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  Act 2 Scene 3

page Act 2 Scene 3 Page 5

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Oh peace, Prince Dauphin!
You are too much mistaken in this king.
85Question your Grace the late ambassadors
With what great state he heard their embassy,
How well supplied with noble counselors,
How modest in exception, and withal
How terrible in constant resolution,
90And you shall find his vanities forespent
Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus,
Covering discretion with a coat of folly,
As gardeners do with ordure hide those roots
That shall first spring and be most delicate.


Oh, please, Prince Dauphin! You are completely wrong about this king. Talk to the ambassadors who’ve just come back: ask them how majestically he responded to their message, how well supplied he was with good advisors, how restrained in expressing his displeasure, and, moreover, how terrifyingly firm he was in his resolve. You’ll discover that his youthful follies were like the persona that

Lucius Junius Brutus

In Roman history, a nobleman named Lucius Junius Brutus pretended to be feebleminded so King Tarquin wouldn’t recognize he was a threat.

Lucius Junius Brutus
adopted to deceive Tarquin—cloaking wisdom in folly the way gardeners cover the most delicate roots with manure when they first sprout up.


95Well, ’tis not so, my Lord High Constable.
But though we think it so, it is no matter.
In cases of defense ’tis best to weigh
The enemy more mighty than he seems.
So the proportions of defense are filled,
100Which of a weak or niggardly projection
Doth, like a miser, spoil his coat with scanting
A little cloth.


Well, you’re wrong, my Lord High Constable. But even if I thought you were right, it doesn’t matter. When it comes to defense, it’s best to assume that the enemy is more powerful than he seems. That way, we fill the gaps in our defenses. Otherwise, if we do it on the cheap, we’ll be like the miser who spoils his new coat by not buying quite enough cloth to make it.


Think we King Harry strong,
And, princes, look you strongly arm to meet him.
105The kindred of him hath been fleshed upon us,
And he is bred out of that bloody strain
That haunted us in our familiar paths.
Witness our too-much-memorable shame
When Cressy battle fatally was struck
110And all our princes captived by the hand
Of that black name, Edward, Black Prince of Wales,
Whiles that his mountain sire, on mountain standing


I think King Harry is strong, so the rest of you princes make sure to arm yourselves to meet him with strength. His ancestors got their first taste of blood in battle with us, and he is born of that warlike strain that haunted us on our home ground. Reflect on the battle of Crécy, where, to our everlasting shame, all our princes were taken prisoner by the Prince of Wales, he whom they called Edward the Black Prince. Remember how his mountain-bred father, standing high on a mountain,