« PreviousContinue »
all his senses have but human conditions ; 1 his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing; therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours are: yet, in reason, no man should possess him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it, should dishearten his army.
Bates. He may show what outward courage he will; but, I believe, as cold a night as 'tis, he could wish himself in the Thames up to the neck; and so I would he were, and I by him, at all adventures, so we were quit here.
K. Hen. By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the king : I think, he would not wish himself any where but where he is.
Bates. Then, would he were here alone; so should he be sure to be ransomed, and a many poor men's lives saved.
K. Hen. I dare say, you love him not so ill, to wish him here alone; howsoever you speak this, to feel other men's minds. Methinks, I could not die any where so contented as in the king's company, his cause being just and his quarrel honorable.
Wil. That's more than we know.
Bates. Ay, or more than we should seek after ; for we know enough, if we know we are the king's subjects : if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.
Wil. But, if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs, and arms, and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all—We died at such a place; some, swearing; some, crying for a surgeon; some, upon their wives left poor behind them; some, upon the debts they owe; some, upon their children rawly 1 left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey, were against all proportion of subjection.
K. Hen. So, if a son, that is by his father sent about merchandise, do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule, should be imposed upon his father that sent him : or if a servant, under his master's command, transporting a sum of money, be assailed by robbers, and die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the business of the master the author of the servant's damnation. But this is not so: the king not bound to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of his servant; for they purpose not their death, when they purpose their services. Besides, there is no king, be his cause never so spotless, if it come to the arbitrement of swords, can try it out with all unspotted soldiers. Some, peradventure, have on them the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; some, of beguiling virgins with the broken seals of perjury; some, making the wars their bulwark, that have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with pillage and robbery. Now, if these men have defeated the law, and outrun native punishment, though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to fly from God: war is his beadle; war is his vengeance; so that here men are punished, for before. breach of the king's laws, in now the king's quarrel : where they feared the death, they have borne life away; and where they would be safe, they perish. Then if they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of their damnation, than he was before guilty of those impieties for the which they are now visited. Every subject's duty is the king's, but every subject's soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in the wars do as every sick man in his bed, wash every mote out of his conscience; and dying so, death is to him advantage; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost, wherein such preparation was gained : and, in him that escapes, it were not sin to think, that making God so free an offer, he
let him outlive that day to see his greatness, and to teach others how they should prepare.
Wil. 'Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill is upon his own head : the king is not to answer for it.
Bates. I do not desire he should answer for me; and yet I determine to fight lustily for him.
K. Hen. I myself heard the king say, he would not be ransomed.
Wil. Ay, he said so, to make us fight cheerfully; but, when our throats are cut, he may be ransor
somed, and we ne'er the wiser.
K. Hen. If I live to see it, I will never trust his word after. Wil. Mass, you
him 1 then! That's a perilous shot out of an elder gun, that a poor and private displeasure can do against a monarch! You may as well go about to turn the sun to ice with fanning in his face with a peacock's feather. You 'll never trust his word after! come, 'tis a foolish saying
K. Hen. Your reproof is something too round : ? I should be angry with you, if the time were convenient. Wil. Let it be a quarrel between us, if you
live. K. Hen. I embrace it. Wil. How shall I know thee again?
i Call him to account, punish him.
K. Hen. Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my bonnet : then, if ever thou darest acknowlege it, I will make it my quarrel.
Wil. Here's my glove; give me another of thine. K. Hen. There.
Wil. This will I also wear in my cap: if ever thou come to me, and say, after to-morrow, “This is my glove,' by this hand, I will take thee a box on the ear.
K. Hen. If ever I live to see it, I will challenge it.
Wil. Thou darest as well be hanged.
K. Hen. Well, I will do it, though I take thee in the king's company.
Wil. Keep thy word : fare thee well.
Bates. Be friends, you English fools, be friends : we have French quarrels enough, if you could tell how to reckon.
K. Hen. Indeed, the French may lay twenty French crowns to one, they will beat us; for they bear them on their shoulders : but it is no English treason to cut French crowns; and, to-morrow, the king himself will be a clipper. [Exeunt Soldiers. Upon the king ! let us our lives, our souls, Our debts, our careful wives, our children, and Our sins lay on the king ;—we must bear all. O hard condition! twin-born with greatness, Subjected to the breath of every fool, Whose sense no more can feel but his own wringing! What infinite heart's ease must kings neglect, That private men enjoy!