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History of Henry IV, Part I

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Act IV, Scene 2

A public road near Coventry.



  • Falstaff. Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry; fill me a
    bottle of sack: our soldiers shall march through;
    we'll to Sutton Co'fil' tonight.
  • Falstaff. An if it do, take it for thy labour; and if it make
    twenty, take them all; I'll answer the coinage. Bid
    my lieutenant Peto meet me at town's end. 2375


  • Falstaff. If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused
    gurnet. I have misused the king's press damnably.
    I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty 2380
    soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me
    none but good house-holders, yeoman's sons; inquire
    me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked
    twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves,
    as had as lieve hear the devil as a drum; such as 2385
    fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck
    fowl or a hurt wild-duck. I pressed me none but such
    toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no
    bigger than pins' heads, and they have bought out
    their services; and now my whole charge consists of 2390
    ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of
    companies, slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the
    painted cloth, where the glutton's dogs licked his
    sores; and such as indeed were never soldiers, but
    discarded unjust serving-men, younger sons to 2395
    younger brothers, revolted tapsters and ostlers
    trade-fallen, the cankers of a calm world and a
    long peace, ten times more dishonourable ragged than
    an old faced ancient: and such have I, to fill up
    the rooms of them that have bought out their 2400
    services, that you would think that I had a hundred
    and fifty tattered prodigals lately come from
    swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad
    fellow met me on the way and told me I had unloaded
    all the gibbets and pressed the dead bodies. No eye 2405
    hath seen such scarecrows. I'll not march through
    Coventry with them, that's flat: nay, and the
    villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had
    gyves on; for indeed I had the most of them out of
    prison. There's but a shirt and a half in all my 2410
    company; and the half shirt is two napkins tacked
    together and thrown over the shoulders like an
    herald's coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say
    the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Alban's, or
    the red-nose innkeeper of Daventry. But that's all 2415
    one; they'll find linen enough on every hedge.


  • Henry V. How now, blown Jack! how now, quilt!
  • Falstaff. What, Hal! how now, mad wag! what a devil dost thou
    in Warwickshire? My good Lord of Westmoreland, I 2420
    cry you mercy: I thought your honour had already been
    at Shrewsbury.
  • Earl of Westmoreland. Faith, Sir John,'tis more than time that I were
    there, and you too; but my powers are there already.
    The king, I can tell you, looks for us all: we must 2425
    away all night.
  • Falstaff. Tut, never fear me: I am as vigilant as a cat to
    steal cream.
  • Henry V. I think, to steal cream indeed, for thy theft hath
    already made thee butter. But tell me, Jack, whose 2430
    fellows are these that come after?
  • Henry V. I did never see such pitiful rascals.
  • Falstaff. Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food
    for powder; they'll fill a pit as well as better: 2435
    tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.
  • Falstaff. 'Faith, for their poverty, I know not where they had
    that; and for their bareness, I am sure they never 2440
    learned that of me.
  • Henry V. No I'll be sworn; unless you call three fingers on
    the ribs bare. But, sirrah, make haste: Percy is
    already in the field.
  • Falstaff. What, is the king encamped? 2445
  • Falstaff. Well,
    To the latter end of a fray and the beginning of a feast
    Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest.