Henry V By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 1

WILLIAMS.
'Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill upon his own head,
the King is not to answer for it.

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

KING HENRY.
I myself heard the King say he would not be ransom'd.

WILLIAMS.
Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully; but when our
throats are cut, he may be ransom'd, and we ne'er the wiser.

KING HENRY.
If I live to see it, I will 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. You'll never trust his word
after! Come, 'tis a foolish saying.

KING HENRY.
Your reproof is something too round. I should be angry with
you, if the time were convenient.

WILLIAMS.
Let it be a quarrel between us if you live.

KING HENRY.
I embrace it.

WILLIAMS.
How shall I know thee again?

KING HENRY.
Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my bonnet;
then, if ever thou dar'st acknowledge it, I will make it my
quarrel.

WILLIAMS.
Here's my glove; give me another of thine.

KING HENRY.
There.

WILLIAMS.
This will I also wear in my cap. If ever thou come to me
and say, after to-morrow, "This is my glove," by this hand I
will take thee a box on the ear.

KING HENRY.
If ever I live to see it, I will challenge it.

WILLIAMS.
Thou dar'st as well be hang'd.

KING HENRY.
Well, I will do it, though I take thee in the King's company.

WILLIAMS.
Keep thy word; fare thee well.

BATES.
Be friends, you English fools, be friends. We have
French quarrels enow, if you could tell how to reckon.

[Exeunt soldiers.]

KING HENRY.
Indeed, the French may lay twenty French crowns to one
they will beat us, for they bear them on their shoulders; but it
is no English treason to cut French crowns, and to-morrow the
King himself will be a clipper.
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, whose sense no more can feel
But his own wringing! 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 thy 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 drink'st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
But poison'd flattery? O, be sick, great greatness,
And bid thy Ceremony give thee cure!
Think'st thou the fiery fever will go out
With titles blown from adulation?
Will it give place to flexure and low bending?
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 this 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 a body fill'd and vacant mind
Gets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread,
Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,
But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn,
Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,
And follows so the ever-running year,
With profitable labour, to his grave:
And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,
Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,
Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king.
The slave, a member of the country's peace,
Enjoys it, but in gross brain little wots
What watch the King keeps to maintain the peace,
Whose hours the peasant best advantages.

[Enter Erpingham.]

ERPINGHAM.
My lord, your nobles, jealous of your absence,
Seek through your camp to find you.

KING HENRY.
Good old knight,
Collect them all together at my tent.
I'll be before thee.

ERPINGHAM.
I shall do't, my lord.

[Exit.]

KING HENRY.
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 to-day, O Lord,
O, not to-day, think not upon the fault
My father made in compassing the crown!
I Richard's body have interred new,
And on it have bestow'd more contrite tears
Than from it issued forced drops of blood.
Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
Who twice a day 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.

[Enter Gloucester.]

GLOUCESTER.
My liege!

KING HENRY.
My brother Gloucester's voice? Ay;
I know thy errand, I will go with thee.
The day, my friends, and all things stay for me.

[Exeunt.]

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

About what action does Henry say the following? "I will weep for thee; / For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like / Another fall of man."




Quiz