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I am declined
Into the vale of years.

      — Othello, Act III Scene 3


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History of Henry IV, Part II


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Scene 1. Westminster. The palace

Scene 2. Gloucestershire. Before Justice, SHALLOW’S house


Act III, Scene 1

Westminster. The palace

      next scene .

Enter the KING in his nightgown, with a page

  • Henry IV. Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick; 1705
    But, ere they come, bid them o'er-read these letters
    And well consider of them. Make good speed. Exit page
    How many thousands of my poorest subjects
    Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
    Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee, 1710
    That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down,
    And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
    Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
    Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
    And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, 1715
    Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
    Under the canopies of costly state,
    And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
    O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
    In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch 1720
    A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
    Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
    Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
    In cradle of the rude imperious surge,
    And in the visitation of the winds, 1725
    Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
    Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
    With deafing clamour in the slippery clouds,
    That with the hurly death itself awakes?
    Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose 1730
    To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
    And in the calmest and most stillest night,
    With all appliances and means to boot,
    Deny it to a king? Then, happy low, lie down!
    Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. 1735

Enter WARWICK and Surrey

  • Henry IV. Why then, good morrow to you all, my lords. 1740
    Have you read o'er the letters that I sent you?
  • Henry IV. Then you perceive the body of our kingdom
    How foul it is; what rank diseases grow,
    And with what danger, near the heart of it. 1745
  • Earl of Warwick. It is but as a body yet distempered;
    Which to his former strength may be restored
    With good advice and little medicine.
    My Lord Northumberland will soon be cool'd.
  • Henry IV. O God! that one might read the book of fate, 1750
    And see the revolution of the times
    Make mountains level, and the continent,
    Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
    Into the sea; and other times to see
    The beachy girdle of the ocean 1755
    Too wide for Neptune's hips; how chances mock,
    And changes fill the cup of alteration
    With divers liquors! O, if this were seen,
    The happiest youth, viewing his progress through,
    What perils past, what crosses to ensue, 1760
    Would shut the book and sit him down and die.
    'Tis not ten years gone
    Since Richard and Northumberland, great friends,
    Did feast together, and in two years after
    Were they at wars. It is but eight years since 1765
    This Percy was the man nearest my soul;
    Who like a brother toil'd in my affairs
    And laid his love and life under my foot;
    Yea, for my sake, even to the eyes of Richard
    Gave him defiance. But which of you was by— 1770
    [To WARWICK] You, cousin Nevil, as I may remember—
    When Richard, with his eye brim full of tears,
    Then check'd and rated by Northumberland,
    Did speak these words, now prov'd a prophecy?
    'Northumberland, thou ladder by the which 1775
    My cousin Bolingbroke ascends my throne'—
    Though then, God knows, I had no such intent
    But that necessity so bow'd the state
    That I and greatness were compell'd to kiss—
    'The time shall come'—thus did he follow it— 1780
    'The time will come that foul sin, gathering head,
    Shall break into corruption' so went on,
    Foretelling this same time's condition
    And the division of our amity.
  • Earl of Warwick. There is a history in all men's lives, 1785
    Figuring the natures of the times deceas'd;
    The which observ'd, a man may prophesy,
    With a near aim, of the main chance of things
    As yet not come to life, who in their seeds
    And weak beginning lie intreasured. 1790
    Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
    And, by the necessary form of this,
    King Richard might create a perfect guess
    That great Northumberland, then false to him,
    Would of that seed grow to a greater falseness; 1795
    Which should not find a ground to root upon
    Unless on you.
  • Henry IV. Are these things then necessities?
    Then let us meet them like necessities;
    And that same word even now cries out on us. 1800
    They say the Bishop and Northumberland
    Are fifty thousand strong.
  • Earl of Warwick. It cannot be, my lord.
    Rumour doth double, like the voice and echo,
    The numbers of the feared. Please it your Grace 1805
    To go to bed. Upon my soul, my lord,
    The powers that you already have sent forth
    Shall bring this prize in very easily.
    To comfort you the more, I have receiv'd
    A certain instance that Glendower is dead. 1810
    Your Majesty hath been this fortnight ill;
    And these unseasoned hours perforce must ad
    Unto your sickness.
  • Henry IV. I will take your counsel.
    And, were these inward wars once out of hand, 1815
    We would, dear lords, unto the Holy Land. Exeunt
. previous scene      

Act III, Scene 2

Gloucestershire. Before Justice, SHALLOW’S house


Enter SHALLOW and SILENCE, meeting; MOULDY, SHADOW, WART, FEEBLE, BULLCALF, and servants behind

  • Robert Shallow. Come on, come on, come on; give me your hand, sir;
    your hand, sir. An early stirrer, by the rood! And how doth
    good cousin Silence? 1820
  • Silence. Good morrow, good cousin Shallow.
  • Robert Shallow. And how doth my cousin, your bed-fellow? and your
    daughter and mine, my god-daughter Ellen? 1825
  • Silence. Alas, a black ousel, cousin Shallow!
  • Robert Shallow. By yea and no, sir. I dare say my cousin William is
    a good scholar; he is at Oxford still, is he not?
  • Robert Shallow. 'A must, then, to the Inns o' Court shortly. I was
    Clement's Inn; where I think they will talk of mad Shallow
  • Silence. You were call'd 'lusty Shallow' then, cousin.
  • Robert Shallow. By the mass, I was call'd anything; and I would have
    anything indeed too, and roundly too. There was I, and little
    John Doit of Staffordshire, and black George Barnes, and
    Pickbone, and Will Squele a Cotsole man—you had not four 1840
    swinge-bucklers in all the Inns of Court again. And I may say
    you we knew where the bona-robas were, and had the best of
    all at commandment. Then was Jack Falstaff, now Sir John,
    and page to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk.
  • Silence. This Sir John, cousin, that comes hither anon about
  • Robert Shallow. The same Sir John, the very same. I see him break
    Scoggin's head at the court gate, when 'a was a crack not
    high; and the very same day did I fight with one Sampson 1855
    Stockfish, a fruiterer, behind Gray's Inn. Jesu, Jesu, the
    days that I have spent! and to see how many of my old
    acquaintance are dead!
  • Silence. We shall all follow, cousin.
  • Robert Shallow. Certain, 'tis certain; very sure, very sure. Death, as
    Psalmist saith, is certain to all; all shall die. How a good
    of bullocks at Stamford fair?
  • Silence. By my troth, I was not there.
  • Robert Shallow. Jesu, Jesu, dead! drew a good bow; and dead! 'A shot a
    fine shoot. John a Gaunt loved him well, and betted much
    his head. Dead! 'A would have clapp'd i' th' clout at twelve
    score, and carried you a forehand shaft a fourteen and
    and a half, that it would have done a man's heart good to 1875
    How a score of ewes now?
  • Silence. Thereafter as they be—a score of good ewes may be 1880
    ten pounds.

Enter BARDOLPH, and one with him

  • Silence. Here come two of Sir John Falstaffs men, as I think. 1885
  • Bardolph. I beseech you, which is Justice Shallow?
  • Robert Shallow. I am Robert Shallow, sir, a poor esquire of this
    and one of the King's justices of the peace. What is your
    pleasure with me? 1890
  • Bardolph. My captain, sir, commends him to you; my captain, Sir
    John Falstaff—a tall gentleman, by heaven, and a most
    leader. 1895
  • Robert Shallow. He greets me well, sir; I knew him a good back-sword
    How doth the good knight? May I ask how my lady his wife
  • Bardolph. Sir, pardon; a soldier is better accommodated than
  • Robert Shallow. It is well said, in faith, sir; and it is well said
    too. 'Better accommodated!' It is good; yea, indeed, is it. 1905
    phrases are surely, and ever were, very commendable.
    'Accommodated!' It comes of accommodo. Very good; a good
  • Bardolph. Pardon, sir; I have heard the word. 'Phrase' call you
    By this day, I know not the phrase; but I will maintain the
    with my sword to be a soldier-like word, and a word of
    good command, by heaven. Accommodated: that is, when a man
    they say, accommodated; or, when a man is being-whereby 'a 1915
    thought to be accommodated; which is an excellent thing.


  • Robert Shallow. It is very just. Look, here comes good Sir John. Give
    your good hand, give me your worship's good hand. By my
    you like well and bear your years very well. Welcome, good 1925
  • Falstaff. I am glad to see you well, good Master Robert 1930
    Master Surecard, as I think?
  • Robert Shallow. No, Sir John; it is my cousin Silence, in commission with me.
  • Falstaff. Good Master Silence, it well befits you should be of
    peace. 1935
  • Silence. Your good worship is welcome.
  • Falstaff. Fie! this is hot weather. Gentlemen, have you
    here half a dozen sufficient men?
  • Falstaff. Let me see them, I beseech you.
  • Robert Shallow. Where's the roll? Where's the roll? Where's the roll?
    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 1945
    so, let them do so. Let me see; where is Mouldy?
  • Robert Shallow. What think you, Sir John? A good-limb'd fellow; young, 1950
    strong, and of good friends.
  • Falstaff. 'Tis the more time thou wert us'd.
  • Robert Shallow. Ha, ha, ha! most excellent, i' faith! Things that are 1955
    mouldy lack use. Very singular good! In faith, well said, Sir
    John; very well said.
  • Ralph Mouldy. I was prick'd well enough before, an you could have let
    alone. My old dame will be undone now for one to do her 1960
    and her drudgery. You need not to have prick'd me; there are
    other men fitter to go out than I.
  • Falstaff. Go to; peace, Mouldy; you shall go. Mouldy, it is 1965
    you were spent.
  • Robert Shallow. Peace, fellow, peace; stand aside; know you where you
    For th' other, Sir John—let me see. Simon Shadow! 1970
  • Falstaff. Yea, marry, let me have him to sit under. He's like
    a cold soldier.
  • Falstaff. Thy mother's son! Like enough; and thy father's
    So the son of the female is the shadow of the male. It is 1980
    so indeed; but much of the father's substance!
  • Falstaff. Shadow will serve for summer. Prick him; for we have 1985
    number of shadows fill up the muster-book.
  • Falstaff. It were superfluous; for his apparel is built upon 1995
    back, and the whole frame stands upon pins. Prick him no
  • Robert Shallow. Ha, ha, ha! You can do it, sir; you can do it. I
    you well. Francis Feeble! 2000
  • Falstaff. You may; but if he had been a man's tailor, he'd ha'
    prick'd you. Wilt thou make as many holes in an enemy's
    thou hast done in a woman's petticoat?
  • Francis Feeble. I will do my good will, sir; you can have no more. 2010
  • Falstaff. 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.
  • Falstaff. I would thou wert a man's tailor, that thou mightst
    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.
  • Falstaff. I am bound to thee, reverend Feeble. Who is next?
  • Falstaff. Yea, marry, let's see Bullcalf.
  • Falstaff. Fore God, a likely fellow! Come, prick me Bullcalf
    he roar again.
  • Falstaff. What, dost thou roar before thou art prick'd? 2030
  • Peter Bullcalf. A whoreson cold, sir, a cough, sir, which I caught
    ringing in the King's affairs upon his coronation day, sir.
  • Falstaff. Come, thou shalt go to the wars in a gown. We will
    away thy cold; and I will take such order that thy friends
    ring for thee. Is here all?
  • Robert Shallow. Here is two more call'd than your number. You must
    but four here, sir; and so, I pray you, go in with me to
  • Falstaff. Come, I will go drink with you, but I cannot tarry 2045
    dinner. I am glad to see you, by my troth, Master Shallow.
  • Robert Shallow. O, Sir John, do you remember since we lay all night in
    windmill in Saint George's Field?
  • Falstaff. No more of that, Master Shallow, no more of that. 2050
  • Robert Shallow. Ha, 'twas a merry night. And is Jane Nightwork alive?
  • Falstaff. Never, never; she would always say she could not
    Master Shallow. 2055
  • Robert Shallow. By the mass, I could anger her to th' heart. She was
    a bona-roba. Doth she hold her own well?
  • Falstaff. Old, old, Master Shallow. 2060
  • Robert Shallow. Nay, she must be old; she cannot choose but be old;
    certain she's old; and had Robin Nightwork, by old Nightwork,
    before I came to Clement's Inn.
  • Silence. That's fifty-five year ago.
  • Robert Shallow. Ha, cousin Silence, that thou hadst seen that that 2065
    knight and I have seen! Ha, Sir John, said I well?
  • Falstaff. We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.
  • Robert Shallow. That we have, that we have, that we have; in faith,
    John, we have. Our watchword was 'Hem, boys!' Come, let's to 2070
    dinner; come, let's to dinner. Jesus, the days that we have
    Come, come.


  • Peter Bullcalf. Good Master Corporate Bardolph, stand my friend; and
    here's four Harry ten shillings in French crowns for you. In
    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 2080
    friends; else, sir, I did not care for mine own part so much.
  • Ralph Mouldy. And, good Master Corporal Captain, for my old dame's 2085
    stand my friend. She has nobody to do anything about her when
    am gone; and she is old, and cannot help herself. You shall
    forty, sir.
  • Francis Feeble. By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe
    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, 2095
    it go which way it will, he that dies this year is quit for
  • Bardolph. Well said; th'art a good fellow.

Re-enter FALSTAFF and the JUSTICES

  • Falstaff. Come, sir, which men shall I have?
  • Bardolph. Sir, a word with you. I have three pound to free
    and Bullcalf.
  • Falstaff. Mouldy and Bullcalf: for you, Mouldy, stay at home
    you are past service; and for your part, Bullcalf, grow you
    unto it. I will none of you. 2115
  • Robert Shallow. Sir John, Sir John, do not yourself wrong. They are
    likeliest men, and I would have you serv'd with the best.
  • Falstaff. Will you tell me, Master Shallow, how to choose a
    Care I for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big
    assemblance of a man! Give me the spirit, Master Shallow.
    Wart; you see what a ragged appearance it is. 'A shall charge
    and discharge you with the motion of a pewterer's hammer, 2125
    off and on swifter than he that gibbets on the brewer's
    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
    level at the edge of a penknife. And, for a retreat—how
    will this Feeble, the woman's tailor, run off! O, give me the 2130
    spare men, and spare me the great ones. Put me a caliver into
    Wart's hand, Bardolph.
  • Bardolph. Hold, Wart. Traverse—thus, thus, thus. 2140
  • Falstaff. Come, manage me your caliver. So—very well. Go to;
    good; exceeding good. O, give me always a little, lean, old,
    chopt, bald shot. Well said, i' faith, Wart; th'art a good
    Hold, there's a tester for thee.
  • Robert Shallow. He is not his craft's master, he doth not do it right.
    remember at Mile-end Green, when I lay at Clement's Inn—I
    then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's show—there was a little quiver
    fellow, and 'a would manage you his piece thus; and 'a would 2150
    about and about, and come you in and come you in. 'Rah, tah,
    tah!' would 'a say; 'Bounce!' would 'a say; and away again
    'a go, and again would 'a come. I shall ne'er see such a
  • Falstaff. These fellows will do well. Master Shallow, God keep
    Master Silence, I will not use many words with you: Fare you
    well! Gentlemen both, I thank you. I must a dozen mile 2160
    Bardolph, give the soldiers coats.
  • Robert Shallow. Sir John, the Lord bless you; God prosper your
    God send us peace! At your return, visit our house; let our 2165
    acquaintance be renewed. Peradventure I will with ye to the
  • Falstaff. Fore God, would you would. 2170
  • Falstaff. 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 2175
    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. 2180
    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 2185
    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 2190
    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 2195
    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. Exit