The English forces surrounded the town of Harfleur. The artillery had breached the town walls and King Henry, mounted on his horse, was about to lead his troops into the town.
‘Once more into the breach dear friends,’ he said. ‘Once more, or block the wall up with our English dead. In peacetime there’s nothing that so becomes a man as mildness and humility. But when the noise of war resounds in our ears then be like tigers: stiffen the muscles, stir the blood, disguise your good side with a display of grim-faced rage. Next, give your eyes a terrifying look – let them protrude from the portholes of the head like brass cannons. Let your brows stick out over them with all the fearfulness of a sea-tormented cliff that overhangs its crumbling base, eroded by the wild destructive ocean. Now grit your teeth and flare your nostrils: take a deep breath and strain every sinew to its limit. On, on, you most noble English, sprung from fathers proved in war: fathers who, like so many Alexanders, have fought from dawn till dusk in these parts and sheathed their swords only when there was no-one left to oppose. Don’t dishonour your mothers: prove now that those you call your fathers did indeed beget you.. Be examples, now, to men of less courage, and show them how to fight a war. And you, good yeomen, whose limbs were made in England, show us here what rural men are made of: let us see that you are worthy of your pedigree, which I have no doubt about, for there is not one of you so low born and humble that you don’t have a noble lustre in your eyes. I see you standing like greyhounds in the slips, straining for the start. The game’s on, follow your instinct and, as you charge, shout “God for Harry, England, and Saint George!” ‘
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