Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

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KING HENRY

We are no tyrant, but a Christian king,
265Unto whose grace our passion is as subject
As is our wretches fettered in our prisons.
Therefore with frank and with uncurbèd plainness
Tell us the Dauphin’s mind.

KING HENRY

I am no tyrant but a Christian king, whose emotions are as tightly controlled as the wretches who languish in our prisons. Therefore tell me the Dauphin’s mind frankly and without constraint.

AMBASSADOR

Thus, then, in few:
270Your Highness, lately sending into France,
Did claim some certain dukedoms in the right
Of your great predecessor, King Edward the Third;
In answer of which claim, the prince our master
Says that you savor too much of your youth
275And bids you be advised there’s naught in France
That can be with a nimble galliard won.
You cannot revel into dukedoms there.
He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit,
This tun of treasure, and, in lieu of this,
280Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim
Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.

FIRST AMBASSADOR

Here it is then, in as few words as possible. Your Highness recently sent word to France claiming certain dukedoms as your own, in the name of your great ancestor, King Edward the Third. By way of answer, the prince our master says that you’re acting like the immature youth that you are. He warns you to take note: there’s nothing in France that you can win by dancing. You can’t party your way into dukedoms there. He therefore sends you this casket of treasure as a gift more suited to your character. And in return for this gift, he wishes you to drop your claim to the dukedoms. This is the Dauphin’s message.

KING HENRY

What treasure, uncle?

KING HENRY

What’s the treasure, uncle?

EXETER

Tennis balls, my liege.

EXETER

Tennis balls, my liege.

KING HENRY

285We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us.
His present and your pains we thank you for.
When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God’s grace, play a set
Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.
290Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
That all the courts of France will be disturbed
With chases. And we understand him well,
How he comes o'er us with our wilder days,
Not measuring what use we made of them.

KING HENRY

I’m happy the Dauphin has such a good sense of humor. Thank you for his present and your trouble. Once I’ve put my rackets to these balls, I’ll play a set in France, God willing, that will knock his father’s crown right out of the court. Tell him he’s got himself such a willing opponent that we’ll be chasing balls all over France. And I understand perfectly his sneering reference to my wilder days. He doesn’t realize how useful they were to me. For a long time, I didn’t value this humble throne of England, and therefore lived at some remove and gave myself over to riotous living.
Men tend to be at their most irresponsible when they’re away from home. But tell the Dauphin I will retain the dignity of kingship and appear all the more royal and glorious on the throne of France. Precisely for this purpose I went about like a commoner and experienced the life of the ordinary man. Now I’ll rise there with