Act II - Act II, Scene 2
SCENE II. London. Another street.
[Enter Prince Henry and Poins.]
Before God, I am exceeding weary.
Is 't come to that? I had thought weariness durst not have
attach'd one of so high blood.
Faith, it does me; though it discolours the complexion of
my greatness to acknowledge it. Doth it not show vilely in me to
desire small beer?
Why, a prince should not be so loosely studied as to
remember so weak a composition.
Belike then my appetite was not princely got; for, by my troth,
I do now remember the poor creature, small beer. But, indeed,
these humble considerations make me out of love with my greatness.
What a disgrace is it to me to remember thy name! or to know thy
face to-morrow! or to take note how many pair of silk stockings thou
hast, viz. these, and those that were thy peach-coloured ones! or to
bear the inventory of thy shirts, as, one for superfluity, and another
But that the tennis-court-keeper knows better than I; for it is a low
ebb of linen with thee when thou keepest not racket there; as thou hast
not done a great while, because the rest of thy low countries have made
a shift to eat up thy holland: and God knows, whether those that bawl
out of the ruins of thy linen shall inherit his kingdom: but the
midwives say the children are not in the fault; whereupon the world
increases, and kindreds are mightily strengthened.
How ill it follows, after you have laboured so hard, you
should talk so idly! Tell me, how many good young princes would
do so, their fathers being so sick as yours at this time is?
Shall I tell thee one thing, Poins?
Yes, faith; and let it be an excellent good thing.
It shall serve among wits of no higher breeding than thine.
Go to; I stand the push of your one thing that you will tell.
Marry, I tell thee it is not meet that I should be sad, now my father
is sick: albeit I could tell to thee, as to one it pleases me, for
fault of a better, to call my friend, I could be sad, and sad indeed too.
Very hardly upon such a subject.
By this hand, thou thinkest me as far in the devil's book as thou
and Falstaff for obduracy and persistency: let the end try the man.
But I tell thee, my heart bleeds inwardly that my father is so sick:
and keeping such vile company as thou art hath in reason taken from
me all ostentation of sorrow.
What wouldst thou think of me, if I should weep?
I would think thee a most princely hypocrite.
It would be every man's thought; and thou art a blessed fellow to
think as every man thinks: never a man's thought in the world keeps
the road-way better than thine: every man would think me an
hypocrite indeed. And what accites your most worshipful thought to
Why, because you have been so lewd and so much engraffed
And to thee.
By this light, I am well spoke on; I can hear it with mine own
ears: the worst that they can say of me is that I am a second
brother and that I am a proper fellow of my hands; and those two
things, I confess, I cannot help. By the mass, here comes Bardolph.
[Enter Bardolph and Page.]
And the boy that I gave Falstaff: 'a had him from me Christian;
and look, if the fat villain have not transformed him ape.
God save your grace!
And yours, most noble Bardolph!
Come, you virtuous ass, you bashful fool, must you be blushing?
wherefore blush you now? What a maidenly man-at-arms are you become!
Is 't such a matter to get a pottle-pot's maidenhead?
'A calls me e'en now, my lord, through a red lattice, and I could
discern no part of his face from the window: at last I spied his
eyes, and methought he had made two holes in the ale-wife's new
petticoat and so peep'd through.
Has not the boy profited?
Away, you whoreson upright rabbit, away!
Away, you rascally Althaea's dream, away!
Instruct us, boy; what dream, boy?
Marry, my lord, Althaea dreamt she was delivered of a
fire-brand; and therefore I call him her dream.
A crown's worth of good interpretation: there 'tis, boy.
O, that this blossom could be kept from cankers! Well,
there is sixpence to preserve thee.
An you do not make him hanged among you, the gallows
shall have wrong.
And how doth thy master, Bardolph?
Well, my lord. He heard of your grace's coming to town:
there's a letter for you.
Deliver'd with good respect. And how doth the martlemas,
In bodily health, sir.
Marry, the immortal part needs a physician; but that moves
not him: though that be sick, it dies not.
I do allow this wen to be as familiar with me as my dog;
and he holds his place; for look you how he writes.
[Reads.] "John Falstaff, knight,"--every man must know that, as oft
as he has occasion to name himself: even like those that are kin
to the king; for they never prick their finger but they say,
"There's some of the king's blood spilt."
"How comes that?" says he, that takes upon him not to conceive.
The answer is as ready as a borrower's cap,
"I am the king's poor cousin, sir."
Nay, they will be kin to us, or they will fetch it from Japhet.
But to the letter:
[Reads] "Sir John Falstaff, knight, to the son of the king,
nearest his father, Harry Prince of Wales, greeting." Why, this
is a certificate.
[Reads.] "I will imitate the honourable Romans in brevity:" he sure
means brevity in breath, short-winded. "I commend me to thee, I commend
thee, and I leave thee. Be not too familiar with Poins; for he misuses
thy favours so much, that he swears thou art to marry his sister Nell.
Repent at idle times as thou mayest; and so, farewell.
"Thine, by yea and no, which is as much as to say, as thou
JACK FALSTAFF with my familiars, JOHN with my brothers and
sisters, and SIR JOHN with all Europe."
My lord, I'll steep this letter in sack and make him eat it.
That 's to make him eat twenty of his words. But do you use
me thus, Ned? must I marry your sister?
God send the wench no worse fortune! But I never said so.
Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the
wise sit in the clouds and mock us. Is your master here in London?
Yea, my lord.
Where sups he? doth the old boar feed in the old frank?
At the old place, my lord, in Eastcheap.
Ephesians, my lord, of the old church.
Sup any women with him?
None, my lord, but old Mistress Quickly and Mistress Doll Tearsheet.
What pagan may that be?
A proper gentlewoman, sir, and a kinswoman of my master's.
Even such kin as the parish heifers are to the town bull. Shall
we steal upon them, Ned, at supper?
I am your shadow, my lord; I'll follow you.
Sirrah, you boy, and Bardolph, no word to your master that
I am yet come to town: there's for your silence.
I have no tongue, sir.
And for mine, sir, I will govern it.
Fare you well; go.
[Exeunt Bardolph and Page.]
This Doll Tearsheet should be some road.
I warrant you, as common as the way between Saint Alban's and London.
How might we see Falstaff bestow himself to-night in his true
colours, and not ourselves be seen?
Put on two leathern jerkins and aprons, and wait upon him at
his table as drawers.
From a God to a bull? a heavy descension! it was Jove's case.
From a prince to a prentice? a low transformation! that shall be
mine; for in everything the purpose must weigh with the folly.
Follow me, Ned.