Whilest in the Lent season the king laie at Killingworth, there came to him from Charles Dolphin of France certain ambassadors, that brought with them a barrell of Paris balles, which from their maister they presented to him for a token that was taken in verie ill part, as sent in scorne to signifie that it was more meet for the king to passe the time with such childish exercise, than to attempt any worthy exploit. Wherefore the K. wrote to him that yer ought long, he would tosse him some London balles that perchance should shake the walles of the best court in France.
Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, vol. III., 1587.
The King, and Daulphin, to his proud demand,
That he might see they no such matter ment,
As a thing fitter for his youthfull hand;
A tunne of Paris Tennis balls him sent,
Better himselfe to make him vnderstand,
Deriding his ridiculous intent:
And that was all the answere he could get,
Which more, the King doth to this Conquest whet.
That answering the Ambassadour, quoth he,
Thanks for my Balls, to Charles your Soueraigne giue,
And thus assure him, and his sonne from me,
I’le send him Balls and Rackets if I Hue,
That they such Racket shall in Paris see,
When our lyne with Bandies I shall driue.
As that before the Set be fully done,
France may (perhaps) into the Hazard runne.
Michael Drayton, The battaile of Agincourt, 1627.
We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;
His present and your pains we thank you for:
When we have march’d our rackets to these balls,
We will, in France, by God’s grace, play a set
Shall strike his father’s crown into the hazard.
Tell him he hath made a match with such a wrangler
That all the courts of France will be disturb’d
With chaces. And we understand him well,
How he comes o’er us with our wilder days,
Not measuring what use we made of them.
We never valued this poor seat of England;
And therefore, living hence, did give ourself
To barbarous licence; as ’tis ever common
That men are merriest when they are from home.
But tell the Dauphin I will keep my state,
Be like a king and show my sail of greatness
When I do rouse me in my throne of France:
For that I have laid by my majesty
And plodded like a man for working-days,
But I will rise there with so full a glory
That I will dazzle all the eyes of France,
Yea, strike the Dauphin blind to look on us.
And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
Hath turn’d his balls to gun-stones; and his soul
Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance
That shall fly with them: for 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 Dauphin’s scorn.
But this lies all within the will of God,
To whom I do appeal; and in whose name
Tell you the Dauphin I am coming on,
To venge me as I may and to put forth
My rightful hand in a well-hallow’d cause.
So get you hence in peace; and tell the Dauphin
His jest will savour but of shallow wit,
When thousands weep more than did laugh at it.
Convey them with safe conduct. Fare you well.
William Shakespeare, The Cronicle History of Henry the fift, Act II, Scene 2.