Page images

K. Hen. Brother, we shall.-Go, uncle Exeter,And brother Clarence,—and you, brother Gloster, , Warwick--and Huntington 9;-go with the king: And take with you free power, to ratify, Augment, or alter, as your wisdoms best Shall see advantageable for our dignity, Any thing in, or out of, our demands; And we'll consign thereto.-Will you, fair sister, Go with the princes, or stay here with us ? Q. Isa. Our gracious brother, I will go

with them; Haply, a woman's voice may do some good, When articles, too nicely urg'd, be stood on.

K. Hen. Yet leave our cousin Katharine here

with us;

She is our capital demand, compris’d
Within the fore-rank of our articles.
Q. Isa. She hath good leave.

[Exeunt all but HENRY, KATHARINE,

and her Gentlewoman. K. Hen.

Fair Katharine, and most fair! Will you

vouchsafe to teach a soldier terms, Such as will enter at a lady's ear, And plead his lovesuit to her gentle heart?

Kath. Your majesty shall mock at me; I cannot speak your England.

K. Hen. O fair Katharine, if you will love me soundly with your French heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it brokenly with your English tongue. Do


like Kath. Pardonnez


I cannot tell vat is—like me.

K. Hen. An angel is like you, Kate; and you are like an angel.

9 Huntingdon. John Holland, earl of Huntingdon, who after wards married the widow of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March. Neither Huntingdon nor Clarence are in the list of Dramatis Personæ, as neither of them speak a word.

me, Kate?

Kath. Que dit il? que je suis semblable à les anges.

Alice. Ouy, vrayment: (sauf vostre grace) ainsi dit il.

K. Hen. I said so, dear Katharine; and I must not blush to affirm it.

Kath. O bon Dieu! les langues des hommes sont pleines de tromperies.

K. Hen. What says she, fair one? that the tongues of men are full of deceits ?

Alice. Ouy; dat de tongues of de mans is be full of deceits : dat is de princess.

K. Hen. The princess is the better Englishwoman. I'faith, Kate, my wooing is fit for thy understanding: I am glad, thou canst speak no better English; for, if thou could'st, thou would'st find me such a plain king, that thou would'st think, I had sold

my farm to buy my crown 10. I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say I love you: then, if you urge me further than to say-Do you in faith? I wear out my suit. Give me your answer; i'faith, do; and so clap hands and a bargain: How say you, lady?

Kath. Sauf vostre honneur, me understand well.

K. Hen. Marry, if you would put me to verses, or to dance for your sake, Kate, why you undid me: for the one, I have neither words nor measure; and

10 «That thou would'st think I had sold my farm to buy a crown.'

Johnson thinks this blunt honest kind of English wooing is inconsistent with the previous character of the king, and quotes the Dauphin's opinion of him, that he was fitter for a ball room than the field. This opinion however was erroneous. Shakspeare only meant to characterise English downright sincerity; and surely the previous habits of Henry, as represented in former scenes, do not make us expect great refinement or polish in him upon this occasion, especially as fine speeches would be lost upon the princess from her imperfect comprehension of his language.

for the other, I have no strength in measure'l, yet a reasonable measure in strength. If I could win a lady at leap-frog, or by vaulting into my saddle with my armour on my back, under the correction of bragging be it spoken, I should quickly leap into a wife. Or, if I might buffet for my love, or bound my horse for her favours, I could lay on like a butcher, and sit like a jack-an-apes, never off: but, before God, I cannot look greenly 12, nor gasp out my eloquence, nor I have no cunning in protestation; only downright oaths, which I never use till urged, nor never break for urging. If thou canst love a fellow of this temper, Kate, whose face is not worth sun-burning, that never looks in his glass for love of any thing he sees there, let thine eye

be thy cook. I speak to thee plain soldier: If thou canst love me for this, take me: if not, to say to thee—that I shall die, is true: but—for thy love, by the Lord, no; yet I love thee too. And while thou livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined 13 constancy; for he perforce must do thee right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places: for these fellows of infinite tongue, that can rhyme themselves into ladies' favours,—they do always reason themselves out again. What! a

11 i. e. in dancing.
12 i. e. like a young lover, awkwardly.

A fellow of plain and uncoined constancy.' This passage has been sadly misunderstood. The prince evidently means to say, “Take a fellow of blunt unadorned courage or purpose, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places like these fellows of infinite tongue. Constancy is most frequently used for courage, or resolution, by Shakspeare. Thus in Macbeth, Actii. Sc. 2, after the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth says to her husband :-

your constancy Hath left unattended: i. e. ' your courage hath left you unexpectedly.'



speaker is but a prater; a rhyme is but a ballad. A good leg will fall 14; a straight back will stoop; a black beard will turn white; a curled pate will grow bald; a fair face will wither; a full


will wax hollow: but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright, and never changes, but keeps his course truly. If thou would have such a one, take me: And take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king: And what sayest thou then to my love? speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee.

Kath. Is it possible dat I should love de enemy of France ?

K. Hen. No; it is not possible you should love the enemy of France, Kate: but, in loving me, you should love the friend of France; for I love France so well, that I will not part with a village of it; I will have it all mine: and, Kate, when France is mine, and I am yours, then yours is France, and

you are mine.


Kath. I cannot tell vat is dat.

K. Hen. No, Kate? I will tell thee in French; which, I am sure, will hang upon my tongue

like new-married wife about her husband's neck, hardly to be shook off. Quand j'ay la possession de France, et quand vous avez le possession de moi (let me see, what then? Saint Dennis be my speed!)-donc vostre est France, et vous estes mienne. It is as easy for me, Kate, to conquer the kingdom, as to speak so much more French: I shall never move thee in French, unless it be to laugh at me.

Kath. Sauf vostre honneur, le Francois que vous parlez est meilleur que l' Anglois lequel je parle.

K. Hen. No, 'faith, is't not, Kate: but thy speaking of my tongue, and I thine, most truly falsely,

14 i. e. shrink, fall away.

must needs be granted to me much at one.

But, Kate, dost thou understand thus much English? Canst thou love me?

Kath. I cannot tell.

K. Hen. Can any of your neighbours tell, Kate? I'll ask them. Come, I know, thou lovest me: and at night when you come into your closet, you'll question this gentlewoman about me; and I know, Kate, you will, to her, dispraise those parts in me, that you love with your heart; but, good Kate, mock me mercifully; the rather, gentle princess, because I love thee cruelly. If ever thou be'st mine, Kate, (as I have a saving faith within me, tells me,--thou shalt), I get thee with scambling, and thou must therefore needs prove a good soldierbreeder: Shall not thou and I, between Saint Dennis and Saint George, compound a boy, half French half English, that shall go to Constantinople, and take the Turk by the beard 15 ? shall we not? what sayest thou, my fair flower-de-luce?

Kath. I do not know dat.

K. Hen. No; 'tis hereafter to know, but now to promise: do but now promise, Kate, you will endeavour for your French part of such a boy; and, for my English moiety, take the word of a king and a bachelor. How answer you, la plus belle Katharine du monde, mon très chère et divine déesse?

Kath. Your majesté ave fausse French enough to deceive de most sage damoiselle dat is en France.

K. Hen. Now, fye upon my false French! By mine honour, in true English, I love thee, Kate: by which honour I dare not swear, thou lovest me;

15 • Take the Turk by the beard. This is one of the poet's anachronisms. The Turks had not possession of Constantinople until the year 1453 ; when Henry had been dead thirty-one years.

« PreviousContinue »