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Henry V – Act Three Scene Six

A bridge has been defended or overtaken by the English as they march through France

GOWER

Is the Duke of Exeter safe?

FLUELLEN

The Duke of Exeter is as magnanimous as Agamemnon;
and a man that I love and honour with my soul, and my
heart, and my duty, and my life, and my living, and
my uttermost power: he is not-God be praised and
blessed!–any hurt in the world; but keeps the
bridge most valiantly, with excellent discipline.
There is an aunchient lieutenant there at the
pridge, I think in my very conscience he is as
valiant a man as Mark Antony; and he is a man of no
estimation in the world; but did see him do as
gallant service.

GOWER

What do you call him?

FLUELLEN

He is called Aunchient Pistol

Note Fluellen’s mention of Mark Antony as Shakespeare’s mind was already on Rome and possibly already written of about to write Julius Caesar.  

Pistol enters and asks Fluellen to plead for Bardolph, who has been arrested for theft.

PISTOL

Bardolph, a soldier, firm and sound of heart,
And of buxom valour, hath, by cruel fate,
And giddy Fortune’s furious fickle wheel,
That goddess blind,
That stands upon the rolling restless stone–

FLUELLEN

By your patience, Aunchient Pistol. Fortune is
painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to
signify to you that Fortune is blind; and she is
painted also with a wheel, to signify to you, which
is the moral of it, that she is turning, and
inconstant, and mutability, and variation: and her
foot, look you, is fixed upon a spherical stone,
which rolls, and rolls, and rolls: in good truth,
the poet makes a most excellent description of it:
Fortune is an excellent moral.

PISTOL

Fortune is Bardolph’s foe, and frowns on him;
For he hath stolen a pax, and hanged must a’ be:

Fluellen will have none of it though

FLUELLEN

Aunchient Pistol, I do partly understand your meaning.

PISTOL

Why then, rejoice therefore.

FLUELLEN

Certainly, aunchient, it is not a thing to rejoice
at: for if, look you, he were my brother, I would
desire the duke to use his good pleasure, and put
him to execution; for discipline ought to be used.

Enter King Henry, and Fluellen updates him.

FLUELLEN

                           marry, for my part, I
think the duke hath lost never a man, but one that
is like to be executed for robbing a church, one
Bardolph, if your majesty know the man: his face is
all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and flames o’
fire: and his lips blows at his nose, and it is like
a coal of fire, sometimes plue and sometimes red;
but his nose is executed and his fire’s out.

KING HENRY V

We would have all such offenders so cut off:

Harsh considering the history between Henry and Bardolph during his youth. See/Read the Henry IV plays for background.

A messenger from the French pours scorn on the English attempts but Henry has this reply to send back.

KING HENRY V

Thou dost thy office fairly. Turn thee back.
And tell thy king I do not seek him now;
But could be willing to march on to Calais
Without impeachment: for, to say the sooth,
Though ’tis no wisdom to confess so much
Unto an enemy of craft and vantage,
My people are with sickness much enfeebled,
My numbers lessened, and those few I have
Almost no better than so many French;
Who when they were in health, I tell thee, herald,
I thought upon one pair of English legs
Did march three Frenchmen. Yet, forgive me, God,
That I do brag thus! This your air of France
Hath blown that vice in me: I must repent.
Go therefore, tell thy master here I am;
My ransom is this frail and worthless trunk,
My army but a weak and sickly guard;
Yet, God before, tell him we will come on,
Though France himself and such another neighbour
Stand in our way. There’s for thy labour, Montjoy.
Go bid thy master well advise himself:
If we may pass, we will; if we be hinder’d,
We shall your tawny ground with your red blood
Discolour: and so Montjoy, fare you well.
The sum of all our answer is but this:
We would not seek a battle, as we are;
Nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it:
So tell your master

The English are outnumbered by the French army, they are sick and tired, yet Henry is convinced they will fight and defeat the French, with God’s help.

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Harfleur – Act Three Scenes 1,2 & 3

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Harfleur

Henry V – Act Three Scene One

Henry gives his most famous speech. An absolute classic and if delivered by even a half competent actor it is guaranteed to bring the house down. Or at least the walls of Harfleur

KING HENRY V

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

 

Act Three Scene Two

All the English, fired up by Henry’s speech rush off to attack Harfleur, except Bardolph, Nym, Pistol and the Boy

BARDOLPH

On, on, on, on, on! to the breach, to the breach!

NYM

Pray thee, corporal, stay: the knocks are too hot;
and, for mine own part, I have not a case of lives:
the humour of it is too hot, that is the very
plain-song of it.

Until Fluellen enters to force them onwards, leaving the boy alone.

What follows is remarkable piece of writing.

I have overlooked the boy so far but this speech has such depth, such feeling and coming in the midst of a battle the effect is stunning. The boy is now a real person not a character on a page.

Boy

As young as I am, I have observed these three
swashers. I am boy to them all three: but all they
three, though they would serve me, could not be man
to me; for indeed three such antics do not amount to
a man. For Bardolph, he is white-livered and
red-faced; by the means whereof a’ faces it out, but
fights not. For Pistol, he hath a killing tongue
and a quiet sword; by the means whereof a’ breaks
words, and keeps whole weapons. For Nym, he hath
heard that men of few words are the best men; and
therefore he scorns to say his prayers, lest a’
should be thought a coward: but his few bad words
are matched with as few good deeds; for a’ never
broke any man’s head but his own, and that was
against a post when he was drunk. They will steal
anything, and call it purchase. Bardolph stole a
lute-case, bore it twelve leagues, and sold it for
three half pence. Nym and Bardolph are sworn
brothers in filching, and in Calais they stole a
fire-shovel: I knew by that piece of service the
men would carry coals. They would have me as
familiar with men’s pockets as their gloves or their
handkerchers: which makes much against my manhood,
if I should take from another’s pocket to put into
mine; for it is plain pocketing up of wrongs. I
must leave them, and seek some better service:
their villany goes against my weak stomach, and
therefore I must cast it up.

An Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman and Welshman go to war.

A scene of bickering between the nationalities and then the parley is sounded by Harfleur

Act Three Scene Three

Henry threatens the Governor of Harfleur with such vile images that I would hope it is all just a bluff, yet I think probably not.

KING HENRY V

                        Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
Take pity of your town and of your people,
Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
O’erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil and villany.
If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dash’d to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy’d?

GOVERNOR

Our expectation hath this day an end:
The Dauphin, whom of succors we entreated,
Returns us that his powers are yet not ready
To raise so great a siege. Therefore, great king,
We yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy.
Enter our gates; dispose of us and ours;
For we no longer are defensible.

KING HENRY V

Open your gates. Come, uncle Exeter,
Go you and enter Harfleur; there remain,
And fortify it strongly ‘gainst the French:
Use mercy to them all. For us, dear uncle,
The winter coming on and sickness growing
Upon our soldiers, we will retire to Calais.
To-night in Harfleur we will be your guest;
To-morrow for the march are we addrest.

Henry has won the first battle but not the war.

 

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Henry V – Act Two Scene Three

Back in Eastcheap it is a sombre mood as Hostess Quickly relates the death of Falstaff.

BARDOLPH

Would I were with him, wheresome’er he is, either in
heaven or in hell!

Hostess

Nay, sure, he’s not in hell: he’s in Arthur’s
bosom, if ever man went to Arthur’s bosom. A’ made
a finer end and went away an it had been any
christom child; a’ parted even just between twelve
and one, even at the turning o’ the tide: for after
I saw him fumble with the sheets and play with
flowers and smile upon his fingers’ ends, I knew
there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as
a pen, and a’ babbled of green fields. ‘How now,
sir John!’ quoth I ‘what, man! be o’ good
cheer.’ So a’ cried out ‘God, God, God!’ three or
four times. Now I, to comfort him, bid him a’
should not think of God; I hoped there was no need
to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet. So
a’ bade me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my
hand into the bed and felt them, and they were as
cold as any stone; then I felt to his knees, and
they were as cold as any stone, and so upward and
upward, and all was as cold as any stone.

They reminisce about Falstaff

Boy

Do you not remember, a’ saw a flea stick upon
Bardolph’s nose, and a’ said it was a black soul
burning in hell-fire?

BARDOLPH

Well, the fuel is gone that maintained that fire:
that’s all the riches I got in his service.

Bardolph

 

They depart for Southampton and then the War in France

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