Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 3 Scene 6

page Act 3 Scene 6 Page 2

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PISTOL

Captain, I thee beseech to do me favors.
The duke of Exeter doth love thee well.

PISTOL

Captain, I have a favor to beg of you. You’re on very good terms with the duke of Exeter.

FLUELLEN

20Ay, I praise God, and I have merited some love at his hands.

FLUELLEN

Yes, God be praised, I have managed to earn his favor.

PISTOL

Bardolph, a soldier firm and sound of heart
And of buxom valor, hath, by cruel Fate
And giddy Fortune’s furious fickle wheel,
That goddess blind
25That stands upon the rolling restless stone—

PISTOL

Bardolph, a soldier who is loyal and stout-hearted and full of valour, has, by a cruel trick of fate and a turn of silly Fortune’s wildly spinning wheel, that blind goddess who stands upon an ever-rolling stone—

FLUELLEN

By your patience, Aunchient Pistol, Fortune is painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is blind; and she is painted also with a wheel to signify to you, which is the moral of it, that she is turning and inconstant, and mutability and variation; and her foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone, which rolls and rolls and rolls. In good truth, the poet makes a most excellent description of it. Fortune is an excellent moral.

FLUELLEN

Now, now, Ensign Pistol. Fortune is depicted as blind, with a scarf over her eyes, to signify that she is blind. And she is depicted with a wheel to signify—this is the point—that she is turning and inconstant, and all about change and variation. And her foot, see, is planted on a spherical stone that rolls and rolls and rolls. Truly, artists do wonderful things with the image of Fortune. She provides an excellent moral.

PISTOL

Fortune is Bardolph’s foe and frowns on him,
35For he hath stolen a pax and hangèd must he be.
A damnèd death!
Let gallows gape for dog, let man go free,
And let not hemp his windpipe suffocate.
But Exeter hath given the doom of death
40For pax of little price.
Therefore go speak—the duke will hear thy voice—
And let not Bardolph’s vital thread be cut
With edge of penny cord and vile reproach.
Speak, Captain, for his life, and I will thee requite.

PISTOL

Fortune is Bardolph’s enemy. She frowns on him, for he has stolen a

pax

Pax: a metal tablet bearing a picture of the crucifixion. “Pax” is Latin for “peace,” and during the mass, the pax would be kissed by the priest and then by the congregation in a “kiss of peace.”

pax
from a church and he must be hanged. A damnable death! It’s fine for dogs to be hung, but men should go free and not have their windpipes strangled with hemp. But Exeter has pronounced a death sentence—and for a cheap little pax. Therefore, go and speak for him! The duke will listen to you. Don’t let Bardolph’s life be brought to an end by a length of cheap rope and with this shame. Save his life, Captain, and I will repay you.

FLUELLEN

45Aunchient Pistol, I do partly understand your meaning.

FLUELLEN

Ensign Pistol, I think I understand you.

PISTOL

Why then, rejoice therefore.

PISTOL

I’m glad to hear it.