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History of Henry V

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Act IV, Scene 1

The English camp at Agincourt.



  • Henry V. Gloucester, 'tis true that we are in great danger;
    The greater therefore should our courage be.
    Good morrow, brother Bedford. God Almighty! 1845
    There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
    Would men observingly distil it out.
    For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers,
    Which is both healthful and good husbandry:
    Besides, they are our outward consciences, 1850
    And preachers to us all, admonishing
    That we should dress us fairly for our end.
    Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
    And make a moral of the devil himself.
    [Enter ERPINGHAM] 1855
    Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham:
    A good soft pillow for that good white head
    Were better than a churlish turf of France.
  • Sir Thomas Erpingham. Not so, my liege: this lodging likes me better,
    Since I may say 'Now lie I like a king.' 1860
  • 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,
    The organs, though defunct and dead before,
    Break up their drowsy grave and newly move, 1865
    With casted slough and fresh legerity.
    Lend me thy cloak, Sir Thomas. Brothers both,
    Commend me to the princes in our camp;
    Do my good morrow to them, and anon
    Desire them an to my pavilion. 1870
  • Henry V. No, my good knight;
    Go with my brothers to my lords of England:
    I and my bosom must debate awhile, 1875
    And then I would no other company.

[Exeunt all but KING HENRY]

  • Henry V. God-a-mercy, old heart! thou speak'st cheerfully.

[Enter PISTOL]

  • Pistol. Discuss unto me; art thou officer?
    Or art thou base, common and popular?
  • Henry V. I am a gentleman of a company. 1885
  • Pistol. Trail'st thou the puissant pike?
  • Pistol. As good a gentleman as the emperor.
  • Henry V. Then you are a better than the king.
  • Pistol. The king's a bawcock, and a heart of gold, 1890
    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?
  • Pistol. Le Roy! a Cornish name: art thou of Cornish crew?
  • Pistol. Know'st thou Fluellen?
  • Pistol. Tell him, I'll knock his leek about his pate 1900
    Upon Saint Davy's day.
  • Henry V. Do not you wear your dagger in your cap that day,
    lest he knock that about yours.
  • Pistol. The figo for thee, then!
  • Henry V. I thank you: God be with you!
  • Pistol. My name is Pistol call'd.


  • Henry V. It sorts well with your fierceness. 1910


  • Gower. Captain Fluellen!
  • 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 1915
    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 1920
    cares of it, and the forms of it, and the sobriety
    of it, and the modesty of it, to be otherwise.
  • 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, 1925
    look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating
    coxcomb? in your own conscience, now?
  • Gower. I will speak lower.
  • Fluellen. I pray you and beseech you that you will.


  • 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
    breaks yonder? 1935
  • 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?
  • Williams. Under what captain serve you?
  • 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?
  • Henry V. Even as men wrecked upon a sand, that look to be 1945
    washed off the next tide.
  • Bates. He hath not told his thought to the 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
    am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the 1950
    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,
    yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like 1955
    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
    it, should dishearten his army. 1960
  • 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.
  • Henry V. By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the king: 1965
    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.
  • Henry V. I dare say you love him not so ill, to wish him here 1970
    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.
  • Williams. That's more than we know. 1975
  • 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.
  • Williams. But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath 1980
    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
    surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind 1985
    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
    argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it 1990
    will be a black matter for the king that led them to
    it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of
  • Henry V. So, if a son that is by his father sent about
    merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the 1995
    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
    many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the 2000
    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
    his servant; for they purpose not their death, when 2005
    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
    the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; 2010
    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
    defeated the law and outrun native punishment, 2015
    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
    they feared the death, they have borne life away; 2020
    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
    subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's 2025
    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
    blessedly lost wherein such preparation was gained: 2030
    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.
  • Williams. 'Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill upon 2035
    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.
  • Henry V. I myself heard the king say he would not be ransomed.
  • Williams. Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully: but 2040
    when our throats are cut, he may be ransomed, and we
    ne'er the wiser.
  • 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
    elder-gun, that a poor and private displeasure can 2045
    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.
  • Henry V. Your reproof is something too round: I should be 2050
    angry with you, if the time were convenient.
  • Williams. Let it be a quarrel between us, if you live.
  • Henry V. Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my 2055
    bonnet: then, if ever thou darest acknowledge it, I
    will make it my quarrel.
  • Williams. Here's my glove: give me another of thine.
  • Williams. This will I also wear in my cap: if ever thou come 2060
    to me and say, after to-morrow, 'This is my glove,'
    by this hand, I will take thee a box on the ear.
  • Henry V. If ever I live to see it, I will challenge it.
  • Williams. Thou darest as well be hanged.
  • Henry V. Well. I will do it, though I take thee in the 2065
    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.
  • Henry V. Indeed, the French may lay twenty French crowns to 2070
    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.
    [Exeunt soldiers] 2075
    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 2080
    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? 2085
    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! 2090
    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. 2095
    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? 2100
    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 2105
    '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 2110
    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 2115
    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, 2120
    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, 2125
    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. 2130


  • Sir Thomas Erpingham. My lord, your nobles, jealous of your absence,
    Seek through your camp to find you.
  • Henry V. Good old knight,
    Collect them all together at my tent: 2135
    I'll be before thee.


  • Henry V. O God of battles! steel my soldiers' hearts;
    Possess them not with fear; take from them now 2140
    The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers
    Pluck their hearts from them. Not to-day, O Lord,
    O, not to-day, think not upon the fault
    My father made in compassing the crown!
    I Richard's body have interred anew; 2145
    And on it have bestow'd more contrite tears
    Than from it issued forced drops of blood:
    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 2150
    Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
    Sing still for Richard's soul. More will I do;
    Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
    Since that my penitence comes after all,
    Imploring pardon. 2155


  • Henry V. My brother Gloucester's voice? Ay;
    I know thy errand, I will go with thee:
    The day, my friends and all things stay for me. 2160