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History of Henry V

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Act III, Scene 6

The English camp in Picardy.


[Enter GOWER and FLUELLEN, meeting]

  • Gower. How now, Captain Fluellen! come you from the bridge?
  • Fluellen. I assure you, there is very excellent services
    committed at the bridge.
  • Gower. Is the Duke of Exeter safe? 1465
  • Fluellen. The Duke of Exeter is as magnanimous as Agamemnon;
    and a man that I love and honour with my soul, and my
    heart, and my duty, and my life, and my living, and
    my uttermost power: he is not-God be praised and
    blessed!—any hurt in the world; but keeps the 1470
    bridge most valiantly, with excellent discipline.
    There is an aunchient lieutenant there at the
    pridge, I think in my very conscience he is as
    valiant a man as Mark Antony; and he is a man of no
    estimation in the world; but did see him do as 1475
    gallant service.
  • Gower. What do you call him?
  • Fluellen. He is called Aunchient Pistol.

[Enter PISTOL]

  • Pistol. Captain, I thee beseech to do me favours:
    The Duke of Exeter doth love thee well.
  • Fluellen. Ay, I praise God; and I have merited some love at
    his hands. 1485
  • Pistol. Bardolph, a soldier, firm and sound of heart,
    And of buxom valour, hath, by cruel fate,
    And giddy Fortune's furious fickle wheel,
    That goddess blind,
    That stands upon the rolling restless stone— 1490
  • Fluellen. By your patience, Aunchient Pistol. Fortune is
    painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to
    signify to you that Fortune is blind; and she is
    painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which
    is the moral of it, that she is turning, and 1495
    inconstant, and mutability, and variation: and her
    foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone,
    which rolls, and rolls, and rolls: in good truth,
    the poet makes a most excellent description of it:
    Fortune is an excellent moral. 1500
  • Pistol. Fortune is Bardolph's foe, and frowns on him;
    For he hath stolen a pax, and hanged must a' be:
    A damned death!
    Let gallows gape for dog; let man go free
    And let not hemp his wind-pipe suffocate: 1505
    But Exeter hath given the doom of death
    For pax of little price.
    Therefore, go speak: the duke will hear thy voice:
    And let not Bardolph's vital thread be cut
    With edge of penny cord and vile reproach: 1510
    Speak, captain, for his life, and I will thee requite.
  • Fluellen. Aunchient Pistol, I do partly understand your meaning.
  • Pistol. Why then, rejoice therefore.
  • Fluellen. Certainly, aunchient, it is not a thing to rejoice
    at: for if, look you, he were my brother, I would 1515
    desire the duke to use his good pleasure, and put
    him to execution; for discipline ought to be used.
  • Pistol. Die and be damn'd! and figo for thy friendship!
  • Pistol. The fig of Spain! 1520


  • Gower. Why, this is an arrant counterfeit rascal; I
    remember him now; a bawd, a cutpurse.
  • Fluellen. I'll assure you, a' uttered as brave words at the 1525
    bridge as you shall see in a summer's day. But it
    is very well; what he has spoke to me, that is well,
    I warrant you, when time is serve.
  • Gower. Why, 'tis a gull, a fool, a rogue, that now and then
    goes to the wars, to grace himself at his return 1530
    into London under the form of a soldier. And such
    fellows are perfect in the great commanders' names:
    and they will learn you by rote where services were
    done; at such and such a sconce, at such a breach,
    at such a convoy; who came off bravely, who was 1535
    shot, who disgraced, what terms the enemy stood on;
    and this they con perfectly in the phrase of war,
    which they trick up with new-tuned oaths: and what
    a beard of the general's cut and a horrid suit of
    the camp will do among foaming bottles and 1540
    ale-washed wits, is wonderful to be thought on. But
    you must learn to know such slanders of the age, or
    else you may be marvellously mistook.
  • Fluellen. I tell you what, Captain Gower; I do perceive he is
    not the man that he would gladly make show to the 1545
    world he is: if I find a hole in his coat, I will
    tell him my mind.
    [Drum heard]
    Hark you, the king is coming, and I must speak with
    him from the pridge. 1550
    [Drum and colours. Enter KING HENRY, GLOUCESTER, and Soldiers]
    God pless your majesty!
  • Henry V. How now, Fluellen! camest thou from the bridge?
  • Fluellen. Ay, so please your majesty. The Duke of Exeter has
    very gallantly maintained the pridge: the French is 1555
    gone off, look you; and there is gallant and most
    prave passages; marry, th' athversary was have
    possession of the pridge; but he is enforced to
    retire, and the Duke of Exeter is master of the
    pridge: I can tell your majesty, the duke is a 1560
    prave man.
  • Henry V. What men have you lost, Fluellen?
  • Fluellen. The perdition of th' athversary hath been very
    great, reasonable great: marry, for my part, I
    think the duke hath lost never a man, but one that 1565
    is like to be executed for robbing a church, one
    Bardolph, if your majesty know the man: his face is
    all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and flames o'
    fire: and his lips blows at his nose, and it is like
    a coal of fire, sometimes plue and sometimes red; 1570
    but his nose is executed and his fire's out.
  • Henry V. We would have all such offenders so cut off: and we
    give express charge, that in our marches through the
    country, there be nothing compelled from the
    villages, nothing taken but paid for, none of the 1575
    French upbraided or abused in disdainful language;
    for when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the
    gentler gamester is the soonest winner.

[Tucket. Enter MONTJOY]

  • Montjoy. You know me by my habit. 1580
  • Henry V. Well then I know thee: what shall I know of thee?
  • Montjoy. Thus says my king: Say thou to Harry of England:
    Though we seemed dead, we did but sleep: advantage 1585
    is a better soldier than rashness. Tell him we
    could have rebuked him at Harfleur, but that we
    thought not good to bruise an injury till it were
    full ripe: now we speak upon our cue, and our voice
    is imperial: England shall repent his folly, see 1590
    his weakness, and admire our sufferance. Bid him
    therefore consider of his ransom; which must
    proportion the losses we have borne, the subjects we
    have lost, the disgrace we have digested; which in
    weight to re-answer, his pettiness would bow under. 1595
    For our losses, his exchequer is too poor; for the
    effusion of our blood, the muster of his kingdom too
    faint a number; and for our disgrace, his own
    person, kneeling at our feet, but a weak and
    worthless satisfaction. To this add defiance: and 1600
    tell him, for conclusion, he hath betrayed his
    followers, whose condemnation is pronounced. So far
    my king and master; so much my office.
  • Henry V. What is thy name? I know thy quality.
  • Henry V. Thou dost thy office fairly. Turn thee back.
    And tell thy king I do not seek him now;
    But could be willing to march on to Calais
    Without impeachment: for, to say the sooth,
    Though 'tis no wisdom to confess so much 1610
    Unto an enemy of craft and vantage,
    My people are with sickness much enfeebled,
    My numbers lessened, and those few I have
    Almost no better than so many French;
    Who when they were in health, I tell thee, herald, 1615
    I thought upon one pair of English legs
    Did march three Frenchmen. Yet, forgive me, God,
    That I do brag thus! This your air of France
    Hath blown that vice in me: I must repent.
    Go therefore, tell thy master here I am; 1620
    My ransom is this frail and worthless trunk,
    My army but a weak and sickly guard;
    Yet, God before, tell him we will come on,
    Though France himself and such another neighbour
    Stand in our way. There's for thy labour, Montjoy. 1625
    Go bid thy master well advise himself:
    If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder'd,
    We shall your tawny ground with your red blood
    Discolour: and so Montjoy, fare you well.
    The sum of all our answer is but this: 1630
    We would not seek a battle, as we are;
    Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it:
    So tell your master.
  • Montjoy. I shall deliver so. Thanks to your highness.


  • Henry V. We are in God's hand, brother, not in theirs.
    March to the bridge; it now draws toward night:
    Beyond the river we'll encamp ourselves,
    And on to-morrow, bid them march away. 1640