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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act V. Chorus.

The Life of King Henry the Fifth

Enter Chorus.

Chor.Vouchsafe to those that have not read the story,

That I may prompt them: and of such as have,

I humbly pray them to admit the excuse

Of time, of numbers, and due course of things,

Which cannot in their huge and proper life

Be here presented. Now we bear the king

Toward Calais: grant him there; there seen,

Heave him away upon your winged thoughts

Athwart the sea. Behold, the English beach

Pales in the flood with men, with wives, and boys,

Whose shouts and claps out-voice the deep-mouth’d sea,

Which, like a mighty whiffler ’fore the king,

Seems to prepare his way: so let him land

And solemnly see him set on to London.

So swift a pace hath thought that even now

You may imagine him upon Blackheath;

Where that his lords desire him to have borne

His bruised helmet and his bended sword

Before him through the city: he forbids it,

Being free from vainness and self-glorious pride;

Giving full trophy, signal and ostent,

Quite from himself, to God. But now behold,

In the quick forge and working-house of thought,

How London doth pour out her citizens.

The mayor and all his brethren in best sort,

Like to the senators of the antique Rome,

With the plebeians swarming at their heels,

Go forth and fetch their conquering Cæsar in:

As, by a lower but loving likelihood,

Were now the general of our gracious empress,

As in good time he may,—from Ireland coming,

Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,

How many would the peaceful city quit

To welcome him! much more, and much more cause,

Did they this Harry. Now in London place him;

As yet the lamentation of the French

Invites the King of England’s stay at home,

The emperor’s coming in behalf of France,

To order peace between them;—and omit

All the occurrences, whatever chanc’d,

Till Harry’s back-return again to France:

There must we bring him; and myself have play’d

The interim, by remembering you ’tis past.

Then brook abridgment, and your eyes advance,

After your thoughts, straight back again to France.[Exit.