Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry IV, Part II

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Act I, Scene 2

London. A street


Enter SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, with his PAGE bearing his sword and buckler

  • Falstaff. Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water? 275
  • Page. He said, sir, the water itself was a good healthy water;
    for the party that owed it, he might have moe diseases than
    knew for.
  • Falstaff. Men of all sorts take a pride to gird at me. The
    this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to invent
    that intends to laughter, more than I invent or is invented
    me. I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is
    other men. I do here walk before thee like a sow that hath 285
    overwhelm'd all her litter but one. If the Prince put thee
    my service for any other reason than to set me off, why then
    have no judgment. Thou whoreson mandrake, thou art fitter to
    worn in my cap than to wait at my heels. I was never mann'd
    an agate till now; but I will inset you neither in gold nor 290
    silver, but in vile apparel, and send you back again to your
    master, for a jewel—the juvenal, the Prince your master,
    chin is not yet fledge. I will sooner have a beard grow in
    palm of my hand than he shall get one off his cheek; and yet
    will not stick to say his face is a face-royal. God may 295
    when he will, 'tis not a hair amiss yet. He may keep it still
    a face-royal, for a barber shall never earn sixpence out of
    and yet he'll be crowing as if he had writ man ever since his
    father was a bachelor. He may keep his own grace, but he's
    out of mine, I can assure him. What said Master Dommelton 300
    the satin for my short cloak and my slops?
  • Page. He said, sir, you should procure him better assurance
    Bardolph. He would not take his band and yours; he liked not
    security. 320
  • Falstaff. Let him be damn'd, like the Glutton; pray God his
    be hotter! A whoreson Achitophel! A rascal-yea-forsooth
    bear a gentleman in hand, and then stand upon security! The 325
    whoreson smooth-pates do now wear nothing but high shoes, and
    bunches of keys at their girdles; and if a man is through
    them in honest taking-up, then they must stand upon security.
    had as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth as offer to
    it with security. I look'd 'a should have sent me two and 330
    yards of satin, as I am a true knight, and he sends me
    Well, he may sleep in security; for he hath the horn of
    abundance, and the lightness of his wife shines through it;
    yet cannot he see, though he have his own lanthorn to light
    Where's Bardolph? 335
  • Page. He's gone into Smithfield to buy your worship horse. 345
  • Falstaff. I bought him in Paul's, and he'll buy me a horse in
    Smithfield. An I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were
    mann'd, hors'd, and wiv'd.


  • Page. Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the 350
    Prince for striking him about Bardolph.
  • Falstaff. Wait close; I will not see him.
  • Lord Chief Justice. What's he that goes there?
  • Servant. Falstaff, an't please your lordship.
  • Lord Chief Justice. He that was in question for the robb'ry? 355
  • Servant. He, my lord; but he hath since done good service at
    Shrewsbury, and, as I hear, is now going with some charge to
    Lord John of Lancaster.
  • Lord Chief Justice. What, to York? Call him back again. 360
  • Servant. Sir John Falstaff!
  • Falstaff. Boy, tell him I am deaf.
  • Page. You must speak louder; my master is deaf.
  • Lord Chief Justice. I am sure he is, to the hearing of anything
    Go, pluck him by the elbow; I must speak with him. 365
  • Servant. Sir John!
  • Falstaff. What! a young knave, and begging! Is there not wars?
    there not employment? Doth not the King lack subjects? Do not
    rebels need soldiers? Though it be a shame to be on any side 370
    one, it is worse shame to beg than to be on the worst side,
    it worse than the name of rebellion can tell how to make it.
  • Servant. You mistake me, sir.
  • Falstaff. Why, sir, did I say you were an honest man? Setting
    knighthood and my soldiership aside, I had lied in my throat
    had said so. 380
  • Servant. I pray you, sir, then set your knighthood and your
    soldiership aside; and give me leave to tell you you in your
    throat, if you say I am any other than an honest man. 385
  • Falstaff. I give thee leave to tell me so! I lay aside that
    grows to me! If thou get'st any leave of me, hang me; if thou
    tak'st leave, thou wert better be hang'd. You hunt counter.
    Hence! Avaunt!
  • Servant. Sir, my lord would speak with you.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Sir John Falstaff, a word with you.
  • Falstaff. My good lord! God give your lordship good time of
    am glad to see your lordship abroad. I heard say your
    was sick; I hope your lordship goes abroad by advice. Your 395
    lordship, though not clean past your youth, hath yet some
    of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time; and I
    humbly beseech your lordship to have a reverend care of your
  • Lord Chief Justice. Sir John, I sent for you before your expedition
    Shrewsbury. 405
  • Falstaff. An't please your lordship, I hear his Majesty is
    with some discomfort from Wales.
  • Lord Chief Justice. I talk not of his Majesty. You would not come 410
    sent for you.
  • Falstaff. And I hear, moreover, his Highness is fall'n into
    same whoreson apoplexy.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Well God mend him! I pray you let me speak with
  • Falstaff. This apoplexy, as I take it, is a kind of lethargy,
    please your lordship, a kind of sleeping in the blood, a
    tingling. 420
  • Lord Chief Justice. What tell you me of it? Be it as it is.
  • Falstaff. It hath it original from much grief, from study, and
    perturbation of the brain. I have read the cause of his 425
    in Galen; it is a kind of deafness.
  • Lord Chief Justice. I think you are fall'n into the disease, for you
    hear not what I say to you.
  • Falstaff. Very well, my lord, very well. Rather an't please 430
    is the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking,
    I am troubled withal.
  • Lord Chief Justice. To punish you by the heels would amend the 435
    of your ears; and I care not if I do become your physician.
  • Falstaff. I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so patient.
    lordship may minister the potion of imprisonment to me in
    of poverty; but how I should be your patient to follow your 440
    prescriptions, the wise may make some dram of a scruple, or
    indeed a scruple itself.
  • Lord Chief Justice. I sent for you, when there were matters against 445
    for your life, to come speak with me.
  • Falstaff. As I was then advis'd by my learned counsel in the
    of this land-service, I did not come.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Well, the truth is, Sir John, you live in great
  • Falstaff. He that buckles himself in my belt cannot live in
  • Lord Chief Justice. Your means are very slender, and your waste is 455
  • Falstaff. I would it were otherwise; I would my means were
    and my waist slenderer.
  • Lord Chief Justice. You have misled the youthful Prince. 460
  • Falstaff. The young Prince hath misled me. I am the fellow with
    great belly, and he my dog.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Well, I am loath to gall a new-heal'd wound.
    day's service at Shrewsbury hath a little gilded over your 465
    night's exploit on Gadshill. You may thank th' unquiet time
    your quiet o'erposting that action.
  • Falstaff. My lord— 470
  • Lord Chief Justice. But since all is well, keep it so: wake not a
    sleeping wolf.
  • Falstaff. To wake a wolf is as bad as smell a fox.
  • Lord Chief Justice. What! you are as a candle, the better part burnt
    out. 475
  • Falstaff. A wassail candle, my lord—all tallow; if I did say
    wax, my growth would approve the truth.
  • Lord Chief Justice. There is not a white hair in your face but
    have his effect of gravity. 480
  • Falstaff. His effect of gravy, gravy,
  • Lord Chief Justice. You follow the young Prince up and down, like
    ill angel.
  • Falstaff. Not so, my lord. Your ill angel is light; but hope
    that looks upon me will take me without weighing. And yet in
    respects, I grant, I cannot go—I cannot tell. Virtue is of
    little regard in these costermongers' times that true valour
    turn'd berod; pregnancy is made a tapster, and his quick wit 490
    wasted in giving reckonings; all the other gifts appertinent
    man, as the malice of this age shapes them, are not worth a
    gooseberry. You that are old consider not the capacities of
    that are young; you do measure the heat of our livers with
    bitterness of your galls; and we that are in the vaward of 495
    youth, must confess, are wags too.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Do you set down your name in the scroll of 505
    that are written down old with all the characters of age?
    you not a moist eye, a dry hand, a yellow cheek, a white
    decreasing leg, an increasing belly? Is not your voice
    your wind short, your chin double, your wit single, and every
    part about you blasted with antiquity? And will you yet call 510
    yourself young? Fie, fie, fie, Sir John!
  • Falstaff. My lord, I was born about three of the clock in the
    afternoon, with a white head and something a round belly. For
    voice—I have lost it with hallooing and singing of anthems.
    approve my youth further, I will not. The truth is, I am only
    in judgment and understanding; and he that will caper with me 520
    a thousand marks, let him lend me the money, and have at him.
    the box of the ear that the Prince gave you—he gave it like
    rude prince, and you took it like a sensible lord. I have
    him for it; and the young lion repents—marry, not in ashes
    sackcloth, but in new silk and old sack. 525
  • Lord Chief Justice. Well, God send the Prince a better companion!
  • Falstaff. God send the companion a better prince! I cannot rid 535
    hands of him.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Well, the King hath sever'd you. I hear you are
    going with Lord John of Lancaster against the Archbishop and
    Earl of Northumberland. 540
  • Falstaff. Yea; I thank your pretty sweet wit for it. But look
    pray, all you that kiss my Lady Peace at home, that our
    join not in a hot day; for, by the Lord, I take but two
    out with me, and I mean not to sweat extraordinarily. If it 545
    hot day, and I brandish anything but a bottle, I would I
    never spit white again. There is not a dangerous action can
    out his head but I am thrust upon it. Well, I cannot last
    but it was alway yet the trick of our English nation, if they
    have a good thing, to make it too common. If ye will needs 550
    am an old man, you should give me rest. I would to God my
    were not so terrible to the enemy as it is. I were better to
    eaten to death with a rust than to be scoured to nothing with
    perpetual motion.
  • Lord Chief Justice. Well, be honest, be honest; and God bless your 565
  • Falstaff. Will your lordship lend me a thousand pound to
  • Lord Chief Justice. Not a penny, not a penny; you are too impatient 570
    bear crosses. Fare you well. Commend me to my cousin


  • Falstaff. If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle. A man can 575
    more separate age and covetousness than 'a can part young
    and lechery; but the gout galls the one, and the pox pinches
    other; and so both the degrees prevent my curses. Boy!
  • Page. Sir?
  • Falstaff. What money is in my purse?
  • Page. Seven groats and two pence.
  • Falstaff. I can get no remedy against this consumption of the 585
    purse; borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the
    is incurable. Go bear this letter to my Lord of Lancaster;
    to the Prince; this to the Earl of Westmoreland; and this to
    Mistress Ursula, whom I have weekly sworn to marry since I
    perceiv'd the first white hair of my chin. About it; you know 590
    where to find me. [Exit PAGE] A pox of this gout! or, a
    this pox! for the one or the other plays the rogue with my
    toe. 'Tis no matter if I do halt; I have the wars for my
    and my pension shall seem the more reasonable. A good wit
    make use of anything. I will turn diseases to commodity. 595