By the mass, I was call'd anything; and I would have done
anything indeed too, and roundly too. There was I, and little
John Doit of Staffordshire, and black George Barnes, and Francis
Pickbone, and Will Squele a Cotsole man- you had not four such
swinge-bucklers in all the Inns of Court again. And I may say to
you we knew where the bona-robas were, and had the best of them
all at commandment. Then was Jack Falstaff, now Sir John, boy,
and page to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk.
The same Sir John, the very same. I see him break
Scoggin's head at the court gate, when 'a was a crack not thus
high; and the very same day did I fight with one Sampson
Stockfish, a fruiterer, behind Gray's Inn. Jesu, Jesu, the mad
days that I have spent! and to see how many of my old
acquaintance are dead!
Jesu, Jesu, dead! drew a good bow; and dead! 'A shot a
fine shoot. John a Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money on
his head. Dead! 'A would have clapp'd i' th' clout at twelve
score, and carried you a forehand shaft a fourteen and fourteen
and a half, that it would have done a man's heart good to see.
How a score of ewes now?
It is well said, in faith, sir; and it is well said indeed
too. 'Better accommodated!' It is good; yea, indeed, is it. Good
phrases are surely, and ever were, very commendable.
'Accommodated!' It comes of accommodo. Very good; a good phrase.
Pardon, sir; I have heard the word. 'Phrase' call you it?
By this day, I know not the phrase; but I will maintain the word
with my sword to be a soldier-like word, and a word of exceeding
good command, by heaven. Accommodated: that is, when a man is, as
they say, accommodated; or, when a man is being-whereby 'a may be
thought to be accommodated; which is an excellent thing.
Where's the roll? Where's the roll? Where's the roll? Let
me see, let me see, let me see. So, so, so, so,- so, so- yea,
marry, sir. Rafe Mouldy! Let them appear as I call; let them do
so, let them do so. Let me see; where is Mouldy?
I was prick'd well enough before, an you could have let me
alone. My old dame will be undone now for one to do her husbandry
and her drudgery. You need not to have prick'd me; there are
other men fitter to go out than I.
Well said, good woman's tailor! well said, courageous
Feeble! Thou wilt be as valiant as the wrathful dove or most
magnanimous mouse. Prick the woman's tailor- well, Master
Shallow, deep, Master Shallow.
I would thou wert a man's tailor, that thou mightst mend
him and make him fit to go. I cannot put him to a private
soldier, that is the leader of so many thousands. Let that
suffice, most forcible Feeble.
Good Master Corporate Bardolph, stand my friend; and
here's four Harry ten shillings in French crowns for you. In very
truth, sir, I had as lief be hang'd, sir, as go. And yet, for
mine own part, sir, I do not care; but rather because I am
unwilling and, for mine own part, have a desire to stay with my
friends; else, sir, I did not care for mine own part so much.
By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God
a death. I'll ne'er bear a base mind. An't be my destiny, so;
an't be not, so. No man's too good to serve 's Prince; and, let
it go which way it will, he that dies this year is quit for the
Will you tell me, Master Shallow, how to choose a man?
Care I for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big
assemblance of a man! Give me the spirit, Master Shallow. Here's
Wart; you see what a ragged appearance it is. 'A shall charge you
and discharge you with the motion of a pewterer's hammer, come
off and on swifter than he that gibbets on the brewer's bucket.
And this same half-fac'd fellow, Shadow- give me this man. He
presents no mark to the enemy; the foeman may with as great aim
level at the edge of a penknife. And, for a retreat- how swiftly
will this Feeble, the woman's tailor, run off! O, give me the
spare men, and spare me the great ones. Put me a caliver into
Wart's hand, Bardolph.
Come, manage me your caliver. So- very well. Go to; very
good; exceeding good. O, give me always a little, lean, old,
chopt, bald shot. Well said, i' faith, Wart; th'art a good scab.
Hold, there's a tester for thee.
He is not his craft's master, he doth not do it right. I
remember at Mile-end Green, when I lay at Clement's Inn- I was
then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's show- there was a little quiver
fellow, and 'a would manage you his piece thus; and 'a would
about and about, and come you in and come you in. 'Rah, tah,
tah!' would 'a say; 'Bounce!' would 'a say; and away again would
'a go, and again would 'a come. I shall ne'er see such a fellow.
These fellows will do well. Master Shallow, God keep you!
Master Silence, I will not use many words with you: Fare you
well! Gentlemen both, I thank you. I must a dozen mile to-night.
Bardolph, give the soldiers coats.
Fare you well, gentle gentlemen. [Exeunt JUSTICES] On,
Bardolph; lead the men away. [Exeunt all but FALSTAFF] As I
return, I will fetch off these justices. I do see the bottom of
justice Shallow. Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to this
vice of lying! This same starv'd justice hath done nothing but
prate to me of the wildness of his youth and the feats he hath
done about Turnbull Street; and every third word a lie, duer paid
to the hearer than the Turk's tribute. I do remember him at
Clement's Inn, like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring.
When 'a was naked, he was for all the world like a fork'd radish,
with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife. 'A was so
forlorn that his dimensions to any thick sight were invisible. 'A
was the very genius of famine; yet lecherous as a monkey, and the
whores call'd him mandrake. 'A came ever in the rearward of the
fashion, and sung those tunes to the overscutch'd huswifes that
he heard the carmen whistle, and sware they were his fancies or
his good-nights. And now is this Vice's dagger become a squire,
and talks as familiarly of John a Gaunt as if he had been sworn
brother to him; and I'll be sworn 'a ne'er saw him but once in
the Tiltyard; and then he burst his head for crowding among the
marshal's men. I saw it, and told John a Gaunt he beat his own
name; for you might have thrust him and all his apparel into an
eel-skin; the case of a treble hautboy was a mansion for him, a
court- and now has he land and beeves. Well, I'll be acquainted
with him if I return; and 't shall go hard but I'll make him a
philosopher's two stones to me. If the young dace be a bait for
the old pike, I see no reason in the law of nature but I may snap
at him. Let time shape, and there an end.