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SPOKEN BY A DANCER.
FIRST, my fear; then, my court'sy: last, mny speech. My fear is, your displeasure ; my court'sy, my duty; and my speech, to beg your pardons. If you
look for a good speech now, you undo me : for what I have to say, is of mine own making ; and what, indeed, I should say, will, I doubt, prove mine own marring. But to the purpose, and so to the venture. -Be it known to you, (as it is very well,) I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to pray your patience for it, and to promise you a better. I did mean, indeed, to pay you with this ; which, if, like an ill venture, it come unluckily home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here, I promised you, I would be, and here I commit my body to your mercies: bate me some, and I will pay you some, and, as most debtors do, promise you infinitely.
If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me, will you command me to use my legs? and yet that were but light payment, — to dance out of your debt. But a good conscience will make any possible satisfaction, and so will I. All the gentlewomen here have forgiven me; if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the gentlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly. One word
you. If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will
continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make merry. with fair Katharine of France : where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions ; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man, My tongue
when my legs are too, I will bid you good night : and so kneel down before you ; -but, indeed, to pray for the queen.'
9 Most of the ancient interludes conclude with a prayer for the king or queen. Hence, perhaps, the Vivant Řex & Regina, at the bottom of our modern play-bills.
King HENRY THE FIFTH.
brothers to the King.
Conspirators against the SIR THOMAS GREY,
King Sir Thomas ERPINGHAM, Gower, FLUELLEN,
MACMORRIS, JAMY, Officers in King Henry's
army. Bates, Court, WILLIAMS, soldiers in the same. Nym, BARDOLPH, Pistol, formerly servants to
-Falstaff, now soldiers in the same. Boy, servant to them. A Herald. Chorus. CHARLES THE Sixth, King of France. Lewis, the Dauphin. Dukes of BURGUNDY, ORLEANS, and BOURBON. The ConstABLE of France. RAMBURES, and GRANDPREE, French Lords. Governor of HARFLEUR. Montjoy, a French Herald. Ambassadors to the King of England. ISABEL, Queen of France. KATHARINE, daughter of Charles and Isabel. ALICE, a lady attending on the Princess Katharine. QUICKLY, Pistol's wife, an Hostess. Lords, Ladies, Officers, French and English Sol
diers, Messengers, and Attendants. The SCENE, at the beginning of the Play, lies in
England; but afterwards, wholly in France.
O, for a muse of fire that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention ! A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene ! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels, Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and
fire, Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, The flat unraised spirit, that hath dar'd, On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth So great an object : Can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France, or may we cram Within this wooden ()', the very casques ?, That did affright the air at Agincourt? 0, pardon! since a crooked figure may Attest, in little place, a million ; And let us, ciphers to this great accompt, On your imaginary forces 3 work: Suppose, within the girdle of these walls, Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies, Whose high upreared and abutting fronts The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder. Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts; Into a thousand parts divide one man, And make imaginary puissance: Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth : For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
1 An allusion to the circular form of the theatre, 2 Helmets.
3 Powers of fancy.