the King with a patronising gift of tennis balls (real, or old-fashioned, tennis being a popular game in the middle ages). Henry doesnt show his anger, but instead deals with the slighting reference to what he terms "our wilder days" and responds with a playful threat, punning on the rules of real tennis:
"We will in France, by Gods grace, play a set
Shall strike his fathers crown into the hazard."
He shows the steely power of his resolve and rhetorical skill in informing the ambassador of his reply to his master:
" many a thousand widows
Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands,
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down,
And some are yet ungotten and unborn
That shall have cause to curse the Dauphins scorn."
The ambassador departs, and the Kings uncle says, "This was a merry message" in appreciation of his nephews show of regal power.
The Chorus opens the act with great vigour and enthusiasm, telling us: "Now all the youth of England are on fire, / And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies". Fine clothes and idle pastimes are left behind and those of fighting age are on the move with their youthful King. The only fault lies with three noblemen, Cambridge, Scroop and Grey, who have become traitors on behalf of France:
"O England, model to thy inward greatness,
Like little body with a mighty heart,
What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,
Were all thy children kind and natural!"
The Chorus presents England as a nation as beautiful and noble in its appearance as in its soul, let down only by some offspring lacking feelings of kin (so not kind) and law of nature. Again the audience is encouraged to feel patriotic but also to see beyond the constraints of the play to a wider sense of nationhood. In the second scene, we are allowed to see the traitorous nobles still paying lip service to their King, in the knowledge that Henry is fully aware of their treason. Once again the idea is to acknowledge the young Kings mastery of statecraft as he discusses the release of a drunken prisoner before turning the traitors harsh sentencing on themselves with a display of suitably Machiavellian policy:
"The mercy that was quick in us but late
By your own counsel is suppressed and killed:
You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy,
For your own reasons turn into your bosoms
As dogs upon their masters, worrying you."
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