Ned, prithee come out of that fat-room and lend me thy hand
to laugh a little.
Where hast been, Hal?
Prince,. With three or four loggerheads amongst three or
fourscore hogsheads. I have sounded the very bass-string of
humility. Sirrah, I am sworn brother to a leash of drawers and
can call them all by their christen names, as Tom, Dick, and
Francis. They take it already upon their salvation that, though
I be but Prince of Wales, yet I am the king of courtesy; and tell
me flatly I am no proud Jack like Falstaff, but a Corinthian, a
lad of mettle, a good boy (by the Lord, so they call me!), and
when I am King of England I shall command all the good lads
Eastcheap. They call drinking deep, dying scarlet; and when
you breathe in your watering, they cry 'hem!' and bid you play it
off. To conclude, I am so good a proficient in one quarter of an
hour that I can drink with any tinker in his own language during
my life. I tell thee, Ned, thou hast lost much honour that thou
wert not with me in this action. But, sweet Ned- to sweeten which
name of Ned, I give thee this pennyworth of sugar, clapp'd even
now into my hand by an under-skinker, one that never spake other
English in his life than 'Eight shillings and sixpence,' and 'You
are welcome,' with this shrill addition, 'Anon, anon, sir! Score
a pint of bastard in the Half-moon,' or so- but, Ned, to drive
away the time till Falstaff come, I prithee do thou stand in some
by-room while I question my puny drawer to what end be gave me
the sugar; and do thou never leave calling 'Francis!' that his
tale to me may be nothing but 'Anon!' Step aside, and I'll show
thee a precedent.
That ever this fellow should have fewer words than a
parrot, and yet the son of a woman! His industry is upstairs and
downstairs, his eloquence the parcel of a reckoning. I am not yet
of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the North; he that kills me some
six or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and
says to his wife, 'Fie upon this quiet life! I want work.' 'O my
sweet Harry,' says she, 'how many hast thou kill'd to-day?'
'Give my roan horse a drench,' says he, and answers 'Some
fourteen,' an hour after, 'a trifle, a trifle.' I prithee call in
Falstaff. I'll play Percy, and that damn'd brawn shall play Dame
Mortimer his wife. 'Rivo!' says the drunkard. Call in ribs, call
Enter Falstaff, [Gadshill, Bardolph, and Peto; Francis follows with wine].
A plague of all cowards, I say, and a vengeance too! Marry and
amen! Give me a cup of sack, boy. Ere I lead this life long, I'll
sew nether-stocks, and mend them and foot them too. A plague of
all cowards! Give me a cup of sack, rogue. Is there no virtue
Didst thou never see Titan kiss a dish of butter?
Pitiful-hearted butter, that melted at the sweet tale of the sun!
If thou didst, then behold that compound.
You rogue, here's lime in this sack too! There is nothing but
roguery to be found in villanous man. Yet a coward is worse than
a cup of sack with lime in it- a villanous coward! Go thy ways,
old Jack, die when thou wilt; if manhood, good manhood, be not
forgot upon the face of the earth, then am I a shotten herring.
There lives not three good men unhang'd in England; and one of
them is fat, and grows old. God help the while! A bad world, I
say. I would I were a weaver; I could sing psalms or anything. A
plague of all cowards I say still!
A king's son! If I do not beat thee out of thy kingdom with a
dagger of lath and drive all thy subjects afore thee like a flock
of wild geese, I'll never wear hair on my face more. You rince
Why, you whoreson round man, what's the matter?
Are not you a coward? Answer me to that- and Poins there?
Zounds, ye fat paunch, an ye call me coward, by the
Lord, I'll stab thee.
I call thee coward? I'll see thee damn'd ere I call thee
coward, but I would give a thousand pound I could run as fast as
thou canst. You are straight enough in the shoulders; you care
not who sees Your back. Call you that backing of your friends? A
plague upon such backing! Give me them that will face me. Give me
a cup of sack. I am a rogue if I drunk to-day.
O villain! thy lips are scarce wip'd since thou drunk'st
All is one for that. (He drinketh.) A plague of all cowards
still say I.
I am a rogue if I were not at half-sword with a dozen of them
two hours together. I have scap'd by miracle. I am eight times
thrust through the doublet, four through the hose; my buckler cut
through and through; my sword hack'd like a handsaw- ecce signum!
I never dealt better since I was a man. All would not do. A
plague of all cowards! Let them speak, If they speak more or less
than truth, they are villains and the sons of darkness.
All? I know not what you call all, but if I fought not with
fifty of them, I am a bunch of radish! If there were not two or
three and fifty upon poor old Jack, then am I no two-legg'd
Pray God you have not murd'red some of them.
Nay, that's past praying for. I have pepper'd two of them. Two
I am sure I have paid, two rogues in buckram suits. I tell thee
what, Hal- if I tell thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse.
Thou knowest my old ward. Here I lay, and thus I bore my point.
Four rogues in buckram let drive at me.
What, upon compulsion? Zounds, an I were at the strappado or
all the racks in the world, I would not tell you on compulsion.
Give you a reason on compulsion? If reasons were as plentiful as
blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.
I'll be no longer guilty, of this sin; this sanguine
coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill
'Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried
neat's-tongue, you bull's sizzle, you stockfish- O for breath to
utter what is like thee!- you tailor's yard, you sheath, you
bowcase, you vile standing tuck!
Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again; and when thou
hast tired thyself in base comparisons, hear me speak but this.
We two saw you four set on four, and bound them and were
masters of their wealth. Mark now how a plain tale shall put you
down. Then did we two set on you four and, with a word, outfac'd
you from your prize, and have it; yea, and can show it you here
in the house. And, Falstaff, you carried your guts away as
nimbly, with as quick dexterity, and roar'd for mercy, and still
run and roar'd, as ever I heard bullcalf. What a slave art thou
to hack thy sword as thou hast done, and then say it was in
fight! What trick, what device, what starting hole canst thou now
find out to hide thee from this open and apparent shame?
Come, let's hear, Jack. What trick hast thou now?
By the Lord, I knew ye as well as he that made ye. Why, hear
you, my masters. Was it for me to kill the heir apparent? Should
I turn upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest I am as valiant as
Hercules; but beware instinct. The lion will not touch the true
prince. Instinct is a great matter. I was now a coward on
instinct. I shall think the better of myself, and thee, during my
life- I for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince. But, by
the Lord, lads, I am glad you have the money. Hostess, clap to
the doors. Watch to-night, pray to-morrow. Gallants, lads, boys,
hearts of gold, all the titles of good fellowship come to you!
What, shall we be merry? Shall we have a play extempore?
Content- and the argument shall be thy running away.
Ah, no more of that, Hal, an thou lovest me!
Tell me now in earnest, how came Falstaff's sword so
Why, he hack'd it with his dagger, and said he would swear
truth out of England but he would make you believe it was done in
fight, and persuaded us to do the like.
Yea, and to tickle our noses with speargrass to make them
bleed, and then to beslubber our garments with it and swear it
was the blood of true men. I did that I did not this seven year
before- I blush'd to hear his monstrous devices.
O villain! thou stolest a cup of sack eighteen years ago
and wert taken with the manner, and ever since thou hast blush'd
extempore. Thou hadst fire and sword on thy side, and yet thou
ran'st away. What instinct hadst thou for it?
My lord, do you see these meteors? Do you behold these
Here comes lean Jack; here comes bare-bone. How now, my sweet
creature of bombast? How long is't ago, Jack, since thou sawest
thine own knee?
My own knee? When I was about thy years, Hal, I was not an
eagle's talent in the waist; I could have crept into any
alderman's thumb-ring. A plague of sighing and grief! It blows a
man up like a bladder. There's villanous news abroad. Here was
Sir John Bracy from your father. You must to the court in the
morning. That same mad fellow of the North, Percy, and he of
Wales that gave Amamon the bastinado, and made Lucifer cuckold,
and swore the devil his true liegeman upon the cross of a Welsh
hook- what a plague call you him?
I grant ye, upon instinct. Well, he is there too, and one
Mordake, and a thousand bluecaps more. Worcester is stol'n away
to-night; thy father's beard is turn'd white with the news; you
may buy land now as cheap as stinking mack'rel.
Why then, it is like, if there come a hot June, and this
civil buffeting hold, we shall buy maidenheads as they buy
hobnails, by the hundreds.
By the mass, lad, thou sayest true; it is like we shall have
good trading that way. But tell me, Hal, art not thou horrible
afeard? Thou being heir apparent, could the world pick thee out
three such enemies again as that fiend Douglas, that spirit
Percy, and that devil Glendower? Art thou not horribly afraid?
Doth not thy blood thrill at it?
Not a whit, i' faith. I lack some of thy instinct.
Well, thou wilt be horribly chid to-morrow when thou comest to
thy father. If thou love file, practise an answer.
Do thou stand for my father and examine me upon the
particulars of my life.
Shall I? Content. This chair shall be my state, this dagger my
sceptre, and this cushion my, crown.
Thy state is taken for a join'd-stool, thy golden sceptre
for a leaden dagger, and thy precious rich crown for a pitiful
Well, an the fire of grace be not quite out of thee, now shalt
thou be moved. Give me a cup of sack to make my eyes look red,
that it may be thought I have wept; for I must speak in passion,
and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein.
And here is my speech. Stand aside, nobility.
O Jesu, this is excellent sport, i' faith!
Weep not, sweet queen, for trickling tears are vain.
O, the Father, how he holds his countenance!
For God's sake, lords, convey my tristful queen!
For tears do stop the floodgates of her eyes.
O Jesu, he doth it as like one of these harlotry players as
ever I see!
Peace, good pintpot. Peace, good tickle-brain.- Harry, I do
not only marvel where thou spendest thy time, but also how thou
art accompanied. For though the camomile, the more it is trodden
on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the
sooner it wears. That thou art my son I have partly thy mother's
word, partly my own opinion, but chiefly a villanous trick of
thine eye and a foolish hanging of thy nether lip that doth
warrant me. If then thou be son to me, here lies the point: why,
being son to me, art thou so pointed at? Shall the blessed sun of
heaven prove a micher and eat blackberries? A question not to be
ask'd. Shall the son of England prove a thief and take purses? A
question to be ask'd. There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast
often heard of, and it is known to many in our land by the name
of pitch. This pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile;
so doth the company thou keepest. For, Harry, now I do not speak
to thee in drink, but in tears; not in pleasure, but in passion;
not in words only, but in woes also: and yet there is a virtuous
man whom I have often noted in thy company, but I know not his
What manner of man, an it like your Majesty?
A goodly portly man, i' faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful
look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage; and, as I think,
his age some fifty, or, by'r Lady, inclining to threescore; and
now I remember me, his name is Falstaff. If that man should be
lewdly, given, he deceiveth me; for, Harry, I see virtue in his
looks. If then the tree may be known by the fruit, as the fruit
by the tree, then, peremptorily I speak it, there is virtue in
that Falstaff. Him keep with, the rest banish. And tell me now,
thou naughty varlet, tell me where hast thou been this month?
Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand for me, and I'll
play my father.
Depose me? If thou dost it half so gravely, so majestically,
both in word and matter, hang me up by the heels for a
rabbit-sucker or a poulter's hare.
The complaints I hear of thee are grievous.
'Sblood, my lord, they are false! Nay, I'll tickle ye for a
young prince, i' faith.
Swearest thou, ungracious boy? Henceforth ne'er look on me.
Thou art violently carried away from grace. There is a devil
haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man; a tun of man is
thy companion. Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humours,
that bolting hutch of beastliness, that swoll'n parcel of
dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuff'd cloakbag of
guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his belly,
that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that
vanity in years? Wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink
it? wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it?
wherein cunning, but in craft? wherein crafty, but in villany?
wherein villanous, but in all things? wherein worthy, but in
I would your Grace would take me with you. Whom means your
That villanous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff,
that old white-bearded Satan.
But to say I know more harm in him than in myself were to say
more than I know. That he is old (the more the pity) his white
hairs do witness it; but that he is (saving your reverence) a
whoremaster, that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault,
God help the wicked! If to be old and merry be a sin, then many
an old host that I know is damn'd. If to be fat be to be hated,
then Pharaoh's lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord.
Banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins; but for sweet Jack
Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack
Falstaff, and therefore more valiant being, as he is, old Jack
Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry's company, banish not him thy
Harry's company. Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world!
Heigh, heigh, the devil rides upon a fiddlestick!
What's the matter?
The sheriff and all the watch are at the door. They are come
to search the house. Shall I let them in?
Dost thou hear, Hal? Never call a true piece of gold a
counterfeit. Thou art essentially mad without seeming so.
And thou a natural coward without instinct.
I deny your major. If you will deny the sheriff, so; if not,
let him enter. If I become not a cart as well as another man, a
plague on my bringing up! I hope I shall as soon be strangled
with a halter as another.
Go hide thee behind the arras. The rest walk, up above.
Now, my masters, for a true face and good conscience.
Both which I have had; but their date is out, and therefore
I'll hide me.
The man, I do assure you, is not here,
For I myself at this time have employ'd him.
And, sheriff, I will engage my word to thee
That I will by to-morrow dinner time
Send him to answer thee, or any man,
For anything he shall be charg'd withal;
And so let me entreat you leave the house.
I will, my lord. There are two gentlemen
Have in this robbery lost three hundred marks.
It may be so. If he have robb'd these men,
He shall be answerable; and so farewell.
'Item. A capon. . . . . . . . . . . . . ii s. ii d.
Item, Sauce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . iiii d.
Item, Sack two gallons . . . . . . . . v s. viii d.
Item, Anchovies and sack after supper. ii s. vi d.
Item, Bread. . . . . . . . . . . . . . ob.'
O monstrous! but one halfpennyworth of bread to this
intolerable deal of sack! What there is else, keep close; we'll
read it at more advantage. There let him sleep till day. I'll to
the court in the morning . We must all to the wars. and thy place
shall be honourable. I'll procure this fat rogue a charge of
foot; and I know, his death will be a march of twelve score. The
money shall be paid back again with advantage. Be with me betimes
in the morning, and so good morrow, Peto.