Now all the youth of England are on fire and frivolous behaviour has been suspended. Now those who make weapons are thriving and every man is thinking only about his honour. They are selling land to buy a horse, rushing to follow the example of the epitome of Christian kings, like so many Mercuries. The air is thick with expectation that Harry and his followers will win illustrious titles and enormous sums of money with their swords. The French, warned of this most threatening preparation by their spies, are shaking with fear and using subversive tactics to try and change the English mind. Oh England! A small model of the inner greatness, like a small man with a great heart, what would you achieve, spurred on by honour, if all your subjects were loving and loyal? But look, France has detected a chink in your armour – a cell of traitors, which it finances with treacherous money. And three corrupt men – first, Richard, Earl of Cambridge: second, Henry Lord Scroop of Masham: and third, Sir Thomas Grey, knight of Northumberland – for French gold – oh, real guilt! – have formed a conspiracy with terrified France. At their hands this most gracious of kings must die at Southampton before he embarks for France, if hell and treason prevail. Maintain your patience and we’ll take the play forward. The money has been paid: the traitors have their plan: the King has set out from London, and the action has been transported, ladies and gentlemen, to Southampton. That’s where the theatre is now. You must sit there, and then we’ll convey you safely to France, and bring you back, bewitching the narrow Channel to give you a calm passage because we don’t want anyone vomiting because of our play if we can help it. But when the King arrives in Southampton, and not till then, we’ll shift our scene to Southampton.
Read more scenes from Henry V: