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  • Title: Henry IV, Part 2 (Modern)
  • Editor: Rosemary Gaby

  • 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
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Henry IV, Part 2 (Modern)

    Enter Sir John [Falstaff] alone, with his page bearing his sword276.1 and buckler.
    Falstaff Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water?
    Page He said, sir, the water itself was a good healthy water, but for the party that owed it, he might have more diseases than 280he knew for.
    Falstaff Men of all sorts take a pride to gird at me: the brain of this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to invent anything that intends to laughter, more then I invent, or is invented on me. I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is 285in other men. I do here walk before thee like a sow that hath overwhelmed all her litter but one. If the prince put thee into my service for any other reason than to set me off, why then I have no judgement. Thou whoreson mandrake, thou art fitter to 290be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never manned with an agate till now, but I will inset you neither in gold nor silver, but in vile apparel, and send you back again to your master for a jewel -- the juvenal the prince your master, whose chin is not yet fledge. I will sooner have a beard grow 295in the palm of my hand, than he shall get one off his cheek, and yet he will not stick to say his face is a face royal. God may finish it when he will, 'tis not a hair amiss yet. He may keep it still at a face royal, for a barber shall never earn sixpence out 300of it; 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 almost out of mine, I can assure him. What said master Dommelton about the satin for my short cloak and my slops?
    305Page He said, sir, you should procure him better assurance than Bardolph. He would not take his bond and yours; he liked not the security.
    Falstaff Let him be damned like the glutton! Pray god his tongue be hotter! A whoreson Achitophel, a rascal, yea forsooth, 310knave: to bear a gentleman in hand, and then stand upon security? The whoreson smoothy-pates do now wear nothing but high shoes and bunches of keys at their girdles, and if a man is through with them in honest taking up, then they must stand upon security. I had as lief they would put ratsbane in my 315mouth as offer to stop it with security. I looked 'a should have sent me two and twenty yards of satin, as I am a true knight, and he sends me "security." Well, he may sleep in security, for he hath the horn of abundance, and the lightness of his wife 320shines through it -- where's Bardolph? -- and yet cannot he see, though he have his own lantern to light him.
    Page He's gone in Smithfield to buy your worship a horse.
    325Falstaff I bought him in Pauls, and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield. An I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, and wived.
    Enter Lord Chief Justice [and Servant].
    Page Sir, here comes the noble man that committed the prince 330for striking him about Bardolph.
    Falstaff Wait close, I will not see him.
    Justice [To the Servant] What's he that goes there?
    Servant Falstaff, an't please your lordship.
    Justice He that was in question for the robbery?
    335Servant He, my lord, but he hath since done good service at Shrewsbury, and, as I hear, is now going with some charge to the Lord John of Lancaster.
    Justice What, to York? Call him back again.
    Servant Sir John Falstaff!
    340Falstaff Boy, tell him I am deaf.
    Page [To the Servant] You must speak louder, my master is deaf.
    Justice I am sure he is to the hearing of anything good. Go pluck him by the elbow, I must speak with him.
    Servant Sir John!
    345Falstaff What? A young knave and begging? Is there not wars? Is there not employment? Doth not the king lack subjects? Do not the rebels need soldiers? Though it be a shame to be on any side but one, it is worse shame to beg than to be on the worst side, were it worse than the name of rebellion can tell how to 350make it.
    Servant You mistake me sir.
    Falstaff Why sir? Did I say you were an honest man? Setting my knighthood and my soldiership aside, I had lied in my throat if I had said so.
    355Servant I pray you, Sir, then set your knighthood and your soldiership aside, and give me leave to tell you, you lie in your throat if you say I am any other than an honest man.
    Falstaff I give thee leave to tell me so? I lay aside that which 360grows to me? If thou get'st any leave of me, hang me. If thou tak'st leave, thou wert better be hanged, you hunt-counter. Hence, avaunt!
    Servant Sir, my lord would speak with you.
    Justice Sir John Falstaff, a word with you.
    365Falstaff My good lord, god give your lordship good time of day, I am glad to see your lordship abroad. I heard say your lordship was sick, I hope your lordship goes abroad by advice. Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, have yet some smack of an ague in you, some relish of the saltness of time in you, and I most humbly beseech your lordship to have a reverent care of your health.
    Justice Sir John, I sent for you before your expedition to Shrewsbury.
    Falstaff An't please your lordship, I hear his majesty is 375returned with some discomfort from Wales.
    Justice I talk not of his majesty. You would not come when I sent for you.
    Falstaff And I hear moreover, his highness is fallen into this same whoreson apoplexy.
    380Justice Well, god mend him! I pray you, let me speak with 380you.
    Falstaff This apoplexy, as I take it, is a kind of lethargy, an't please your lordship, a kind of sleeping in the blood, a whoreson tingling.
    Justice What tell you me of it? Be it as it is.
    Falstaff It hath it original from much grief, from study, and 385perturbation of the brain. I have read the cause of his effects in Galen, it is a kind of deafness.
    Justice I think you are fallen into the disease, for you hear not what I say to you.
    Falstaff Very well my lord, very well. Rather, an't please you, it is 390the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled withal.
    Justice To punish you by the heels would amend the attention 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. 395Your lordship may minister the potion of imprisonment to me, in respect of poverty, but how I should be your patient to follow your prescriptions, the wise may make some dram of a scruple, or indeed a scruple itself.
    Justice I sent for you when there were matters against you for 400your life to come speak with me.
    Falstaff As I was then advised by my learned counsel in the laws of this land-service, I did not come.
    Justice Well, the truth is, Sir John, you live in great infamy.
    Falstaff He that buckles himself in my belt cannot live in less.
    405Justice Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.
    Falstaff I would it were otherwise, I would my means were greater and my waist slender.
    Justice You have misled the youthful prince.
    Falstaff The young prince hath misled me, I am the fellow with 410the great belly, and he my dog.
    Justice Well, I am loath to gall a new-healed wound. Your day's service at Shrewsbury hath a little gilded over your night's exploit on Gad's Hill. You may thank th'unquiet time for your quiet o'erposting that action.
    415Falstaff My lord?
    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.
    Justice What? You are as a candle, the better part burnt out.
    Falstaff A wassail candle my lord, all tallow; if I did say of wax, 420my growth would approve the truth.
    Justice There is not a white hair in your face, but should have his effect of gravity.
    Falstaff His effect of gravy, gravy, gravy.
    Justice You follow the young prince up and down, like his 425ill angel.
    Falstaff Not so my lord. Your ill angel is light, but I hope he that looks upon me will take me without weighing, and yet in some respects I grant I cannot go. I cannot tell: virtue is of so little regard in these costermongers' times, that true valor 430is turned bearherd, pregnancy is made a tapster, and his quick wit wasted in giving reckonings. All the other gifts appertinent to man, as the malice of this age shapes them, are not worth a gooseberry. You that are old consider not the capacities of us that 435are young. You do measure the heat of our livers with the bitterness of your galls; and we that are in the vanguard of our youth, I must confess, are wags too.
    Justice Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth, that are written down old with all the characters of age? Have 440you not a moist eye, a dry hand, a yellow cheek, a white beard, a decreasing leg, an increasing belly? Is not your voice broken, your wind short, your chin double, your wit single, and every part about you blasted with antiquity, and will you yet call your self young? Fie, fie, fie, Sir John.
    445Falstaff My lord, I was born about three of the clock in 445the afternoon, with a white head and something a round belly; for my voice, I have lost it with hallooing and singing of anthems. To approve my youth further, I will not. The truth is, I am only old in judgement and understanding; and he that will caper with me for a thousand marks, let him lend me 450the money, and have at him! For the box of the ear that the prince gave you, he gave it like a rude prince, and you took it like a sensible lord. I have checked him for it, and the young lion repents -- marry, not in ashes and sackcloth, but in new silk, 455and old sack.
    Justice Well, god send the prince a better companion.
    Falstaff God send the companion a better prince -- I cannot rid my hands of him.
    Justice Well, the king hath severed you. I hear you are 460going with Lord John of Lancaster, against the Archbishop and the Earl of Northumberland.
    Falstaff Yea, I thank your pretty sweet wit for it. But look you pray, all you that kiss my lady peace at home, that our armies join not in a hot day, for, by the lord, I take but two 465shirts out with me, and I mean not to sweat extraordinarily. If it be a hot day and I brandish anything but a bottle, I would I might never spit white again. There is not a dangerous action can peep out his head but I am thrust upon it. Well, I cannot last ever, but it was always yet the trick of our English nation, 469.1if they have a good thing, to make it too common. If ye will needs say I am an old man, you should give me rest. I would to god my name were not so terrible to the enemy as it is. I were better to be eaten to death with a rust than to be scoured 469.5to nothing with perpetual motion.
    470Justice Well, be honest, be honest, and god bless your expedition.
    Falstaff Will your lordship lend me a thousand pound to furnish me forth?
    Justice Not a penny, not a penny, you are too impatient to 475bear crosses. Fare you well. Commend me to my cousin Westmorland.
    [Exeunt Justice and Servant.]
    Falstaff If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle. A man can no more separate age and covetousness than 'a can part young limbs and lechery; but the gout galls the one, and the pox 480pinches the 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.
    485Falstaff I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse. Borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable. [Giving letters.] Go, bear this letter to my lord of Lancaster, this to the prince, this to the Earl of Westmorland, and this to old mistress Ursula, whom I have weekly sworn to marry 490since I perceived the first white hair of my chin. About it, you know where to find me.
    [Exit Page.]
    A pox of this gout, or a gout of this pox, for the one or the other plays the rogue with my great toe. 'Tis no matter if I do halt, I have the wars for my 495color and my pension shall seem the more reasonable. A good wit will make use of anything. I will turn diseases to commodity.