William Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth, Part II in the complete original text.
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The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth

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Act I. Scene II.

Scene II.—London. A Street.

Enter SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, with his Page
bearing his sword and buckler.

Fal. 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, ho
might have more diseases than he knew for.
Fal. 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 tends
to laughter, more than I invent or is invented
on me: I am not only witty in myself, but the
cause that wit is in 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 judgment. Thou whore-
son mandrake, thou art fitter to be worn in my
cap than to wait at my heels. I was never
manned with an agate till now; but I will set
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 fledged. I will sooner have a
beard grow in the palm of my hand than he shall
get one on his cheek; and yet he will not stick
to say, his face is a face-royal: God may finish it
when he will, it is not a hair amiss yet: he may
keep it still as a face-royal, for a barber shall
never earn sixpence out of it; and yet he will
be crowing as if he had writ man ever since his
father was a bachelor. He may keep his own
grace, but he is almost out of mine, I can assure
him. What said Master Dombledon about the
satin for my short cloak and my slops?
Page. He said, sir, you should procure him
better assurance than Bardolph; he would not
take his bond and yours: he liked not the
Fal. Let him be damned like the glutton!
may his tongue be hotter! A whoreson Achito-
phel! a rascally yea-forsooth knave! to bear a
gentleman in hand, and then stand upon security.
The whoreson smooth-pates do now wear nothing
but high shoes, and bunches of keys at their
girdles; and if a man is thorough with them in
honest taking up, then they must stand upon
security. I had as lief they would put ratsbane
in my mouth 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 light-
ness of his wife shines through it: and yet can-
not he see, though he have his own lanthorn to
light him. Where's Bardolph?
Page. He's gone into Smithfield to buy your
worship a horse.
Fal. I bought him in Paul's, 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.

Page. Sir, here comes the nobleman that
committed the prince for striking him about
Fal. Wait close; I will not see him.
Ch. Just. What's he that goes there?
Ser. Falstaff, an't please your worship.
Ch. Just. He that was in question for the
Ser. 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.
Ch. Just. What, to York? Call him back
Ser. Sir John Falstaff?
Fal. Boy, tell him I am deaf.
Page. You must speak louder, my master is
Ch. Just. I am sure he is, to the hearing of
anything good. Go, pluck him by the elbow; I
must speak with him,
Ser. Sir John!
Fal. What! a young knave, and beg! Is there
not wars? is there not employment? doth not
the king lack subjects? do not the rebels want
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 make it.
Ser. You mistake me, sir.
Fal. Why, sir, did I say you were an honest
man? setting my knighthood and my soldier-
ship aside, I had lied in my throat if I had
said so.
Ser. 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 that I
am any other than an honest man.
Fal. I give thee leave to tell me so! I lay
aside that which grows to me! If thou gett'st
any leave of me, hang me: if thou takest leave,
thou wert better be hanged. You hunt-counter:
hence! avaunt!
Ser. Sir, my lord would speak with you.
Ch. Just. Sir John Falstaff, a word with
Fal. My good lord! God give your lordship
good time of day. I am glad to see your lord-
ship abroad; I heard say your lordship was sick:
I hope, your lordship goes abroad by advice.
Your lordship, though not clean past your youth,
hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish
of the saltness of time; and I most humbly be-
seech your lordship to have a reverend care of
your health.
Ch. Just. Sir John, I sent for you before your
expedition to Shrewsbury.
Fal. An't please your lordship, I hear his
majesty is returned with some discomfort from
Ch. Just. I talk not of his majesty. You
would not come when I sent for you.
Fal. And I hear, moreover, his highness is
fallen into this same whoreson apoplexy.
Ch. Just. Well, heaven mend him! I pray
you, let me speak with you.
Fal. This apoplexy is, as I take it, a kind of
lethargy, an't please your lordship; a kind of
sleeping in the blood, a whoreson tingling.
Ch. Just. What tell you me of it? be it as
it is.
Fal. It hath its original from much grief,
from study and perturbation of the brain. I
have read the cause of his effects in Galen: it is
a kind of deafness.
Ch. Just. I think you are fallen into the dis-
ease, for you hear not what I say to you.
Fal. Very well, my lord, very well: rather,
an't please you, it is the disease of not listening,
the malady of not marking, that I am troubled
Ch. Just. To punish you by the heels would
amend the attention of your ears; and I care
not if I do become your physician.
Fal. I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so
patient: your 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.
Ch. Just. I sent for you, when there were
matters against you for your life, to come speak
with me.
Fal. As I was then advised by my learned
counsel in the laws of this land-service, I did not
Ch. Just. Well, the truth is, Sir John, you live
in great infamy.
Fal. He that buckles him in my belt cannothve in less.
Ch. Just. Your means are very slender, and
your waste is great.
Fal. I would it were otherwise: I would my
means were greater and my waist slenderer.
Ch. Just. You have misled the youthful prince.
Fal. The young prince hath misled me: I
am the fellow with the great belly, and he my
Ch. Just. 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 Gadshill:
you may thank the unquiet time for your quiet
o'er-posting that action.
Fal. My lord!
Ch. Just. But since all is well, keep it so:
wake not a sleeping wolf.
Fal. To wake a wolf is as bad as to smell a
Ch. Just. What! you are as a candle, the
better part burnt out.
Fal. A. wassail candle, my lord; all tallow:
if I did say of wax, my growth would approve
the truth.
Ch. Just. There is not a white hair on your
face but should have his effect of gravity.
Fal. His effect of gravy, gravy, gravy.
Ch. Just. You follow the young prince up
and down, like his ill angel.
Fal. 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 costermonger times that
true valour is turned bear-herd: pregnancy is
made a tapster, and hath his quick wit wasted
in giving reckonings: all the other gifts apperti-
nent 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 are
young; you measure the heat of our livers with
the bitterness of your galls; and we that are in
the vaward of our youth, I must confess, are
wags too.
Ch. Just. Do you set down your name in the
scroll of youth, that are written down old with
all the characters of age? Have you 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
yourself young? Fie, fie, fie, Sir John!
Fal. My lord, I was born about three of the
clock in the afternoon, with a white head, and
something a round belly. For my voice, I have
lost it with hollaing, and singing of anthems.
To approve my youth further, I will not: the
truth is, I am only old in judgment and under-
standing; and he that will caper with me for a
thousand marks, let him lend me the money,
and have at him! For the box o' 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 and old sack.
Ch. Just. Well, God send the prince a better
Fal. God send the companion a better prince!
I cannot rid my hands of him.
Ch. Just. Well, the king hath severed you
and Prince Harry. I hear you are going with
Lord John of Lancaster against the archbishop
and the Earl of Northumberland.
Fal. 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 shirts out
with me, and I mean not to sweat extraordinarily:
if it be a hot day, and I brandish anything but
my 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 can-
not last ever. But it was always yet the trick of
our English nation, if they have a good thing, to
make it too common. If you 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 rust than to be scoured to nothing with
perpetual motion.
Ch. Just. Well, be honest, be honest; and
God bless your expedition.
Fal. Will your lordship lend me a thousand
pound to furnish me forth?
Ch. Just. Not a penny; not a penny; you are
too impatient to bear crosses. Fare you well:
commend me to my cousin Westmoreland.
[Exeunt CHIEF JUSTICE and Servant.
Fal. If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle.
A man can no more separate age and covetous-
ness than he can part young limbs and lechery;
but the gout galls the one, and the pox pinches
the other; and so both the degrees prevent my
curses. Boy!
Page. Sir!
Fal. What money is in my purse?
Page. Seven groats and twopence.
Fal. I can get no remedy against this con-
sumption of the purse: borrowing only lingers
and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable.
Go bear this letter to my Lord of Lancaster;
this to the prince; this to the Earl of Westmore-
land; and this to old Mistress Ursula, whom I
have weekly sworn to marry since I perceived
the first white hair on 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 colour, and my pension shall seem the more
reasonable. A good wit will make use of any-
thing; I will turn diseases to commodity. [Exit.
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