King Henry V

by William Shakespeare

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

ACT III - Scene II.

Before Harfleur


On, on, on, on, on! to the breach, to the breach!

Pray thee, Corporal, stay; the knocks are too hot, and for
mine own part I have not a case of lives. The humour of it is too
hot; that is the very plain-song of it.

The plain-song is most just; for humours do abound:

        Knocks go and come; God's vassals drop and die;
                    And sword and shield
                    In bloody field
                 Doth win immortal fame.

Would I were in an alehouse in London! I wouid give all my
fame for a pot of ale and safety.

And I:

               If wishes would prevail with me,
               My purpose should not fail with me,
                   But thither would I hie.  


                As duly, but not as truly,
                   As bird doth sing on bough.


Up to the breach, you dogs!
Avaunt, you cullions!

[Driving them forward]

Be merciful, great duke, to men of mould.
Abate thy rage, abate thy manly rage;
Abate thy rage, great duke.
Good bawcock, bate thy rage. Use lenity, sweet chuck.

These be good humours. Your honour wins bad humours.

Exeunt all but BOY

As young as I am, I have observ'd these three swashers. I am
boy to them all three; but all they three, though they would
serve me, could not be man to me; for indeed three such antics do
not amount to a man. For Bardolph, he is white-liver'd and
red-fac'd; by the means whereof 'a faces it out, but fights not.
For Pistol, he hath a killing tongue and a quiet sword; by the
means whereof 'a breaks words and keeps whole weapons. For Nym,
he hath heard that men of few words are the best men, and
therefore he scorns to say his prayers lest 'a should be thought
a coward; but his few bad words are match'd with as few good
deeds; for 'a never broke any man's head but his own, and that
was against a post when he was drunk. They will steal anything,
and call it purchase. Bardolph stole a lute-case, bore it twelve
leagues, and sold it for three halfpence. Nym and Bardolph are
sworn brothers in filching, and in Calais they stole a
fire-shovel; I knew by that piece of service the men would carry
coals. They would have me as familiar with men's pockets as their
gloves or their handkerchers; which makes much against my
manhood, if I should take from another's pocket to put into mine;
for it is plain pocketing up of wrongs. I must leave them and
seek some better service; their villainy goes against my weak
stomach, and therefore I must cast it up.


Re-enter FLUELLEN, GOWER following

Captain Fluellen, you must come presently to the mines; the
Duke of Gloucester would speak with you.

To the mines! Tell you the Duke it is not so good to come
to the mines; for, look you, the mines is not according to the
disciplines of the war; the concavities of it is not sufficient.
For, look you, th' athversary- you may discuss unto the Duke,
look you- is digt himself four yard under the countermines; by
Cheshu, I think 'a will plow up all, if there is not better

The Duke of Gloucester, to whom the order of the siege is
given, is altogether directed by an Irishman- a very vallant
gentleman, i' faith.

It is Captain Macmorris, is it not?

I think it be.

By Cheshu, he is an ass, as in the world: I will verify
as much in his beard; he has no more directions in the true
disciplines of the wars, look you, of the Roman disciplines, than
is a puppy-dog.


Here 'a comes; and the Scots captain, Captain Jamy, with

Captain Jamy is a marvellous falorous gentleman, that s
certain, and of great expedition and knowledge in th' aunchient
wars, upon my particular knowledge of his directions. By Cheshu,
he will maintain his argument as well as any military man in the
world, in the disciplines of the pristine wars of the Romans.

I say gud day, Captain Fluellen.

God-den to your worship, good Captain James.

How now, Captain Macmorris! Have you quit the mines? Have
the pioneers given o'er?

By Chrish, la, tish ill done! The work ish give over,
the trompet sound the retreat. By my hand, I swear, and my
father's soul, the work ish ill done; it ish give over; I would
have blowed up the town, so Chrish save me, la, in an hour. O,
tish ill done, tish ill done; by my hand, tish ill done!

Captain Macmorris, I beseech you now, will you voutsafe
me, look you, a few disputations with you, as partly touching or
concerning the disciplines of the war, the Roman wars, in the way
of argument, look you, and friendly communication; partly to
satisfy my opinion, and partly for the satisfaction, look you, of
my mind, as touching the direction of the military discipline,
that is the point.

It sall be vary gud, gud feith, gud captains bath; and I sall
quit you with gud leve, as I may pick occasion; that sall I,

It is no time to discourse, so Chrish save me. The day
is hot, and the weather, and the wars, and the King, and the
Dukes; it is no time to discourse. The town is beseech'd, and the
trumpet call us to the breach; and we talk and, be Chrish, do
nothing. 'Tis shame for us all, so God sa' me, 'tis shame to
stand still; it is shame, by my hand; and there is throats to be
cut, and works to be done; and there ish nothing done, so Chrish
sa' me, la.

By the mess, ere theise eyes of mine take themselves to
slomber, ay'll de gud service, or I'll lig i' th' grund for it;
ay, or go to death. And I'll pay't as valorously as I may, that
sall I suerly do, that is the breff and the long. Marry, I wad
full fain heard some question 'tween you tway.

Captain Macmorris, I think, look you, under your
correction, there is not many of your nation-

Of my nation? What ish my nation? Ish a villain, and a
bastard, and a knave, and a rascal. What ish my nation? Who talks
of my nation?

Look you, if you take the matter otherwise than is meant,
Captain Macmorris, peradventure I shall think you do not use me
with that affability as in discretion you ought to use me, look
you; being as good a man as yourself, both in the disciplines of
war and in the derivation of my birth, and in other

I do not know you so good a man as myself; so
Chrish save me, I will cut off your head.

Gentlemen both, you will mistake each other.

Ah! that's a foul fault.

[A parley sounded]

The town sounds a parley.

Captain Macmorris, when there is more better opportunity
to be required, look you, I will be so bold as to tell you I know
the disciplines of war; and there is an end.



Return to the King Henry V Summary Return to the William Shakespeare Library

© 2022