Bates. He may shew what outward courage he will: but I beleeue, as cold a Night as 'tis, hee could wish himselfe in Thames vp to the Neck; and so I would he were, and I by him, at all aduentures, so we were quit here

King. By my troth, I will speake my conscience of the King: I thinke hee would not wish himselfe any where, but where hee is

Bates. Then I would he were here alone; so should he be sure to be ransomed, and a many poore mens liues saued

King. I dare say, you loue him not so ill, to wish him here alone: howsoeuer you speake this to feele other mens minds, me thinks I could not dye any where so contented, as in the Kings company; his Cause being iust, and his Quarrell honorable

Williams. That's more then we know

Bates. I, or more then wee should seeke after; for wee know enough, if wee know wee are the Kings Subiects: if his Cause be wrong, our obedience to the King wipes the Cryme of it out of vs

Williams. But if the Cause be not good, the King himselfe hath a heauie Reckoning to make, when all those Legges, and Armes, and Heads, chopt off in a Battaile, shall ioyne together at the latter day, and cry all, Wee dyed at such a place, some swearing, some crying for a Surgean; some vpon their Wiues, left poore behind them; some vpon the Debts they owe, some vpon their Children rawly left: I am afear'd, there are few dye well, that dye in a Battaile: for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when Blood is their argument? Now, if these men doe not dye well, it will be a black matter for the King, that led them to it; who to disobey, were against all proportion of subiection

King. So, if a Sonne that is by his Father sent about Merchandize, doe sinfully miscarry vpon the Sea; the imputation of his wickednesse, by your rule, should be imposed vpon his Father that sent him: or if a Seruant, vnder his Masters command, transporting a summe of Money, be assayled by Robbers, and dye in many irreconcil'd Iniquities; you may call the businesse of the Master the author of the Seruants damnation: but this is not so: The King is not bound to answer the particular endings of his Souldiers, the Father of his Sonne, nor the Master of his Seruant; for they purpose not their death, when they purpose their seruices. Besides, there is no King, be his Cause neuer so spotlesse, if it come to the arbitrement of Swords, can trye it out with all vnspotted Souldiers: some (peraduenture) haue on them the guilt of premeditated and contriued Murther; some, of beguiling Virgins with the broken Seales of Periurie; some, making the Warres their Bulwarke, that haue before gored the gentle Bosome of Peace with Pillage and Robberie. Now, if these men haue defeated the Law, and outrunne Natiue punishment; though they can out-strip men, they haue no wings to flye from God. Warre is his Beadle, Warre is his Vengeance: so that here men are punisht, for before breach of the Kings Lawes, in now the Kings Quarrell: where they feared the death, they haue borne life away; and where they would bee safe, they perish. Then if they dye vnprouided, no more is the King guiltie of their damnation, then hee was before guiltie of those Impieties, for the which they are now visited. Euery Subiects Dutie is the Kings, but euery Subiects Soule is his owne. Therefore should euery Souldier in the Warres doe as euery sicke man in his Bed, wash euery Moth out of his Conscience: and dying so, Death is to him aduantage; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost, wherein such preparation was gayned: and in him that escapes, it were not sinne to thinke, that making God so free an offer, he let him outliue that day, to see his Greatnesse, and to teach others how they should prepare

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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