Gateway to the Classics: The World's Story: England by Eva March Tappan
The World's Story: England by  Eva March Tappan

Two Scenes in the Life of Henry V

[ACCORDING to tradition, Henry V in his youthful days, as "Prince Hal," was wild and riotous. His favorite boon companion was Sir John Falstaff, a lying, hard-drinking, good-tempered, witty old knight. When Prince Hal became king, however, the responsibility of his position sobered him, and he became an able and energetic sovereign.
The Editor. ]


Fal.  Well, thou wilt be horribly chid to-morrow when thou comest to thy father: if thou love me, practise an answer.

Prince.  Do thou stand for my father, and examine me upon the particulars of my life.

Fal.  Shall I? content: this chair shall be my state, this dagger my sceptre, and this cushion my crown.

Prince.  Thy stage is taken for a joined-stool, thy golden sceptre for a leaden dagger, and thy precious rich crown for a pitiful bald crown!

Fal.  Well, an the fire of grace be not quite out of thee, now shalt thou be moved. Give me a cup of sack to make my eyes look red, that it may be thought I have wept; for I must speak in passion, and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein.

Prince.  Well, here is my leg.

Fal.  And here is my speech. Stand aside, nobility.

Host.  O Jesu, this is excellent sport, i' faith!

Fal.  Weep not, sweet queen; for trickling tears are vain.

Host.  O, the father, how he holds his countenance!

Fal.  For God's sake, lords, convey my tristful queen; For tears do stop the flood-gates of her eyes.

Host.  O Jesu, he doth it as like one of these harlotry players as ever I see!

Fal.  Peace, good pint-pot; peace, good tickle-brain. Harry, I do not only marvel where thou spendest thy time, but also how thou art accompanied: for though the camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted the sooner it wears. That thou art my son, I have partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion, but chiefly a villanous trick of thine eye, and a foolish hanging of thy nether lip, that doth warrant me. If then thou be son to me, here lies the point; why, being son to me, art thou so pointed at? Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher and eat blackberries? a question not to be asked. Shall the son of England prove a thief and take purses? a question to be asked. There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and it is known to many in our land by the name of pitch: this pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile; so doth the company thou keepest: for, Harry, now I do not speak to thee in drink but in tears, not in pleasure but in passion, not in words only, but in woes also: and yet there is a virtuous man whom I have often noted in thy company, but I know not his name.

Prince.  What manner of man, an it like your majesty?

Fal.  A goodly portly man, i' faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage; and, as I think, his age some fifty, or by 'r lady, inclining to three score; and now I remember me, his name is Falstaff: if that man should be lewdly given, he deceiveth me; for, Harry, I see virtue in his looks. If then the tree may be known by the fruit, as the fruit by the tree, then, peremptorily I speak it, there is virtue in that Falstaff: him keep with, the rest banish. And tell me now, thou naughty varlet, tell me, where bast thou been this month?

Prince.  Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand for me, and I'll play my father.

Fal.  Depose me? if thou dost it half so gravely, so majestically, both in word and matter, hang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker or a poulter's hare.

Prince.  Well, here I am set.

Fal.  And here I stand: judge, my masters.

Prince.  Now, Harry, whence come you?

Fal.  My noble lord, from Eastcheap.

Prince.  The complaints I hear of thee are grievous.

Fal.  'Sblood, my lord, they are false: nay, I'll tickle ye for a 'young prince, i' faith.

Prince.  Swearest thou, ungracious boy? henceforth ne'er look on me. Thou art violently carried away from grace: there is a devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man; a tun of man is thy companion. Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manning-tree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? Wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink it? wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it? wherein cunning, but in craft? wherein crafty, but in villany? wherein villanous, but in all things? wherein worthy, but in nothing?

Fal.  I would your grace would take me with you: whom means your grace?

Prince.  That villanous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan.

Fal.  My lord, the man I know.

Prince.  I know thou dost.

Fal.  But to say I know more harm in him than in myself, were to say more than I know. That he is old, the more the pity, his white hairs do witness it; but that he is, saving your reverence, a whoremaster, that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked! if to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damned: if to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh's lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord; banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant, being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry's company, banish not him thy Harry's company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

Prince.  I do, I will.

Westminster. The Palace.

Enter Warwick and the Lord Chief Justice, meeting.

War.  How now, my lord chief justice! whither away?

Ch. Just.  How doth the king?

War.  Exceeding well; his cares are now all ended.

Ch. Just.  I hope, not dead.

War.  He's walk'd the way of nature;

And to our purposes he lives no more.

Ch. Just.  I would his majesty had call'd me with him:

The service that I truly did his life

Hath left me open to all injuries.

War.  Indeed I think the young king loves you not.

Ch. Just.  I know he doth not, and do arm myself

To welcome the condition of the time,

Which cannot look more hideously upon me

Than I have drawn it in my fantasy.

Enter Lancaster, Clarence, Gloucester, Westmoreland, and others.

War.  Here come the heavy issue of dead Harry:

O that the living Harry had the temper

Of him, the worst of these three gentlemen!

How many nobles then should hold their places,

That must strike sail to spirits of vile sort!

Ch. Just.  O God, I fear all will be overturn'd!

Lan.  Good morrow, cousin Warwick, good morrow.


Clar.  Good morrow, cousin.

Lan.  We meet like men that had forgot to speak.

War.  We do remember; but our argument

Is all too heavy to admit much talk.

Lan.  Well, peace be with him that hath made us heavy!

Ch. Just.  Peace be with us, lest we be heavier!

Glou.  O, good my lord, you have lost a friend indeed;

And I dare swear you borrow not that face

Of seeming sorrow, it is sure your own.

Lan.  Though no man be assured what grace to find,

You stand in coldest expectation:

I am the sorrier; would 't were otherwise.

Clar.  Well, you must now speak Sir John Falstaff fair;

Which swims against your stream of quality.

Ch. Just.  Sweet princes, what I did, I did in honour,

Led by the impartial conduct of my soul;

And never shall you see that I will beg

A ragged and forestall'd remission.

If truth and upright innocency fail me,

I'll to the king my master that is dead,

And tell him who hath sent me after him.

War. Here comes the prince.

Enter King Henry the fifth, attended.

Ch. Just.  Good morrow, and God save your majesty!

King.  This new and gorgeous garment, majesty,

Sits not so easy on me as you think.

Brothers, you mix your sadness with some fear:

This is the English, not the Turkish court;

Not Amurath an Amurath succeeds,

But Harry Harry. Yet be sad, good brothers,

For, by my faith, it very well becomes you:

Sorrow so royally in you appears

That I will deeply put the fashion on,

And wear it in my heart: why then, be sad;

But entertain no more of it, good brothers,

Than a joint burden laid upon us all.

For me, by heaven, I bid you be assured,

I'll be your father and your brother too;

Let me but bear your love, I'll bear your cares:

Yet weep that Harry's dead; and so will I;

But Harry lives, that shall convert those tears

By number into hours of happiness.

Princes.  We hope no other from your majesty.

King.  You all look strangely on me: and you most;

You are, I think, assured I love you not.

Ch. Just.  I am assured, if I be measured rightly,

Your majesty hath no just cause to hate me.

King.  No!

How might a prince of my great hopes forget

So great indignities you laid upon me?

What! rate, rebuke, and roughly send to prison

The immediate heir of England! Was this easy?

May this be wash'd in Lethe, and forgotten?

Ch. Just.  I then did use the person of your father;

The image of his power lay then in me:

And, in the administration of his law,

Whiles I was busy for the commonwealth,

Your highness pleased to forget my place,

The majesty and power of law and justice,

The image of the king whom I presented,

And struck me in my very seat of judgement;

Whereon, as an offender to your father,

I gave bold way to my authority,

And did commit you. If the deed were ill,

Be you contented, wearing now the garland,

To have a son set your decrees at nought,

To pluck down justice from your awful bench,

To trip the course of law and blunt the sword

That guards the peace and safety of your person;

Nay, more, to spurn at your most royal image

And mock your workings in a second body.

Question your royal thoughts, make the case yours;

Be now the father and propose a son,

Hear your own dignity so much profaned,

See your most dreadful laws so loosely slighted,

Behold yourself so by a son disdain'd;

And then imagine me taking your part,

And in your power soft silencing your son:

After this cold considerance, sentence me;

And, as you are a king, speak in your state

What I have done that misbecame my place,

My person, or my liege's sovereignty.

King.  You are right, justice, and you weigh this well;

Therefore still bear the balance and the sword:

And I do wish your honours may increase,

Till you do live to see a son of mine

Offend you, and obey you, as I did.

So shall I live to speak my father's words:

"Happy am I, that have a man so bold,

That dares do justice on my proper son;

And not less happy, having such a son,

That would deliver up his greatness so

Into the hands of justice." You did commit me:

For which, I do commit into your hand

The unstained sword that you have used to bear;

With this remembrance, that you use the same

With the like bold, just, and impartial spirit

As you have done 'gainst me. There is my hand.

You shall be as a father to my youth:

My voice shall sound as you do prompt mine ear,

And I will stoop and humble mine intents

To your well-practised wise directions.

And, princes all, believe me, I beseech you;

My father is gone wild into his grave,

For in his tomb lie my affections;

And with his spirit sadly I survive,

To mock the expectation of the world,

To frustrate prophecies, and to raze out

Rotten opinion, who hath writ me down

After my seeming. The tide of blood in me

Hath proudly flow'd in vanity till now:

Now doth it turn and ebb back to the sea,

Where it shall mingle with the state of floods,

And flow henceforth in formal majesty.

Now call we our high court of parliament:

And let us choose such limbs of noble counsel,

That the great body of our state may go

In equal rank with the best govern'd nation;

That war, or peace, or both at once, may be

As things acquainted and familiar to us;

In which you, father, shall have foremost hand.

Our coronation done, we will accite,

As I before remember'd, all our state:

And, God consigning to my good intents,

No prince nor peer shall have just cause to say,

God shorten Harry's happy life one day!


by William Shakespeare

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: The Coronation of Henry IV  |  Next: The Ballad of Agincourt
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.