William Shakespeare's The Life of King Henry the Fifth in the complete original text.
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The Life of King Henry the Fifth

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Act III. Scene VI.

Scene VI.—The English Camp in Picardy.


Gow. How now, Captain Fluellen! come you
from the bridge?
Flu. I assure you, there is very excellent
services committed at the pridge.
Gow. Is the Duke of Exeter safe?
Flu. 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 life, and my living, and my utter-
most power: he is not—God be praised and
plessed!—any hurt in the world; but keeps the
pridge most valiantly, with excellent discipline.
There is an aunchient lieutenant there at the
pridge, I think, in my very conscience, he is as
valiant a man as Mark Antony; and he is a man
of no estimation in the world, but I did see him
do as gallant service.
Gow. What do you call him?
Flu. He is called Aunchient Pistol.
Gow. I know him not.

Flu. Here is the man.
Pist. Captain, I thee beseech to do me
The Duke of Exeter doth love thee well.
Flu. Ay, I praise God; and I have merited
some love at his hands.
Pist. Bardolph, a soldier firm and sound of
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,—
Flu. By your patience, Aunchient Pistol.
Fortune is painted plind, with a muffler afore
her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is plind:
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 descrip-
tion of it: Fortune is an excellent moral.
Pist. Fortune is Bardolph's foe, and frowns
on him;
For he hath stol'n a pax, and hanged must a'
A damned death!
Let gallows gape for dog, let man go free
And let not hemp his wind-pipe suffocate.
But Exeter hath given the doom of death
For pax of little price.
Therefore, go speak; the duke will hear thy
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
Flu. Aunchient Pistol, I do partly under-
stand your meaning.
Pist. Why then, rejoice therefore.
Flu. 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.
Pist. Die and be damn'd; and figo for thy
Flu. It is well.
Pist. The fig of Spain! [Exit.
Flu. Very good.
Gow. Why, this is an arrant counterfeit
rascal: I remember him now; a bawd, a cut-
Flu. I'll assure you a' utter'd as prave
words at the pridge as you shall see in a sum-
mer's day. But it is very well; what he has
spoke to me, that is well, I warrant you, when
time is serve.
Gow. 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 disgraced, 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-washed wits, is wonderful to be thought
on. But you must learn to know such slanders
of the age, or else you may be marvellously
Flu. 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 heard.]
Hark you, the king is coming; and I must speak
with him from the pridge.

Flu. God pless your majesty!
K. Hen. How now, Fluellen! cam'st thou
from the bridge?
Flu. Ay, so please your majesty. The Duke
of Exeter hath very gallantly maintained 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.
K. Hen. What men have you lost, Fluellen?
Flu. 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 out.
K. Hen. We would have all such offenders so
cut off: and we give express charge that in our
marches through the country there be nothing
compelled 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.
Mont. You know me by my habit.
K. Hen. Well then I know thee: what shall I
know of thee?
Mont. My master's mind.
K. Hen. Unfold it.
Mont. Thus says my king: Say thou to Harry
of England: Though we seemed dead, we did but
sleep: advantage is a better soldier than rash-
ness, Tell him, we could have rebuked 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 ad-
mire 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 the
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 pronounced.
So far my king and master, so much my office.
K. Hen. What is thy name? I know thy
Mont. Montjoy.
K. Hen. 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,
I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen. Yet, forgive me
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 neigh-
Stand in our way. There's for thy labour,
Go, bid thy master well advise himself:
If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder'd,
We shall your tawny ground with your red
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.
Mont. I shall deliver so. Thanks to your
highness. [Exit.
Glo. I hope they will not come upon us
K. Hen. We are in God's hand, brother, not
in theirs.
March to the bridge; it now draws toward
Beyond the river we'll encamp ourselves,
And on to-morrow bid them march away.
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