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Henry V Scenes

Scene 2

France. The French King’s apartment in Troyes.

(King Henry the Fifth; Exeter; Bedford; Gloucester; Warwick; Westmorland; Lords; Queen Isabel; French King; Duke of Burgundy; Katherine; Alice; French Power; English Lords)

King Henry and the French King meet, protesting their love for one another. The Duke of Burgundy makes an impassioned plea for peace. The French King tells Henry that he has not studied the proposed peace treaty in detail, and goes off with the English lords to do so. Left alone with Katherine and Alice, Henry does his best to woo her, which is difficult as her English has not improved since last we saw her and his French is ghastly. Though coy and somewhat taken aback at his bluntness, Katherine is not displeased with his wooing, and in the end permits him to kiss her, at which point the French King and the lords of both countries walk in on them. They announce that the French King has accepted the treaty, under which terms he shall reign until his death, but Henry shall take the throne thereafter. Henry looks forward to his wedding. (198 lines)

Enter, at one door, King Henry, Exeter, Bedford, Gloucester, Warwick, Westmorland, and other Lords; at another, Queen Isabel, the King of France, the Duke of Burgundy, Katherine, Alice, and other French.


Peace to this meeting, wherefore we are met!

Unto our brother France, and to our sister,

Health and fair time of day; joy and good wishes

To our most fair and princely cousin Katherine;

And as a branch and member of this royalty,

By whom this great assembly is contriv’d,

We do salute you, Duke of Burgundy,

And, princes French, and peers, health to you all!


Right joyous are we to behold your face,

Most worthy brother England, fairly met!

So are you, princes English, every one.


So happy be the issue, brother England,

Of this good day and of this gracious meeting,

As we are now glad to behold your eyes—

Your eyes, which hitherto have borne in them

Against the French that met them in their bent

The fatal balls of murdering basilisks.

The venom of such looks we fairly hope

Have lost their quality, and that this day

Shall change all griefs and quarrels into love.


To cry amen to that, thus we appear.


You English princes all, I do salute you.


My duty to you both, on equal love.

Great Kings of France and England: that I have labor’d

With all my wits, my pains, and strong endeavors

To bring your most imperial Majesties

Unto this bar and royal interview,

Your mightiness on both parts best can witness.

Since then my office hath so far prevail’d,

That face to face, and royal eye to eye,

You have congreeted, let it not disgrace me,

If I demand, before this royal view,

What rub or what impediment there is,

Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace,

Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births,

Should not in this best garden of the world,

Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage?

Alas, she hath from France too long been chas’d,

And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,

Corrupting in it own fertility.

Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,

Unpruned dies; her hedges even-pleach’d,

Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,

Put forth disorder’d twigs; her fallow leas

The darnel, hemlock, and rank femetary

Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts

That should deracinate such savagery;

The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth

The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover,

Wanting the scythe withal, uncorrected, rank,

Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems

But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burs,

Losing both beauty and utility;

And all our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges,

Defective in their natures, grow to wildness.

Even so our houses, and ourselves, and children,

Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,

The sciences that should become our country,

But grow like savages—as soldiers will

That nothing do but meditate on blood—

To swearing and stern looks, defus’d attire,

And every thing that seems unnatural.

Which to reduce into our former favor

You are assembled; and my speech entreats

That I may know the let why gentle Peace

Should not expel these inconveniences,

And bless us with her former qualities.


If, Duke of Burgundy, you would the peace,

Whose want gives growth to th’ imperfections

Which you have cited, you must buy that peace

With full accord to all our just demands,

Whose tenures and particular effects

You have enschedul’d briefly in your hands.


The King hath heard them; to the which, as yet

There is no answer made.


Well then: the peace,

Which you before so urg’d, lies in his answer.


I have but with a cursitory eye

O’erglanc’d the articles. Pleaseth your Grace

To appoint some of your Council presently

To sit with us once more, with better heed

To re-survey them, we will suddenly

Pass our accept and peremptory answer.


Brother, we shall. Go, uncle Exeter,

And brother Clarence, and you, brother Gloucester,

Warwick, and Huntington, go with the King,

And take with you free power to ratify,

Augment, or alter, as your wisdoms best

Shall see advantageable for our dignity,

Any thing in or out of our demands,

And we’ll consign thereto. Will you, fair sister,

Go with the princes, or stay here with us?


Our gracious brother, I will go with them.

Happily a woman’s voice may do some good,

When articles too nicely urg’d be stood on.


Yet leave our cousin Katherine here with us:

She is our capital demand, compris’d

Within the fore-rank of our articles.


She hath good leave.

Exeunt omnes. Manent King Henry and Katherine with the gentlewoman Alice.


Fair Katherine, and most fair,

Will you vouchsafe to teach a soldier terms,

Such as will enter at a lady’s ear,

And plead his love-suit to her gentle heart?


Your Majesty shall mock at me, I cannot speak your England.


O fair Katherine, if you will love me soundly with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it brokenly with your English tongue. Do you like me, Kate?


Pardonnez-moi, I cannot tell wat is “like me.”


An angel is like you, Kate, and you are like an angel.


Que dit-il? Que je suis semblable à les anges?


Oui, vraiment, sauf votre grâce, ainsi dit-il.


I said so, dear Katherine, and I must not blush to affirm it.


O bon Dieu! Les langues des hommes sont pleines de tromperies.


What says she, fair one? That the tongues of men are full of deceits?


Oui, dat de tongeus of de mans is be full of deceits: dat is de Princess.


The Princess is the better Englishwoman. I’ faith, Kate, my wooing is fit for thy understanding. I am glad thou canst speak no better English, for if thou couldst, thou wouldst find me such a plain king that thou wouldst think I had sold my farm to buy my crown. I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say “I love you”; then if you urge me farther than to say “Do you in faith?” I wear out my suit. Give me your answer, i’ faith, do, and so clap hands and a bargain. How say you, lady?


Sauf votre honneur, me understand well.


Marry, if you would put me to verses, or to dance for your sake, Kate, why, you undid me: for the one, I have neither words nor measure; and for the other, I have no strength in measure, yet a reasonable measure in strength. If I could win a lady at leap-frog, or by vaulting into my saddle with my armor on my back, under the correction of bragging be it spoken, I should quickly leap into a wife. Or if I might buffet for my love, or bound my horse for her favors, I could lay on like a butcher, and sit like a jack-an-apes, never off. But, before God, Kate, I cannot look greenly, nor gasp out my eloquence, nor I have no cunning in protestation; only downright oaths, which I never use till urg’d, nor never break for urging. If thou canst love a fellow of this temper, Kate, whose face is not worth sunburning, that never looks in his glass for love of any thing he sees there, let thine eye be thy cook. I speak to thee plain soldier. If thou canst love me for this, take me! If not, to say to thee that I shall die, is true; but for thy love, by the Lord, no; yet I love thee too. And while thou liv’st, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoin’d constancy, for he perforce must do thee right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places; for these fellows of infinite tongue, that can rhyme themselves into ladies’ favors, they do always reason themselves out again. What? A speaker is but a prater, a rhyme is but a ballad; a good leg will fall, a straight back will stoop, a black beard will turn white, a curl’d pate will grow bald, a fair face will wither, a full eye will wax hollow; but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon, or rather the sun and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me! And take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king. And what say’st thou then to my love? Speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee.


Is it possible dat I sould love de ennemie of France?


No, it is not possible you should love the enemy of France, Kate; but in loving me, you should love the friend of France; for I love France so well that I will not part with a village of it; I will have it all mine. And, Kate, when France is mine and I am yours, then yours is France and you are mine.


I cannot tell wat is dat.


No, Kate? I will tell thee in French, which I am sure will hang upon my tongue like a new-married wife about her husband’s neck, hardly to be shook off. Je quand sur le possession de France, et quand vous avez le possession de moi—let me see, what then? Saint Denis be my speed!—donc votre est France et vous êtes mienne. It is as easy for me, Kate, to conquer the kingdom as to speak so much more French. I shall never move thee in French, unless it be to laugh at me.


Sauf votre honneur, le François que vous parlez, il est meilleur que l’Anglois lequel je parle.


No, faith, is’t not, Kate; but thy speaking of my tongue, and I thine, most truly falsely, must needs be granted to be much at one. But, Kate, dost thou understand thus much English? Canst thou love me?


I cannot tell.


Can any of your neighbors tell, Kate? I’ll ask them. Come, I know thou lovest me; and at night, when you come into your closet, you’ll question this gentlewoman about me; and I know, Kate, you will to her dispraise those parts in me that you love with your heart. But, good Kate, mock me mercifully, the rather, gentle Princess, because I love thee cruelly. If ever thou beest mine, Kate, as I have a saving faith within me tells me thou shalt, I get thee with scambling, and thou must therefore needs prove a good soldier-breeder. Shall not thou and I, between Saint Denis and Saint George, compound a boy, half French, half English, that shall go to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard? Shall we not? What say’st thou, my fair flower-de-luce?


I do not know dat.


No; ’tis hereafter to know, but now to promise. Do but now promise, Kate, you will endeavor for your French part of such a boy; and for my English moi’ty, take the word of a king and a bachelor. How answer you, la plus belle Katherine du monde, mon très cher et devin déesse?


Your Majestee ave fausse French enough to deceive de most sage demoiselle dat is en France.


Now fie upon my false French! By mine honor, in true English, I love thee, Kate; by which honor I dare not swear thou lovest me, yet my blood begins to flatter me that thou dost—notwithstanding the poor and untempering effect of my visage. Now beshrew my father’s ambition! He was thinking of civil wars when he got me; therefore was I created with a stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that when I come to woo ladies, I fright them. But in faith, Kate, the elder I wax, the better I shall appear. My comfort is, that old age, that ill layer-up of beauty, can do no more spoil upon my face. Thou hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better; and therefore tell me, most fair Katherine, will you have me? Put off your maiden blushes, avouch the thoughts of your heart with the looks of an empress, take me by the hand, and say, “Harry of England, I am thine”; which word thou shalt no sooner bless mine ear withal, but I will tell thee aloud, “England is thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and Henry Plantagenet is thine”; who, though I speak it before his face, if he be not fellow with the best king, thou shalt find the best king of good fellows. Come, your answer in broken music; for thy voice is music and thy English broken; therefore, queen of all, Katherine, break thy mind to me in broken English—wilt thou have me?


Dat is as it shall please de roi mon père.


Nay, it will please him well, Kate; it shall please him, Kate.


Den it sall also content me.


Upon that I kiss your hand, and I call you my queen.


Laissez, mon seigneur, lais sez, laissez! Ma foi, je ne veux point que vous abaissez votre grandeur en baisant la main d’une (Notre Seigneur!) indigne serviteur. Excusez-moi, je vous supplie, mon très puissant seigneur.


Then I will kiss your lips, Kate.


Les dames et demoiselles pour être baisées devant leur noces, il n’est pas la coutume de France.


Madam my interpreter, what says she?


Dat it is not be de fashon pour les ladies of France—I cannot tell wat is baiser en Anglish.


To kiss.


Your Majestee entendre bettre que moi.


It is not a fashion for the maids in France to kiss before they are married, would she say?


Oui, vraiment.


O Kate, nice customs cur’sy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confin’d within the weak list of a country’s fashion. We are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places stops the mouth of all find-faults, as I will do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your country in denying me a kiss; therefore patiently and yielding.

Kissing her.

You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate; there is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them than in the tongues of the French council; and they should sooner persuade Harry of England than a general petition of monarchs. Here comes your father.

Enter the French Power and the English Lords.


God save your Majesty! My royal cousin, teach you our princess English?


I would have her learn, my fair cousin, how perfectly I love her, and that is good English.


Is she not apt?


Our tongue is rough, coz, and my condition is not smooth; so that having neither the voice nor the heart of flattery about me, I cannot so conjure up the spirit of love in her, that he will appear in his true likeness.


Pardon the frankness of my mirth, if I answer you for that. If you would conjure in her, you must make a circle; if conjure up Love in her in his true likeness, he must appear naked and blind. Can you blame her then, being a maid yet ros’d over with the virgin crimson of modesty, if she deny the appearance of a naked blind boy in her naked seeing self? It were, my lord, a hard condition for a maid to consign to.


Yet they do wink and yield, as love is blind and enforces.


They are then excus’d, my lord, when they see not what they do.


Then, good my lord, teach your cousin to consent winking.


I will wink on her to consent, my lord, if you will teach her to know my meaning; for maids, well summer’d and warm kept, are like flies at Bartholomew-tide, blind, though they have their eyes, and then they will endure handling, which before would not abide looking on.


This moral ties me over to time and a hot summer; and so I shall catch the fly, your cousin, in the latter end, and she must be blind too.


As love is, my lord, before it loves.


It is so; and you may, some of you, thank love for my blindness, who cannot see many a fair French city for one fair French maid that stands in my way.


Yes, my lord, you see them perspectively: the cities turn’d into a maid; for they are all girdled with maiden walls that war hath never ent’red.


Shall Kate be my wife?


So please you.


I am content, so the maiden cities you talk of may wait on her; so the maid that stood in the way for my wish shall show me the way to my will.


We have consented to all terms of reason.


Is’t so, my lords of England?


The King hath granted every article:

His daughter first; and in sequel, all,

According to their firm proposed natures.


Only he hath not yet subscribed this:

Where your Majesty demands that the King of France, having any occasion to write for matter of grant, shall name your Highness in this form, and with this addition, in French, Notre très cher fils Henri, Roi d’Angleterre, Héritier de France; and thus in Latin, Praeclarissimus filius noster Henricus, Rex Angliae, et Heres Franciae.


Nor this I have not, brother, so denied,

But your request shall make me let it pass.


I pray you then, in love and dear alliance,

Let that one article rank with the rest,

And thereupon give me your daughter.


Take her, fair son, and from her blood raise up

Issue to me, that the contending kingdoms

Of France and England, whose very shores look pale

With envy of each other’s happiness,

May cease their hatred; and this dear conjunction

Plant neighborhood and Christian-like accord

In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance

His bleeding sword ’twixt England and fair France.




Now welcome, Kate; and bear me witness all,

That here I kiss her as my sovereign queen.



God, the best maker of all marriages,

Combine your hearts in one, your realms in one!

As man and wife, being two, are one in love,

So be there ’twixt your kingdoms such a spousal,

That never may ill office, or fell jealousy,

Which troubles oft the bed of blessed marriage,

Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms,

To make divorce of their incorporate league;

That English may as French, French Englishmen,

Receive each other. God speak this Amen!




Prepare we for our marriage; on which day,

My Lord of Burgundy, we’ll take your oath,

And all the peers’, for surety of our leagues.

Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me,

And may our oaths well kept and prosp’rous be!

Sennet. Exeunt.


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