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

Act IV. Scene II.

The Life of King Henry the Fifth

The French Camp.

Enter the DAUPHIN, ORLEANS, RAMBURES, and Others.

Orl.The sun doth gild our armour: up, my lords!

Dau.Montez à cheval! My horse! varlet! lacquais! ha!

Orl.O brave spirit!

Dau.Via! les eaux et la terre!

Orl.Rien puis? l’air et le feu.

Dau.Ciel! cousin Orleans.


Now, my lord constable!

Con.Hark how our steeds for present service neigh!

Dau.Mount them, and make incision in their hides,

That their hot blood may spin in English eyes,

And dout them with superfluous courage: ha!

Ram.What! will you have them weep our horses’ blood?

How shall we then behold their natural tears?

Enter a Messenger.

Mess.The English are embattail’d, you French peers.

Con.To horse, you gallant princes! straight to horse!

Do but behold yon poor and starved band,

And your fair show shall suck away their souls,

Leaving them but the shales and husks of men.

There is not work enough for all our hands;

Scarce blood enough in all their sickly veins

To give each naked curtal-axe a stain,

That our French gallants shall to-day draw out,

And sheathe for lack of sport: let us but blow on them,

The vapour of our valour will o’erturn them.

’Tis positive ’gainst all exceptions, lords,

That our superfluous lackeys and our peasants,

Who in unnecessary action swarm

About our squares of battle, were enow

To purge this field of such a hilding foe,

Though we upon this mountain’s basis by

Took stand for idle speculation:

But that our honours must not. What’s to say?

A very little little let us do,

And all is done. Then let the trumpets sound

The tucket sonance and the note to mount:

For our approach shall so much dare the field,

That England shall couch down in fear and yield.


Grand.Why do you stay so long, my lords of France?

Yon island carrions desperate of their bones,

Ill-favour’dly become the morning field:

Their ragged curtains poorly are let loose,

And our air shakes them passing scornfully:

Big Mars seems bankrupt in their beggar’d host,

And faintly through a rusty beaver peeps:

The horsemen sit like fixed candlesticks,

With torch-staves in their hand; and their poor jades

Lob down their heads, dropping the hides and hips,

The gum down-roping from their pale-dead eyes,

And in their pale dull mouths the gimmal bit

Lies foul with chew’d grass, still and motionless;

And their executors, the knavish crows,

Fly o’er them, all impatient for their hour.

Description cannot suit itself in words

To demonstrate the life of such a battle

In life so lifeless as it shows itself.

Con.They have said their prayers, and they stay for death.

Dau.Shall we go send them dinners and fresh suits,

And give their fasting horses provender,

And after fight with them?

Con.I stay but for my guard: on, to the field!

I will the banner from a trumpet take,

And use it for my haste. Come, come, away!

The sun is high, and we outwear the day.[Exeunt.