MODERN HENRY V PLOT SUMMARY
In an introduction, a Chorus asks the audience to use their imagination and pretend two kingdoms sit in the theatre separated by an ocean. If they can imagine the large number of people in each kingdom it will help them see the play more realistically.
In London, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely discuss a bill being proposed that would strip the Church of most of its possessions. This is obviously not something that these two would like to happen, and as they've managed to block the bill once before, they're confident they can do it again. They discuss King Henry, and his transformation after his father's death from a wild youth into a serious and studious young man. They believe that he is leaning more towards their side, but Canterbury has offered to tell King Henry why he is the rightful heir to the throne in France to ensure his loyalty to the Church. Before he could tell the King everything, a French Ambassador had arrived, and they should be meeting with Henry right then. They leave to go and join the meeting.
King Henry, Gloucester, Bedford, Exeter, Warwick and Westmoreland enter. Henry wants Canterbury to come to him and tell him about France, which he does. After Henry ensures Canterbury will not embellish the truth for his own sake and send many innocent men to their deaths over an unjust battle, Canterbury reveals that France's law regarding no one ascending to the throne whose claim to it comes from a woman's line is ignored by the French themselves. Therefore, they have no more claim to the throne than he does, and, therefore, he has a claim to it through his grandfather, Edward. Henry's council urges him to take the throne. Henry will, but he's worried about the Scottish invading while they are away in France. The Council don't believe the Scottish are anything to worry about—even in the past when they invaded they only terrified the English, they didn't hurt them.
Henry sends for the French Ambassadors. They have a reply from the Dauphin regarding Henry's earlier claim to some Dukedoms. The letter calls him an immature King. The Dauphin has also sent Henry some tennis balls to highlight how much he believes Henry to be unsuited to ruling. Henry vows to do so much damage to France that it will be their own responsibility. He will avenge England's claim to the throne. Henry orders his men to start gathering enough soldiers. They all leave.
The Chorus re-enters and reveals that anticipation for the upcoming war against the French has infected everyone in England. However, three men: the Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop and Thomas Grey, a Knight, have agreed to kill King Henry in exchange for money from France. They will kill Henry before he sets sail.
In London, Nym and Bardolph talk about Ensign Pistol and whether Nym and he are friends yet. Nym and Pistol draw swords and threaten to fight one another. Bardolph swears that whoever strikes first will be killed by his own sword. They put their swords away but continue to insult one another. A Boy enters and asks the men to come and look after a Knight who is sick. Nell, Pistol's wife, leaves with him to do just this. After another challenge, Pistol assures Nym he will be paid his debt. They will be friends. Nell returns to fetch the other men—the Knight is feverish and needs help. They blame his condition on the King.
In Southampton, Exeter, Bedford and Westmoreland cannot believe the King is letting traitors go free. Westmoreland is even more amazed at how calm the traitors are—Bedford reminds him that they don't know that the King knows about the plan. The King enters and orders a man who protested against him yesterday to be set free. Despite oppositions, the King does not want petty drunken crimes to be punished with the same ferocity as well thought out plans. Scroop, Cambridge and Grey believe the man should not be shown mercy—even if the King lets him live he should still be beaten for what he has done, or the people will think he's gone soft. The King disagrees. He hands out letters to Cambridge, Scroop and Grey for their commissions. They turn pale. All three admit to their treason and beg for mercy. Henry points out that they have destroyed the capacity for murder in him due to their earlier argument. Because they have poisoned his faith in his people, Henry orders them to be arrested and punished. God can only pardon them now. All three beg for the King's forgiveness but will face their punishments gladly. Henry gives them his forgiveness, and they are carried out. Henry will now travel to France. He does not doubt that they will be victorious as they have already uncovered a plot.
In London, Pistol, Nell, Nym and Bardolph discuss the Knight Falstaff's death. Nell is sure he went to Heaven because he spoke about green fields. Nym wants to get going as the King will have already left Southampton. They all leave after saying goodbye to Nell.
At the royal court in Northern France, the French King talks with his own council about their preparations against the English threat. They believe they should be afraid of the English and not underestimate their enemies. The Dauphin disagrees—he believes Henry to be nonthreatening and immature. The Constable thinks the Dauphin doesn't actually know Henry if he can say that. A Messenger arrives with Ambassadors from England. Exeter enters and demands the French King give up the throne and his stolen titles and hand them to Henry. Exeter also delivers a message for the Dauphin—Henry wishes every insult possible on him for sending the tennis balls. He will find the difference between Henry as a youth and Henry as a King soon enough.
The Chorus enters again and asks the audience to imagine they have seen the King leave Southampton and sail across the sea to France. They are then to imagine an English siege at the city of Harfleur. The French Ambassador offers Henry the hand of the French princess, Katherine, but this offer is not well received.
In the middle of a battle, King Henry orders his men to the gap in the wall and to not dishonour their country or parents. Nym, Bardolph and Pistol are also in Harfleur. Nym wants the fighting to stop as he only has one life to live. Pistol wants fame for being part of the battle. When the men are forced to go to the wall by a Duke, the Boy comments that these men he has had to serve are no men at all. They are cowards.
Gower and Fluellen discuss the use of the mining tunnels. Fluellen refuses to go down them even though the Duke of Gloucester wants to talk to him. He's afraid that the enemies' tunnels, which go below their own, will be used to kill everyone in them. Captain MacMorris and Captain Jamy enter. MacMorris is not well liked by Fluellen. He challenges MacMorris to a discussion of the discipline of war, but MacMorris does not think this is a time to talk! The mine tunnels have been abandoned, and a general retreat there has been sounded, but they are called to the gap in the wall around Harfleur. After another misunderstanding between MacMorris and Fluellen, Gower tells them to stop—the town is calling for a ceasefire so they can negotiate their surrender.
Harfleur's Governor begs King Henry for mercy. They had asked the Dauphin for help, but he could not send any. King Henry orders the gates to be opened, which the Governor does. Henry leaves Exeter in charge of Harfleur—he is to fortify it against the French armies and orders his Uncle to be merciful to the people in the town. Henry will march with the rest of his men to Calais.
In the royal court, Katherine and Alice talk about the English language. Alice is a fairly poor teacher for the French princess, and most of their attempts are quite humorous.
At the River Somme, the French King, the Dauphin and others gather. The King is certain that Henry has already crossed the Somme. The Constable and Bourbon will give up on France and abandon everything if the English are allowed to continue to march unchallenged. The French King calls for his herald, Montjoy. He tells him to go and meet with Henry. In the meantime, he wants all of his men to come together and stop Henry. He wants the English King brought to Rouen as a prisoner. The Constable thinks when the sick and tired English army see the French soldiers they will give up and offer a large sum of money to the French to avoid being in a battle.
At the English camp in France, Gower and Fluellen talk about a recent battle taking a bridge for themselves. Exeter, who commanded the battle, fought bravely and is still alive. Fluellen loves and honours Exeter for his fine command. While he was there, Fluellen also saw a Lieutenant who fought as bravely as Mark Antony. His name is Ensign Pistol. Pistol enters and asks Fluellen for a favour as he is so close to Exeter. He admits Bardolph has been arrested on account of his stealing from a Church and is to be put to death. He wonders if Fluellen might speak on Bardolph's behalf and get him released. Fluellen will not. Pistol damns him and storms out. Gower remembers Pistol as a pickpocket and a fraud. Fluellen thought he spoke quite well at the bridge, but Gower insists that Pistol is a villain. Fluellen finally catches on and realizes that Pistol was not the man he pretended to be.
King Henry, Gloucester and other soldiers enter. Henry asks about the battle at the bridge. Fluellen tells him what happened and also reveals Bardolph's crime. Henry wishes that all offenders would be punished in this way. He orders the entire army to be told if they steal anything they will also be put to death. None of the French people are to be abused in any way, either.
Montjoy arrives and delivers a message from the French King. He tells Henry that France may have seemed dead, but they were only asleep, and they are ready to fight now. Henry will regret invading France when they have discovered their weaknesses. Henry asks Montjoy to send a message back—he does not want to fight, but will not avoid a fight. He and his weary army are marching to Calais. If the French want payment from Henry for the battle, he will offer up his own worthless body and his weak army as the ransom. Montjoy leaves to deliver the message. Gloucester hopes that they will not be attacked, but Henry admits they are only in God's hands now.
At the French camp near Agincourt, the Constable, Rambures, Orleans and the Dauphin discuss their armour and horses. The Dauphin is full of compliments and even sonnet like speech for his horse. Orleans and the Constable tease him for treating his horse like a mistress. They all wish the dawn would come so that the battle could start. They bet they will each take twenty prisoners the following day. A Messenger arrives to tell them that the English are close to their tents. After discussing the idiocy of the English army, Orleans estimates that, by ten in the morning, they will have captured one hundred Englishmen.
The Chorus enters and asks the audience to imagine both armies' camps set up on either side of the stage. Fires are lit, and the air is so quiet that both sides think they can see and hear the other. The English army are nervous, while the French army is eager to get things started.
At the English camp near Agincourt, King Henry discusses their immediate danger with Bedford and Gloucester. He wants everyone to be as courageous as they can, and everyone should set a good example. He borrows Erpingham's cloak and then sends his men to gather all of their princes in his tent. The King waits behind. Pistol enters and demands to know who the King is. Henry tells him he is a gentleman. Pistol boasts he is a better gentleman than the King, and then wonders if Henry knows Fluellen. He is to give Fluellen a message: that he will slap him on Saint Davy's Day. Henry admits he is Fluellen's relative. Pistol curses him for it and leaves.
Gower and Fluellen enter and discuss the proper ways of going about a war. Fluellen wants him to be quiet, but Gower points out the opposing army are loud enough anyway. Fluellen does not want the English side to stoop to the French's level. Gower will lower his voice. They leave.
Henry thinks there is quite a bit of courage in this army. Bates, Court and Williams enter. They do not think they will see the end of the day. They ask Henry what the King has said about their predicament. Henry points out the King is just a man, like them, and so has the same fears as them. They all wish they were standing in the Thames if it meant they would be out of danger. Henry doesn't think the King would want to be anywhere else but here. Bates doesn't believe it. They hope that the King's cause is just and wonder if God will punish them or just the King if it is not. They believe the King will have to answer for their crimes as well on judgement day. Henry argues about this: the King is not responsible for the way that his soldiers die anymore so than a master is responsible for his servant's death at the hands of robbers. Williams then challenges Henry's mistrust in the King when he says he will not believe in him if he surrenders. They swap gloves so that they can fight one another if they survive the battle. The soldiers leave Henry alone. He is upset that everything is his responsibility—he wishes he was a commoner who could shut his mind off at night. Erpingham and Gloucester enter and ask for the King to come and meet his princes.
The Dauphin, Orleans, Rambures and others are itching to get started with the battle. A Messenger arrives to announce the English are waiting for them in the field. They mount up after Grandpre calls the English an affront to the field they stand waiting in. The Dauphin wonders for a moment if they should send food to the starving English, but the Constable cannot wait.
Many of the English nobles gather and wonder where the King has gone. He has gone to ride out and look at the soldiers. The odds are against them. They hope that God will strike some of the soldiers down for them and be on their side. When King Henry arrives, the others wish they had more men from home. Henry points out their honour, if they win, would be split between too many people then. And if they lose, they would lose a lot more men and it would be bad for the country. The people of England will remember their names, no matter what happens. The French are ready to charge—the others have changed their mind. They now wish that they could fight the battle alone with Henry.
Montjoy enters and asks one more time if Henry is willing to negotiate their surrender to France. He advises the English to say their final prayers and make their peace with God. Henry doesn't understand why the French mock him like this: if they die here, they will cause a plague in France, and if they do not die here, they will end up in English graves with their achievements written on them. If the French want their ransom, all they will end up with are Henry's useless bones. Henry tells the soldiers to advance.
Pistol and a French Soldier fight. Pistol offers him his life if the French Soldier will give him enough money for it. After the Boy translates Pistol's demands, the French Soldier agrees to give Pistol two hundred crowns. They leave the Boy alone, who is sorry he has to sit with the tents as they are so unprotected from the French.
The Constable, Orleans, the Dauphin, and others are sorry that the battle is in such shambles. They are in trouble, and they cannot believe that they were taking bets on this army a little while ago. Orleans suggests there are enough of them to restore order to the army if they try hard enough and will be able to take on the English.
Exeter relays a message from the Duke of York who died at Suffolk's side. He kissed the Earl of Suffolk's injuries until he died, and then told Exeter to send a message to the King that he sends his respects. York then died. Both Exeter and Henry try not to cry. Sounds of the battle reveal that the French have regathered their men into order. Henry wants the prisoners killed immediately.
Fluellen and Gower discuss the disgusting murder of the Boys who waited with their luggage and tents. The murderers were those who were leaving the battle. They discuss Falstaff, who was sent away for mocking people by Henry.
Henry is angry that the Boys have been killed. He will not show a single person mercy now. Montjoy enters and asks for a moment to count the dead. Henry doesn't know why—they haven't finished the battle. Montjoy assures him they have, and Henry won! Henry is pleased and sends Heralds with Montjoy to do an accurate count of the dead on both sides. He asks for Williams to be brought to him.
Henry asks Fluellen about Williams' oath of challenging him and wonders if he should keep the oath. He should. Henry sends Williams to fetch Gower. Henry hands Fluellen the matching glove and tells him he took it from Alencon. Fluellen should wear it in his hat. If anyone should recognize it, it means they are an enemy. Fluellen must arrest the man who recognizes the glove. He sends Fluellen to fetch Gower. Henry asks Warwick and Gloucester to keep an eye on Fluellen as he has played a kind of trick on him.
Williams recognizes the glove in Fluellen's hat and challenges him. Fluellen calls Williams a traitor. Gower does not know what is going on. Henry reveals that he was the man Williams had threatened. Williams assures him he would not have done so had the King properly represented himself, and so it is Henry's fault, not his. Henry agrees and gives him enough gold to fill the glove.
A Herald arrives to tell them the final count of the dead. While ten thousand French men lost their lives, the English lost barely over a hundred. Henry sees this a sign that God was on their side and made sure they won. If any of their soldiers should take credit from God for the victory, they will be hung.
The Chorus enters and tells the audience that the King has returned to England to a great number of celebrating people, but the King refused to take credit for the victory and remained humble throughout. Peace is asked for between France and England, and Henry has returned to France.
In the English camp in France, Fluellen and Gower discuss Fluellen's leek and why he is wearing it past Saint Davy's Day. Pistol came to see him the day before and insulted him for his leek. He could not start a fight with him then, but he will stand up for himself now. Pistol enters. Fluellen challenges him, strikes him and calls him a villain until Pistol eats the leek. Pistol vows he will get his revenge, but Fluellen only slaps him again. Gower tells Pistol to get away as he is a cowardly man for insulting a respectful tradition. Both men leave Pistol alone. Pistol is upset that he has lost everything. He has even lost Nell who recently died of an illness. He decides to return to England and become a pickpocket.
At the royal court in France, King Henry and his men meet with the French King and other French nobility. The Kings call one another brother and Henry wishes them to be in peace from now on as long as the French King agrees to his demands. The French King admits he has not had time to read them over carefully, and so Henry sends his men with the King to help go over the demands. Katherine remains behind. Henry tells her that he loves her and wants to marry her. She will if her father approves of it, but she does not return his declaration of love.
The French King returns and agrees to all the demands but the title he refers to Henry with. Henry lets this demand slide in return for his daughter's hand in marriage. They agree on this and hope their two nations will be united as one from now on.
The Chorus enters and admits Henry's life was not a long one, but he did leave his son, Henry VI, as the crowned King of France and England. Through mismanagement, France was lost, and England was sent into a civil war. He hopes the audience has enjoyed their story and will take it kindly.
MODERN HENRY V CHARACTER ANALYSIS
Henry V is the King of England and has a claim to the French throne. He is described by many characters as having had a wild youth. Even the Dauphin has heard of it and tries to use this reputation as an insult. However, once his father died, and Henry V ascended to the throne he became studious and serious. He is a brilliant speaker, as his speech to the French Ambassadors can attest to, and uses this to rally his downtrodden troops. Henry is also a tenacious and focused ruler: once he has set his mind to something, like conquering France, he does not give up for one moment. There is a moment when Henry is unhappy he cannot express his true emotions or live primarily for himself, but this moment is fleeting, and he returns to his duties with gusto.
The Duke of Exeter is Henry's Uncle and is often relied upon to carry out tasks with considerable responsibility: he is given control of Harfleur to transform it into a defence against the French and is also given messages to take to the King of France. While he is a diplomatic man, he is also a tenacious and skilled fighter who manages to hold his own against the French army and keep his men in order on the bridge.
Gloucester is one of Henry's younger brothers and accompanies him on his invasion of France. He fights alongside Henry and the others at the battle of Agincourt and manages to stay alive through it. Although he does not have many lines, his loyalty to the King throughout is obvious. He is in charge of the siege at Harfleur, which is a smashing success.
Ensign Pistol is an impulsive man who thinks he is a magnificent warrior and man, but is actually quite cowardly and villainous. For example, he blackmails a soldier into giving him as much money as he can in exchange for his life. He is married to Nell and runs a tavern in London. Despite his common background, Pistol tries to speak in a grandiose way. He is friends with Nym and Bardolph. He does stand up for Bardolph, who is to be hung for his crimes, but it is not exactly clear if this is out of the goodness of his own heart, or just because he wants something from Bardolph in return.
Bardolph is another commoner who travels with Nym and Pistol to join the English army. While he does threaten to kill people, he is not a courageous man. The only time we see him with his sword out is to challenge Nym and Pistol to put theirs away, which suggests he tries to avoid conflict at all times. He ends up sentenced to death after he steals something from a Church in France.
Williams is one of many soldiers in Henry's army. Henry and Williams argue when Henry has disguised himself, and their argument leads to Williams challenging him to a fight if they manage to survive the war. When Henry reveals he is the King and asks Williams to apologize, Williams refuses and stands up for himself, citing that he would not have challenged Henry had he known he was the King. This suggests he is quite a brave man. He also does not shy away from the challenge he made and is wholeheartedly intent on seeing it through.
The Dauphin is the King of France's son and the heir to the throne. He is hot headed, insulting and generally over-confident, which spreads to his men in his immediate surroundings. His attitude could be to blame for the French army's loss, as they all spend the night betting how many men they will kill, rather than preparing themselves for a hard battle. The Dauphin totally underestimates Henry and would rather listen to gossip about his past than admit he could be a threat to France. The Dauphin also loves his horse a lot, which is something his peers tease him for, especially when he compares his horse to a mistress.
Captain Gower is an officer in King Henry's army and is a companion to Fluellen. He stands up for Fluellen when Pistol insults him, which proves his loyalty to his friend. Beyond this not much more is known about his character.
Fluellen is an intelligent strategist who is well read and educated about the procedures and standards of warfare. He is often the one Henry comes to for updates on the battle as he seems to know exactly what is going on. Because Fluellen is Welsh, other characters tend to pick on him for his way of speaking. Ensign Pistol even goes as far as insulting his country's Saint day, but Fluellen stands up for himself while maintaining other people's respect for him.
Katherine is the Princess of France, and the King of France's daughter. She attempts to learn how to speak English, which usually ends in funny moments between her and her servant, Alice. She ends up marrying Henry to cement the peace treaty between England and France, but does not think she can love Henry who she sees as an enemy of France.
The Constable is a high ranking member of the French court and is one of the most eager to get the battle against the English started. Although the Dauphin suggests they could give the starving English something to eat before they start the battle, the Constable does not want to show the English even the slightest bit of kindness or mercy. It is fitting, then, that he dies in battle.
The Boy begins the play as the disgraced Knight Falstaff's servant, but after he dies he is taken as three commoners' servants. He can speak some passable French, which is more than most of the English people can. The Boy hates his Masters Pistol, Bardolph and Nym and thinks that they are the most cowardly men he has ever come across. He does not even think he can call them men. Although he vows to leave them and find better Masters to serve, he ends up stuck in the middle of the invasion of France and cannot. He is killed along with the other servants while French soldiers desert the battle and steal Henry's belongings. It is his death, along with the others, that forces Henry to give the order for French prisoners to have their throats cut and makes him angry enough to withdraw all mercy for the French army.
Nym is a Corporal in the English army and is introduced in the middle of a quarrel with Ensign Pistol, who married Nell. Nym reveals that they were to be married. Nym is also a petty thief like Pistol and Bardolph and is called a coward by the Boy. Nym has a fairly carefree attitude towards most things and believes that fate will lead everyone to their end eventually.
These three are tempted by the French to commit treason against their English King and kill him before he manages to set sail for France. However, the King finds out about their plot and confronts them with it. After they admit to their crimes, they beg for mercy and then forgiveness from the King, and their apologies are enough to soothe the King into giving his forgiveness so that they might go to Heaven, but not to provide them with mercy. They are carried away to be hung for their treasonous behaviour.
The Chorus is a character archetype borrowed from Greek theatre and comes on stage at the beginning of each Act to reveal what has happened off stage to keep the audience up to date. He also apologizes regularly for things on stage not appearing in their truest nature and implores the audience to be kind when they judge the play.
EXCERPT FROM HENRY V IN PLAIN AND SIMPLE ENGLISH
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 spirits 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 O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces 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,
Carry them here and there, jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.
With the help of the Muse of fire, we present a kingdom on a stage where princes will act and kings will hold war. We bring to you the vast fields of France on this small stage to represent the frightening scene of Agincourt. Try to imagine two might monarchies separated by an ocean. Overlook the imperfections and imagine the horses when we talk of them with their proud hooves pounding the earth. Focus on the epic story we have summarized for the sake of time. Listen and judge our play.
Scene I: London. An ante-chamber in the King’s palace.
Enter the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely.
My lord, I'll tell you: that self bill is urg'd,
Which in the eleventh year of the last king's reign
Was like, and had indeed against us pass'd,
But that the scambling and unquiet time
Did push it out of farther question.
I’m afraid that the same bill reviewed in the king’s eleventh year of reign is back up. It almost passed, but the time wasn’t right.
But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
How are we going to get it vetoed this time?
It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
We lose the better half of our possession;
For all the temporal lands, which men devout
By testament have given to the Church,
Would they strip from us; being valu'd thus:
As much as would maintain, to the King's honour,
Full fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights,
Six thousand and two hundred good esquires;
And, to relief of lazars and weak age,
Of indigent faint souls, past corporal toil,
A hundred almshouses right well suppli'd;
And to the coffers of the King beside,
A thousand pounds by the year. Thus runs the bill.
We have to think about it. If it passes, we will lose half of what we own. We would lose enough land given to us by devout men to maintain fifteen earls and fifteen hundred knights, and six thousand two hundred squires, not to mention the upkeep of lepers, old men unable to work, a hundred almshouses, and a thousand pounds to put in the king’s bank.
This would drink deep.
That would really drain us.
'Twould drink the cup and all.
But what prevention?
So, how do we prevent it from passing?
The King is full of grace and fair regard.
The king is fair and full of grace.
And a true lover of the holy Church.
And he does love the church.
The courses of his youth promis'd it not.
The breath no sooner left his father's body,
But that his wildness, mortifi'd in him,
Seem'd to die too; yea, at that very moment
Consideration like an angel came
And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him,
Leaving his body as a paradise
To envelope and contain celestial spirits.
Never was such a sudden scholar made;
Never came reformation in a flood
With such a heady currance, scouring faults;
Nor never Hydra-headed wilfulness
So soon did lose his seat, and all at once,
As in this king.
As soon as his father died, it was like the wildness left his body and was inhabited by an angel. He turned into a scholar and great reformer.
We are blessed in the change.
We have been blessed.
Hear him but reason in divinity,
And, all-admiring, with an inward wish
You would desire the King were made a prelate;
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say it hath been all in all his study;
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle rend'red you in music;
Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter; that, when he speaks,
The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears,
To steal his sweet and honey'd sentences;
So that the art and practic' part of life
Must be the mistress to this theoric:
Which is a wonder how his Grace should glean it,
Since his addiction was to courses vain,
His companies unletter'd, rude, and shallow,
His hours fill'd up with riots, banquets, sports,
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity.
If you heard him talk about things pertaining to the church, you would wish he were made a priest. If you heard him debate affairs of the state, you would think he had studied it all his life. If you heard him discuss war, you would hear a lyrical tale of battle. Ask him about any policy, and when he speaks, freedom rings in the air with his sweet sentences. And, who knows where he learned all of it, since he was addicted to worldly habits of riots, parties, and sports. He never studied or practiced quiet contemplation.