Classic Novels, Ranked in Order of How Easy They Are to Study
Enter the GOVERNOR and some citizens on the walls. Enter KING HENRY and his train before the gates
The GOVERNOR and some citizens appear on the walls, the English army below. KING HENRY and his train enter.
How yet resolves the governor of the town?
This is the latest parle we will admit.
Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves
Or, like to men proud of destruction,
5Defy us to our worst. For, as I am a soldier,
A name that in my thoughts becomes me best,
If I begin the batt'ry once again,
I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
Till in her ashes she lie burièd.
10The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand, shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh fair virgins and your flow'ring infants.
15What is it then to me if impious war,
Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends,
Do with his smirched complexion all fell feats
Enlinked to waste and desolation?
What is ’t to me, when you yourselves are cause,
20If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
What rein can hold licentious wickedness
When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
We may as bootless spend our vain command
25Upon th' enragèd soldiers in their spoil
As send precepts to the Leviathan
To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
Take pity of your town and of your people
Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command,
30Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
What has the governor of the town decided? This is the final discussion I will grant. So submit to my mercy or, like men who revel in their own destruction, challenge me to do my worst. For, as I am a soldier, the name I think suits me best, once I begin my attack on Harfleur again, I will not leave the half-conquered town until she lies buried in her own ashes. The gates of mercy will be closed by then, and harsh and hard-hearted soldiers, who have tasted blood, will have free reign to commit whatever violence they want, mowing down your lovely young virgins and budding infants. What will it matter to me, since you will have brought it on yourselves, if sacrilegious war, dressed in red like Satan, his face blackened by smoke, should commit every form of savage destruction and ruin? What will it matter to me if your innocent maidens are raped, since you will have asked for it? What power can rein in promiscuous evil once it’s gotten rolling? We might as well send orders to the whale to come ashore as try to restore order in soldiers carried away with their looting. Therefore, you men of Harfleur, take pity on your town and on your people while I still have control over my men, while the cool and moderate winds of mercy still have power to disperse the depraved, infected clouds of murder, plunder, and crazed soldiers defile your shrieking daughters with their foul hands, and your fathers dragged by their silver beards, their reverend heads dashed against the walls. Expect to see your naked babies skewered upon pikes while their