Enter Prince of Wales and Sir John Falstaff
Now Hal, what time of day is it lad?
Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old
sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping
upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to
demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know.
What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day?
Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons,
and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of
leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot
wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why
thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of
Indeed, you come near me now Hal, for we
that take purses go by the moon and the seven stars, and
not ‘ by Phoebus, he, that wandering knight so fair.’
And I prithee sweet wag, when thou art King, as God
save thy grace – majesty I should say, for grace thou
wilt have none –
No, by my troth, not so much as will serve to
be prologue to an egg and butter.
Well, how then? Come, roundly, roundly.
Marry then, sweet wag, when thou art King let
not us that are squires of the night's body be called
squire (n.) 1
gentleman below a knight in rank, attendant on a knight or nobleman
thieves of the day's beauty. Let us be Diana's foresters,
gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon. And let
men say we be men of good government, being governed
as the sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress the moon,
under whose countenance we steal.
Thou sayest well, and it holds well too, for
the fortune of us that are the moon's men doth ebb and
flow like the sea, being governed as the sea is, by the
moon. As for proof? Now, a purse of gold most resolutely
snatched on Monday night, and most dissolutely
spent on Tuesday morning, got with swearing ‘ Lay by!’,
lay by (v.) 2
[highwaymen] stand and deliver; put down your weapons
and spent with crying ‘ Bring in!’, now in as low an ebb
as the foot of the ladder, and by and by in as high a flow
as the ridge of the gallows.
By the Lord thou sayest true lad – and is not
my Hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?
As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the
castle. And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of
close-fitting jacket made of buff worn by constables and soldiers
male upper garment, close-fitting jacket [often made of leather]
See Topics: Clothing
durance (n.) 2
durability, lasting nature; also: type of strong durable cloth
How now, how now, mad wag? What, in thy
quips and thy quiddities? What a plague have I to do
with a buff jerkin?
Why, what a pox have I to do with my
Hostess of the tavern?
Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning many
a time and oft.
Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?
No, I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all
Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would
stretch, and where it would not I have used my credit.
Yea, and so used it that were it not here apparent
that thou art heir apparent – but I prithee sweet
wag, shall there be gallows standing in England when
thou art King? And resolution thus fubbed as it is with
the rusty curb of old Father Antic the law? Do not thou
when thou art King hang a thief.
No, thou shalt.
Shall I? O rare! By the Lord, I'll be a brave
Thou judgest false already! I mean thou
shalt have the hanging of the thieves, and so become a
Well, Hal, well! And in some sort it jumps
with my humour – as well as waiting in the court, I can
For obtaining of suits?
Yea, for obtaining of suits, whereof the hangman
hath no lean wardrobe. 'Sblood, I am as melancholy
as a gib cat, or a lugged bear.
Or an old lion, or a lover's lute.
Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe.
What sayest thou to a hare, or the melancholy
Thou hast the most unsavoury similes, and art
indeed the most comparative rascalliest sweet young
prince. But Hal, I prithee trouble me no more with
vanity. I would to God thou and I knew where a commodity
of good names were to be bought. An old lord of
the Council rated me the other day in the street about
you, sir, but I marked him not, and yet he talked very
wisely, but I regarded him not, and yet he talked wisely
– and in the street too.
Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the
streets and no man regards it.
O, thou hast damnable iteration, and art
indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much
harm upon me, Hal, God forgive thee for it. Before I
knew thee Hal, I knew nothing, and now am I, if a man
should speak truly, little better than one of the wicked.
I must give over this life, and I will give it over. By the
Lord, an I do not I am a villain. I'll be damned for
never a king's son in Christendom
Where shall we take a purse tomorrow,
Zounds, where thou wilt lad; I'll make one; an
I do not, call me villain and baffle me.
I see a good amendment of life in thee, from
praying to purse-taking.
Why Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal. 'Tis no sin
for a man to labour in his vocation.
Poins! Now shall we know if Gadshill have set a
match! O, if men were to be saved by merit, what
hole in hell were hot enough for him? This is the most
omnipotent villain that ever cried ‘ Stand!’ to a true man.
Good morrow, Ned.
Good morrow, sweet Hal. What says Monsieur
Remorse? What says Sir John Sack – and Sugar? Jack!
How agrees the devil and thee about thy soul, that thou
soldest him on Good Friday last, for a cup of Madeira
and a cold capon's leg?
Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall
have his bargain, for he was never yet a breaker of
proverbs. He will give the devil his due.
Then art thou damned for keeping thy word with
Else he had been damned for cozening the
But my lads, my lads, tomorrow morning, by four
o'clock early at Gad's Hill, there are pilgrims going to
Canterbury with rich offerings and traders riding to
London with fat purses. I have vizards for you all – you
have horses for yourselves. Gadshill lies tonight in
Rochester. I have bespoke supper tomorrow night in
Eastcheap. We may do it as secure as sleep. If you will
go, I will stuff your purses full of crowns. If you will
not, tarry at home and be hanged.
Hear ye, Yedward, if I tarry at home and go
not, I'll hang you for going.
You will, chops?
Hal, wilt thou make one?
Who I? Rob? I a thief? Not I, by my faith.
There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good
fellowship in thee, nor thou camest not of the blood
royal, if thou darest not stand for ten shillings.
royal (adj.) 2
kingly; also: to the value of the English coin worth ten shillings
See Topics: Money
Well then, once in my days I'll be a
Why, that's well said.
Well, come what will, I'll tarry at home.
By the Lord, I'll be a traitor then, when thou
I care not.
Sir John, I prithee leave the Prince and me alone.
I will lay him down such reasons for this adventure that
he shall go.
Well, God give thee the spirit of persuasion,
and him the ears of profiting, that what thou speakest
may move, and what he hears may be believed, that the
true prince may – for recreation sake – prove a false
thief, for the poor abuses of the time want countenance.
Farewell, you shall find me in Eastcheap.
Farewell, the latter spring! Farewell,
Now my good sweet honey lord, ride with us
tomorrow: I have a jest to execute that I cannot manage
alone. Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill shall rob
those men that we have already waylaid – yourself and I
will not be there. And when they have the booty, if you
and I do not rob them – cut this head off from my
How shall we part with them in setting
Why, we will set forth before or after them, and
appoint them a place of meeting, wherein it is at our
pleasure to fail – and then will they adventure upon
the exploit themselves; which they shall have no sooner
achieved but we'll set upon them.
Yea, but 'tis like that they will know us by
our horses, by our habits, and by every other appointment
to be ourselves.
Tut, our horses they shall not see, I'll tie them in
the wood. Our vizards we will change after we leave
them. And, sirrah, I have cases of buckram for the nonce,
to immask our noted outward garments.
Yea, but I doubt they will be too hard for
Well, for two of them, I know them to be as true-bred
cowards as ever turned back; and for the third, if
he fight longer than he sees reason, I'll forswear arms.
The virtue of this jest will be the incomprehensible lies
that this same fat rogue will tell us when we meet at
supper. How thirty at least he fought with, what wards,
ward (n.) 1
[fencing] defensive posture, parrying movement
what blows, what extremities he endured, and in the
reproof of this lives the jest.
Well, I'll go with thee. Provide us all things
necessary and meet me tomorrow night in Eastcheap.
There I'll sup. Farewell.
Farewell, my lord.
I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So when this loose behaviour I throw off,
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes.
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly, and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
foil (n.) 3
setting, background which sets something off to advantage [as dull metal sets off a gem]
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.