Enter Prince Henry and Poins
Before God, I am exceeding weary.
Is't come to that? I had thought weariness durst
not have attached one of so high blood.
Faith, it does me, though it discolours
the complexion of my greatness to acknowledge it. Doth
it not show vilely in me to desire small beer?
Why, a prince should not be so loosely studied as
to remember so weak a composition.
Belike then my appetite was not princely
got, for, by my troth, I do now remember the poor
creature small beer. But indeed, these humble considerations
make me out of love with my greatness. What a
disgrace is it to me to remember thy name! Or to know
thy face tomorrow! Or to take note how many pair of
silk stockings thou hast – viz. these, and those that were
thy peach-coloured once! Or to bear the inventory of
thy shirts, as, one for superfluity, and another for use!
But that the tennis-court keeper knows better than I,
for it is a low ebb of linen with thee when thou keepest
not racket there – as thou hast not done a great while,
because the rest of thy low countries have made a shift
shift (n.) 1
expedient, measure, arrangement [especially as 'make shift' = contrive]
to eat up thy holland. And God knows whether those
that bawl out the ruins of thy linen shall inherit His
kingdom – but the midwives say the children are not in
the fault. Whereupon the world increases, and kindreds
are mightily strengthened.
How ill it follows, after you have laboured so hard,
you should talk so idly! Tell me, how many good young
princes would do so, their fathers being so sick as yours
at this time is?
Shall I tell thee one thing, Poins?
Yes, faith, and let it be an excellent good thing.
It shall serve, among wits of no higher
breeding than thine.
Go to, I stand the push of your one thing that you
Marry, I tell thee it is not meet that I
should be sad now my father is sick. Albeit I could tell
to thee, as to one it pleases me for fault of a better to
call my friend, I could be sad, and sad indeed too.
Very hardly, upon such a subject.
By this hand, thou thinkest me as far in
the devil's book as thou and Falstaff, for obduracy and
persistency. Let the end try the man. But I tell thee,
my heart bleeds inwardly that my father is so sick; and
keeping such vile company as thou art hath in reason
taken from me all ostentation of sorrow.
What wouldst thou think of me if I
I would think thee a most princely hypocrite.
It would be every man's thought, and
thou art a blessed fellow, to think as every man thinks.
Never a man's thought in the world keeps the roadway
better than thine. Every man would think me an
hypocrite indeed. And what accites your most worshipful
thought to think so?
Why, because you have been so lewd, and so much
engraffed to Falstaff.
And to thee.
By this light, I am well spoke on; I can hear it
with mine own ears. The worst that they can say of me
is that I am a second brother, and that I am a proper
fellow of my hands, and those two things I confess I
cannot help. By the mass, here comes Bardolph.
Enter Bardolph and the Page
And the boy that I gave Falstaff – 'a had
him from me Christian, and look if the fat villain have
not transformed him ape.
God save your grace!
And yours, most noble Bardolph!
Come, you virtuous ass, you bashful
fool, must you be blushing? Wherefore blush you now?
What a maidenly man-at-arms are you become! Is't
such a matter to get a pottle-pot's maidenhead?
'A calls me e'en now, my lord, through a red lattice,
lattice-work, criss-cross adornment; also: tavern symbol
and I could discern no part of his face from the window.
At last I spied his eyes, and methought he had made
two holes in the ale-wife's petticoat, and so peeped
Has not the boy profited?
Away, you whoreson upright rabbit, away!
Away, you rascally Althaea's dream, away!
Instruct us, boy! What dream, boy?
Marry, my lord, Althaea dreamt she was delivered
of a firebrand; and therefore I call him her dream.
A crown's-worth of good interpretation!
There 'tis, boy.
O that this blossom could be kept from cankers!
Well, there is sixpence to preserve thee.
An you do not make him be hanged among
you, the gallows shall have wrong.
And how doth thy master, Bardolph?
Well, my lord. He heard of your grace's
coming to town. There's a letter for you.
Delivered with good respect. And how doth the
martlemas your master?
In bodily health, sir.
Marry, the immortal part needs a physician, but
that moves not him. Though that be sick, it dies not.
I do allow this wen to be as familiar
with me as my dog, and he holds his place, for look you
how he writes –
(reading the letter)
John Falstaff, knight – every
man must know that as oft as he has occasion to name
himself, even like those that are kin to the king, for
they never prick their finger but they say ‘ There's some
of the King's blood spilt.’ ‘ How comes that?’ says he
that takes upon him not to conceive. The answer is as
ready as a borrower's cap: ‘ I am the King's poor
Nay, they will be kin to us, or they will
fetch it from Japhet. But to the letter: Sir John Falstaff,
knight, to the son of the King nearest his father, Harry
Prince of Wales, greeting.
Why, this is a certificate!
Peace! I will imitate the honourable
Romans in brevity.
He sure means brevity in breath, short-winded.
I commend me to thee, I commend thee,
and I leave thee. Be not too familiar with Poins, for he
misuses thy favours so much that he swears thou art to
marry his sister Nell. Repent at idle times as thou mayst,
and so farewell.
Thine by yea and no – which is as much as to
say, as thou usest him – Jack Falstaff with
my familiars, John with my brothers and
sisters, and Sir John with all Europe.
My lord, I'll steep this letter in sack and make
him eat it.
That's to make him eat twenty of his
words. But do you use me thus, Ned? Must I marry
God send the wench no worse fortune! But I never
Well, thus we play the fools with the
time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and
mock us. – Is your master here in London?
Yea, my lord.
Where sups he? Doth the old boar feed
in the old frank?
At the old place, my lord, in Eastcheap.
Ephesians, my lord, of the old church.
Sup any women with him?
None, my lord, but old Mistress Quickly, and
Mistress Doll Tearsheet.
What pagan may that be?
A proper gentlewoman, sir, and a kinswoman of my
Even such kin as the parish heifers are
to the town bull. Shall we steal upon them, Ned, at
I am your shadow, my lord; I'll follow you.
Sirrah, you boy, and Bardolph, no word
to your master that I am yet come to town. There's for
I have no tongue, sir.
And for mine, sir, I will govern it.
Fare you well; go.
Exeunt Bardolph and Page
This Doll Tearsheet should be some road.
I warrant you, as common as the way between
Saint Albans and London.
How might we see Falstaff bestow
himself tonight in his true colours, and not ourselves
Put on two leathern jerkins and aprons, and wait
upon him at his table as drawers.
one who draws drink from a cask, tapster, barman
From a God to a bull? A heavy descension!
It was Jove's case. From a prince to a prentice?
A low transformation, that shall be mine; for in everything
the purpose must weigh with the folly. Follow