruling in large and ample empery 230
 O'er France and all her almost kingly dukedoms, 
 Or lay these bones in an unworthy urn, 
 Tombless, with no remembrance over them: 
 Either our history shall with full mouth 
 Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave, 235
 Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth, 
 Not worshipp'd with a waxen epitaph. 
 Enter Ambassadors of France 
 Now are we well prepared to know the pleasure 
 Of our fair cousin Dauphin; for we hear 
 Your greeting is from him, not from the king. 240
First Ambassador May't please your majesty to give us leave 
 Freely to render what we have in charge; 
 Or shall we sparingly show you far off 
 The Dauphin's meaning and our embassy? 
KING HENRY V We are no tyrant, but a Christian king; 245
 Unto whose grace our passion is as subject 
 As are our wretches fetter'd in our prisons: 
 Therefore with frank and with uncurbed plainness 
 Tell us the Dauphin's mind. 
First Ambassador Thus, then, in few. 250
 Your highness, lately sending into France, 
 Did claim some certain dukedoms, in the right 
 Of your great predecessor, King Edward the Third. 
 In answer of which claim, the prince our master 
 Says that you savour too much of your youth, 255
 And bids you be advised there's nought in France 
 That can be with a nimble galliard won; 
 You cannot revel into dukedoms there. 
 He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit, 
 This tun of treasure; and, in lieu of this, 260
 Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim 
 Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks. 
KING HENRY V What treasure, uncle? 
EXETER Tennis-balls, my liege. 
KING HENRY V We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us; 265
 His present and your pains we thank you for: 
 When we have march'd our rackets to these balls, 
 We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set 
 Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard. 
 Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler 270
 That all the courts of France will be disturb'd 
 With chaces. And we understand him well, 
 How he comes o'er us with our wilder days, 
 Not measuring what use we made of them. 
 We never valued this poor seat of England; 275
 And therefore, living hence, did give ourself 
 To barbarous licence; as 'tis ever common 
 That men are merriest when they are from home. 
 But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state, 
 Be like a king and show my sail of greatness 280
 When I do rouse me in my throne of France: 
 For that I have laid by my majesty 
 And plodded like a man for working-days, 
 But I will rise there with so full a glory 
 That I will dazzle all the eyes of France, 285
 Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us. 
 And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his 
 Hath turn'd his balls to gun-stones; and his soul 
 Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance 
 That shall fly with them: for many a thousand widows 290
 Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands; 
 Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down; 
 And some are yet ungotten and unborn 
 That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin's scorn. 
 But this lies all within the will of God, 295
 To whom I do appeal; and in whose name 
 Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on, 
 To venge me as I may and to put forth 
 My rightful hand in a well-hallow'd cause. 
 So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin 300
 His jest will savour but of shallow wit, 
 When thousands weep more than did laugh at it. 
 Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well. 
 Exeunt Ambassadors 
EXETER This was a merry message. 
KING HENRY V We hope to make the sender blush at it. 305
 Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour 
 That may give furtherance to our expedition; 
 For we have now no thought in us but France, 
 Save those to God, that run before our business. 
 Therefore let our proportions for these wars 310
 Be soon collected and all things thought upon 
 That may with reasonable swiftness add 
 More feathers to our wings; for, God before, 
 We'll chide this Dauphin at his father's door. 
 Therefore let every man now task his thought, 315
 That this fair action may on foot be brought. 
 Exeunt. Flourish 

Henry V, Act 2, Scene 1


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