Agincourt. The English camp.
(Gloucester; Bedford; Exeter; Erpingham; Salisbury; Westmorland; King Henry the Fifth; Montjoy; York)
The English nobles encourage one another, though they are intimidated by the odds against them. King Henry overhears Westmoreland wishing that they had more men, and rebukes him, arguing that the fewer they are, the greater the honor when they win, and that every man who lives through this day will look back on it with pride in his old age. Fired up by this speech, Westmoreland retracts his wish entirely. Montjoy returns, to give Henry one last chance of surrendering, but the King absolutely refuses. The duke of York begs permission to lead the front lines, which King Henry grants. (135 lines)
Enter Gloucester, Bedford, Exeter, Erpingham with all his host; Salisbury and Westmorland.
Where is the King?
The King himself is rode to view their battle.
Of fighting men they have full threescore thousand.
There’s five to one; besides, they all are fresh.
God’s arm strike with us! ’Tis a fearful odds.
God buy you, princes all; I’ll to my charge.
If we no more meet till we meet in heaven,
Then joyfully, my noble Lord of Bedford,
My dear Lord Gloucester, and my good Lord Exeter,
And my kind kinsman, warriors all, adieu!
Farewell, good Salisbury, and good luck go with thee!
Farewell, kind lord; fight valiantly today!
And yet I do thee wrong to mind thee of it,
For thou art fram’d of the firm truth of valor.
He is as full of valor as of kindness,
Princely in both.
Enter the King.
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work today!
What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmorland? No, my fair cousin.
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honor.
God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honor,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace, I would not lose so great an honor
As one man more methinks would share from me,
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart, his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse.
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a’ tiptoe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say, “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here;
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
My sovereign lord, bestow yourself with speed.
The French are bravely in their battles set,
And will with all expedience charge on us.
All things are ready, if our minds be so.
Perish the man whose mind is backward now!
Thou dost not wish more help from England, coz?
God’s will, my liege, would you and I alone,
Without more help, could fight this royal battle!
Why, now thou hast unwish’d five thousand men;
Which likes me better than to wish us one.
You know your places. God be with you all!
Tucket. Enter Montjoy.
Once more I come to know of thee, King Harry,
If for thy ransom thou wilt now compound,
Before thy most assured overthrow;
For certainly thou art so near the gulf,
Thou needs must be englutted. Besides, in mercy,
The Constable desires thee thou wilt mind
Thy followers of repentance; that their souls
May make a peaceful and a sweet retire
From off these fields, where (wretches!) their poor bodies
Must lie and fester.
Who hath sent thee now?
The Constable of France.
I pray thee bear my former answer back:
Bid them achieve me, and then sell my bones.
Good God, why should they mock poor fellows thus?
The man that once did sell the lion’s skin
While the beast liv’d, was kill’d with hunting him.
A many of our bodies shall no doubt
Find native graves; upon the which, I trust,
Shall witness live in brass of this day’s work.
And those that leave their valiant bones in France,
Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills,
They shall be fam’d; for there the sun shall greet them,
And draw their honors reeking up to heaven,
Leaving their earthly parts to choke your clime,
The smell whereof shall breed a plague in France.
Mark then abounding valor in our English:
That being dead, like to the bullet’s crasing,
Break out into a second course of mischief,
Killing in relapse of mortality.
Let me speak proudly: tell the Constable
We are but warriors for the working-day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch’d
With rainy marching in the painful field;
There’s not a piece of feather in our host—
Good argument (I hope) we will not fly—
And time hath worn us into slovenry.
But, by the mass, our hearts are in the trim;
And my poor soldiers tell me, yet ere night,
They’ll be in fresher robes, or they will pluck
The gay new coats o’er the French soldiers’ heads
And turn them out of service. If they do this—
As, if God please, they shall—my ransom then
Will soon be levied. Herald, save thou thy labor.
Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald,
They shall have none, I swear, but these my joints;
Which if they have as I will leave ’um them,
Shall yield them little, tell the Constable.
I shall, King Harry. And so fare thee well;
Thou never shalt hear herald any more.
I fear thou wilt once more come again for a ransom.
My lord, most humbly on my knee I beg
The leading of the vaward.
Take it, brave York. Now, soldiers, march away,
And how thou pleasest, God, dispose the day!