Henry V

by William Shakespeare

second reading selection

Scene 5: The Night before the battle of Agincourt

[These scenes run from 1:13:27-1:15:25 (for those with DVDs, this one begins one minute into ch. 24 and runs until the end of that chapter); 1:18:20-1:28:36 (for those with DVDs, it runs from three minutes into ch. 25 until the end of ch. 26.]

Prologue, Act IV. With the English army in France.

Chorus (narrator): ... O, now, who will behold,
The royal captain of this ruined band.
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry “Praise and glory on his head!”
For forth he goes and visits all his host,
Bids them good morrow with a modest smile,
And calls them brothers, friends, and countrymen.
[Upon his face there is no note
how dread an army hath enrounded him.]...
A largess universal, like the sun,
His liberal eye doth give to everyone,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,
Behold as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night....

Act IV, Scene 1. The English camp near Agincourt. Henry and his army await battle. In the next exchange, Henry speaks to his two brothers, the dukes of Gloucester and Bedford.

Henry V: [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 distill it out:
For our bad neighbor makes us early stirrers,
Which is both helpful 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.]

Enter Erpingham.

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."

Henry V: ...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?

Henry V: No, my good knight.
Go with my brothers to my lords of England.
I am my bosom must debate a while,
And then I would no other company.

Erpingham: The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry.

All exeunt, except Henry.

Henry V: God-a-mercy, old heart! thou speak'st cheerfully.

[The next section runs from 1:18:20-1:28:36 (for those with DVDs, it runs from three minutes into ch. 25 until the end of ch. 26.]

[Henry, hidden by Sir Thomas Erpingham’s cloak, arrives at the campfire of a group of English soldiers, including Court, Bates, and Williams.]

Court: Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which breaks yonder?

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. Henry cracks twig. Who goes there?

Henry V: A friend.

Williams: Under what captain serve you?

Henry V: Under Sir Thomas Erpingham.

Williams: A good old commander and a most kind gentleman: I pray you, what thinks he of our estate?

Henry V: Even as men wrecked upon a sand, that look to be washed off at the next tide.

Williams: He hath not told his thoughts to the king?

Henry V: No, nor is it not meet that he should. I think the king is but a man as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me. 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 reasons of fear, 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 distress his army.]

Bates: He may show what outward courage he will, but I believe, as cold a night as ‘tis, that 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.

Henry V: ...I think he would not wish himself anywhere but where he is.

Bates: Then I wish he were here alone....

Henry V: [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 honorable.

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 chopped off in the 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 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....

Henry V: 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 the father that sent him. But this is not so.... The king is not bound to answer to the particular endings of his soldiers, nor the father of his son; for they purpose not their deaths when they purpose their services. Besides there is no king, be his cause never so spotless, 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 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; ... Then if they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of their damnation than he was before guilty of those impieties for which they are now visited.] Every subjects duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul’s 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 other how they should prepare.]

Williams: ‘Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill upon his own head; the king is not to answer it.

Bates: I do not desire he should answer for me; and yet I determine to fight lustily for him.

Henry V: I myself heard the king say he would not be ransomed.

Williams: Ay, he said so to make us fight cheerfully; but when our throats our cut, he may be ransomed, and we ne’er the wiser.

Henry V: If I live to see it, I’ll never trust his word after.

Williams: You pay him, then! That’s a perilous shot out of an elder gun that a poor and a private displeasure can do against a monarch. You may as well go about to turn the sun to ice with fanning in his face with a peacock’s feather.
William stands up, Bates does also and grabs cloak of Henry.
You’ll never trust his word after! Come, ‘tis a foolish saying.

Henry V: Your reproof is something too round: I should be angry with you if time were convenient.

Williams throws glove at Henry's feet

Williams: Let it be a quarrel between us, if you live....

Bates: Be friends, you English fools, be friends: we have French quarrels enough.

Williams and other soldiers leave; Henry remains at fire alone.

Henry V: Upon the king! Let us our lives, our souls,
Our debts, our careful wives,
Our children, and our sins lay on the king!
We must bear all. O hard condition!
Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
Of every fool.... What infinite heart’s ease
must kings neglect that private men enjoy!
And what have kings that privates have not too,
Save ceremony, [save general ceremony]?
And what art thou, thou idol Ceremony?
[What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more
Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?
What are they rents? What are thy comings-in?
O Ceremony, show me but thy worth!
What is thy soul of adoration?
Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form,
Creating awe and fear in other men?
Wherein thou art less happy being fear’d
Than they in fearing.]
What drinkest thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
But poison’d flattery? O be sick, great greatness,
And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!...
Canst thou when thou command’st the beggar’s knee,
Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,
That play’st so subtly with a king’s repose;
I am a king that find thee; and I know
‘Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball,
The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,
The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,
The farced title running ‘fore the king,
The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp
That beats upon the high shore of the world,
No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,
Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,
Who with body filled and vacant mind
Gets him to rest, crammed with distressful bread…
(another 7 lines give poetic description to the slave’s sound sleep)
…And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,
Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,
Had the forehand and vantage of a king....

enter Erpingham
Erpingham: My lord, your nobles, jealous of your absence,
Seek through the camp to find you.

Henry V: Good old knight,
Collect them altogether at my tent;
I'll be before thee.

Exit Erpingham

Henry V: O God of battles! Steel my soldiers’ hearts;
Possess them not with fear; take from them now
The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers
Pluck their hearts from them.
Not today, O God!
O not today, think not upon the fault
My father made in compassing the crown!
I Richard's body have interred anew
And on it have bestowed more contrite tears
Than from it issued forced drops of blood.
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Who twice a day with their wither’d hands hold up
Toward heaven, to pardon blood; and I have built
Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
Sing still for Richard’s soul. More will I do;
Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
Since that my penitence comes after all,
Imploring pardon.
from distance we hear:
Gloucester: My liege.

Henry V: My brother Gloucester’s voice!
I know thy errand, I will go with thee:
The day, my friends, and all things stay for me.

Scene 6: The Saint Crispin’s Day Speech [This scene runs from 1:30:00-1:33:46. For those with DVDs, it begins one minute and fifteen seconds into ch. 27.]

Act IV, Scene 3. English camp.

Gloucester: Where is the king?

Bedford: The king himself is rode to view their battle.

Westmoreland: Of fighting men they have full threescore thousand.

Exeter: That's five to one; besides they are all fresh....

Westmoreland: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work today!
Enter Henry
Henry V: What's he that wishes so?
My fair cousin Westmoreland?
No, my fair cousin:
If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee wish not one man more.
[By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
... O, do not wish one more!]
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart: his passport shall be made,
And crown for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say "Tomorrow is Saint Crispin's."
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin’s day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son:
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks,
That fought with us upon Saint Cripin's day.

huge cheer from army

first reading selection from Henry V

third reading selection from Henry V

Henry V Questions

Guide to unit 2

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