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History of Henry V

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Act IV, Scene 2

The French camp.


[Enter the DAUPHIN, ORLEANS, RAMBURES, and others]

  • Lewis the Dauphin. Ciel, cousin Orleans.
    [Enter Constable]
    Now, my lord constable! 2170
  • Lewis the Dauphin. Mount them, and make incision in their hides,
    That their hot blood may spin in English eyes,
    And dout them with superfluous courage, ha!
  • Rambures. What, will you have them weep our horses' blood? 2175
    How shall we, then, behold their natural tears?

[Enter Messenger]

  • Messenger. The English are embattled, you French peers.
  • Constable of France. To horse, you gallant princes! straight to horse!
    Do but behold yon poor and starved band, 2180
    And your fair show shall suck away their souls,
    Leaving them but the shales and husks of men.
    There is not work enough for all our hands;
    Scarce blood enough in all their sickly veins
    To give each naked curtle-axe a stain, 2185
    That our French gallants shall to-day draw out,
    And sheathe for lack of sport: let us but blow on them,
    The vapour of our valour will o'erturn them.
    'Tis positive 'gainst all exceptions, lords,
    That our superfluous lackeys and our peasants, 2190
    Who in unnecessary action swarm
    About our squares of battle, were enow
    To purge this field of such a hilding foe,
    Though we upon this mountain's basis by
    Took stand for idle speculation: 2195
    But that our honours must not. What's to say?
    A very little little let us do.
    And all is done. Then let the trumpets sound
    The tucket sonance and the note to mount;
    For our approach shall so much dare the field 2200
    That England shall couch down in fear and yield.


  • Grandpre. Why do you stay so long, my lords of France?
    Yon island carrions, desperate of their bones,
    Ill-favouredly become the morning field: 2205
    Their ragged curtains poorly are let loose,
    And our air shakes them passing scornfully:
    Big Mars seems bankrupt in their beggar'd host
    And faintly through a rusty beaver peeps:
    The horsemen sit like fixed candlesticks, 2210
    With torch-staves in their hand; and their poor jades
    Lob down their heads, dropping the hides and hips,
    The gum down-roping from their pale-dead eyes
    And in their pale dull mouths the gimmal bit
    Lies foul with chew'd grass, still and motionless; 2215
    And their executors, the knavish crows,
    Fly o'er them, all impatient for their hour.
    Description cannot suit itself in words
    To demonstrate the life of such a battle
    In life so lifeless as it shows itself. 2220
  • Lewis the Dauphin. Shall we go send them dinners and fresh suits
    And give their fasting horses provender,
    And after fight with them?
  • Constable of France. I stay but for my guidon: to the field! 2225
    I will the banner from a trumpet take,
    And use it for my haste. Come, come, away!
    The sun is high, and we outwear the day.