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ACT I. SCENE II. 


London. A street

Enter SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, with his PAGE bearing his sword 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 moe diseases than he
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 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
overwhelm'd 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 whoreson mandrake, thou art fitter to be
worn in my cap than to wait at my heels. I was never mann'd 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 in 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 of 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?

 PAGE.

He said, sir, you should procure him better assurance than
Bardolph. He would not take his band and yours; he liked not the
security.

 FALSTAFF.

Let him be damn'd, like the Glutton; pray God his tongue
be hotter! A whoreson Achitophel! A rascal-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 through 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 look'd '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 shines through it; and
yet cannot he see, though he have his own lanthorn to light him.
Where's Bardolph?

 PAGE.

He's gone into Smithfield to buy your worship horse.

 FALSTAFF.

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
mann'd, hors'd, and wiv'd.

Enter the LORD CHIEF JUSTICE and SERVANT

 PAGE.

Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the
Prince for striking him about Bardolph.

 FALSTAFF.

Wait close; I will not see him.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

What's he that goes there?

 SERVANT.

Falstaff, an't please your lordship.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

He that was in question for the robb'ry?

 SERVANT.

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.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

What, to York? Call him back again.

 SERVANT.

Sir John Falstaff!

 FALSTAFF.

Boy, tell him I am deaf.

 PAGE.

You must speak louder; my master is deaf.

 CHIEF 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!

 FALSTAFF.

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 make 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.

 SERVANT.

I pray you, sir, then set your knighthood and your
soldiership aside; and give me leave to tell you you 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
grows to me! If thou get'st any leave of me, hang me; if thou
tak'st leave, thou wert better be hang'd. You hunt counter.
Hence! Avaunt!

 SERVANT.

Sir, my lord would speak with you.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Sir John Falstaff, a word with you.

 FALSTAFF.

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, hath yet some smack
of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time; and I most
humbly beseech your lordship to have a reverend care of your
health.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Sir John, I sent for you before your expedition to
Shrewsbury.

 FALSTAFF.

An't please your lordship, I hear his Majesty is return'd
with some discomfort from Wales.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

I talk not of his Majesty. You would not come when I
sent for you.

 FALSTAFF.

And I hear, moreover, his Highness is fall'n into this
same whoreson apoplexy.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Well God mend him! I pray you let me speak with you.

 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.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

What tell you me of it? Be it as it is.

 FALSTAFF.

It hath it 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.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

I think you are fall'n 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 the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that
I am troubled withal.

 CHIEF 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. 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.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

I sent for you, when there were matters against you
for your life, to come speak with me.

 FALSTAFF.

As I was then advis'd by my learned counsel in the laws
of this land-service, I did not come.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Well, the truth is, Sir John, you live in great
infamy.

 FALSTAFF.

He that buckles himself in my belt cannot live in less.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

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 slenderer.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

You have misled the youthful Prince.

 FALSTAFF.

The young Prince hath misled me. I am the fellow with the
great belly, and he my dog.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Well, I am loath to gall a new-heal'd wound. Your
day's service at Shrewsbury hath a little gilded over your
night's exploit on Gadshill. You may thank th' unquiet time for
your quiet o'erposting that action.

 FALSTAFF.

My lord-

 CHIEF 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.

 CHIEF 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, my growth would approve the truth.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

There is not a white hair in your face but should
have his effect of gravity.

 FALSTAFF.

His effect of gravy, gravy,

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

You follow the young Prince up and down, like his
ill angel.

 FALSTAFF.

Not so, my lord. Your ill angel is light; but 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 valour is
turn'd berod; 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 are young; you do measure the heat of our livers with the
bitterness of your galls; and we that are in the vaward of our
youth, must confess, are wags too.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

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!

 FALSTAFF.

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 hallooing and singing of anthems. To
approve my youth further, I will not. The truth is, I am only old
in judgment and understanding; and he that will caper with me for
a thousand marks, let him lend me the 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 check'd
him for it; and the young lion repents- marry, not in ashes and
sackcloth, but in new silk and old sack.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Well, God send the Prince a better companion!

 FALSTAFF.

God send the companion a better prince! I cannot rid my
hands of him.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Well, the King hath sever'd you. I hear you are
going 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 shirts
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 alway yet the trick of our English nation, if 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 to nothing with
perpetual motion.

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

Well, be honest, be honest; and God bless your
expedition!

 FALSTAFF.

Will your lordship lend me a thousand pound to furnish me
forth?

 CHIEF JUSTICE.

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

 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 pinches 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.

 FALSTAFF.

I can get no remedy against this consumption 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 Westmoreland; and this to old
Mistress Ursula, whom I have weekly sworn to marry since I
perceiv'd 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 colour,
and my pension shall seem the more reasonable. A good wit will
make use of anything. I will turn diseases to commodity.

Exit

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