David Bruce: THE FAMOUS VICTORIES OF HENRY V: A Retelling — Scenes 6-7

Scene 6

Prince Henry talked with Ned and Tom, two of his companions.

“Come away, sirs,” Prince Henry said. “Let’s go. By God’s wounds, Ned, did you see what a box on the ear I gave the Lord Chief Justice?”

“By God’s blood, it did me good to see it,” Tom said. “It made his teeth jar in his head.”

Sir John Oldcastle, aka Jockey, walked over to them.

“How are you now, Sir John Oldcastle?” Prince Henry asked. “What news do you bring with you?”

“I am glad to see your grace at liberty,” Jockey said. “I came here, I did, to visit you in prison.”

“To visit me in prison!” Prince Henry said. “Didn’t you know that I am a King’s son? Why, it is enough for me to look at a prison, even though I myself don’t go in it. But here’s such troubles nowadays — here’s imprisoning, here’s hanging, here’s whipping, and here’s the Devil and all! But I tell you, sirs, when I am King we will have no such things. Instead, my lads, if the old King my father were dead, we would be all Kings.”

“He is a good old man,” Jockey said. “May God take him to His mercy all the sooner.”

“But, Ned, as soon as I am King,” Prince Henry said, “the first thing I will do shall be to put the Lord Chief Justice out of office, and you shall be my new Lord Chief Justice of England.”

“Shall I be the new Lord Chief Justice?” Ned said. “By God’s wounds, I’ll be the most splendid Lord Chief Justice that there ever was in England!”

“Then, Ned, I’ll turn all these prisons into fencing schools,” Prince Henry said, “and I will endow you with them, along with lands to maintain them with. Then I will have a bout with the Lord Chief Justice! You shall hang none but pick-purses and horse-stealers, and such base-minded villains. But you will give commendations to that fellow who will stand by the side of the highway courageously with his sword and buckler and take a purse.”

A buckler is a small shield, and a purse is a bag of money.

Prince Henry continued, “Besides that, you will send him to me and I will give him an annual pension out of my treasury to maintain him all the days of his life.”

“Nobly spoken, Harry!” Jockey said. “We shall never have a merry world until King Henry the Fourth is dead.”

“But where are you going now?” Ned asked Prince Henry.

“To the court,” Prince Henry said, “for I have heard that my father is very sick.”

“But I fear that he will not die,” Tom said.

“Yet I will go there,” Prince Henry said, “for the breath shall be no sooner out of his mouth than I will clap the crown on my head.”

“Will you go to the court with that cloak that is so full of needles?” Jockey asked.

“Cloak, eyelet-holes, needles, and all were of my own devising, and therefore I will wear it,” Prince Henry said.

His cloak had several eyelet-holes, and from every eyelet-hole, the needle that had made it hung by some thread.

“Please, my Lord,” Tom asked, “what is the meaning of the needles?”

“Why, man,” Prince Henry said, they are a sign that I stand upon thorns until the crown is on my head.”

In other words, the needles are signs of callous ambition. Prince Henry was impatient to be King, even though his being King required that his father die.

Christ wore a crown of thorns, but for a much different reason. John 19:2-3 states this (1599 Geneva Bible):

2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple garment,

3 And said, Hail King of the Jews. And they smote him with their rods.

“Or they are a sign that every needle might be a prick to the hearts of those who complain about your doings,” Jockey said.

“You say the truth, Jockey,” Prince Henry replied. “But some will say that the young Prince — me — will be a good, promising young man and all this stuff, with the result that I would prefer that they break my head with a pot than say any such thing. But we are standing here babbling too long. I need to speak with my father; therefore, let’s go.”

They knocked at a gate.

The porter said, “What a rapping you are making at the King’s court gate!”

“Here’s a man — me — who must speak with the King,” Prince Henry said.

“The King is very sick,” the porter said, “and no one must speak with him.”

“No one, you rascal?” Prince Henry said. “Don’t you know who I am?”

“You are my Lord the young Prince,” the porter replied.

“Then go and tell my father that I must and will speak with him,” Prince Henry ordered.

“Shall I cut off his head?” Ned asked.

He started to draw his sword.

“No, no,” Prince Henry said. “Though I would help you in other places, yet I have no power to do anything to help you here. Don’t you know that you are in my father’s court!”

Drawing one’s sword near the King was a serious crime.

“I will write the porter’s name in my writing tablet,” Ned said, “for as soon as I am made Lord Chief Justice, I will put him out of his office.”

A trumpet sounded.

“By God’s wounds, sirs, the King is coming,” Prince Henry said. “Let’s all stand to the side.”

King Henry IV entered nearby with the Earl of Exeter.

“And is it true, my Lord, that my son has already been sent to the Fleet Prison?” King Henry IV asked. “Now truly that man — the Lord Chief Justice — is much fitter to rule the realm than I, for by no means could I rule my son, and he with one word has caused him to be ruled. I cannot control my son, but the Lord Chief Justice can.

“Oh, my son, my son, no sooner out of one prison but sent into another! I had thought, once, while I had lived to have seen this noble realm of England flourish as a result of your actions, my son, but now I see that England goes to ruin and decay.”

The King wept.

The Earl of Oxford arrived and said, “If it please your grace, here is my Lord your son, who has come to speak with you. He says that he must and will speak with you.”

“Who, my son Harry?” King Henry IV asked.

“Yes, if it please your majesty,” the Earl of Oxford replied.

“I know why he has come, but make sure that no one comes here with him,” King Henry IV said.

“They are a very disordered company, and such as make very ill rule in your majesty’s house,” the Earl of Oxford said.

“Well, let him come to me,” King Henry IV said, “but make sure that no one comes with him.”

The Earl of Oxford went to Prince Henry and said, “If it please your grace, my Lord the King sends for you.”

“Let’s go, sirs,” Prince Henry said to his companions. “Let’s all go together.”

“If it please your grace,” the Earl of Oxford said, “no one must go with you to see the King.”

“Why, I need to have my companions with me,” Prince Henry replied. “Otherwise I cannot give my father the proper respect due to him.”

He then said, “Therefore, my companions, come with me.”

Prince Henry was afraid to face his father, who he knew disapproved of him, alone.

“The King your father commands that no one should come with you,” the Earl of Oxford said.

“Well, sirs,” Prince Henry said to his companions, “then leave and provide for me three bands of musicians.”

Ned, Tom, and Jockey exited.

The Prince, carrying a dagger in his hand, went over to his father the King.

“Come, my son, come on in God’s name!” King Henry IV said. “I know why you have come. Oh, my son, my son, what reason have you ever been given, that you should forsake me and follow this vile and sinful company of men who abuse your youth so openly? Oh, my son, you know that these actions of yours will end your father’s days!”

King Henry IV wept.

He continued, “Yes, so, so, my son, you aren’t afraid to enter the presence of your sick father in that strange clothing. I tell you, my son, that there is not a needle in your cloak that is not a prick to my heart, and there is not an eyelet-hole in your cloak that is not a hole to my soul, and the reason why you carry that dagger in your hand I don’t know except by conjecture.”

King Henry IV wept.

Prince Henry thought, My conscience bothers me because my father is suffering.

He then said to his father the King, “Most sovereign Lord and well-beloved father, allow me to answer first the last point. That is, whereas you conjecture that this hand and this dagger are armed against you and I will take your life, no, that is not true. Know, my beloved father, that taking your life is far from the thoughts of your son — ‘son,’ said I? I am an unworthy son for so good a father — but the thoughts of any such intended evil are far from me, and I most humbly give this dagger to your majesty’s hand.”

Prince Henry gave King Henry IV the dagger.

He continued, “And may you live, my Lord and sovereign, forever and with your dagger arm show the like vengeance upon the body of — ‘your son,’ I was about to say and dare not — therefore, use the dagger to slay not ‘your son,’ but your wild slave.

“It is not the crown that I have come for, sweet father, because I am unworthy, and those vile and sinful companions I abandon and utterly forsake their company forever.

“Give me pardon, sweet father, give me pardon: the least thing and the most desired by me. And this ruffianly cloak I here tear from my back and sacrifice it to the Devil, who is the master of all evil.”

He took off his cloak with the needles.

He repeated, “Pardon me, sweet father, pardon me.”

Then he said, “My good Earl of Exeter, speak for me.

“Pardon me, pardon, good father.

“Not a word? Ah, he will not speak one word. Ah, Harry, now thrice unhappy Harry! But what shall I do? I will go take myself to some solitary place and there lament my sinful life, and when I have finished I will lay myself down and die.”

Prince Henry was talking about becoming a hermit.

He then exited.

“Call him back again,” King Henry IV said. “Call my son back again.”

Prince Henry returned.

“And does my father call me back again?” Prince Henry said. “Now, Harry, may happy be the time that your father calls you back again.”

Prince Henry knelt before his father the King.

“Stand up, my son,” King Henry IV said, “and do not think that your father at your request, my son, will do anything but pardon you. I will pardon you. And may God bless you and make you his servant.”

Prince Henry rose.

“Thanks, my good Lord,” Prince Henry said, “and have no doubt that this day — yes, this day — I am born anew again.”

John 3:3 states this:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (1599 Geneva Bible).

“Come, my son and Lords, take me by the hands,” King Henry IV said.

By asking Prince Henry for help, King Henry IV showed that he had forgiven him.

They helped King Henry IV to exit.

Scene 7

Derrick was angry at John Cobbler’s wife.

He shouted, “You are a stinking whore, and a whoreson stinking whore! Do you think I’ll take this at your hands?”

John Cobbler came running.

He said, “Derrick! Derrick! Derrick! Do you hear me? Do, Derrick, never while you live behave like this! Why, what will my neighbors say if you go away like this?”

Derrick was calling John Cobbler’s wife a whore loudly enough for the neighbors to hear.

“She’s a narrant whore,” Derrick said, “and I’ll have the law on you, John.”

By “a narrant whore,” Derrick meant “an arrant whore,” aka “a shameless whore.”

“Why, what has she done?” John Cobbler asked.

“Indeed, listen well, John,” Derrick said. “I will prove it, that I will!”

“What will you prove?” John Cobbler asked. He was still not yet sure what was his wife’s supposed offence.

“I will prove that she called me in to dinner — John, listen to my tale well, John — and, when I was sitting, she brought me a dish of roots and a serving of barrel butter. And she is a very knave and villain, and you are a drab and strumpet if you take her part.”

Barrel butter is salted butter that is stored in a barrel.

Derrick was putting on airs and pretending to be insulted by such lowly food. As a common carrier, however, this is the food he was accustomed to eat before inviting himself to live with John Cobbler and his wife as John Cobbler’s apprentice.

“Listen to me, Derrick,” John Cobbler said. “Is this what is the matter? If it is no worse than that, we will go home again, and all shall be amended.”

“John, listen to me, John,” Derrick said. “Is all well? Is everything OK?”

“Yes, all is well,” John Cobbler answered.

“Then I’ll go home before you and break all the glass windows,” Derrick said.

He was joking. Glass windows were expensive, and John Cobbler was too impoverished to have any. Derrick was a male drama queen who enjoyed causing an uproar.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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This is an easy-to-retelling of The Famous Victories of Henry V, which is an important source for William Shakespeare’s Henry IVand Henry Vplays.





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