Document:  All > Shakespeare > Histories > King Henry V > Act I, scene II


KING HENRY V: Where is my gracious Lord of Canterbury?

EXETER: Not here in presence.

KING HENRY V: Send for him, good uncle.

WESTMORELAND: Shall we call in the ambassador, my liege?

KING HENRY V: Not yet, my cousin: we would be resolved,
	Before we hear him, of some things of weight
	That task our thoughts, concerning us and France.


CANTERBURY: God and his angels guard your sacred throne
	And make you long become it!

KING HENRY V: Sure, we thank you.
	My learned lord, we pray you to proceed
	And justly and religiously unfold
	Why the law Salique that they have in France
	Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim:
	And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,
	That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your reading,
	Or nicely charge your understanding soul
	With opening titles miscreate, whose right
	Suits not in native colours with the truth;
	For God doth know how many now in health
	Shall drop their blood in approbation
	Of what your reverence shall incite us to.
	Therefore take heed how you impawn our person,
	How you awake our sleeping sword of war:
	We charge you, in the name of God, take heed;
	For never two such kingdoms did contend
	Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless drops
	Are every one a woe, a sore complaint
	'Gainst him whose wrong gives edge unto the swords
	That make such waste in brief mortality.
	Under this conjuration, speak, my lord;
	For we will hear, note and believe in heart
	That what you speak is in your conscience wash'd
	As pure as sin with baptism.

CANTERBURY: Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers,
	That owe yourselves, your lives and services
	To this imperial throne. There is no bar
	To make against your highness' claim to France
	But this, which they produce from Pharamond,
	'In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant:'
	'No woman shall succeed in Salique land:'
	Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze
	To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
	The founder of this law and female bar.
	Yet their own authors faithfully affirm
	That the land Salique is in Germany,
	Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe;
	Where Charles the Great, having subdued the Saxons,
	There left behind and settled certain French;
	Who, holding in disdain the German women
	For some dishonest manners of their life,
	Establish'd then this law; to wit, no female
	Should be inheritrix in Salique land:
	Which Salique, as I said, 'twixt Elbe and Sala,
	Is at this day in Germany call'd Meisen.
	Then doth it well appear that Salique law
	Was not devised for the realm of France:
	Nor did the French possess the Salique land
	Until four hundred one and twenty years
	After defunction of King Pharamond,
	Idly supposed the founder of this law;
	Who died within the year of our redemption
	Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the Great
	Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French
	Beyond the river Sala, in the year
	Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
	King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
	Did, as heir general, being descended
	Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
	Make claim and title to the crown of France.
	Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown
	Of Charles the duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
	Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
	To find his title with some shows of truth,
	'Through, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,
	Convey'd himself as heir to the Lady Lingare,
	Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
	To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
	Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
	Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
	Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
	Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
	That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
	Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
	Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorraine:
	By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great
	Was re-united to the crown of France.
	So that, as clear as is the summer's sun.
	King Pepin's title and Hugh Capet's claim,
	King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
	To hold in right and title of the female:
	So do the kings of France unto this day;
	Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law
	To bar your highness claiming from the female,
	And rather choose to hide them in a net
	Than amply to imbar their crooked titles
	Usurp'd from you and your progenitors.

KING HENRY V: May I with right and conscience make this claim?

CANTERBURY: The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!
	For in the book of Numbers is it writ,
	When the man dies, let the inheritance
	Descend unto the daughter. Gracious lord,
	Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag;
	Look back into your mighty ancestors:
	Go, my dread lord, to your great-grandsire's tomb,
	From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit,
	And your great-uncle's, Edward the Black Prince,
	Who on the French ground play'd a tragedy,
	Making defeat on the full power of France,
	Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
	Stood smiling to behold his lion's whelp
	Forage in blood of French nobility.
	O noble English. that could entertain
	With half their forces the full Pride of France
	And let another half stand laughing by,
	All out of work and cold for action!

ELY: Awake remembrance of these valiant dead
	And with your puissant arm renew their feats:
	You are their heir; you sit upon their throne;
	The blood and courage that renowned them
	Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
	Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
	Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.

EXETER: Your brother kings and monarchs of the earth
	Do all expect that you should rouse yourself,
	As did the former lions of your blood.

WESTMORELAND: They know your grace hath cause and means and might;
	So hath your highness; never king of England
	Had nobles richer and more loyal subjects,
	Whose hearts have left their bodies here in England
	And lie pavilion'd in the fields of France.

CANTERBURY: O, let their bodies follow, my dear liege,
	With blood and sword and fire to win your right;
	In aid whereof we of the spiritualty
	Will raise your highness such a mighty sum
	As never did the clergy at one time
	Bring in to any of your ancestors.

KING HENRY V: We must not only arm to invade the French,
	But lay down our proportions to defend
	Against the Scot, who will make road upon us
	With all advantages.

CANTERBURY: They of those marches, gracious sovereign,
	Shall be a wall sufficient to defend
	Our inland from the pilfering borderers.

KING HENRY V: We do not mean the coursing snatchers only,
	But fear the main intendment of the Scot,
	Who hath been still a giddy neighbour to us;
	For you shall read that my great-grandfather
	Never went with his forces into France
	But that the Scot on his unfurnish'd kingdom
	Came pouring, like the tide into a breach,
	With ample and brim fulness of his force,
	Galling the gleaned land with hot assays,
	Girding with grievous siege castles and towns;
	That England, being empty of defence,
	Hath shook and trembled at the ill neighbourhood.

CANTERBURY: She hath been then more fear'd than harm'd, my liege;
	For hear her but exampled by herself:
	When all her chivalry hath been in France
	And she a mourning widow of her nobles,
	She hath herself not only well defended
	But taken and impounded as a stray
	The King of Scots; whom she did send to France,
	To fill King Edward's fame with prisoner kings
	And make her chronicle as rich with praise
	As is the ooze and bottom of the sea
	With sunken wreck and sunless treasuries.

WESTMORELAND: But there's a saying very old and true,
	'If that you will France win,
	Then with Scotland first begin:'
	For once the eagle England being in prey,
	To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot
	Comes sneaking and so sucks her princely eggs,
	Playing the mouse in absence of the cat,
	To tear and havoc more than she can eat.

EXETER: It follows then the cat must stay at home:
	Yet that is but a crush'd necessity,
	Since we have locks to safeguard necessaries,
	And pretty traps to catch the petty thieves.
	While that the armed hand doth fight abroad,
	The advised head defends itself at home;
	For government, though high and low and lower,
	Put into parts, doth keep in one consent,
	Congreeing in a full and natural close,
	Like music.

CANTERBURY:           Therefore doth heaven divide
	The state of man in divers functions,
	Setting endeavour in continual motion;
	To which is fixed, as an aim or butt,
	Obedience: for so work the honey-bees,
	Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
	The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
	They have a king and officers of sorts;
	Where some, like magistrates, correct at home,
	Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad,
	Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
	Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds,
	Which pillage they with merry march bring home
	To the tent-royal of their emperor;
	Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
	The singing masons building roofs of gold,
	The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
	The poor mechanic porters crowding in
	Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
	The sad-eyed justice, with his surly hum,
	Delivering o'er to executors pale
	The lazy yawning drone. I this infer,
	That many things, having full reference
	To one consent, may work contrariously:
	As many arrows, loosed several ways,
	Come to one mark; as many ways meet in one town;
	As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea;
	As many lines close in the dial's centre;
	So may a thousand actions, once afoot.
	End in one purpose, and be all well borne
	Without defeat. Therefore to France, my liege.
	Divide your happy England into four;
	Whereof take you one quarter into France,
	And you withal shall make all Gallia shake.
	If we, with thrice such powers left at home,
	Cannot defend our own doors from the dog,
	Let us be worried and our nation lose
	The name of hardiness and policy.

KING HENRY V: Call in the messengers sent from the Dauphin.

	[Exeunt some Attendants]

	Now are we well resolved; and, by God's help,
	And yours, the noble sinews of our power,
	France being ours, we'll bend it to our awe,
	Or break it all to pieces: or there we'll sit,
	Ruling in large and ample empery
	O'er France and all her almost kingly dukedoms,
	Or lay these bones in an unworthy urn,
	Tombless, with no remembrance over them:
	Either our history shall with full mouth
	Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave,
	Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,
	Not worshipp'd with a waxen epitaph.

	[Enter Ambassadors of France]

	Now are we well prepared to know the pleasure
	Of our fair cousin Dauphin; for we hear
	Your greeting is from him, not from the king.

First Ambassador: May't please your majesty to give us leave
	Freely to render what we have in charge;
	Or shall we sparingly show you far off
	The Dauphin's meaning and our embassy?

KING HENRY V: We are no tyrant, but a Christian king;
	Unto whose grace our passion is as subject
	As are our wretches fetter'd in our prisons:
	Therefore with frank and with uncurbed plainness
	Tell us the Dauphin's mind.

First Ambassador: Thus, then, in few.
	Your highness, lately sending into France,
	Did claim some certain dukedoms, in the right
	Of your great predecessor, King Edward the Third.
	In answer of which claim, the prince our master
	Says that you savour too much of your youth,
	And bids you be advised there's nought in France
	That can be with a nimble galliard won;
	You cannot revel into dukedoms there.
	He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit,
	This tun of treasure; and, in lieu of this,
	Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim
	Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.

KING HENRY V: What treasure, uncle?

EXETER: Tennis-balls, my liege.

KING HENRY V: We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;
	His present and your pains we thank you for:
	When we have march'd our rackets to these balls,
	We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set
	Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.
	Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
	That all the courts of France will be disturb'd
	With chaces. And we understand him well,
	How he comes o'er us with our wilder days,
	Not measuring what use we made of them.
	We never valued this poor seat of England;
	And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
	To barbarous licence; as 'tis ever common
	That men are merriest when they are from home.
	But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
	Be like a king and show my sail of greatness
	When I do rouse me in my throne of France:
	For that I have laid by my majesty
	And plodded like a man for working-days,
	But I will rise there with so full a glory
	That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
	Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
	And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
	Hath turn'd his balls to gun-stones; and his soul
	Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance
	That shall fly with them: for many a thousand widows
	Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands;
	Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;
	And some are yet ungotten and unborn
	That shall have cause to curse the Dauphin's scorn.
	But this lies all within the will of God,
	To whom I do appeal; and in whose name
	Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
	To venge me as I may and to put forth
	My rightful hand in a well-hallow'd cause.
	So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin
	His jest will savour but of shallow wit,
	When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.
	Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well.

	[Exeunt Ambassadors]

EXETER: This was a merry message.

KING HENRY V: We hope to make the sender blush at it.
	Therefore, my lords, omit no happy hour
	That may give furtherance to our expedition;
	For we have now no thought in us but France,
	Save those to God, that run before our business.
	Therefore let our proportions for these wars
	Be soon collected and all things thought upon
	That may with reasonable swiftness add
	More feathers to our wings; for, God before,
	We'll chide this Dauphin at his father's door.
	Therefore let every man now task his thought,
	That this fair action may on foot be brought.

	[Exeunt. Flourish]



	[Enter Chorus]

Chorus: Now all the youth of England are on fire,
	And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies:
	Now thrive the armourers, and honour's thought
	Reigns solely in the breast of every man:
	They sell the pasture now to buy the horse,
	Following the mirror of all Christian kings,
	With winged heels, as English Mercuries.
	For now sits Expectation in the air,
	And hides a sword from hilts unto the point
	With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets,
	Promised to Harry and his followers.
	The French, advised by good intelligence
	Of this most dreadful preparation,
	Shake in their fear and with pale policy
	Seek to divert the English purposes.
	O England! model to thy inward greatness,
	Like little body with a mighty heart,
	What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,
	Were all thy children kind and natural!
	But see thy fault! France hath in thee found out
	A nest of hollow bosoms, which he fills
	With treacherous crowns; and three corrupted men,
	One, Richard Earl of Cambridge, and the second,
	Henry Lord Scroop of Masham, and the third,
	Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland,
	Have, for the gilt of France,--O guilt indeed!
	Confirm'd conspiracy with fearful France;
	And by their hands this grace of kings must die,
	If hell and treason hold their promises,
	Ere he take ship for France, and in Southampton.
	Linger your patience on; and we'll digest
	The abuse of distance; force a play:
	The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed;
	The king is set from London; and the scene
	Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton;
	There is the playhouse now, there must you sit:
	And thence to France shall we convey you safe,
	And bring you back, charming the narrow seas
	To give you gentle pass; for, if we may,
	We'll not offend one stomach with our play.
	But, till the king come forth, and not till then,
	Unto Southampton do we shift our scene.



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