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

Act V. Scene II.

The Life of King Henry the Fifth

Troyes in Champagne.An Apartment in the FRENCH KING’S Palace.

Enter, from one side, KING HENRY, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, EXETER, WARWICK, WESTMORELAND, and other Lords; from the other side, the FRENCH KING, QUEEN ISABEL, the PRINCESS KATHARINE, ALICE and other Ladies; the DUKE OF BURGUNDY, and his Train.

K. Hen.Peace to this meeting, wherefore we are met!

Unto our brother France, and to our sister,

Health and fair time of day; joy and good wishes

To our most fair and princely cousin Katharine;

And, as a branch and member of this royalty,

By whom this great assembly is contriv’d,

We do salute you, Duke of Burgundy;

And, princes French, and peers, health to you all!

Fr. King.Right joyous are we to behold your face,

Most worthy brother England; fairly met:

So are you, princes English, every one.

Q. Isa.So happy be the issue, brother England,

Of this good day and of this gracious meeting,

As we are now glad to behold your eyes;

Your eyes, which hitherto have borne in them

Against the French, that met them in their bent,

The fatal balls of murdering basilisks:

The venom of such looks, we fairly hope,

Have lost their quality, and that this day

Shall change all griefs and quarrels into love.

K. Hen.To cry amen to that, thus we appear.

Q. Isa.You English princes all, I do salute you.

Bur.My duty to you both, on equal love,

Great Kings of France and England! That I have labour’d

With all my wits, my pains, and strong endeavours,

To bring your most imperial majesties

Unto this bar and royal interview,

Your mightiness on both parts best can witness.

Since then my office hath so far prevail’d

That face to face, and royal eye to eye,

You have congreeted, let it not disgrace me

If I demand before this royal view,

What rub or what impediment there is,

Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace,

Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births,

Should not in this best garden of the world.

Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage?

Alas! she hath from France too long been chas’d,

And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,

Corrupting in its own fertility.

Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,

Unpruned dies; her hedges even-pleach’d,

Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,

Put forth disorder’d twigs; her fallow leas

The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory

Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts

That should deracinate such savagery;

The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth

The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover,

Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank,

Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems

But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burs,

Losing both beauty and utility;

And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges,

Defective in their natures, grow to wildness,

Even so our houses and ourselves and children

Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,

The sciences that should become our country,

But grow like savages,—as soldiers will,

That nothing do but meditate on blood,—

To swearing and stern looks, diffus’d attire,

And every thing that seems unnatural.

Which to reduce into our former favour

You are assembled; and my speech entreats

That I may know the let why gentle Peace

Should not expel these inconveniences,

And bless us with her former qualities.

K. Hen.If, Duke of Burgundy, you would the peace,

Whose want gives growth to the imperfections

Which you have cited, you must buy that peace

With full accord to all our just demands;

Whose tenours and particular effects

You have, enschedul’d briefly, in your hands.

Bur.The king hath heard them; to the which as yet,

There is no answer made.

K. Hen.Well then the peace,

Which you before so urg’d, lies in his answer.

Fr. King.I have but with a cursorary eye

O’erglanc’d the articles: pleaseth your Grace

To appoint some of your council presently

To sit with us once more, with better heed

To re-survey them, we will suddenly

Pass our accept and peremptory answer.

K. Hen.Brother, we shall. Go, uncle Exeter,

And brother Clarence, and you, brother Gloucester,

Warwick and Huntingdon, go with the king;

And take with you free power to ratify,

Augment, or alter, as your wisdoms best

Shall see advantageable for our dignity,

Anything in or out of our demands,

And we’ll consign thereto. Will you, fair sister,

Go with the princes, or stay here with us?

Q. Isa.Our gracious brother, I will go with them.

Haply a woman’s voice may do some good

When articles too nicely urg’d be stood on.

K. Hen.Yet leave our cousin Katharine here with us:

She is our capital demand, compris’d

Within the fore-rank of our articles.

Q. Isa.She hath good leave.[Exeunt all except KING HENRY, KATHARINE, and ALICE.

K. Hen.Fair Katharine, and most fair!

Will you vouchsafe to teach a soldier terms,

Such as will enter at a lady’s ear,

And plead his love-suit to her gentle heart?

Kath.Your majesty sall mock at me; I cannot speak your England.

K. Hen.O fair Katharine! if you will love me soundly with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it brokenly with your English tongue. Do you like me, Kate?

Kath.Pardonnez moy, I cannot tell vat is ‘like me.’

K. Hen.An angel is like you, Kate; and you are like an angel.

Kath.Que dit-il? que je suis semblable à les anges?

Alice.Ouy, vrayment, sauf vostre grace, ainsi dit-il.

K. Hen.I said so, dear Katharine; and I must not blush to affirm it.

Kath.O bon Dieu! les langues des hommes sont pleines des tromperies.

K. Hen.What says she, fair one? that the tongues of men are full of deceits?

Alice.Ouy, dat de tongues of de mans is be full of deceits: dat is de princess.

K. Hen.The princess is the better English-woman. I’ faith, Kate, my wooing is fit for thy understanding: I am glad thou canst speak no better English; for, if thou couldst, thou wouldst find me such a plain king that thou wouldst think I had sold my farm to buy my crown. I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say ‘I love you:’ then, if you urge me further than to say ‘Do you in faith?’ I wear out my suit. Give me your answer; i’ faith do: and so clap hands and a bargain. How say you, lady?

Kath.Sauf vostre honneur, me understand vell.

K. Hen.Marry, if you would put me to verses, or to dance for your sake, Kate, why you undid me: for the one, I have neither words nor measure, and for the other, I have no strength in measure, yet a reasonable measure in strength. If I could win a lady at leap-frog, or by vaulting into my saddle with my armour on my back, under the correction of bragging be it spoken, I should quickly leap into a wife. Or if I might buffet for my love, or bound my horse for her favours, I could lay on like a butcher and sit like a jack-an-apes, never off. But before God, Kate, I cannot look greenly nor gasp out my eloquence, nor I have no cunning in protestation; only downright oaths, which I never use till urged, nor never break for urging. If thou canst love a fellow of this temper, Kate, whose face is not worth sun-burning, that never looks in his glass for love of anything he sees there, let thine eye be thy cook. I speak to thee plain soldier: if thou canst love me for this, take me; if not, to say to thee that I shall die, is true; but for thy love, by the Lord, no; yet I love thee too. And while thou livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined constancy, for he perforce must do thee right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places; for these fellows of infinite tongue, that can rime themselves into ladies’ favours, they do always reason themselves out again. What! a speaker is but a prater; a rime is but a ballad. A good leg will fall, a straight back will stoop, a black beard will turn white, a curled pate will grow bald, a fair face will wither, a full eye will wax hollow, but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me; and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king. And what sayest thou then to my love? speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee.

Kath.Is it possible dat I sould love de enemy of France?

K. Hen.No; it is not possible you should love the enemy of France, Kate; but, in loving me, you should love the friend of France; for I love France so well, that I will not part with a village of it; I will have it all mine: and, Kate, when France is mine and I am yours, then yours is France and you are mine.

Kath.I cannot tell vat is dat.

K. Hen.No, Kate? I will tell thee in French, which I am sure will hang upon my tongue like a new-married wife about her husband’s neck, hardly to be shook off. Je quand sur le possession de France, et quand vous avez le possession de moy,—let me see, what then? Saint Denis be my speed!—donc vostre est France, et vous estes mienne. It is as easy for me, Kate, to conquer the kingdom, as to speak so much more French: I shall never move thee in French, unless it be to laugh at me.

Kath.Sauf vostre honneur, le François que vous parlez est meilleur que l’Anglois lequel je parle.

K. Hen.No, faith, is ’t not, Kate; but thy speaking of my tongue, and I thine, most truly falsely, must needs be granted to be much at one. But, Kate, dost thou understand thus much English, Canst thou love me?

Kath.I cannot tell.

K. Hen.Can any of your neighbours tell, Kate? I’ll ask them. Come, I know thou lovest me; and at night when you come into your closet you’ll question this gentlewoman about me; and I know, Kate, you will to her dispraise those parts in me that you love with your heart: but, good Kate, mock me mercifully; the rather, gentle princess, because I love thee cruelly. If ever thou be’st mine, Kate,—as I have a saving faith within me tells me thou shalt,—I get thee with scambling, and thou must therefore needs prove a good soldier-breeder. Shall not thou and I, between Saint Denis and Saint George, compound a boy, half French, half English, that shall go to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard? shall we not? what sayest thou, my fair flower-de-luce?

Kath.I do not know dat.

K. Hen.No; ’tis hereafter to know, but now to promise: do but now promise, Kate, you will endeavour for your French part of such a boy, and for my English moiety take the word of a king and a bachelor. How answer you, la plus belle Katharine du monde, mon très cher et divine déesse?

Kath.Your majesté ave fausse French enough to deceive de most sage demoiselle dat is en France.

K. Hen.Now, fie upon my false French! By mine honour, in true English I love thee, Kate: by which honour I dare not swear thou lovest me; yet my blood begins to flatter me that thou dost, not withstanding the poor and untempering effect of my visage. Now beshrew my father’s ambition! he was thinking of civil wars when he got me: therefore was I created with a stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that, when I come to woo ladies I fright them. But, in faith, Kate, the elder I wax the better I shall appear: my comfort is, that old age, that ill layer-up of beauty, can do no more spoil upon my face: thou hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better. And therefore tell me, most fair Katharine, will you have me? Put off your maiden blushes; avouch the thoughts of your heart with the looks of an empress; take me by the hand, and say ‘Harry of England, I am thine:’ which word thou shalt no sooner bless mine ear withal, but I will tell thee aloud—‘England is thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and Henry Plantagenet is thine;’ who, though I speak it before his face, if he be not fellow with the best king, thou shalt find the best king of good fellows. Come, your answer in broken music; for thy voice is music, and thy English broken; therefore, queen of all, Katharine, break thy mind to me in broken English: wilt thou have me?

Kath.Dat is as it sall please de roy mon père.

K. Hen.Nay, it will please him well, Kate; it shall please him, Kate.

Kath.Den it sall also content me.

K. Hen.Upon that I kiss your hand, and I call you my queen.

Kath.Laissez, mon seigneur, laissez, laissez! Ma foy, je ne veux point que vous abaissez vostre grandeur, en baisant la main d’une vostre indigne serviteure: excusez moy, je vous supplie, mon très puissant seigneur.

K. Hen.Then I will kiss your lips, Kate.

Kath.Les dames, et demoiselles, pour estre baisées devant leur noces, il n’est pas la coutume de France.

K. Hen.Madam my interpreter, what says she?

Alice.Dat it is not be de fashion pour les ladies of France,—I cannot tell what is baiser in English.

K. Hen.To kiss.

Alice.Your majesty entendre bettre que moy.

K. Hen.It is not a fashion for the maids in France to kiss before they are married, would she say?

Alice.Ouy, vrayment.

K. Hen.O Kate! nice customs curtsy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country’s fashion: we are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places stops the mouths of all find-faults, as I will do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your country in denying me a kiss: therefore, patiently, and yielding[Kissing her].You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate: there is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them, than in the tongues of the French council; and they should sooner persuade Harry of England than a general petition of monarchs. Here comes your father.

Re-enter the KING and QUEEN, BURGUNDY, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, EXETER, WARWICK, WESTMORELAND, and other French and English Lords.

Bur.God save your majesty! My royal cousin, teach you our princess English?

K. Hen.I would have her learn, my fair cousin, how perfectly I love her; and that is good English.

Bur.Is she not apt?

K. Hen.Our tongue is rough, coz, and my condition is not smooth; so that, having neither the voice nor the heart of flattery about me, I cannot so conjure up the spirit of love in her, that he will appear in his true likeness.

Bur.Pardon the frankness of my mirth if I answer you for that. If you would conjure in her, you must make a circle; if conjure up Love in her in his true likeness, he must appear naked and blind. Can you blame her then, being a maid yet rosed over with the virgin crimson of modesty, if she deny the appearance of a naked blind boy in her naked seeing self? It were, my lord, a hard condition for a maid to consign to.

K. Hen.Yet they do wink and yield, as love is blind and enforces.

Bur.They are then excused, my lord, when they see not what they do.

K. Hen.Then, good my lord, teach your cousin to consent winking.

Bur.I will wink on her to consent, my lord, if you will teach her to know my meaning: for maids, well summered and warm kept, are like flies at Bartholomew-tide, blind, though they have their eyes; and then they will endure handling, which before would not abide looking on.

K. Hen.This moral ties me over to time and a hot summer; and so I shall catch the fly, your cousin, in the latter end, and she must be blind too.

Bur.As love is, my lord, before it loves.

K. Hen.It is so: and you may, some of you, thank love for my blindness, who cannot see many a fair French city for one fair French maid that stands in my way.

Fr. King.Yes, my lord, you see them perspectively, the cities turned into a maid; for they are all girdled with maiden walls that war hath never entered.

K. Hen.Shall Kate be my wife?

Fr. King.So please you.

K. Hen.I am content; so the maiden cities you talk of may wait on her: so the maid that stood in the way for my wish shall show me the way to my will.

Fr. King.We have consented to all terms of reason.

K. Hen.Is ’t so, my lords of England?

West.The king hath granted every article:

His daughter first, and then in sequel all,

According to their firm proposed natures.

Exe.Only he hath not yet subscribed this: Where your majesty demands, that the King of France, having any occasion to write for matter of grant, shall name your highness in this form, and with this addition, in French, Notre très cher filz Henry roy d’Angleterre, Héretier de France; and thus in Latin, Præclarissimus filius noster Henricus, Rex Angliæ, et Hæres Franciæ.

Fr. King.Nor this I have not, brother, so denied,

But your request shall make me let it pass.

K. Hen.I pray you then, in love and dear alliance,

Let that one article rank with the rest;

And thereupon give me your daughter.

Fr. King.Take her, fair son; and from her blood raise up

Issue to me; that the contending kingdoms

Of France and England, whose very shores look pale

With envy of each other’s happiness,

May cease their hatred, and this dear conjunction

Plant neighbourhood and Christian-like accord

In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance

His bleeding sword ’twixt England and fair France.


K. Hen.Now, welcome, Kate: and bear me witness all,

That here I kiss her as my sovereign queen.[Flourish.

Q. Isa.God, the best maker of all marriages,

Combine your hearts in one, your realms in one!

As man and wife, being two, are one in love,

So be there ’twixt your kingdoms such a spousal

That never may ill office, or fell jealousy,

Which troubles oft the bed of blessed marriage,

Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms,

To make divorce of their incorporate league;

That English may as French, French Englishmen,

Receive each other! God speak this Amen!


K. Hen.Prepare we for our marriage: on which day,

My Lord of Burgundy, we’ll take your oath,

And all the peers’, for surety of our leagues.

Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me;

And may our oaths well kept and prosperous be![Sennet.Exeunt.

Enter Chorus.

Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,

Our bending author hath pursu’d the story;

In little room confining mighty men,

Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.

Small time, but in that small most greatly liv’d

This star of England: Fortune made his sword,

By which the world’s best garden he achiev’d,

And of it left his son imperial lord.

Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crown’d King

Of France and England, did this king succeed;

Whose state so many had the managing,

That they lost France and made his England bleed:

Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their sake,

In your fair minds let this acceptance take.[Exit.