King Henry V

by William Shakespeare

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ACT III - Scene VI.

The English camp in Picardy

Enter CAPTAINS, English and Welsh, GOWER and FLUELLEN

How now, Captain Fluellen! Come you from the bridge?

I assure you there is very excellent services committed
at the bridge.

Is the Duke of Exeter safe?

The Duke of Exeter is as magnanimous as Agamemnon; and a
man that I love and honour with my soul, and my heart, and my
duty, and my live, and my living, and my uttermost power. He is
not- God be praised and blessed!- any hurt in the world, but
keeps the bridge most valiantly, with excellent discipline. There
is an aunchient Lieutenant there at the bridge- I think in my
very conscience he is as valiant a man as Mark Antony; and he is
man of no estimation in the world; but I did see him do as
gallant service.

What do you call him?

He is call'd Aunchient Pistol.

I know him not.


Here is the man.

Captain, I thee beseech to do me favours.
The Duke of Exeter doth love thee well.

Ay, I praise God; and I have merited some love at his

Bardolph, a soldier, firm and sound of heart,
And of buxom valour, hath by cruel fate
And giddy Fortune's furious fickle wheel,
That goddess blind,
That stands upon the rolling restless stone-

By your patience, Aunchient Pistol. Fortune is painted
blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that
Fortune is blind; and she is painted also with a wheel, to
signify to you, which is the moral of it, that she is turning,
and inconstant, and mutability, and variation; and her foot, look
you, is fixed upon a spherical stone, which rolls, and rolls, and
rolls. In good truth, the poet makes a most excellent description
of it: Fortune is an excellent moral.

Fortune is Bardolph's foe, and frowns on him;
For he hath stol'n a pax, and hanged must 'a be-
A damned death!
Let gallows gape for dog; let man go free,
And let not hemp his windpipe suffocate.
But Exeter hath given the doom of death
For pax of little price.
Therefore, go speak- the Duke will hear thy voice;
And let not Bardolph's vital thread be cut
With edge of penny cord and vile reproach.
Speak, Captain, for his life, and I will thee requite.

Aunchient Pistol, I do partly understand your meaning.

Why then, rejoice therefore.

Certainly, Aunchient, it is not a thing to rejoice at;
for if, look you, he were my brother, I would desire the Duke to
use his good pleasure, and put him to execution; for discipline
ought to be used.

Die and be damn'd! and figo for thy friendship!

It is well.

The fig of Spain!



Very good.

Why, this is an arrant counterfeit rascal; I remember him
now- a bawd, a cutpurse.

I'll assure you, 'a utt'red as prave words at the pridge
as you shall see in a summer's day. But it is very well; what he
has spoke to me, that is well, I warrant you, when time is serve.

Why, 'tis a gull a fool a rogue, that now and then goes to
the wars to grace himself, at his return into London, under the
form of a soldier. And such fellows are perfect in the great
commanders' names; and they will learn you by rote where services
were done- at such and such a sconce, at such a breach, at such a
convoy; who came off bravely, who was shot, who disgrac'd, what
terms the enemy stood on; and this they con perfectly in the
phrase of war, which they trick up with new-tuned oaths; and what
a beard of the General's cut and a horrid suit of the camp will
do among foaming bottles and ale-wash'd wits is wonderful to be
thought on. But you must learn to know such slanders of the age,
or else you may be marvellously mistook.

I tell you what, Captain Gower, I do perceive he is not
the man that he would gladly make show to the world he is; if I
find a hole in his coat I will tell him my mind. [Drum within]
Hark you, the King is coming; and I must speak with him from the

Drum and colours. Enter the KING and his poor soldiers,

God pless your Majesty!

How now, Fluellen! Cam'st thou from the bridge?

Ay, so please your Majesty. The Duke of Exeter has very
gallantly maintain'd the pridge; the French is gone off, look
you, and there is gallant and most prave passages. Marry, th'
athversary was have possession of the pridge; but he is enforced
to retire, and the Duke of Exeter is master of the pridge; I can
tell your Majesty the Duke is a prave man.

What men have you lost, Fluellen!

The perdition of th' athversary hath been very great,
reasonable great; marry, for my part, I think the Duke hath lost
never a man, but one that is like to be executed for robbing a
church- one Bardolph, if your Majesty know the man; his face is
all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and flames o' fire; and his
lips blows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire, sometimes
plue and sometimes red; but his nose is executed and his fire's

We would have all such offenders so cut off. And we
give express charge that in our marches through the country there
be nothing compell'd from the villages, nothing taken but paid
for, none of the French upbraided or abused in disdainful
language; for when lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom the
gentler gamester is the soonest winner.

Tucket. Enter MONTJOY

You know me by my habit.

Well then, I know thee; what shall I know of thee?

My master's mind.

Unfold it.

Thus says my king. Say thou to Harry of England: Though we
seem'd dead we did but sleep; advantage is a better soldier than
rashness. Tell him we could have rebuk'd him at Harfleur, but
that we thought not good to bruise an injury till it were full
ripe. Now we speak upon our cue, and our voice is imperial:
England shall repent his folly, see his weakness, and admire our
sufferance. Bid him therefore consider of his ransom, which must
proportion the losses we have borne, the subjects we have lost,
the disgrace we have digested; which, in weight to re-answer, his
pettiness would bow under. For our losses his exchequer is too
poor; for th' effusion of our blood, the muster of his kingdom
too faint a number; and for our disgrace, his own person kneeling
at our feet but a weak and worthless satisfaction. To this add
defiance; and tell him, for conclusion, he hath betrayed his
followers, whose condemnation is pronounc'd. So far my king and
master; so much my office.

What is thy name? I know thy quality.


Thou dost thy office fairly. Turn thee back,
And tell thy king I do not seek him now,
But could be willing to march on to Calais
Without impeachment; for, to say the sooth-
Though 'tis no wisdom to confess so much
Unto an enemy of craft and vantage-
My people are with sickness much enfeebled;
My numbers lessen'd; and those few I have
Almost no better than so many French;
Who when they were in health, I tell thee, herald,
I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen. Yet forgive me, God,
That I do brag thus; this your air of France
Hath blown that vice in me; I must repent.
Go, therefore, tell thy master here I am;
My ransom is this frail and worthless trunk;
My army but a weak and sickly guard;
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on,
Though France himself and such another neighbour
Stand in our way. There's for thy labour, Montjoy.
Go, bid thy master well advise himself.
If we may pass, we will; if we be hind'red,
We shall your tawny ground with your red blood
Discolour; and so, Montjoy, fare you well.
The sum of all our answer is but this:
We would not seek a battle as we are;
Nor as we are, we say, we will not shun it.
So tell your master.

I shall deliver so. Thanks to your Highness.


I hope they will not come upon us now.

We are in God's hand, brother, not in theirs.
March to the bridge, it now draws toward night;
Beyond the river we'll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow bid them march away.


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