Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 7

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CANTERBURY

   Therefore doth heaven divide
The state of man in diverse functions,
Setting endeavor in continual motion,
To which is fixèd as an aim or butt
210Obedience; for so work the honeybees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king and officers of sorts,
Where some like magistrates correct at home,
215Others like merchants venture trade abroad,
Others like soldiers armèd in their stings
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds,
Which pillage they with merry march bring home
To the tent royal of their emperor,
220Who, busied in his majesty, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneading up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding in
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate,
225The sad-eyed justice with his surly hum
Delivering o'er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drone. I this infer:
That many things, having full reference
To one consent, may work contrariously,
230As many arrows loosèd several ways
Come to one mark, as many ways meet in one town,
As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea,
As many lines close in the dial’s center,
So may a thousand actions, once afoot,
235End in one purpose, and be all well borne
Without defeat. Therefore to France, my liege!
Divide your happy England into four,
Whereof take you one quarter into France,
And you withal shall make all Gallia shake.

CANTERBURY

That is why God divided humanity into various functions, so as to keep human endeavor moving ever forward, the one single fixed element—the aim—being obedience. Honey bees operate in just such a communal way. In fact, you can learn a lot about how to run a well-ordered kingdom from these creatures. They have a king and officers of sorts. Some, like magistrates, dole out punishment at home, while others venture forth for commerce, like merchants. Still others, armed like soldiers with stingers, pillage the summer flowers, bringing the booty triumphantly home to the royal tent of their emperor, who is preoccupied with governing. The emperor supervises the masons as they build gold roofs, the ordinary citizens as they process the honey, the humble laborers as they crowd through the city’s narrow gate with their heavy burdens, and the solemn-looking judge (with his grouchy hum) as he delivers lazy, unproductive drones to pale executioners. From this, I conclude that many different elements can work toward one common end—just as many arrows, shot from different points, converge on a single target; just as many roads meet in a single town; just as many fresh streams empty into only one salt sea; just as the many radiuses of a

sundial

A sundial is a device that tells time, with a straight edge casting a shadow on a flat metal plate.

sundial
unite at its center. Just so, a thousand actions, once set in motion, will result in one desired object, and all will be well carried out and have a successful end. Therefore, head to France, my liege! Divide your lucky England into four. If you take even one quarter with you to France, you will nevertheless make the whole country shake.