1599 The Life Of King Henry V
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The name of Agincourt. Yet sit and see,
Minding true things by what their mock'ries be. Exit
France. The English camp at Agincourt
Enter the KING, BEDFORD, and GLOUCESTER
KING HENRY. Gloucester, 'tis true that we are in great danger;
The greater therefore should our courage be.
Good morrow, brother Bedford. God Almighty!
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
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.
Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham:
A good soft pillow for that good white head
Were better than a churlish turf of France.
ERPINGHAM. Not so, my liege; this lodging likes me better,
Since I may say 'Now lie I like a king.'
KING HENRY. 'Tis good for men to love their present pains
Upon example; so the spirit is eased;
And when the mind is quick'ned, out of doubt
The organs, though defunct and dead before,
Break up their drowsy grave and newly move
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 all to my pavilion.
GLOUCESTER. We shall, my liege.
ERPINGHAM. Shall I attend your Grace?
KING HENRY. No, my good knight:
Go with my brothers to my lords of England;
I and my bosom must debate awhile,
And then I would no other company.
ERPINGHAM. The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry!
Exeunt all but the KING
KING HENRY. God-a-mercy, old heart! thou speak'st cheerfully.
PISTOL. Qui va la?
KING HENRY. A friend.
PISTOL. Discuss unto me: art thou officer,
Or art thou base, common, and popular?
KING HENRY. I am a gentleman of a company.
PISTOL. Trail'st thou the puissant pike?
KING HENRY. Even so. What are you?
PISTOL. As good a gentleman as the Emperor.
KING HENRY. Then you are a better than the King.
PISTOL. The King's a bawcock and a heart of gold,
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?
KING HENRY. Harry le Roy.
PISTOL. Le Roy! a Cornish name; art thou of Cornish crew?
KING HENRY. No, I am a Welshman.
PISTOL. Know'st thou Fluellen?
KING HENRY. Yes.
PISTOL. Tell him I'll knock his leek about his pate
Upon Saint Davy's day.
KING HENRY. Do not you wear your dagger in your cap that day, lest
he knock that about yours.
PISTOL. Art thou his friend?
KING HENRY. And his kinsman too.
PISTOL. The figo for thee, then!
KING HENRY. I thank you; God be with you!
PISTOL. My name is Pistol call'd. Exit
KING HENRY. It sorts well with your fierceness.
Enter FLUELLEN and GOWER
GOWER. Captain Fluellen!
FLUELLEN. So! in the name of Jesu Christ, speak fewer. It is the
greatest admiration in the universal world, when the true and
aunchient prerogatifes and laws of the 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-taddle nor
pibble-pabble in Pompey's camp; I warrant you, you shall find the
ceremonies of the wars, and the 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, look you, be
an ass, and a fool, and a prating coxcomb? In your own
GOWER. I will speak lower.
FLUELLEN. I pray you and beseech you that you will.
Exeunt GOWER and FLUELLEN
KING HENRY. Though it appear a little out of fashion,
There is much care and valour in this Welshman.
Enter three soldiers: JOHN BATES, ALEXANDER COURT,
and MICHAEL WILLIAMS
COURT. Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which breaks
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?
KING HENRY. A friend.
WILLIAMS. Under what captain serve you?
KING HENRY. Under Sir Thomas Erpingham.
WILLIAMS. A good old commander and a most kind gentleman. I pray
you, what thinks he of our estate?
KING HENRY. Even as men wreck'd upon a sand, that look to be wash'd
off the next tide.
BATES. He hath not told his thought to the King?
KING HENRY. 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 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 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
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.
KING HENRY. By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the King: I
think he would not wish himself anywhere 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.
KING HENRY. I dare say you love him not so ill to wish him here
alone, howsoever you speak this, to feel other men's minds;
methinks I could not die anywhere so contented as in the King's
company, his cause being just and his quarrel honourable.
WILLIAMS. That's more than we know.
BATES. Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough if
we know we are the King's 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 a
heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads,
chopp'd off in a 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 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 anything when blood is their
argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black
matter for the King that led them to it; who to disobey were
against all proportion of subjection.
KING HENRY. So, if a son that is by his father sent about
merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the 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 irreconcil'd iniquities, you may call the 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 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; 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, though they can outstrip men they
have no wings to fly from God: war is His beadle, war is His
vengeance; so that here men are punish'd for before-breach of the
King's laws in now the King's quarrel. Where they feared the
death they have borne life away; 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 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; 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 his
own head- the King is not to answer for it.
BATES. I do not desire he should answer for me, and yet I determine
to fight lustily for him.
KING HENRY. I myself heard the King say he would not be ransom'd.
WILLIAMS. Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully; but when our
throats are cut he may be ransom'd, and we ne'er the wiser.