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the Duke of Brabant, when his standard was not come, caused a banner to be taken from a trumpet, and fastened to a speare, the which he commanded to be borne before him, instead of his standard.”
21. To do our country loss :—Here again the Poet found something in the chronicler to work upon: “It is said that as he heard one of the host utter his wish to another thus, ‘I would to God there were with us now so manie good soldiers as are at this houre within England!' the King answered, I would not wish a man more here than I have: we are indeed in comparison of the enemies but a few, but, if God of his clemencie doo favour us and our cause, as I trust he will, we shall speed well inough. And if so be that for our offenses sakes we shall be delivered into the hands of our enemies, the lesse number we be, the lesse damage shall the realme of England susteine."
63. shall gentle his condition :-King Henry V. inhibited any person, but such as had a right by inheritance or grant, from bearing coats of arms, except those who fought with him at the battle of Agincourt.
90 et seq. Of this second proposal for ransom Holinshed speaks thus: “Here we may not forget how the French in their jolitie sent an herald to King Henrie, to inquire what ransom he would offer. Whereunto he answered, that within two or three houres he hoped it would so happen that the Frenchmen should be glad to common rather with the Englishmen for their ransoms, than the English to take thought for their deliverance, promising for his owne part, that his dead carcasse should rather be a prize to the Frenchmen, than that his living bodie should paie anie ransome.”
129. [York.] This Edward Duke of York has already appeared in Richard II. as Duke of Aumerle. He was the son of Edmund of Langley, the Duke of York of the same play, who was the fourth son of King Edward III.
I et seq. It is consistent enough with the national and popular design of the play that not a little of it should seem to be addressed to the common, uneducated public, as in this Scene,
wherein the miserable blusterer Pistol makes prisoner a French nobleman whom he has succeeded in overawing.
3. Mort de ma vie !--Coleridge says: “ Ludicrous as these introductory scraps of French appear, so instantly followed by good nervous mother-English, yet they are judicious, and produce the impression which Shakespeare intended—a sudden feeling struck at once on the ears, as well as the eyes, of the audience, that 'here come the French, the baffled French braggards!' And this will appear still' more judicious, when we reflect on the scanty apparatus of distinguishing dresses in Shakespeare's trying-room.”
35. new alarum :-" The multiplicity of battles in Henry V.," says Campbell, “is a drawback on its value as an acting play; for battles are awkward things upon the stage. We forget this objection, however, in the reading of the play.”
6-10. the cowardly rascals
throat :- This matter is thus related by Holinshed: While the battell thus continued, certeine Frenchmen on horsseback, to the number of six hundred, which were the first that fled, hearing that the English tents and pavillions were without anie sufficient gard, entred upon the King's campe, and there spoiled the hails, robbed the tents, brake up chests, and carried awaie caskets, and slue such servants as they found to make anie resistance. But when the outcrie of the lackies and boies, which ran awaie for feare of the Frenchmen, came to the King's eares, he, doubting least his enemies should gather togither againe, and begin a new field, and mistrusting further that the prisoners would be an aid to his enemies, or the verie enemies to their takers in deed, if they were suffered to live, contrarie to his accustomed gentleness, commanded by sound of trumpet, that everie man, upon paine of death, should incontinentlie slaie his prisoner.” It appears afterwards, however, that the King, finding the danger to be less than he at first thought, stopped the slaughter, and was able to save a great number. It
is observable that the King gives as his reason for the order, that he expected another battle, and had not men enough to guard one army and fight another. Gower here assigns a different reason. Holinshed gives both reasons, and the Poet chose to put one in the King's mouth, the other in Gower's.
54. Falstaff :-Johnson observes that this is the last time Falstaff can make sport. The Poet was loath to part with him, and has continued his memory as long as he could.
93. Agincourt:-So the chronicler: “In the morning Montjoie and foure other heralds came to the King, to know the number of prisoners, and to desire buriall for the dead. Before he made them answer, he demanded whie they made that request, considering that he knew not whether the victorie was his or theirs. When Montjoie by true and just confession had cleered that doubt, he desired to understand the name of the castell neere adjoining: when they had told him that it was called Agincourt, he said, Then shall this conflict be called the battell of Agincourt.”
161. down together :-Henry was felled to the ground by the Duke of Alençon, but recovered and slew two of the duke's attendants. Alençon was afterwards killed by the King's guard, contrary to Henry's intention, who wished to save him.
8. [Strikes him.] Fluellen gets a hearty box on the ear from Williams, and prepares to return it with interest, giving loose to his tongue in preparation. But even this imbroglio is fairly reconciled by a few words of explanation, and with no loss of dignity in any part. Williams sets his apparent insult to the King in its natural light, and has from him a glove full of crowns, which he well deserves, and an honourable distinction that he deserves still better; and Fluellen thinks no more of the blow, and has even twelvepence to spare for the giver of it, who, however, knows himself much too well to take it, and pitches it back. Thus we are gradually carried forward and exercised in appreciating and apprehending the shades and limits of forbearance and pusillanimity, of the magnanimous and the overbearing, and enabled, if we will but keep clear of false lights and vain prepossessions, to receive the full effect of the scene that closes and completes the martial play. 125. Do we all holy rites:-“ The King,” according to Holinshed, “when he saw no appearance of enemies, caused the retreit to be blowen; and, gathering his army togither, gave thanks to Almightie God for so happie a victorie, causing his prelats and chapleins to sing this psalme,-In exitu Israel de Egypto; and commanded every man to kneele downe on the ground at this verse,- Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. Which doone, he caused TE DEUM with certeine anthems to be soong, giving laud and praise to God, without boasting of his owne force or anie humane power.”
21. the smell of leek :-“Ancient Pistol's mock at the quaint but honourable badge of the odd-fashioned but valiant Welshman, is invented,” says Lloyd, “not without reference to the Dauphin's mock with his tun of tennis-balls, on the strength of the seeming frivolity of the wilder time of Prince Henry. Of such an offence the punishment is much the same in either case, and the mouthing braggart is roughly repaid with hard knocks first, and then with humiliation in its bitterest form of forced acceptation of a kind
Fluellen, who took back his shilling from Williams and forgave him the buffet, gives a sound thrashing to the contemptible scoundrel who disgraces the profession of soldier, forces the leek he jeered at down his throat, and makes him accept of a groat to heal his pate. Pistol deserves all that he gets and more, and it is the treatment such a character as he provokes, whether deserving it or not; it is a faint consideration in the Ancient's favour, that he quarrels so pertinaciously with Fluellen from resentment at his not saving his comrade Bardolph, good-for-little wretch as he might be. But thus ends the memory of Falstaff and his associates."
93. Johnson here remarks upon the comic scenes of Henry IV. and Henry V. with a feeling which doubtless most readers will share. Those scenes, he says, are now at an end, and all the comic personages are now dismissed. Falstaff and Mrs. Quickly are dead; Nym and Bardolph are hanged; Gadshill was lost immediately after the robbery; Poins and Peto have vanished since, one knows not how; and Pistol is now beaten into obscurity. I believe every reader regrets their departure.”
9-11. Right joyous, etc.:- In the fifth Act the French themselves seem to share in the exultation of England over their own surrender. In painting Henry's own attitude towards the enemy, however, Shakespeare's touch is not quite so firm as when he limned Prince Hal. The speeches before Harfleur to Montjoy, and after the battle, are hardly in keeping with the modesty of true valour which makes him forbid the display of his bruised helmet and bent sword in the London streets.
98 et seq. Fair Katharine, etc. :-In the scenes with Katharine, and in the tone of Henry towards the French king and princes, the old play exhibits its best in spirit and originality, and in what is worthiest as leading the way to something that so far surpassed it. Henry, however, displays more simplicity and warmheartedness as a wooer, and Katharine more sensibility as well as sense than were possible in Shakespeare's Henry V. without marring the effect of all. Still it is very interesting to observe by what slight strokes and changes the force of expression is now modified and now reversed. Compare the following passages from the old play with the final Scene of this :Henry 5 [alone.] Ah Harry, thrice unhappy Harry, hast
thou now conquered the French king, and begins a fresh
Enter Lady Katharine and her ladies.
if you will debate (abate) any of these unreasonable de
mands which you require.
greatly in this; for none in the world could sooner have
Kate, canst thou tell how to love?