The Life of Henry the Fift


William Shakespeare

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The Life of Henry the Fift Page 01

Enter Prologue.

O For a Muse of Fire, that would ascend The brightest Heauen of Inuention: A Kingdome for a Stage, Princes to Act, And Monarchs to behold the swelling Scene. Then should the Warlike Harry, like himselfe, Assume the Port of Mars, and at his heeles (Leasht in, like Hounds) should Famine, Sword, and Fire Crouch for employment. But pardon, Gentles all: The flat vnraysed Spirits, that hath dar'd, On this vnworthy Scaffold, to bring forth So great an Obiect. Can this Cock-Pit hold The vastie fields of France? Or may we cramme Within this Woodden O, the very Caskes That did affright the Ayre at Agincourt? O pardon: since a crooked Figure may Attest in little place a Million, And let vs, Cyphers to this great Accompt, On your imaginarie Forces worke. Suppose within the Girdle of these Walls Are now confin'd two mightie Monarchies, Whose high, vp-reared, and abutting Fronts, The perillous narrow Ocean parts asunder. Peece out our imperfections with your thoughts: Into a thousand parts diuide one Man, And make imaginarie Puissance. Thinke when we talke of Horses, that you see them Printing their prowd Hoofes i'th' receiuing Earth: For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our Kings, Carry them here and there: Iumping o're Times; Turning th' accomplishment of many yeeres Into an Howre-glasse: for the which supplie, Admit me Chorus to this Historie; Who Prologue-like, your humble patience pray, Gently to heare, kindly to iudge our Play. Enter.

Actus Primus. Scoena Prima.

Enter the two Bishops of Canterbury and Ely.

Bish.Cant. My Lord, Ile tell you, that selfe Bill is vrg'd, Which in th' eleue[n]th yere of y last Kings reign Was like, and had indeed against vs past, But that the scambling and vnquiet time Did push it out of farther question

Bish.Ely. But how my Lord shall we resist it now? Bish.Cant. It must be thought on: if it passe against vs, We loose the better halfe of our Possession: For all the Temporall Lands, which men deuout By Testament haue giuen to the Church, Would they strip from vs; being valu'd thus, As much as would maintaine, to the Kings honor, Full fifteene Earles, and fifteene hundred Knights, Six thousand and two hundred good Esquires: And to reliefe of Lazars, and weake age Of indigent faint Soules, past corporall toyle, A hundred Almes-houses, right well supply'd: And to the Coffers of the King beside, A thousand pounds by th' yeere. Thus runs the Bill

Bish.Ely. This would drinke deepe

Bish.Cant. 'Twould drinke the Cup and all

Bish.Ely. But what preuention? Bish.Cant. The King is full of grace, and faire regard

Bish.Ely. And a true louer of the holy Church

Bish.Cant. The courses of his youth promis'd it not. The breath no sooner left his Fathers body, But that his wildnesse, mortify'd in him, Seem'd to dye too: yea, at that very moment, Consideration like an Angell came, And whipt th' offending Adam out of him; Leauing his body as a Paradise, T' inuelop and containe Celestiall Spirits. Neuer was such a sodaine Scholler made: Neuer came Reformation in a Flood, With such a heady currance scowring faults: Nor neuer Hidra-headed Wilfulnesse So soone did loose his Seat; and all at once; As in this King

Bish.Ely. We are blessed in the Change

Bish.Cant. Heare him but reason in Diuinitie; And all-admiring, with an inward wish You would desire the King were made a Prelate: Heare him debate of Common-wealth Affaires; You would say, it hath been all in all his study: List his discourse of Warre; and you shall heare A fearefull Battaile rendred you in Musique. Turne him to any Cause of Pollicy, The Gordian Knot of it he will vnloose, Familiar as his Garter: that when he speakes, The Ayre, a Charter'd Libertine, is still, And the mute Wonder lurketh in mens eares, To steale his sweet and honyed Sentences: So that the Art and Practique part of Life, Must be the Mistresse to this Theorique. Which is a wonder how his Grace should gleane it, Since his addiction was to Courses vaine, His Companies vnletter'd, rude, and shallow, His Houres fill'd vp with Ryots, Banquets, Sports; And neuer noted in him any studie, Any retyrement, any sequestration, From open Haunts and Popularitie

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book
The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight
The First Part of Henry the Fourth
The first Part of Henry the Sixt
The Life of Henry the Fift
The Second Part of Henry the Fourth
The second Part of Henry the Sixt
The third Part of Henry the Sixt