Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 8

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240If we, with thrice such powers left at home,
Cannot defend our own doors from the dog,
Let us be worried, and our nation lose
The name of hardiness and policy.
If we cannot defend our country with three times such a power left at home, then we deserve to be harassed by an invader and lose our reputation as a powerful and politically savvy nation.

KING HENRY

Call in the messengers sent from the Dauphin.

KING HENRY

Call in the messengers sent from the Dauphin.
Exeunt some attendants
Some attendants exit.
245Now are we well resolved, and by God’s help
And yours, the noble sinews of our power,
France being ours, we’ll bend it to our awe
Or break it all to pieces. Or there we’ll sit,
Ruling in large and ample empery
250O'er France and all her almost kingly dukedoms,
Or lay these bones in an unworthy urn,
Tombless, with no remembrance over them.
Either our history shall with full mouth
Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave,
255Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth,
Not worshipped with a waxen epitaph.
Now I’ve made up my mind, and with God’s help—and yours, you nobles who are the mainstay of my power—I’ll force France to fear me, or I’ll break her into pieces, as she’s rightfully mine. Either I’ll sit, ruling with absolute authority over France and all her dukedoms, or I’ll lay these bones in a common grave, with no stone or inscription over them. Either the story of my deeds will be declaimed loudly and without restraint, or else my grave will remain speechless, like a Turkish mute, not honored with even an epitaph etched in wax.
Enter AMBASSADORS of France, with attendants
French AMBASSADORS enter.
Now are we well prepared to know the pleasure
Of our fair cousin Dauphin, for we hear
Your greeting is from him, not from the king.
I’m ready now to hear what my good cousin the Dauphin has to say—for I hear that the greeting you bear is from him, not the king.

AMBASSADOR

260May ’t please your Majesty to give us leave
Freely to render what we have in charge,
Or shall we sparingly show you far off
The Dauphin’s meaning and our embassy?

FIRST AMBASSADOR

Will your Majesty grant us permission to freely express the message we’ve been asked to convey? Or should we be tactful and only hint at what the Dauphin sent us to say?