Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Henry IV, Part 1 (Modern)
  • Editor: Rosemary Gaby
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-371-7

    Copyright Rosemary Gaby. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Rosemary Gaby
    Peer Reviewed

    Henry IV, Part 1 (Modern)

    Enter Prince of Wales, and Sir John Falstaff.
    115Falstaff Now Hal, what time of day is it lad?
    Prince 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 120do 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-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
    Falstaff 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 wand'ring knight so fair." And I prithee, sweet 130wag, when thou art a king, as god save thy grace -- "majesty" I should say, for grace thou wilt have none --
    Prince What, none?
    Falstaff No, by my troth, not so much as will serve to be 135prologue to an egg and butter.
    Prince Well, how then? Come, roundly, roundly.
    Falstaff Marry then, sweet wag, when thou art king let not us that are squires of the night's body be called thieves of the day's beauty: let us be Diana's foresters, gentlemen of the 140shade, 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.
    Prince Thou sayst well, and it holds well too, for the fortune 145of 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!", 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.
    Falstaff By the lord, thou sayst true, lad; and is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?
    155Prince As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle. And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance?
    Falstaff How now, how now, mad wag? What, in thy quips and thy quiddities? What a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin?
    160Prince Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern?
    Falstaff Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning many a time and oft.
    Prince Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?
    165Falstaff No, I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all there.
    Prince Yea and elsewhere, so far as my coin would stretch, and where it would not I have used my credit.
    Falstaff Yea, and so used it that were it not here apparent that thou art heir apparent -- but I prithee, sweet wag, shall there be 170gallows 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.
    Prince No, thou shalt.
    175Falstaff Shall I? Oh, rare! By the lord, I'll be a brave judge.
    Prince Thou judgest false already. I mean thou shalt have the hanging of the thieves, and so become a rare hangman.
    Falstaff Well, Hal, well; and in some sort it jumps with my 180humor as well as waiting in the court, I can tell you.
    Prince For obtaining of suits?
    Falstaff Yea, for obtaining of suits, whereof the hangman hath no lean wardrobe. 'Sblood, I am as melancholy as a 185gib cat, or a lugged bear.
    Prince Or an old lion, or a lover's lute.
    Falstaff Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe.
    Prince What sayst thou to a hare, or the melancholy of Moorditch?
    190Falstaff Thou hast the most unsavory 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 195other 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.
    Prince Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the streets and no man regards it.
    Falstaff Oh, thou hast damnable iteration, and art indeed able 200to 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 205damned for never a king's son in Christendom.
    Prince Where shall we take a purse tomorrow, Jack?
    Falstaff Zounds, where thou wilt, lad, I'll make one; an I do not, call me villain and baffle me.
    210Prince I see a good amendment of life in thee, from praying to purse-taking.
    Falstaff Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal. 'Tis no sin for a man to labor in his vocation.
    Enter Poins
    Poins! Now shall we know if Gadshill have set a match. 215O, 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.
    Prince Good morrow Ned.
    Poins Good morrow, sweet Hal. [To Falstaff] What says Monsieur 220Remorse? 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?
    Prince Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his 225bargain, for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs: he will give the devil his due.
    Poins [To Falstaff] Then art thou damned for keeping thy word with the devil.
    Prince Else he had been damned for cozening the devil.
    230Poins 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 235night 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.
    Falstaff Hear ye Yedward, if I tarry at home and go not I'll 240hang you for going.
    Poins You will, chops?
    Falstaff Hal, wilt thou make one?
    Prince Who, I rob? I a thief? Not I, by my faith.
    Falstaff There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship 245in thee, nor thou camest not of the blood royal, if thou darest not stand for ten shillings.
    Prince Well then, once in my days I'll be a madcap.
    Falstaff Why that's well said.
    Prince Well, come what will, I'll tarry at home.
    250Falstaff By the lord, I'll be a traitor then, when thou art king.
    Prince I care not.
    Poins Sir John, I prithee leave the prince and me alone. I will lay him down such reasons for this adventure that he shall go.
    255Falstaff 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.
    Prince Farewell, the latter spring; farewell, All-Hallown summer.
    [Exit Falstaff.]
    Poins Now, my good sweet honey lord, ride with us tomorrow. I have a jest to execute that I cannot manage alone. 265Falstaff, Peto, Bardolph, 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 shoulders.
    270Prince How shall we part with them in setting forth?
    Poins 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.
    Prince Yea, but 'tis like that they will know us by our horses, by our habits, and by every other appointment to be ourselves.
    Poins Tut, our horses they shall not see -- I'll tie them in the wood; 280our vizards we will change after we leave them; and, sirrah, I have cases of buckram for the nonce, to immask our noted outward garments.
    Prince Yea, but I doubt they will be too hard for us.
    Poins Well, for two of them, I know them to be as true-bred 285cowards 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, what blows, what extremities he endured; and in 290the reproof of this lives the jest.
    Prince Well, I'll go with thee. Provide us all things necessary, and meet me tomorrow night in Eastcheap; there I'll sup. Farewell.
    295Poins Farewell, my lord.
    Exit Poins.
    Prince I know you all, and will a while uphold
    The unyoked humor of your idleness.
    Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
    Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
    300To 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.
    305If 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
    310And pay the debt I never promisèd,
    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, glitt'ring o'er my fault,
    315Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
    Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
    I'll so offend to make offense a skill,
    Redeeming time when men think least I will.