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History of Henry V

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Act II, Scene 4

France. The KING’S palace.


[Flourish. Enter the FRENCH KING, the DAUPHIN, the] [p]DUKES of BERRI and BRETAGNE, the Constable, and others]

  • King of France. Thus comes the English with full power upon us;
    And more than carefully it us concerns
    To answer royally in our defences.
    Therefore the Dukes of Berri and of Bretagne, 900
    Of Brabant and of Orleans, shall make forth,
    And you, Prince Dauphin, with all swift dispatch,
    To line and new repair our towns of war
    With men of courage and with means defendant;
    For England his approaches makes as fierce 905
    As waters to the sucking of a gulf.
    It fits us then to be as provident
    As fear may teach us out of late examples
    Left by the fatal and neglected English
    Upon our fields. 910
  • Lewis the Dauphin. My most redoubted father,
    It is most meet we arm us 'gainst the foe;
    For peace itself should not so dull a kingdom,
    Though war nor no known quarrel were in question,
    But that defences, musters, preparations, 915
    Should be maintain'd, assembled and collected,
    As were a war in expectation.
    Therefore, I say 'tis meet we all go forth
    To view the sick and feeble parts of France:
    And let us do it with no show of fear; 920
    No, with no more than if we heard that England
    Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance:
    For, my good liege, she is so idly king'd,
    Her sceptre so fantastically borne
    By a vain, giddy, shallow, humorous youth, 925
    That fear attends her not.
  • Constable of France. O peace, Prince Dauphin!
    You are too much mistaken in this king:
    Question your grace the late ambassadors,
    With what great state he heard their embassy, 930
    How well supplied with noble counsellors,
    How modest in exception, and withal
    How terrible in constant resolution,
    And you shall find his vanities forespent
    Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus, 935
    Covering discretion with a coat of folly;
    As gardeners do with ordure hide those roots
    That shall first spring and be most delicate.
  • Lewis the Dauphin. Well, 'tis not so, my lord high constable;
    But though we think it so, it is no matter: 940
    In cases of defence 'tis best to weigh
    The enemy more mighty than he seems:
    So the proportions of defence are fill'd;
    Which of a weak or niggardly projection
    Doth, like a miser, spoil his coat with scanting 945
    A little cloth.
  • King of France. Think we King Harry strong;
    And, princes, look you strongly arm to meet him.
    The kindred of him hath been flesh'd upon us;
    And he is bred out of that bloody strain 950
    That haunted us in our familiar paths:
    Witness our too much memorable shame
    When Cressy battle fatally was struck,
    And all our princes captiv'd by the hand
    Of that black name, Edward, Black Prince of Wales; 955
    Whiles that his mountain sire, on mountain standing,
    Up in the air, crown'd with the golden sun,
    Saw his heroical seed, and smiled to see him,
    Mangle the work of nature and deface
    The patterns that by God and by French fathers 960
    Had twenty years been made. This is a stem
    Of that victorious stock; and let us fear
    The native mightiness and fate of him.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. Ambassadors from Harry King of England 965
    Do crave admittance to your majesty.
  • King of France. We'll give them present audience. Go, and bring them.
    [Exeunt Messenger and certain Lords]
    You see this chase is hotly follow'd, friends.
  • Lewis the Dauphin. Turn head, and stop pursuit; for coward dogs 970
    Most spend their mouths when what they seem to threaten
    Runs far before them. Good my sovereign,
    Take up the English short, and let them know
    Of what a monarchy you are the head:
    Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin 975
    As self-neglecting.

[Re-enter Lords, with EXETER and train]

  • Duke of Exeter. From him; and thus he greets your majesty.
    He wills you, in the name of God Almighty, 980
    That you divest yourself, and lay apart
    The borrow'd glories that by gift of heaven,
    By law of nature and of nations, 'long
    To him and to his heirs; namely, the crown
    And all wide-stretched honours that pertain 985
    By custom and the ordinance of times
    Unto the crown of France. That you may know
    'Tis no sinister nor no awkward claim,
    Pick'd from the worm-holes of long-vanish'd days,
    Nor from the dust of old oblivion raked, 990
    He sends you this most memorable line,
    In every branch truly demonstrative;
    Willing to overlook this pedigree:
    And when you find him evenly derived
    From his most famed of famous ancestors, 995
    Edward the Third, he bids you then resign
    Your crown and kingdom, indirectly held
    From him the native and true challenger.
  • Duke of Exeter. Bloody constraint; for if you hide the crown 1000
    Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it:
    Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,
    In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove,
    That, if requiring fail, he will compel;
    And bids you, in the bowels of the Lord, 1005
    Deliver up the crown, and to take mercy
    On the poor souls for whom this hungry war
    Opens his vasty jaws; and on your head
    Turning the widows' tears, the orphans' cries
    The dead men's blood, the pining maidens groans, 1010
    For husbands, fathers and betrothed lovers,
    That shall be swallow'd in this controversy.
    This is his claim, his threatening and my message;
    Unless the Dauphin be in presence here,
    To whom expressly I bring greeting too. 1015
  • King of France. For us, we will consider of this further:
    To-morrow shall you bear our full intent
    Back to our brother England.
  • Lewis the Dauphin. For the Dauphin,
    I stand here for him: what to him from England? 1020
  • Duke of Exeter. Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,
    And any thing that may not misbecome
    The mighty sender, doth he prize you at.
    Thus says my king; an' if your father's highness
    Do not, in grant of all demands at large, 1025
    Sweeten the bitter mock you sent his majesty,
    He'll call you to so hot an answer of it,
    That caves and womby vaultages of France
    Shall chide your trespass and return your mock
    In second accent of his ordnance. 1030
  • Lewis the Dauphin. Say, if my father render fair return,
    It is against my will; for I desire
    Nothing but odds with England: to that end,
    As matching to his youth and vanity,
    I did present him with the Paris balls. 1035
  • Duke of Exeter. He'll make your Paris Louvre shake for it,
    Were it the mistress-court of mighty Europe:
    And, be assured, you'll find a difference,
    As we his subjects have in wonder found,
    Between the promise of his greener days 1040
    And these he masters now: now he weighs time
    Even to the utmost grain: that you shall read
    In your own losses, if he stay in France.
  • Duke of Exeter. Dispatch us with all speed, lest that our king 1045
    Come here himself to question our delay;
    For he is footed in this land already.
  • King of France. You shall be soon dispatch's with fair conditions:
    A night is but small breath and little pause
    To answer matters of this consequence. 1050

[Flourish. Exeunt]