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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: April ::
New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0958  Tuesday, 27 April 2004

[1]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Apr 2004 20:27:39 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 15.0952 New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon

[2]     From:   Dan Smith <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Apr 2004 12:30:59 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0930 New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Apr 2004 20:27:39 +0100
Subject: New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon
Comment:        SHK 15.0952 New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon

Hello again, Sean!

"The OED actually shows three uses of the word 'willing' as a verb, but
none of them seem to impact on the justice of Henry's war.  The worst is
the use as 'command' which seems to have slipped out of use, since there
isn't a citation since 1450-60."

Er.... I actually had "overlook" in mind, as it goes, which one might
argue does have a bearing on the justice of Henry's war, based at it is
on the 15th-C WMD, "the Salic Law".

Isn't "willing" a participle in this instance?

"Willing you overlook this pedigree..."

m

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Apr 2004 12:30:59 +0100
Subject: 15.0930 New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0930 New Henry V Film Coming Out Soon

Chop Logic is one way of looking at Henry's reasoning - spin and
misdirection is another.

Henry uses two analogies:
1) "If a Sonne that is by his Father sent about Merchandize, doe
sinfully miscarry vpon the Sea; the imputation of his wickednesse, by
your rule, should be imposed vpon his Father that sent him"
2) "if a Seruant, vnder his Masters command, transporting a summe of
Money, be assayled by Robbers, and dye in many irreconcil'd Iniquities;
you may call the businesse of the Master the author of the Seruants
damnation"

These are ludicrous arguments an army besieging French towns and poised
to fight a pitched battle has hardly been employed for peaceful
seafaring and delivering the payroll.

Henry continues:
"The King is not bound to answer the particular endings of his
Souldiers, the Father of his Sonne, nor the Master of his Seruant; for
they purpose not their death, when they purpose their seruices".

This is a standard piece of political casuistry - you misrepresent your
opponent's argument and then proceed to demolish the misrepresentation
as though it truly represented the issues.  At the core of both these
analogies is the unspoken assumption that they are behaving lawfully in
France but that is the real issue. Henry could argue that as the
rightful monarch, if a French town refuses to bow the knee he is going
about his lawful occasions in attacking it. In fact, we know that as the
heir of a usurper his claim on England's throne is of dubious legality,
let alone that of France (Shakespeare has already treated us to a comedy
cleric reciting the reasoning tenuous and tedious which entitles the
King of England to claim France).

Henry then goes on to set up another false target blackening the
reputation of ("some") of his own men.

some (peraduenture) haue on them the guilt of
premeditated and contriued Murther; some, of beguiling
Virgins with the broken Seales of Periurie; some,
making the Warres their Bulwarke, that haue before gored
the gentle Bosome of Peace with Pillage and Robberie. Now, if these men haue
defeated the Law, and outrunne
Natiue punishment; though they can out-strip
men, they haue no wings to flye from God. Warre is
his Beadle, Warre is his Vengeance: so that here men
are punisht, for before breach of the Kings Lawes, in
now the Kings Quarrell: where they feared the death,
they haue borne life away; and where they would bee
safe, they perish. Then if they dye vnprouided, no more
is the King guiltie of their damnation, then hee was before
guiltie of those Impieties, for the which they are
now visited.

The implication is that anyone seen dying badly on the battlefield is
just a sinful fugitive from justice getting their just deserts. The
corollary of this is that if your conscience is clear it won't happen to
you but even if it does it will be doing you a favour "should euery
Souldier in the Warres doe as euery sicke man in his Bed, wash euery
Moth out of his Conscience: and dying so, Death is to him aduantage". I
seem to remember Isabella's Brother being underwhelmed by a similar
argument ("Yes, thou must die:
Thou art too noble to conserve a life In base appliances." MM III,1) and
it is very close to the Duke of Gloucester's justification for regicide
("Let him thank me, that holp to send him thither [to heaven]; For he
was fitter for that place than earth." I,2,287). Accordingly when
Williams agrees with Henry "Tis certaine, euery man that dyes ill, the
ill vpon his owne head, the King is not to answer it", I am not
convinced that every section of the original audience would have agreed
without hesitation and surely Shakespeare could not have taken William's
argument further in safety. The fact that Williams does not know he is
arguing with his king is only a small fig leaf over the fact that a
commoner is debating the legality of the actions of that king. There are
two potential insults in this. The first is that the King should be
bound by the law. God is not bound by earthly laws and if the king is
God's representative on Earth he could not be held to account either.
Further Williams is suggesting that this invasion might be against
earthly law. This King has already demonstrated his willingness to hang
those who overstep the mark - speaking treason in the King's camp is
dicing with death whoever you are speaking to.

Dan Smith

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