ACT I
Scene II.
 

London. An apartment of the Prince's.

Enter Prince of Wales and Sir John Falstaff.

FALSTAFF
Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?

PRINCE
Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and
unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after
noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou
wouldest truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time
of the day, Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons,
and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping
houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in
flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so
superfluous to demand the time of the day.

FALSTAFF
Indeed you come near me now, Hal; for we that take purses go
by the moon And the seven stars, and not by Phoebus, he, that
wand'ring knight so fair. And I prithee, sweet wag, when thou art
king, as, God save thy Grace-Majesty I should say, for grace thou
wilt have none-

PRINCE
What, none?

FALSTAFF
No, by my troth; not so much as will serve to be prologue to
an egg and butter.

PRINCE
Well, how then? Come, roundly, roundly.

FALSTAFF
Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us that
are squires of the night's body be called thieves of the day's
beauty. Let us be Diana's Foresters, Gentlemen of the Shade,
Minions of the Moon; and let men say we be men of good
government, being governed as the sea is, by our noble and chaste
mistress the moon, under whose countenance we steal.

PRINCE
Thou sayest well, and it holds well too; for the fortune of
us that are the moon's men doth ebb and flow like the sea, being
governed, as the sea is, by the moon. As, for proof now: a purse
of gold most resolutely snatch'd on Monday night and most
dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning; got with swearing 'Lay by,'
and spent with crying 'Bring in'; now ill as low an ebb as the
foot of the ladder, and by-and-by in as high a flow as the ridge
of the gallows.

FALSTAFF
By the Lord, thou say'st true, lad- and is not my hostess of
the tavern a most sweet wench?

PRINCE
As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle- and is not
a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance?

FALSTAFF
How now, how now, mad wag? What, in thy quips and thy
quiddities? What a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin?

PRINCE
Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern?

FALSTAFF
Well, thou hast call'd her to a reckoning many a time and oft.

PRINCE
Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?

FALSTAFF
No; I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all there.

PRINCE
Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would stretch; and
where it would not, I have used my credit.

FALSTAFF
Yea, and so us'd it that, were it not here apparent that thou
art heir apparent- But I prithee, sweet wag, shall there be
gallows standing in England when thou art king? and resolution
thus fubb'd as it is with the rusty curb of old father antic the
law? Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief.

PRINCE
No; thou shalt.

FALSTAFF
Shall I? O rare! By the Lord, I'll be a brave judge.

PRINCE
Thou judgest false already. I mean, thou shalt have the
hanging of the thieves and so become a rare hangman.

FALSTAFF
Well, Hal, well; and in some sort it jumps with my humour as
well as waiting in the court, I can tell you.

PRINCE
For obtaining of suits?

FALSTAFF
Yea, for obtaining of suits, whereof the hangman hath no lean
wardrobe. 'Sblood, I am as melancholy as a gib-cat or a lugg'd
bear.

PRINCE
Or an old lion, or a lover's lute.

FALSTAFF
Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe.

PRINCE
What sayest thou to a hare, or the melancholy of Moor
Ditch?

FALSTAFF
Thou hast the most unsavoury similes, and art indeed the most
comparative, rascalliest, sweet young prince. But, Hal, I prithee
trouble me no more with vanity. I would to God thou and I knew
where a commodity of good names were to be bought. An old lord of
the Council rated me the other day in the street about you, sir,
but I mark'd him not; and yet he talked very wisely, but I
regarded him not; and yet he talk'd wisely, and in the street
too.

PRINCE
Thou didst well; for wisdom cries out in the streets, and
no man regards it.

FALSTAFF
O, thou hast damnable iteration, and art indeed able to
corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm upon me, Hal- God
forgive thee for it! Before I knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing; and
now am I, if a man should speak truly, little better than one of
the wicked. I must give over this life, and I will give it over!
By the Lord, an I do not, I am a villain! I'll be damn'd for
never a king's son in Christendom.

PRINCE
Where shall we take a purse tomorrow, Jack?

FALSTAFF
Zounds, where thou wilt, lad! I'll make one. An I do not, call
me villain and baffle me.

PRINCE
I see a good amendment of life in thee- from praying to
purse-taking.

FALSTAFF
Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal. 'Tis no sin for a man to
labour in his vocation.

Enter Poins.

Poins! Now shall we know if Gadshill have set a match. O, if men
were to be saved by merit, what hole in hell were hot enough for
him? This is the most omnipotent villain that ever cried 'Stand!'
to a true man.

PRINCE
Good morrow, Ned.

POINS
Good morrow, sweet Hal. What says Monsieur Remorse? What
says Sir John Sack and Sugar? Jack, how agrees the devil and thee
about thy soul, that thou soldest him on Good Friday last for a
cup of Madeira and a cold capon's leg?

PRINCE
Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his
bargain; for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs. He will give
the devil his due.

POINS
Then art thou damn'd for keeping thy word with the devil.

PRINCE
Else he had been damn'd for cozening the devil.

POINS
But, my lads, my lads, to-morrow morning, by four o'clock
early, at Gadshill! There are pilgrims gong to Canterbury with
rich offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses. I
have vizards for you all; you have horses for yourselves.
Gadshill lies to-night in Rochester. I have bespoke supper
to-morrow night in Eastcheap. We may do it as secure as sleep. If
you will go, I will stuff your purses full of crowns; if you will
not, tarry at home and be hang'd!

FALSTAFF
Hear ye, Yedward: if I tarry at home and go not, I'll hang you
for going.

POINS
You will, chops?

FALSTAFF
Hal, wilt thou make one?

PRINCE
Who, I rob? I a thief? Not I, by my faith.

FALSTAFF
There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee,
nor thou cam'st not of the blood royal if thou darest not stand
for ten shillings.

PRINCE
Well then, once in my days I'll be a madcap.

FALSTAFF
Why, that's well said.

PRINCE
Well, come what will, I'll tarry at home.

FALSTAFF
By the Lord, I'll be a traitor then, when thou art king.

PRINCE
I care not.

POINS
Sir John, I prithee, leave the Prince and me alone. I will
lay him down such reasons for this adventure that he shall go.

FALSTAFF
Well, God give thee the spirit of persuasion and him the ears
of profiting, that what thou speakest may move and what he hears
may be believed, that the true prince may (for recreation sake)
prove a false thief; for the poor abuses of the time want
countenance. Farewell; you shall find me in Eastcheap.

PRINCE
Farewell, thou latter spring! farewell, All-hallown summer!

Exit Falstaff.

POINS
Now, my good sweet honey lord, ride with us to-morrow. I
have a jest to execute that I cannot manage alone. Falstaff,
Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill shall rob those men that we have
already waylaid; yourself and I will not be there; and when they
have the booty, if you and I do not rob them, cut this head off
from my shoulders.

PRINCE
How shall we part with them in setting forth?

POINS
Why, we will set forth before or after them and appoint them
a place of meeting, wherein it is at our pleasure to fail; and
then will they adventure upon the exploit themselves; which they
shall have no sooner achieved, but we'll set upon them.

PRINCE
Yea, but 'tis like that they will know us by our horses, by
our habits, and by every other appointment, to be ourselves.

POINS
Tut! our horses they shall not see- I'll tie them in the
wood; our wizards we will change after we leave them; and,
sirrah, I have cases of buckram for the nonce, to immask our
noted outward garments.

PRINCE
Yea, but I doubt they will be too hard for us.

POINS
Well, for two of them, I know them to be as true-bred
cowards as ever turn'd back; and for the third, if he fight
longer than he sees reason, I'll forswear arms. The virtue of
this jest will lie the incomprehensible lies that this same fat
rogue will tell us when we meet at supper: how thirty, at least,
he fought with; what wards, what blows, what extremities he
endured; and in the reproof of this lies the jest.

PRINCE
Well, I'll go with thee. Provide us all things necessary
and meet me to-night in Eastcheap. There I'll sup. Farewell.

POINS
Farewell, my lord.

Exit.

PRINCE
I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyok'd humour of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to lie himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wond'red at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish'd-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

Exit.