List iconHenry V:
Act 4, scene 1
List icon

Henry V
Act 4, scene 1



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 1
Enter the King of England, Bedford, and Gloucester.

 Gloucester, ’tis true that we are in great danger.
 The greater therefore should our courage be.—
 Good morrow, brother Bedford. God almighty,
 There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
5 Would men observingly distill it out.
 For our bad neighbor makes us early stirrers,
 Which is both healthful and good husbandry.
 Besides, they are our outward consciences
 And preachers to us all, admonishing
10 That we should dress us fairly for our end.
 Thus may we gather honey from the weed
 And make a moral of the devil himself.

Enter Erpingham.

 Good morrow, old Sir Thomas Erpingham.
 A good soft pillow for that good white head
15 Were better than a churlish turf of France.
 Not so, my liege, this lodging likes me better,
 Since I may say “Now lie I like a king.”
 ’Tis good for men to love their present pains
 Upon example. So the spirit is eased;
20 And when the mind is quickened, out of doubt,
 The organs, though defunct and dead before,
 Break up their drowsy grave and newly move
 With casted slough and fresh legerity.
 Lend me thy cloak, Sir Thomas.
He puts on Erpingham’s cloak.
25 Brothers both,
 Commend me to the princes in our camp,

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Do my good morrow to them, and anon
 Desire them all to my pavilion.
GLOUCESTER We shall, my liege.
ERPINGHAM 30Shall I attend your Grace?
KING HENRY No, my good knight.
 Go with my brothers to my lords of England.
 I and my bosom must debate awhile,
 And then I would no other company.
35 The Lord in heaven bless thee, noble Harry.
All but the King exit.
 God-a-mercy, old heart, thou speak’st cheerfully.

Enter Pistol.

PISTOL Qui vous là?
KING HENRY A friend.
PISTOL Discuss unto me: art thou officer or art thou
40 base, common, and popular?
KING HENRY I am a gentleman of a company.
PISTOL Trail’st thou the puissant pike?
KING HENRY Even so. What are you?
PISTOL As good a gentleman as the Emperor.
KING HENRY 45Then you are a better than the King.
PISTOL The King’s a bawcock and a heart of gold, a lad
 of life, an imp of fame, of parents good, of fist most
 valiant. I kiss his dirty shoe, and from heartstring I
 love the lovely bully. What is thy name?
KING HENRY 50Harry le Roy.
PISTOL Le Roy? A Cornish name. Art thou of Cornish
KING HENRY No, I am a Welshman.
PISTOL Know’st thou Fluellen?
PISTOL Tell him I’ll knock his leek about his pate upon
 Saint Davy’s day.

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

KING HENRY Do not you wear your dagger in your cap
 that day, lest he knock that about yours.
PISTOL 60Art thou his friend?
KING HENRY And his kinsman too.
PISTOL The figo for thee then!
KING HENRY I thank you. God be with you.
PISTOL My name is Pistol called.He exits.
KING HENRY 65It sorts well with your fierceness.
He steps aside.

Enter Fluellen and Gower.

GOWER Captain Fluellen.
FLUELLEN ’So. In the name of Jesu Christ, speak fewer.
 It is the greatest admiration in the universal world
 when the true and aunchient prerogatifes and
70 laws of the wars is not kept. If you would take the
 pains but to examine the wars of Pompey the
 Great, you shall find, I warrant you, that there is
 no tiddle taddle nor pibble babble in Pompey’s
 camp. I warrant you, you shall find the ceremonies
75 of the wars and the cares of it and the forms
 of it and the sobriety of it and the modesty of it to
 be otherwise.
GOWER Why, the enemy is loud. You hear him all
FLUELLEN 80If the enemy is an ass and a fool and a prating
 coxcomb, is it meet, think you, that we should also,
 look you, be an ass and a fool and a prating
 coxcomb, in your own conscience now?
GOWER I will speak lower.
FLUELLEN 85I pray you and beseech you that you will.
Gower and Fluellen exit.
 Though it appear a little out of fashion,
 There is much care and valor in this Welshman.

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

Enter three Soldiers, John Bates, Alexander Court, and
Michael Williams.

COURT Brother John Bates, is not that the morning
 which breaks yonder?
BATES 90I think it be, but we have no great cause to desire
 the approach of day.
WILLIAMS We see yonder the beginning of the day, but
 I think we shall never see the end of it.—Who goes
KING HENRY 95A friend.
WILLIAMS Under what captain serve you?
KING HENRY Under Sir Thomas Erpingham.
WILLIAMS A good old commander and a most kind
 gentleman. I pray you, what thinks he of our
100 estate?
KING HENRY Even as men wracked upon a sand, that
 look to be washed off the next tide.
BATES He hath not told his thought to the King?
KING HENRY No. Nor it is not meet he should, for,
105 though I speak it to you, I think the King is but a
 man as I am. The violet smells to him as it doth to
 me. The element shows to him as it doth to me. All
 his senses have but human conditions. His ceremonies
 laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man,
110 and though his affections are higher mounted than
 ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like
 wing. Therefore, when he sees reason of fears as we
 do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as
 ours are. Yet, in reason, no man should possess him
115 with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it,
 should dishearten his army.
BATES He may show what outward courage he will,
 but I believe, as cold a night as ’tis, he could wish
 himself in Thames up to the neck; and so I would

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

120 he were, and I by him, at all adventures, so we were
 quit here.
KING HENRY By my troth, I will speak my conscience
 of the King. I think he would not wish himself
 anywhere but where he is.
BATES 125Then I would he were here alone; so should he
 be sure to be ransomed, and a many poor men’s
 lives saved.
KING HENRY I dare say you love him not so ill to wish
 him here alone, howsoever you speak this to feel
130 other men’s minds. Methinks I could not die anywhere
 so contented as in the King’s company, his
 cause being just and his quarrel honorable.
WILLIAMS That’s more than we know.
BATES Ay, or more than we should seek after, for we
135 know enough if we know we are the King’s subjects.
 If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the
 King wipes the crime of it out of us.
WILLIAMS But if the cause be not good, the King
 himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all
140 those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a
 battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry
 all “We died at such a place,” some swearing, some
 crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left
 poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe,
145 some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard
 there are few die well that die in a battle, for how
 can they charitably dispose of anything when blood
 is their argument? Now, if these men do not die
 well, it will be a black matter for the king that led
150 them to it, who to disobey were against all proportion
 of subjection.
KING HENRY So, if a son that is by his father sent about
 merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea,
 the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule,
155 should be imposed upon his father that sent him.

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Or if a servant, under his master’s command transporting
 a sum of money, be assailed by robbers and
 die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the
 business of the master the author of the servant’s
160 damnation. But this is not so. The King is not bound
 to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the
 father of his son, nor the master of his servant, for
 they purpose not their death when they purpose
 their services. Besides, there is no king, be his cause
165 never so spotless, if it come to the arbitrament of
 swords, can try it out with all unspotted soldiers.
 Some, peradventure, have on them the guilt of
 premeditated and contrived murder; some, of beguiling
 virgins with the broken seals of perjury;
170 some, making the wars their bulwark, that have
 before gored the gentle bosom of peace with pillage
 and robbery. Now, if these men have defeated the
 law and outrun native punishment, though they can
 outstrip men, they have no wings to fly from God.
175 War is His beadle, war is His vengeance, so that here
 men are punished for before-breach of the King’s
 laws in now the King’s quarrel. Where they feared
 the death, they have borne life away; and where they
 would be safe, they perish. Then, if they die unprovided,
180 no more is the King guilty of their damnation
 than he was before guilty of those impieties for the
 which they are now visited. Every subject’s duty is
 the King’s, but every subject’s soul is his own.
 Therefore should every soldier in the wars do as
185 every sick man in his bed: wash every mote out of
 his conscience. And, dying so, death is to him
 advantage; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost
 wherein such preparation was gained. And in him
 that escapes, it were not sin to think that, making
190 God so free an offer, He let him outlive that day to

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

 see His greatness and to teach others how they
 should prepare.
WILLIAMS ’Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill
 upon his own head; the King is not to answer it.
BATES 195I do not desire he should answer for me, and yet
 I determine to fight lustily for him.
KING HENRY I myself heard the King say he would not
 be ransomed.
WILLIAMS Ay, he said so to make us fight cheerfully,
200 but when our throats are cut, he may be ransomed
 and we ne’er the wiser.
KING HENRY If I live to see it, I will never trust his
 word after.
WILLIAMS You pay him then. That’s a perilous shot out
205 of an elder gun, that a poor and a private displeasure
 can do against a monarch. You may as well go
 about to turn the sun to ice with fanning in his face
 with a peacock’s feather. You’ll “never trust his
 word after.” Come, ’tis a foolish saying.
KING HENRY 210Your reproof is something too round. I
 should be angry with you if the time were
WILLIAMS Let it be a quarrel between us, if you live.
KING HENRY I embrace it.
WILLIAMS 215How shall I know thee again?
KING HENRY Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear
 it in my bonnet. Then, if ever thou dar’st acknowledge
 it, I will make it my quarrel.
WILLIAMS Here’s my glove. Give me another of thine.
KING HENRY 220There.They exchange gloves.
WILLIAMS This will I also wear in my cap. If ever thou
 come to me and say, after tomorrow, “This is my
 glove,” by this hand I will take thee a box on the
KING HENRY 225If ever I live to see it, I will challenge it.
WILLIAMS Thou dar’st as well be hanged.

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

KING HENRY Well, I will do it, though I take thee in the
 King’s company.
WILLIAMS Keep thy word. Fare thee well.
BATES 230Be friends, you English fools, be friends. We
 have French quarrels enough, if you could tell how
 to reckon.
KING HENRY Indeed, the French may lay twenty
 French crowns to one they will beat us, for they
235 bear them on their shoulders. But it is no English
 treason to cut French crowns, and tomorrow the
 King himself will be a clipper.
Soldiers exit.
 Upon the King! Let us our lives, our souls, our
 debts, our careful wives, our children, and our sins,
240 lay on the King!
 We must bear all. O hard condition,
 Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breath
 Of every fool whose sense no more can feel
 But his own wringing. What infinite heart’s ease
245 Must kings neglect that private men enjoy?
 And what have kings that privates have not too,
 Save ceremony, save general ceremony?
 And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?
 What kind of god art thou that suffer’st more
250 Of mortal griefs than do thy worshipers?
 What are thy rents? What are thy comings-in?
 O ceremony, show me but thy worth!
 What is thy soul of adoration?
 Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form,
255 Creating awe and fear in other men,
 Wherein thou art less happy, being feared,
 Than they in fearing?
 What drink’st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,
 But poisoned flattery? O, be sick, great greatness,
260 And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!
 Think’st thou the fiery fever will go out

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

 With titles blown from adulation?
 Will it give place to flexure and low bending?
 Canst thou, when thou command’st the beggar’s
265 knee,
 Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,
 That play’st so subtly with a king’s repose.
 I am a king that find thee, and I know
 ’Tis not the balm, the scepter, and the ball,
270 The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,
 The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,
 The farcèd title running ’fore the King,
 The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp
 That beats upon the high shore of this world;
275 No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,
 Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
 Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave
 Who, with a body filled and vacant mind,
 Gets him to rest, crammed with distressful bread;
280 Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,
 But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
 Sweats in the eye of Phoebus, and all night
 Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn
 Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,
285 And follows so the ever-running year
 With profitable labor to his grave.
 And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,
 Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,
 Had the forehand and vantage of a king.
290 The slave, a member of the country’s peace,
 Enjoys it, but in gross brain little wots
 What watch the King keeps to maintain the peace,
 Whose hours the peasant best advantages.

Enter Erpingham.

 My lord, your nobles, jealous of your absence,

Henry V
ACT 4. SC. 1

295 Seek through your camp to find you.
KING HENRY  Good old knight,
 Collect them all together at my tent.
 I’ll be before thee.
ERPINGHAM  I shall do ’t, my lord.He exits.
300 O God of battles, steel my soldiers’ hearts.
 Possess them not with fear. Take from them now
 The sense of reck’ning or th’ opposèd numbers
 Pluck their hearts from them. Not today, O Lord,
 O, not today, think not upon the fault
305 My father made in compassing the crown.
 I Richard’s body have interrèd new
 And on it have bestowed more contrite tears
 Than from it issued forcèd drops of blood.
 Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay
310 Who twice a day their withered hands hold up
 Toward heaven to pardon blood. And I have built
 Two chantries where the sad and solemn priests
 Sing still for Richard’s soul. More will I do—
 Though all that I can do is nothing worth,
315 Since that my penitence comes after all,
 Imploring pardon.

Enter Gloucester.

KING HENRY My brother Gloucester’s voice.—Ay,
 I know thy errand. I will go with thee.
320 The day, my friends, and all things stay for me.
They exit.