imitate the action of the tiger.
sinews, summon up the blood,
nature with hard-favoured rage.
the eye a terrible aspect,
. . .
set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
his full height. On, on, you noblest English,
blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
that like so many Alexanders
Have in these
parts from morn till even fought,
their swords for lack of argument.
not your mothers; now attest
That those whom
you called fathers did beget you.
now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them
how to war. And you, good yeomen,
were made in England, show us here
of your pasture. . . .
This passage is from Henry’s famous
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech, which ends with
the battle cry, “God for Harry! England, and St. George!” Rallying
his men to charge once more into the fray at the Battle of Harfleur
(the “breach” refers to the hole in the town wall created by the
bombardment of Henry’s cannons), Henry employs two separate strategies
for psychological motivation, each of which uses its own language
and rhetoric. First, Henry attempts to tap into a primal instinct
toward violence within his men, hoping to rouse them into a killing
frenzy. To this end, he compares the expressions he desires his
men to wear to the features of an angry tiger. He describes in great
detail the savage features of tigers, urging his men toward a mindless
fury represented by snarling teeth and flared nostrils. The vivid
imagery of Henry’s speech indicates his own experience with the
savage passion of battle, as he commands his men to “[b]e copy now
to men of grosser blood”—that is, to act as barbarians.
At the same time, however, Henry employs a second strategy whereby
he inspires his men with a nationalistic patriotism, urging them
to do honor to their country and prove that they are worthy of being
called English. This sense of a shared national creed is somewhat
more sophisticated than the urging to primal violence, and Henry
turns away from the blunt physical description in the early part
of his speech to a more complex rhetoric that combines historical
reference (“so many Alexanders”), a sentimental appeal to family
pride (“[d]ishonour not your mothers”), and reminders of birthplace
(“you, good yeomen, / Whose limbs were made in England”). At the
end of his speech, Henry attaches St. George, the patron saint of
England, to his legendary battle cry, providing his men with a treasured
and familiar symbol of the patriotic ideals he espouses in his rally