In a simile, the Dauphin of France compares a leader who fails to adequately fund his military to a “miser,” a cheap or greedy person, who ruins a coat by trying to save a bit of cloth:
In cases of defense, ’tis best to weigh
The enemy more mighty than he seems.
So the proportions of defense are filled,
Which of a weak and niggardly projection
Doth, like a miser, spoil his coat with scanting
A little cloth.
In this scene, the Dauphin argues with the Constable, the Lieutenant to the King of France, about how best to handle the approaching English army. While the Dauphin arrogantly dismisses King Henry and his troops, the Constable urges strict caution. While maintaining his position that the English represent no real threat, the Dauphin concedes that it is safer to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Accordingly, he urges the King not to underestimate the size of their enemies’ forces “like a miser” who would “spoil” or ruin his coat by trying to save “a little cloth” when it is being made.
The Dauphin uses this simile to persuade the King of France to spare no expense in funding his army. The miser’s attempt to save some cloth, after all, is self-defeating, as he has now wasted all of the cloth that has been used to construct his ruined coat. Likewise, the Dauphin’s simile suggests that it would be self-defeating for the French King to save money at a time like this, as a loss to the English army could cost them the throne itself.