Henry V - Act 4, scene 1
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Navigate this workHenry V - Act 4, scene 1
Act 4, scene 1
Henry borrows Erpingham’s cloak and, in this disguise, passes through his camp, meeting Pistol, overhearing a conversation between Fluellen and Gower, and getting into an argument with one of his soldiers, Michael Williams, about the King’s responsibility for the spiritual fate of those of his soldiers who die in battle. Henry (in disguise) and Williams postpone their disagreement until after the battle, exchanging gloves as pledges to fight with each other later. Alone, Henry laments the care that accompanies his crown and then prays that God will not avenge upon him, in the upcoming battle, his father’s usurpation of Richard II’s throne and instigation of Richard’s death.Enter the King ⌜of England,⌝ Bedford, and Gloucester.
1848 Gloucester, ’tis true that we are in great danger.
1849 The greater therefore should our courage be.—
1850 Good morrow, brother Bedford. God almighty,
1851 There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
1852 5 Would men observingly distill it out.
1853 For our bad neighbor makes us early stirrers,
1854 Which is both healthful and good husbandry.
1855 Besides, they are our outward consciences
1856 And preachers to us all, admonishing
1857 10 That we should dress us fairly for our end.
1858 Thus may we gather honey from the weed
1859 And make a moral of the devil himself.
1860 Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham.
1861 A good soft pillow for that good white head
1862 15 Were better than a churlish turf of France.
1863 Not so, my liege, this lodging likes me better,
1864 Since I may say “Now lie I like a king.”
1865 ’Tis good for men to love their present pains
1866 Upon example. So the spirit is eased;
1867 20 And when the mind is quickened, out of doubt,
1868 The organs, though defunct and dead before,
1869 Break up their drowsy grave and newly move
1870 With casted slough and fresh legerity.
1871 Lend me thy cloak, Sir Thomas.
⌜He puts on Erpingham’s cloak.⌝
1872 25 Brothers both,
1873 Commend me to the princes in our camp,
1875 Desire them all to my pavilion.
GLOUCESTER 1876 We shall, my liege.
ERPINGHAM 1877 30Shall I attend your Grace?
KING HENRY 1878 No, my good knight.
1879 Go with my brothers to my lords of England.
1880 I and my bosom must debate awhile,
1881 And then I would no other company.
1882 35 The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry.
⌜All but the King⌝ exit.
1883 God-a-mercy, old heart, thou speak’st cheerfully.
PISTOL 1884 Qui vous là?
KING HENRY 1885 A friend.
PISTOL 1886 Discuss unto me: art thou officer or art thou
1887 40 base, common, and popular?
KING HENRY 1888 I am a gentleman of a company.
PISTOL 1889 Trail’st thou the puissant pike?
KING HENRY 1890 Even so. What are you?
PISTOL 1891 As good a gentleman as the Emperor.
KING HENRY 1892 45Then you are a better than the King.
PISTOL 1893 The King’s a bawcock and a heart of gold, a lad
1894 of life, an imp of fame, of parents good, of fist most
1895 valiant. I kiss his dirty shoe, and from heartstring I
1896 love the lovely bully. What is thy name?
KING HENRY 1897 50Harry le Roy.
PISTOL 1898 Le Roy? A Cornish name. Art thou of Cornish
KING HENRY 1900 No, I am a Welshman.
PISTOL 1901 Know’st thou Fluellen?
KING HENRY 1902 55Yes.
PISTOL 1903 Tell him I’ll knock his leek about his pate upon
1904 Saint Davy’s day.
1906 that day, lest he knock that about yours.
PISTOL 1907 60Art thou his friend?
KING HENRY 1908 And his kinsman too.
PISTOL 1909 The figo for thee then!
KING HENRY 1910 I thank you. God be with you.
PISTOL 1911 My name is Pistol called.He exits.
KING HENRY 1912 65It sorts well with your fierceness.
⌜He steps aside.⌝
Enter Fluellen and Gower.
GOWER 1913 Captain Fluellen.
FLUELLEN 1914 ’So. In the name of Jesu Christ, speak fewer.
1915 It is the greatest admiration in the universal world
1916 when the true and aunchient prerogatifes and
1917 70 laws of the wars is not kept. If you would take the
1918 pains but to examine the wars of Pompey the
1919 Great, you shall find, I warrant you, that there is
1920 no tiddle taddle nor pibble babble in Pompey’s
1921 camp. I warrant you, you shall find the ceremonies
1922 75 of the wars and the cares of it and the forms
1923 of it and the sobriety of it and the modesty of it to
1924 be otherwise.
GOWER 1925 Why, the enemy is loud. You hear him all
FLUELLEN 1927 80If the enemy is an ass and a fool and a prating
1928 coxcomb, is it meet, think you, that we should also,
1929 look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating
1930 coxcomb, in your own conscience now?
GOWER 1931 I will speak lower.
FLUELLEN 1932 85I pray you and beseech you that you will.
⌜Gower and Fluellen⌝ exit.
1933 Though it appear a little out of fashion,
1934 There is much care and valor in this Welshman.
COURT 1935 Brother John Bates, is not that the morning
1936 which breaks yonder?
BATES 1937 90I think it be, but we have no great cause to desire
1938 the approach of day.
WILLIAMS 1939 We see yonder the beginning of the day, but
1940 I think we shall never see the end of it.—Who goes
KING HENRY 1942 95A friend.
WILLIAMS 1943 Under what captain serve you?
KING HENRY 1944 Under Sir ⌜Thomas⌝ Erpingham.
WILLIAMS 1945 A good old commander and a most kind
1946 gentleman. I pray you, what thinks he of our
1947 100 estate?
KING HENRY 1948 Even as men wracked upon a sand, that
1949 look to be washed off the next tide.
BATES 1950 He hath not told his thought to the King?
KING HENRY 1951 No. Nor it is not meet he should, for,
1952 105 though I speak it to you, I think the King is but a
1953 man as I am. The violet smells to him as it doth to
1954 me. The element shows to him as it doth to me. All
1955 his senses have but human conditions. His ceremonies
1956 laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man,
1957 110 and though his affections are higher mounted than
1958 ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like
1959 wing. Therefore, when he sees reason of fears as we
1960 do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as
1961 ours are. Yet, in reason, no man should possess him
1962 115 with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it,
1963 should dishearten his army.
BATES 1964 He may show what outward courage he will,
1965 but I believe, as cold a night as ’tis, he could wish
1966 himself in Thames up to the neck; and so I would
1968 quit here.
KING HENRY 1969 By my troth, I will speak my conscience
1970 of the King. I think he would not wish himself
1971 anywhere but where he is.
BATES 1972 125Then I would he were here alone; so should he
1973 be sure to be ransomed, and a many poor men’s
1974 lives saved.
KING HENRY 1975 I dare say you love him not so ill to wish
1976 him here alone, howsoever you speak this to feel
1977 130 other men’s minds. Methinks I could not die anywhere
1978 so contented as in the King’s company, his
1979 cause being just and his quarrel honorable.
WILLIAMS 1980 That’s more than we know.
BATES 1981 Ay, or more than we should seek after, for we
1982 135 know enough if we know we are the King’s subjects.
1983 If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the
1984 King wipes the crime of it out of us.
WILLIAMS 1985 But if the cause be not good, the King
1986 himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all
1987 140 those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a
1988 battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry
1989 all “We died at such a place,” some swearing, some
1990 crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left
1991 poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe,
1992 145 some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard
1993 there are few die well that die in a battle, for how
1994 can they charitably dispose of anything when blood
1995 is their argument? Now, if these men do not die
1996 well, it will be a black matter for the king that led
1997 150 them to it, who to disobey were against all proportion
1998 of subjection.
KING HENRY 1999 So, if a son that is by his father sent about
2000 merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea,
2001 the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule,
2002 155 should be imposed upon his father that sent him.
2004 a sum of money, be assailed by robbers and
2005 die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the
2006 business of the master the author of the servant’s
2007 160 damnation. But this is not so. The King is not bound
2008 to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the
2009 father of his son, nor the master of his servant, for
2010 they purpose not their death when they purpose
2011 their services. Besides, there is no king, be his cause
2012 165 never so spotless, if it come to the arbitrament of
2013 swords, can try it out with all unspotted soldiers.
2014 Some, peradventure, have on them the guilt of
2015 premeditated and contrived murder; some, of beguiling
2016 virgins with the broken seals of perjury;
2017 170 some, making the wars their bulwark, that have
2018 before gored the gentle bosom of peace with pillage
2019 and robbery. Now, if these men have defeated the
2020 law and outrun native punishment, though they can
2021 outstrip men, they have no wings to fly from God.
2022 175 War is His beadle, war is His vengeance, so that here
2023 men are punished for before-breach of the King’s
2024 laws in now the King’s quarrel. Where they feared
2025 the death, they have borne life away; and where they
2026 would be safe, they perish. Then, if they die unprovided,
2027 180 no more is the King guilty of their damnation
2028 than he was before guilty of those impieties for the
2029 which they are now visited. Every subject’s duty is
2030 the King’s, but every subject’s soul is his own.
2031 Therefore should every soldier in the wars do as
2032 185 every sick man in his bed: wash every mote out of
2033 his conscience. And, dying so, death is to him
2034 advantage; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost
2035 wherein such preparation was gained. And in him
2036 that escapes, it were not sin to think that, making
2037 190 God so free an offer, He let him outlive that day to
2039 should prepare.
WILLIAMS 2040 ’Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill
2041 upon his own head; the King is not to answer it.
BATES 2042 195I do not desire he should answer for me, and yet
2043 I determine to fight lustily for him.
KING HENRY 2044 I myself heard the King say he would not
2045 be ransomed.
WILLIAMS 2046 Ay, he said so to make us fight cheerfully,
2047 200 but when our throats are cut, he may be ransomed
2048 and we ne’er the wiser.
KING HENRY 2049 If I live to see it, I will never trust his
2050 word after.
WILLIAMS 2051 You pay him then. That’s a perilous shot out
2052 205 of an elder gun, that a poor and a private displeasure
2053 can do against a monarch. You may as well go
2054 about to turn the sun to ice with fanning in his face
2055 with a peacock’s feather. You’ll “never trust his
2056 word after.” Come, ’tis a foolish saying.
KING HENRY 2057 210Your reproof is something too round. I
2058 should be angry with you if the time were
WILLIAMS 2060 Let it be a quarrel between us, if you live.
KING HENRY 2061 I embrace it.
WILLIAMS 2062 215How shall I know thee again?
KING HENRY 2063 Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear
2064 it in my bonnet. Then, if ever thou dar’st acknowledge
2065 it, I will make it my quarrel.
WILLIAMS 2066 Here’s my glove. Give me another of thine.
KING HENRY 2067 220There.⌜They exchange gloves.⌝
WILLIAMS 2068 This will I also wear in my cap. If ever thou
2069 come to me and say, after tomorrow, “This is my
2070 glove,” by this hand I will take thee a box on the
KING HENRY 2072 225If ever I live to see it, I will challenge it.
WILLIAMS 2073 Thou dar’st as well be hanged.
2075 King’s company.
WILLIAMS 2076 Keep thy word. Fare thee well.
BATES 2077 230Be friends, you English fools, be friends. We
2078 have French quarrels enough, if you could tell how
2079 to reckon.
KING HENRY 2080 Indeed, the French may lay twenty
2081 French crowns to one they will beat us, for they
2082 235 bear them on their shoulders. But it is no English
2083 treason to cut French crowns, and tomorrow the
2084 King himself will be a clipper.
2085 Upon the King! Let us our lives, our souls, our
2086 debts, our careful wives, our children, and our sins,
2087 240 lay on the King!
2088 We must bear all. O hard condition,
2089 Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
2090 Of every fool whose sense no more can feel
2091 But his own wringing. What infinite heart’s ease
2092 245 Must kings neglect that private men enjoy?
2093 And what have kings that privates have not too,
2094 Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
2095 And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
2096 What kind of god art thou that suffer’st more
2097 250 Of mortal griefs than do thy worshipers?
2098 What are thy rents? What are thy comings-in?
2099 O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
2100 What is thy soul of adoration?
2101 Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form,
2102 255 Creating awe and fear in other men,
2103 Wherein thou art less happy, being feared,
2104 Than they in fearing?
2105 What drink’st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
2106 But poisoned flattery? O, be sick, great greatness,
2107 260 And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!
2108 Think’st thou the fiery fever will go out
2110 Will it give place to flexure and low bending?
2111 Canst thou, when thou command’st the beggar’s
2112 265 knee,
2113 Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,
2114 That play’st so subtly with a king’s repose.
2115 I am a king that find thee, and I know
2116 ’Tis not the balm, the scepter, and the ball,
2117 270 The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,
2118 The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,
2119 The farcèd title running ’fore the King,
2120 The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp
2121 That beats upon the high shore of this world;
2122 275 No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,
2123 Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
2124 Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave
2125 Who, with a body filled and vacant mind,
2126 Gets him to rest, crammed with distressful bread;
2127 280 Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,
2128 But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
2129 Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
2130 Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn
2131 Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,
2132 285 And follows so the ever-running year
2133 With profitable labor to his grave.
2134 And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,
2135 Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,
2136 Had the forehand and vantage of a king.
2137 290 The slave, a member of the country’s peace,
2138 Enjoys it, but in gross brain little wots
2139 What watch the King keeps to maintain the peace,
2140 Whose hours the peasant best advantages.
2141 My lord, your nobles, jealous of your absence,
KING HENRY 2143 Good old knight,
2144 Collect them all together at my tent.
2145 I’ll be before thee.
ERPINGHAM 2146 I shall do ’t, my lord.He exits.
2147 300 O God of battles, steel my soldiers’ hearts.
2148 Possess them not with fear. Take from them now
2149 The sense of reck’ning ⌜or⌝ th’ opposèd numbers
2150 Pluck their hearts from them. Not today, O Lord,
2151 O, not today, think not upon the fault
2152 305 My father made in compassing the crown.
2153 I Richard’s body have interrèd new
2154 And on it have bestowed more contrite tears
2155 Than from it issued forcèd drops of blood.
2156 Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay
2157 310 Who twice a day their withered hands hold up
2158 Toward heaven to pardon blood. And I have built
2159 Two chantries where the sad and solemn priests
2160 Sing still for Richard’s soul. More will I do—
2161 Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
2162 315 Since that my penitence comes after all,
2163 Imploring pardon.
GLOUCESTER 2164 My liege.
KING HENRY 2165 My brother Gloucester’s voice.—Ay,
2166 I know thy errand. I will go with thee.
2167 320 The day, my ⌜friends,⌝ and all things stay for me.