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Last updated: Tue, Jun 02, 2020
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Navigate this workHenry V
Act 3, scene 3
Henry threatens the men of Harfleur with the destruction of the town and its population if they do not yield to him. The Governor then surrenders the town to Henry, who spares its people.Enter the King ⌜of England⌝ and all his train
before the gates.
KING HENRY, ⌜to the men of Harfleur⌝
1266 How yet resolves the Governor of the town?
1267 This is the latest parle we will admit.
1268 Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves
1269 Or, like to men proud of destruction,
1270 5 Defy us to our worst. For, as I am a soldier,
1271 A name that in my thoughts becomes me best,
1272 If I begin the batt’ry once again,
1273 I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
1274 Till in her ashes she lie burièd.
1275 10 The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
1276 And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart,
1277 In liberty of bloody hand, shall range
1278 With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
1279 Your fresh fair virgins and your flow’ring infants.
1280 15 What is it then to me if impious war,
1281 Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends,
1282 Do with his smirched complexion all fell feats
1283 Enlinked to waste and desolation?
1284 What is ’t to me, when you yourselves are cause,
1285 20 If your pure maidens fall into the hand
1286 Of hot and forcing violation?
1287 What rein can hold licentious wickedness
1288 When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
1289 We may as bootless spend our vain command
p. 991290 25 Upon th’ enragèd soldiers in their spoil
1291 As send precepts to the Leviathan
1292 To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
1293 Take pity of your town and of your people
1294 Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command,
1295 30 Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
1296 O’erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
1297 Of ⌜heady⌝ murder, spoil, and villainy.
1298 If not, why, in a moment look to see
1299 The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
1300 35 Desire the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters,
1301 Your fathers taken by the silver beards
1302 And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls,
1303 Your naked infants spitted upon pikes
1304 Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
1305 40 Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
1306 At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
1307 What say you? Will you yield and this avoid
1308 Or, guilty in defense, be thus destroyed?
1309 Our expectation hath this day an end.
1310 45 The Dauphin, whom of succors we entreated,
1311 Returns us that his powers are yet not ready
1312 To raise so great a siege. Therefore, great king,
1313 We yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy.
1314 Enter our gates, dispose of us and ours,
1315 50 For we no longer are defensible.
1316 Open your gates.⌜Governor exits.⌝
1317 Come, uncle Exeter,
1318 Go you and enter Harfleur. There remain,
1319 And fortify it strongly ’gainst the French.
1320 55 Use mercy to them all for us, dear uncle.
p. 1011321 The winter coming on and sickness growing
1322 Upon our soldiers, we will retire to Calais.
1323 Tonight in Harfleur will we be your guest.
1324 Tomorrow for the march are we addressed.
Flourish, and enter the town.