History of Henry V

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Act I, Scene 1

London. An ante-chamber in the KING’S palace.

       
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[Enter the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, and the BISHOP OF ELY]

  • Archbishop of Canterbury. My lord, I'll tell you; that self bill is urged,
    Which in the eleventh year of the last king's reign
    Was like, and had indeed against us pass'd, 40
    But that the scambling and unquiet time
    Did push it out of farther question.
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
    We lose the better half of our possession: 45
    For all the temporal lands which men devout
    By testament have given to the church
    Would they strip from us; being valued thus:
    As much as would maintain, to the king's honour,
    Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights, 50
    Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
    And, to relief of lazars and weak age,
    Of indigent faint souls past corporal toil.
    A hundred almshouses right well supplied;
    And to the coffers of the king beside, 55
    A thousand pounds by the year: thus runs the bill.
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. The courses of his youth promised it not.
    The breath no sooner left his father's body,
    But that his wildness, mortified in him,
    Seem'd to die too; yea, at that very moment 65
    Consideration, like an angel, came
    And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him,
    Leaving his body as a paradise,
    To envelop and contain celestial spirits.
    Never was such a sudden scholar made; 70
    Never came reformation in a flood,
    With such a heady currance, scouring faults
    Nor never Hydra-headed wilfulness
    So soon did lose his seat and all at once
    As in this king. 75
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. Hear him but reason in divinity,
    And all-admiring with an inward wish
    You would desire the king were made a prelate:
    Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs, 80
    You would say it hath been all in all his study:
    List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
    A fearful battle render'd you in music:
    Turn him to any cause of policy,
    The Gordian knot of it he will unloose, 85
    Familiar as his garter: that, when he speaks,
    The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
    And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears,
    To steal his sweet and honey'd sentences;
    So that the art and practic part of life 90
    Must be the mistress to this theoric:
    Which is a wonder how his grace should glean it,
    Since his addiction was to courses vain,
    His companies unletter'd, rude and shallow,
    His hours fill'd up with riots, banquets, sports, 95
    And never noted in him any study,
    Any retirement, any sequestration
    From open haunts and popularity.
  • Bishop of Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle
    And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best 100
    Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality:
    And so the prince obscured his contemplation
    Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt,
    Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
    Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty. 105
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. It must be so; for miracles are ceased;
    And therefore we must needs admit the means
    How things are perfected.
  • Bishop of Ely. But, my good lord,
    How now for mitigation of this bill 110
    Urged by the commons? Doth his majesty
    Incline to it, or no?
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. He seems indifferent,
    Or rather swaying more upon our part
    Than cherishing the exhibiters against us; 115
    For I have made an offer to his majesty,
    Upon our spiritual convocation
    And in regard of causes now in hand,
    Which I have open'd to his grace at large,
    As touching France, to give a greater sum 120
    Than ever at one time the clergy yet
    Did to his predecessors part withal.
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. With good acceptance of his majesty;
    Save that there was not time enough to hear, 125
    As I perceived his grace would fain have done,
    The severals and unhidden passages
    Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms
    And generally to the crown and seat of France
    Derived from Edward, his great-grandfather. 130
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. The French ambassador upon that instant
    Craved audience; and the hour, I think, is come
    To give him hearing: is it four o'clock?
  • Archbishop of Canterbury. Then go we in, to know his embassy;
    Which I could with a ready guess declare,
    Before the Frenchman speak a word of it.

[Exeunt]

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