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stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that, when I come to woo ladies, I fright them. But, in faith, Kate, the elder I wax, the better I shall appear: my comfort is, that old age, that ill-layer up of beauty, can do no more spoil upon my face; thou hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better. And therefore tell me, most fair Katharine, will you have me? Put off your maiden blushes; avouch the thoughts of your heart with the looks of an empress; take me by the hand, and say,-Harry of England, I am thine; which word thou shalt no sooner bless mine ear withal, but I will tell thee aloud-England is thine, Ireland is thine, France is thine, and Henry Plantagenet is thine; who, though I speak it before his face, if he be not fellow with the best king, thou shalt find the best king of good fellows. Come, your answer in broken music; for thy voice is music, and thy English broken; therefore, queen of all, Katharine, break thy mind to me in broken English,-Wilt thou have me?
Kath. Dat is as it shall please de roy mon pere.
K. Hen. Nay, it will please him well, Kate; it shall please him, Kate.
Kath. Den it shall also content me.
K. Hen. Upon that I will kiss your hand, and I call you-my queen.
Kath. Laissez, mon seigneur, laissez, laissez : ma foy, je ne veux point que vous abaissez vostre grandeur, en baisant la main d'une vostre indigne serviteure; excusez moy, je vous supplie, mon très puissant seigneur. K. Hen. Then I will kiss your lips, Kate.
Kath. Les dames, et damoiselles, pour estre baisées devant leur nopces, il n'est pas le coûtume de France.
K. Hen. Madam, my interpreter, what says she? Alice. Dat it is not de fashion pour les ladies of France,-I cannot tell what is baiser en English.
K. Hen. To kiss.
Alice. Your majesty entendre bettre que moy. K. Hen. It is not the fashion for the maids in France to kiss before they are married, would she say?
Alice. Ouy, vrayment.
K. Hen. O, Kate, nice customs curt'sy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined within the weak list of a country's fashion: we are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places, stops the mouths of all find-faults; as I will do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your country, in denying me a kiss; therefore, patiently, and yielding. [Kissing her.] You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate; there is more eloquence in a sugar touch of them, than in the tongues of the French council; and they should sooner persuade Harry of England, than a general petition of monarchs. Here comes your father.
Enter the French King and Queen, BURGUNDY, Bedford, Gloster, EXETER, WESTMORELAND, and other French and English Lords.
Bur. God save your majesty! My royal cousin, teach you our princess English?
K. Hen. I would have her learn, my fair cousin, how perfectly I love her; and that is good English.
Bur. Is she not apt?
K. Hen. Our tongue is rough, coz; and my condition is not smooth; so that, having neither the voice nor the heart of flattery about me, I cannot so conjure up the spirit of love in her, that he will appear in his true likeness.
Bur. Pardon the frankness of my mirth, if I answer you for that. If you would conjure in her, you must make a circle; if conjure up love in her in his true likeness, he must appear naked, and blind: can you blame her then, being a maid yet rosed over with the virgin crimson of modesty, if she deny the appearance of a naked, blind boy in her naked, seeing self? It were, my lord, a hard condition for a maid to consign to. K. Hen. Yet they do wink, and yield; as love is blind, and enforces.
1 i. e. slight barrier.
Bur. They are then excused, my lord, when they see not what they do.
K. Hen. Then, good my lord, teach your cousin to consent to winking.
Bur. I will wink on her to consent, my lord, if you will teach her to know my meaning; for maids, well summered and warm kept, are like flies at Bartholomew-tide, blind, though they have their eyes; and then they will endure handling, which before would not abide looking on.
K. Hen. This moral ties me over to time, and a hot summer; and so I will catch the fly, your cousin, in the latter end, and she must be blind too.
Bur. As love is, my lord, before it loves.
K. Hen. It is so; and you may, some of you, thank love for my blindness; who cannot see many a fair French city, for one fair French maid that stands in my way.
Fr. King. Yes, my lord, you see them perspectively, the cities turned into a maid; for they are all girdled with maiden walls, that war hath never entered.
K. Hen. Shall Kate be my wife?
Fr. King. So please you.
K. Hen. I am content; so the maiden cities you talk of, may wait on her: so the maid, that stood in the way of my wish, shall show me the way to my will. Fr. King. We have consented to all terms of
K. Hen. Is't so, my lords of England?
West. The king hath granted every article: His daughter, first; and then, in sequel, all, According to their firm, proposed natures.
Exe. Only, he hath not yet subscribed this :where your majesty demands,—that the king of France, having any occasion to write for matter of grant, shall name your highness in this form, and with this addition, in French,-Notre très cher filz Henry roy d'Angleterre, héritier de France; and thus in Latin,-Præclarissi
1 A moral is the meaning or application of a fable.
mus1 filius noster Henricus rex Angliæ, et hæres Francia.
Fr. King. Nor this I have not, brother, so denied, But your request shall make me let it pass.
K. Hen. I pray you then, in love and dear alliance, Let that one article rank with the rest:
And, thereupon, give me your daughter.
Fr. King. Take her, fair son; and from her blood raise up
Issue to me; that the contending kingdoms
Of France and England, whose very shores look pale
May cease their hatred; and this dear conjunction
In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance
K. Hen. Now welcome, Kate :—and bear me witness all,
That here I kiss her as my sovereign queen. [Flourish.
K. Hen. Prepare we for our marriage:-on which day, My lord of Burgundy, we'll take your oath, And all the peers', for surety of our leagues.— Then shall I swear to Kate, and you to me; And may our oaths well kept and prosperous be! [Exeunt.
1 Præclarissimus for Præcarissimus. Shakspeare followed Holinshed, in whose Chronicle it stands thus. Indeed, all the old historians have the same blunder. In the original treaty of Troyes, printed in Rymer, it is ræcarissimus.
Thus far, with rough, and all unable pen,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.2 Small time, but, in that small, most greatly lived
This star of England: fortune made his sword; By which the world's best garden 3 he achieved,
And of it left his son imperial lord.
Henry the Sixth, in infant bands crowned king
Of France and England, did this king succeed; Whose state so many had the managing,
That they lost France, and made his England bleed ; Which oft our stage hath shown; and, for their sake, In your fair minds let this acceptance take.
1 "Our bending author;" that is, unequal to the weight of his subject, and bending beneath it.
2 "Mangling by starts the full course of their glory;" that is, by touching only on their select parts.
3 i. e. France. A similar distinction is bestowed on Lombardy in the Taming of The Shrew :
"The pleasant garden of great Italy."
THIS play has many scenes of high dignity, and many of easy merriment. The character of the king is well supported, except in his courtship, where he has neither the vivacity of Hal, nor the grandeur of Henry. The humor of Pistol is very happily continued; his character has, perhaps, been the model of all the bullies that have yet appeared on the English stage.
The lines given to the Chorus have many admirers; but the truth is, that in them a little may be praised, and much must be forgiven; nor can it be easily discovered why the intelligence given by the Chorus is more necessary in this play than in many others where it is omitted. The great defect of this play is the emptiness and narrowness of the last act, which a very little diligence might have easily avoided.