Act IV - Act IV, Scene 2
Scene II. A public Road near Coventry.
[Enter Falstaff and Bardolph.]
Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry; fill me a bottle of
sack: our soldiers shall march through; we'll to Sutton-Co'fil'
Will you give me money, captain?
Lay out, lay out.
This bottle makes an angel.
An if it do, take it for thy labour; an if it make twenty,
take them all; I'll answer the coinage. Bid my lieutenant
Peto meet me at the town's end.
I will, captain: farewell.
If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused gurnet. I have
misused the King's press damnably. I have got, in exchange of
a hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I
press'd me none but good householders, yeomen's sons; inquired
me out contracted bachelors, such as had been ask'd twice on the
banns; such a commodity of warm slaves as had as lief hear the
Devil as a drum; such as fear the report of a caliver worse than
a struck fowl or a hurt wild-duck. I press'd me none but such
toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bodies no bigger than
pins'-heads, and they have bought out their services; and now
my whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants,
gentlemen of companies, slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the
painted cloth, where the glutton's dogs licked his sores; and
such as, indeed, were never soldiers, but discarded unjust
serving-men, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters,
and ostlers trade-fallen; the cankers of a calm world and a long
peace; ten times more dishonourable ragged than an old faced
ancient: and such have I, to fill up the rooms of them that have
bought out their services, that you would think that I had a
hundred and fifty tattered Prodigals lately come from
swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad fellow met me on
the way, and told me I had unloaded all the gibbets, and press'd
the dead bodies.
No eye hath seen such scarecrows. I'll not march through Coventry
with them, that's flat: nay, and the villains march wide betwixt
the legs, as if they had gyves on; for, indeed, I had the most of
them out of prison. There's but a shirt and a half in all my company;
and the half-shirt is two napkins tack'd together and thrown over the
shoulders like a herald's coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say
the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Alban's, or the red-nose
innkeeper of Daventry.
But that's all one; they'll find linen enough on every hedge.
[Enter Prince Henry and Westmoreland.]
How now, blown Jack! how now, quilt!
What, Hal! how now, mad wag! what a devil dost thou in
Warwickshire?--My good Lord of Westmoreland, I cry you mercy:
I thought your honour had already been at Shrewsbury.
Faith, Sir John, 'tis more than time that I were there, and you too;
but my powers are there already. The King, I can tell you, looks for
us all: we must away all, to-night.
Tut, never fear me: I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream.
I think, to steal cream, indeed; for thy theft hath already made thee
butter. But tell me, Jack, whose fellows are these that come after?
Mine, Hal, mine.
I did never see such pitiful rascals.
Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder;
they'll fill a pit as well as better: tush, man, mortal men,
Ay, but, Sir John, methinks they are exceeding poor and bare,--too
Faith, for their poverty, I know not where they had that; and,
for their bareness, I am sure they never learn'd that of me.
No, I'll be sworn; unless you call three fingers on the ribs
bare. But, sirrah, make haste: Percy is already in the field.
What, is the King encamp'd?
He is, Sir John: I fear we shall stay too long.
To the latter end of a fray and the beginning of a feast
Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest.