William Shakespeare: Henry V, Act III, Scene VII
Enter the Constable of France, the Lord Rambures, Orleans, Dauphin, with others
What a long night is this! I will not change my horse with any that treads but on four pasterns. Ca, ha! he bounds from the earth, as if his entrails were hairs; le cheval volant, the Pegasus, chez les narines de feu! When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus: he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in Patient stillness while his rider mounts him: he is indeed a horse; and all other jades you may call beasts.
It is the prince of palfreys; his neigh is like the bidding of a monarch and his countenance enforces homage.
Nay, the man hath no wit that cannot, from the rising of the lark to the lodging of the lamb, vary deserved praise on my palfrey: it is a theme as fluent as the sea: turn the sands into eloquent tongues, and my horse is argument for them all: 'tis a subject for a sovereign to reason on, and for a sovereign's sovereign to ride on; and for the world, familiar to us and unknown to lay apart their particular functions and wonder at him. I once writ a sonnet in his praise and began thus: 'Wonder of nature,'—
O then belike she was old and gentle; and you rode, like a kern of Ireland, your French hose off, and in your straight strossers.
Be warned by me, then: they that ride so and ride not warily, fall into foul bogs. I had rather have my horse to my mistress.
'Le chien est retourne a son propre vomissement, et la truie lavee au bourbier;' thou makest use of any thing.
Yet do I not use my horse for my mistress, or any such proverb so little kin to the purpose.
My lord constable, the armour that I saw in your tent to-night, are those stars or suns upon it?
Even as your horse bears your praises; who would trot as well, were some of your brags dismounted.
Would I were able to load him with his desert! Will it never be day? I will trot to-morrow a mile, and my way shall be paved with English faces.
I will not say so, for fear I should be faced out of my way: but I would it were morning; for I would fain be about the ears of the English.
By my faith, sir, but it is; never any body saw it but his lackey: 'tis a hooded valour; and when it appears, it will bate.
Well placed: there stands your friend for the devil: have at the very eye of that proverb with 'A pox of the devil.'
Enter a Messenger
A valiant and most expert gentleman. Would it were day! Alas, poor Harry of England! he longs not for the dawning as we do.
What a wretched and peevish fellow is this king of England, to mope with his fat-brained followers so far out of his knowledge!
That they lack; for if their heads had any intellectual armour, they could never wear such heavy head-pieces.
That island of England breeds very valiant creatures; their mastiffs are of unmatchable courage.
Foolish curs, that run winking into the mouth of a Russian bear and have their heads crushed like rotten apples! You may as well say, that's a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion.
Just, just; and the men do sympathize with the mastiffs in robustious and rough coming on, leaving their wits with their wives: and then give them great meals of beef and iron and steel, they will eat like wolves and fight like devils.
Then shall we find to-morrow they have only stomachs to eat and none to fight. Now is it time to arm: come, shall we about it?