List iconHenry V:
Act 2, scene 4
List icon

Henry V
Act 2, scene 4



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Henry V begins at the English court, where the young king is persuaded that he has a claim to the throne…


The Chorus wishes for a far greater stage, actors, and audience. He apologizes for the scanty resources that are available…

Act 1, scene 1

The Bishop of Canterbury informs the Bishop of Ely of a bill threatening Church revenues and of a plan to…

Act 1, scene 2

At the King’s request, Canterbury provides an extensive interpretation of French law to support Henry’s claim to the French throne….

Act 2, chorus

The Chorus announces the enthusiastic support of English youth for Henry’s French campaign, but also advises that the French have…

Act 2, scene 1

King Henry’s former tavern companion Bardolph prevents Pistol and Nym from fighting over Hostess Quickly, Pistol’s wife. They are interrupted…

Act 2, scene 2

Henry, informed of the treachery of three of his friends, confronts them with their crimes. They throw themselves on his…

Act 2, scene 3

The tavern crew—Bardolph, Pistol, Nym, and the Boy—join the Hostess in mourning the dead Falstaff and, saying good-bye to the…

Act 2, scene 4

The King of France and his court plan their defense against Henry’s invasion. Exeter arrives to present the King with…

Act 3, chorus

The Chorus describes the embarkation of Henry’s fleet for France, Henry’s preparations to besiege the town of Harfleur, and the…

Act 3, scene 1

Henry delivers an oration to inspire his troops to take Harfleur.

Act 3, scene 2

Bardolph, Pistol, Nym, and the Boy withdraw from the assault on Harfleur. They are driven back to it by Captain…

Act 3, scene 3

Henry threatens the men of Harfleur with the destruction of the town and its population if they do not yield…

Act 3, scene 4

An old gentlewoman, Alice, begins to teach English to Katherine, Princess of France.

Act 3, scene 5

The French nobles speak of their shame at the success of Henry’s invasion. The French King plans to block Henry’s…

Act 3, scene 6

Captains Fluellen and Gower meet Pistol, who pleads for Bardolph, sentenced to die for robbery. Fluellen refuses to intervene and…

Act 3, scene 7

On the eve of battle, the French nobles, confident of their army’s superiority, engage in verbal competition.

Act 4, chorus

The Chorus describes the confident French and anxious English armies on the night before the battle of Agincourt, and portrays…

Act 4, scene 1

Henry borrows Erpingham’s cloak and, in this disguise, passes through his camp, meeting Pistol, overhearing a conversation between Fluellen and…

Act 4, scene 2

The French nobles, about to fight, lament that the English are so few and so weak.

Act 4, scene 3

Henry delivers an oration to his troops urging them on to win glory in the battle. Montjoy again comes to…

Act 4, scene 4

A French soldier surrenders to Pistol, who threatens him with death until the soldier promises to pay a ransom of…

Act 4, scene 5

The French nobles, shamed in their defeat, decide to die fighting.

Act 4, scene 6

Henry, in doubt about the outcome of the battle, hears of York’s and Suffolk’s deaths, and then, when a French…

Act 4, scene 7

Fluellen, in conversation with Gower, compares Henry to the classical world-conqueror Alexander the Great. Montjoy arrives to concede the French…

Act 4, scene 8

Williams and Fluellen are prevented from fighting by Warwick and Gloucester. Henry arrives and accuses Williams of promising to strike…

Act 5, chorus

The Chorus describes the great welcome accorded the English army when it returns home, the visit by the Holy Roman…

Act 5, scene 1

Fluellen avenges Pistol’s insults by making Pistol eat a leek. Pistol, humiliated, plans to return to England in the guise…

Act 5, scene 2

The Duke of Burgundy has brought about a meeting between French and English to sign a peace treaty. Henry delegates…

Act 5, epilogue

The Chorus reminds the audience that Henry died very young, leaving the kingdom to his infant son, during whose reign…

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Scene 4
Flourish. Enter the French King, the Dauphin, the Dukes
 of Berri and Brittany, the Constable, and others.

 Thus comes the English with full power upon us,
 And more than carefully it us concerns
 To answer royally in our defenses.
 Therefore the Dukes of Berri and of Brittany,
5 Of Brabant and of Orléans, shall make forth,
 And you, Prince Dauphin, with all swift dispatch,
 To line and new-repair our towns of war
 With men of courage and with means defendant.
 For England his approaches makes as fierce
10 As waters to the sucking of a gulf.
 It fits us then to be as provident
 As fear may teach us out of late examples
 Left by the fatal and neglected English
 Upon our fields.
DAUPHIN 15 My most redoubted father,
 It is most meet we arm us ’gainst the foe,
 For peace itself should not so dull a kingdom,
 Though war nor no known quarrel were in question
 But that defenses, musters, preparations
20 Should be maintained, assembled, and collected
 As were a war in expectation.
 Therefore I say ’tis meet we all go forth
 To view the sick and feeble parts of France.
 And let us do it with no show of fear,
25 No, with no more than if we heard that England

Henry V
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance.
 For, my good liege, she is so idly kinged,
 Her scepter so fantastically borne
 By a vain, giddy, shallow, humorous youth,
30 That fear attends her not.
CONSTABLE  O peace, Prince Dauphin!
 You are too much mistaken in this king.
 Question your Grace the late ambassadors
 With what great state he heard their embassy,
35 How well supplied with noble councillors,
 How modest in exception, and withal
 How terrible in constant resolution,
 And you shall find his vanities forespent
 Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus,
40 Covering discretion with a coat of folly,
 As gardeners do with ordure hide those roots
 That shall first spring and be most delicate.
 Well, ’tis not so, my Lord High Constable.
 But though we think it so, it is no matter.
45 In cases of defense, ’tis best to weigh
 The enemy more mighty than he seems.
 So the proportions of defense are filled,
 Which of a weak and niggardly projection
 Doth, like a miser, spoil his coat with scanting
50 A little cloth.
KING OF FRANCE  Think we King Harry strong,
 And, princes, look you strongly arm to meet him.
 The kindred of him hath been fleshed upon us,
 And he is bred out of that bloody strain
55 That haunted us in our familiar paths.
 Witness our too-much-memorable shame
 When Cressy battle fatally was struck
 And all our princes captived by the hand
 Of that black name, Edward, Black Prince of
60 Wales,

Henry V
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Whiles that his mountain sire, on mountain standing
 Up in the air, crowned with the golden sun,
 Saw his heroical seed and smiled to see him
 Mangle the work of nature and deface
65 The patterns that by God and by French fathers
 Had twenty years been made. This is a stem
 Of that victorious stock, and let us fear
 The native mightiness and fate of him.

Enter a Messenger.

 Ambassadors from Harry King of England
70 Do crave admittance to your Majesty.
 We’ll give them present audience. Go, and bring
 them.Messenger exits.
 You see this chase is hotly followed, friends.
 Turn head and stop pursuit, for coward dogs
75 Most spend their mouths when what they seem to
 Runs far before them. Good my sovereign,
 Take up the English short, and let them know
 Of what a monarchy you are the head.
80 Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin
 As self-neglecting.

Enter Exeter, with Lords and Attendants.

KING OF FRANCE From our brother of England?
 From him, and thus he greets your Majesty:
 He wills you, in the name of God almighty,
85 That you divest yourself and lay apart
 The borrowed glories that, by gift of heaven,
 By law of nature and of nations, ’longs
 To him and to his heirs—namely, the crown

Henry V
ACT 2. SC. 4

 And all wide-stretchèd honors that pertain
90 By custom and the ordinance of times
 Unto the crown of France. That you may know
 ’Tis no sinister nor no awkward claim
 Picked from the wormholes of long-vanished days
 Nor from the dust of old oblivion raked,
95 He sends you this most memorable line,
He offers a paper.
 In every branch truly demonstrative,
 Willing you overlook this pedigree,
 And when you find him evenly derived
 From his most famed of famous ancestors,
100 Edward the Third, he bids you then resign
 Your crown and kingdom, indirectly held
 From him, the native and true challenger.
KING OF FRANCE Or else what follows?
 Bloody constraint, for if you hide the crown
105 Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it.
 Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,
 In thunder and in earthquake like a Jove,
 That, if requiring fail, he will compel,
 And bids you, in the bowels of the Lord,
110 Deliver up the crown and to take mercy
 On the poor souls for whom this hungry war
 Opens his vasty jaws, and on your head
 Turning the widows’ tears, the orphans’ cries,
 The dead men’s blood, the privèd maidens’
115 groans,
 For husbands, fathers, and betrothèd lovers
 That shall be swallowed in this controversy.
 This is his claim, his threat’ning, and my message—
 Unless the Dauphin be in presence here,
120 To whom expressly I bring greeting too.
 For us, we will consider of this further.

Henry V
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Tomorrow shall you bear our full intent
 Back to our brother of England.
DAUPHIN, to Exeter  For the Dauphin,
125 I stand here for him. What to him from England?
 Scorn and defiance, slight regard, contempt,
 And anything that may not misbecome
 The mighty sender, doth he prize you at.
 Thus says my king: an if your father’s Highness
130 Do not, in grant of all demands at large,
 Sweeten the bitter mock you sent his Majesty,
 He’ll call you to so hot an answer of it
 That caves and womby vaultages of France
 Shall chide your trespass and return your mock
135 In second accent of his ordinance.
 Say, if my father render fair return,
 It is against my will, for I desire
 Nothing but odds with England. To that end,
 As matching to his youth and vanity,
140 I did present him with the Paris balls.
 He’ll make your Paris Louvre shake for it,
 Were it the mistress court of mighty Europe.
 And be assured you’ll find a difference,
 As we his subjects have in wonder found,
145 Between the promise of his greener days
 And these he masters now. Now he weighs time
 Even to the utmost grain. That you shall read
 In your own losses, if he stay in France.
 Tomorrow shall you know our mind at full.
150 Dispatch us with all speed, lest that our king

Henry V
ACT 2. SC. 4

 Come here himself to question our delay,
 For he is footed in this land already.
 You shall be soon dispatched with fair conditions.
 A night is but small breath and little pause
155 To answer matters of this consequence.
Flourish. They exit.