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Henry V - Act 2, scene 4
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Navigate this workHenry V - Act 2, scene 4
Act 2, scene 4
The King of France and his court plan their defense against Henry’s invasion. Exeter arrives to present the King with Henry’s claim to the French throne, to threaten the French, and to return to the Dauphin the insulting defiance he sent to Henry.Flourish. Enter the French King, the Dauphin, the Dukes
of Berri and Brittany, ⌜the Constable, and others.⌝
KING OF FRANCE
0894 Thus comes the English with full power upon us,
0895 And more than carefully it us concerns
0896 To answer royally in our defenses.
0897 Therefore the Dukes of Berri and of Brittany,
0898 5 Of Brabant and of Orléans, shall make forth,
0899 And you, Prince Dauphin, with all swift dispatch,
0900 To line and new-repair our towns of war
0901 With men of courage and with means defendant.
0902 For England his approaches makes as fierce
0903 10 As waters to the sucking of a gulf.
0904 It fits us then to be as provident
0905 As fear may teach us out of late examples
0906 Left by the fatal and neglected English
0907 Upon our fields.
DAUPHIN 0908 15 My most redoubted father,
0909 It is most meet we arm us ’gainst the foe,
0910 For peace itself should not so dull a kingdom,
0911 Though war nor no known quarrel were in question
0912 But that defenses, musters, preparations
0913 20 Should be maintained, assembled, and collected
0914 As were a war in expectation.
0915 Therefore I say ’tis meet we all go forth
0916 To view the sick and feeble parts of France.
0917 And let us do it with no show of fear,
0918 25 No, with no more than if we heard that England
p. 710919 Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance.
0920 For, my good liege, she is so idly kinged,
0921 Her scepter so fantastically borne
0922 By a vain, giddy, shallow, humorous youth,
0923 30 That fear attends her not.
CONSTABLE 0924 O peace, Prince Dauphin!
0925 You are too much mistaken in this king.
0926 Question your Grace the late ambassadors
0927 With what great state he heard their embassy,
0928 35 How well supplied with noble councillors,
0929 How modest in exception, and withal
0930 How terrible in constant resolution,
0931 And you shall find his vanities forespent
0932 Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus,
0933 40 Covering discretion with a coat of folly,
0934 As gardeners do with ordure hide those roots
0935 That shall first spring and be most delicate.
0936 Well, ’tis not so, my Lord High Constable.
0937 But though we think it so, it is no matter.
0938 45 In cases of defense, ’tis best to weigh
0939 The enemy more mighty than he seems.
0940 So the proportions of defense are filled,
0941 Which of a weak and niggardly projection
0942 Doth, like a miser, spoil his coat with scanting
0943 50 A little cloth.
KING OF FRANCE 0944 Think we King Harry strong,
0945 And, princes, look you strongly arm to meet him.
0946 The kindred of him hath been fleshed upon us,
0947 And he is bred out of that bloody strain
0948 55 That haunted us in our familiar paths.
0949 Witness our too-much-memorable shame
0950 When Cressy battle fatally was struck
0951 And all our princes captived by the hand
0952 Of that black name, Edward, Black Prince of
0953 60 Wales,
p. 730954 Whiles that his mountain sire, on mountain standing
0955 Up in the air, crowned with the golden sun,
0956 Saw his heroical seed and smiled to see him
0957 Mangle the work of nature and deface
0958 65 The patterns that by God and by French fathers
0959 Had twenty years been made. This is a stem
0960 Of that victorious stock, and let us fear
0961 The native mightiness and fate of him.
Enter a Messenger.
0962 Ambassadors from Harry King of England
0963 70 Do crave admittance to your Majesty.
KING OF FRANCE
0964 We’ll give them present audience. Go, and bring
0965 them.⌜Messenger exits.⌝
0966 You see this chase is hotly followed, friends.
0967 Turn head and stop pursuit, for coward dogs
0968 75 Most spend their mouths when what they seem to
0970 Runs far before them. Good my sovereign,
0971 Take up the English short, and let them know
0972 Of what a monarchy you are the head.
0973 80 Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin
0974 As self-neglecting.
Enter Exeter, ⌜with Lords and Attendants.⌝
KING OF FRANCE 0975 From our brother of England?
0976 From him, and thus he greets your Majesty:
0977 He wills you, in the name of God almighty,
0978 85 That you divest yourself and lay apart
0979 The borrowed glories that, by gift of heaven,
0980 By law of nature and of nations, ’longs
0981 To him and to his heirs—namely, the crown
p. 750982 And all wide-stretchèd honors that pertain
0983 90 By custom and the ordinance of times
0984 Unto the crown of France. That you may know
0985 ’Tis no sinister nor no awkward claim
0986 Picked from the wormholes of long-vanished days
0987 Nor from the dust of old oblivion raked,
0988 95 He sends you this most memorable line,
⌜He offers a paper.⌝
0989 In every branch truly demonstrative,
0990 Willing you overlook this pedigree,
0991 And when you find him evenly derived
0992 From his most famed of famous ancestors,
0993 100 Edward the Third, he bids you then resign
0994 Your crown and kingdom, indirectly held
0995 From him, the native and true challenger.
KING OF FRANCE 0996 Or else what follows?
0997 Bloody constraint, for if you hide the crown
0998 105 Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it.
0999 Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,
1000 In thunder and in earthquake like a Jove,
1001 That, if requiring fail, he will compel,
1002 And bids you, in the bowels of the Lord,
1003 110 Deliver up the crown and to take mercy
1004 On the poor souls for whom this hungry war
1005 Opens his vasty jaws, and on your head
1006 Turning the widows’ tears, the orphans’ cries,
1007 The dead men’s blood, the ⌜privèd⌝ maidens’
1008 115 groans,
1009 For husbands, fathers, and betrothèd lovers
1010 That shall be swallowed in this controversy.
1011 This is his claim, his threat’ning, and my message—
1012 Unless the Dauphin be in presence here,
1013 120 To whom expressly I bring greeting too.
KING OF FRANCE
1014 For us, we will consider of this further.
p. 771015 Tomorrow shall you bear our full intent
1016 Back to our brother of England.
DAUPHIN, ⌜to Exeter⌝ 1017 For the Dauphin,
1018 125 I stand here for him. What to him from England?
1019 Scorn and defiance, slight regard, contempt,
1020 And anything that may not misbecome
1021 The mighty sender, doth he prize you at.
1022 Thus says my king: an if your father’s Highness
1023 130 Do not, in grant of all demands at large,
1024 Sweeten the bitter mock you sent his Majesty,
1025 He’ll call you to so hot an answer of it
1026 That caves and womby vaultages of France
1027 Shall chide your trespass and return your mock
1028 135 In second accent of his ordinance.
1029 Say, if my father render fair return,
1030 It is against my will, for I desire
1031 Nothing but odds with England. To that end,
1032 As matching to his youth and vanity,
1033 140 I did present him with the Paris balls.
1034 He’ll make your Paris ⌜Louvre⌝ shake for it,
1035 Were it the mistress court of mighty Europe.
1036 And be assured you’ll find a difference,
1037 As we his subjects have in wonder found,
1038 145 Between the promise of his greener days
1039 And these he masters now. Now he weighs time
1040 Even to the utmost grain. That you shall read
1041 In your own losses, if he stay in France.
KING OF FRANCE
1042 Tomorrow shall you know our mind at full.
1043 150 Dispatch us with all speed, lest that our king
p. 791044 Come here himself to question our delay,
1045 For he is footed in this land already.
KING OF FRANCE
1046 You shall be soon dispatched with fair conditions.
1047 A night is but small breath and little pause
1048 155 To answer matters of this consequence.
Flourish. They exit.