Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

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weakness, and admire our sufferance. Bid him therefore consider of his ransom, which must proportion the losses we have borne, the subjects we have lost, the disgrace we have digested, which, in weight to reanswer, his pettiness would bow under. For our losses, his exchequer is too poor; for th' effusion of our blood, the muster of his kingdom too faint a number; and for our disgrace, his own person, kneeling at our feet but a weak and worthless satisfaction. To this, add defiance, and tell him, for conclusion, he hath betrayed his followers, whose condemnation is pronounced.” So far my king and master; so much my office.
have lost, and the indignity we have endured, for which he is too insignificant to sufficiently pay us back. His coffers are too poor to atone for our losses, his entire kingdom too small to account for the amount of blood we’ve shed, and the sight of him kneeling at our feet an empty satisfaction compared to the indignity we have put up with. Add defiance to all this and, by way of conclusion, tell him that he has betrayed the men who follow him, whose death sentence has been pronounced.” My king and master’s message delivered, my task is done.

KING HENRY

What is thy name? I know thy quality.

KING HENRY

What is your name? I know your position.

MONTJOY

125Montjoy.

MONTJOY

Montjoy.

KING HENRY

Thou dost thy office fairly. Turn thee back,
And tell thy king I do not seek him now
But could be willing to march on to Calais
Without impeachment, for, to say the sooth,
130Though ’tis no wisdom to confess so much
Unto an enemy of craft and vantage,
My people are with sickness much enfeebled,
My numbers lessened, and those few I have
Almost no better than so many French,
135Who when they were in health, I tell thee, herald,
I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen. Yet, forgive me, God,
That I do brag thus. This your air of France
Hath blown that vice in me. I must repent.
140Go therefore, tell thy master: here I am.
My ransom is this frail and worthless trunk,
My army but a weak and sickly guard,
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on
Though France himself and such another neighbor
145Stand in our way. There’s for thy labor, Montjoy.
Go bid thy master well advise himself:
If we may pass, we will; if we be hindered,
We shall your tawny ground with your red blood
Discolor. And so, Montjoy, fare you well.
150The sum of all our answer is but this:
We would not seek a battle as we are,
Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it.
So tell your master.

KING HENRY

You do your job well. Go back and tell your king I do not seek an encounter with him now but would be willing to march on to Calais without interference, for—to be honest, though it’s probably unwise to confess this to a powerful enemy who has the advantage—my men are considerably weakened by illness, my numbers reduced, and those few men I have almost no better than so many Frenchmen, though when they were in good form, I tell you, herald, I thought three Frenchmen walked on every pair of English legs. But God forgive me for bragging. It’s a vice I’ve picked up since I’ve been here, and I must get rid of it. Anyway, go tell your master I am here. My ransom is my own fragile, worthless body, my army but a weak and sickly escort. But, before God, tell him we will advance, even if the king of France himself and another foe as strong should stand in our way. (giving him money) That’s for your trouble, Montjoy. Go tell your master to consider carefully. If we’re allowed to pass, we will. If we’re prevented, we’ll discolor your golden ground with your red blood. And so, Montjoy, farewell. This is our whole answer: We do not seek a battle nor will we avoid one. Tell your master this.