William Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth is forever famous for the comic character Falstaff who infamously proclaims "discretion is the better part of valour".
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HOME > Plays > The First Part of King Henry the Fourth > Act II. Scene I.

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth

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Act II. Scene I.

Act II. Scene I.—Rochester. An Inn-Yard.

Enter a Carrier, with a lanthorn in his hand.

First Car. Heigh-ho! An't be not four by
the day I'll be hanged: Charles' Wain is over
the new chimney, and yet our horse not packed.
What, ostler!
Ost. [ Within.] Anon, anon.
First Car. I prithee, Tom, beat Cut's saddle,
put a few flocks in the point; the poor jade is
wrung in the withers out of all cess.

Enter another Carrier.
Sec. Car. Peas and beans are as dank here as
a dog, and that is the next way to give poor
jades the bots; this house is turned upside down
since Robin Ostler died.
First Car. Poor fellow! never joyed since the
price of oats rose; it was the death of him.
Sec. Car. I think this be the most villanous
house in all London road for fleas: I am stung
like a tench.
First Car. Like a tench! by the mass, there
is ne'er a king christen could be better bit
than I have been since the first cock.
Sec. Car. Why, they will allow us ne'er a
jordan, and then we leak in the chimney; and
your chamber-lie breeds fleas like a loach.
First Car. What, ostler! come away and be
hanged, come away.
Sec. Car. I have a gammon of bacon and two
razes of ginger, to be delivered as far as Charing-
cross.
First Car. Godsbody! the turkeys in my
pannier are quite starved. What, ostler! A
plague on thee! hast thou never an eye in thy
head? canst not hear? An 'twere not as good a
deed as drink to break the pate on thee, I am a
very villain. Come, and be hanged! hast no
faith in thee?

Enter GADSHILL.
Gads. Good morrow, carriers. What's o'clock?
First Car. I think it be two o'clock.
Gads. I prithee, lend me thy lanthorn, to see
my gelding in the stable.
First Car. Nay, by God, soft: I know a
trick worth two of that, i' faith.
Gads. I prithee, lend me thine.
Sec. Car. Ay, when? canst tell? Lend me
thy lanthorn, quoth a? marry, I'll see thee
hanged first.
Gads. Sirrah carrier, what time do you mean
to come to London?
Sec. Car. Time enough to go to bed with a
candle, I warrant thee. Come, neighbour Mugs,
we'll call up the gentlemen: they will along
with company, for they have great charge.
[Exeunt Carriers.
Gads. What, ho! chamberlain!
Cham. [Within.] 'At hand, quoth pick-purse.'
Gads. That's even as fair as at hand, quoth
the chamberlain; for thou variest no more from
picking of purses than giving direction doth
from labouring; thou layest the plot how.

Enter CHAMBERLAIN.
Cham. Good morrow. Master Gadshill. It
holds current that I told you yesternight: there's
a franklin in the wild of Kent hath brought
three hundred marks with him in gold: I heard
him tell it to one of his company last night at
supper; a kind of auditor; one that hath abun-
dance of charge too, God knows what. They are
up already and call for eggs and butter: they
will away presently.
Gads. Sirrah, if they meet not with Saint
Nicholas' clerks, I'll give thee this neck.
Cham. No, I'll none of it: I prithee, keep
that for the hangman; for I know thou wor-
ship'st Saint Nicholas as truly as a man of false-
hood may.
Gads. What talkest thou to me of the
hangman? If I hang I'll make a fat pair of
gallows; for if I hang, old Sir John hangs with
me, and thou knowest he's no starveling. Tut!
there are other Troyans that thou dreamest not
Of, the which for sport sake are content to do
the profession some grace; that would, if matters
should be looked into, for their own credit sake
make all whole. I am joined with no foot-land-
rakers, no long-staff sixpenny strikers, none of
these mad mustachio-purple-hued malt worms;
but with nobility and tranquillity, burgomasters
and great oneyers such as can hold in, such as
will strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner
than drink, and drink sooner than pray: and
yet I lie; for they pray continually to their
saint, the commonwealth; or, rather, not pray
to her, but prey on her, for they ride up and
down on her and make her their boots.
Cham. What! the commonwealth their
boots? will she hold out water in foul way?
Gads. She will, she will; justice hath liquored
her. We steal as in a castle, cock-sure; we have
the receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible.
Cham. Nay, by my faith, I think you are
more beholding to the night than to fern-seed for
your walking invisible.
Gads. Give me thy hand: thou shalt have a
share in our purchase, as I am a true man.
Cham. Nay, rather let me have it, as you are
a false thief.
Gads. Go to; homo is a common name to all
men. Bid the ostler bring my gelding out of
the stable. Farewell, you muddy knave.
[Exeunt.
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