Act III - Act III, Scene 2
SCENE II. Gloucestershire. Before Justice Shallow's house.
[Enter Shallow and Silence, meeting; Mouldy, Shadow, Wart,
Feeble, Bullcalf, a Servant or two with them.]
Come on, come on, come on, sir; give me your hand, sir,
give me your hand, sir: an early stirrer, by the rood! And how
doth my good cousin Silence?
Good morrow, good cousin Shallow.
And how doth my cousin, your bedfellow? and your fairest
daughter and mine, my god-daughter Ellen?
Alas, a black ousel, cousin Shallow!
By yea and nay, sir, I dare say my cousin William is become
a good scholar: he is at Oxford still, is he not?
Indeed, sir, to my cost.
A' must, then, to the inns o' court shortly. I was once of
Clement's Inn, where I think they will talk of mad Shallow yet.
You were called "lusty Shallow" then, cousin.
By the mass, I was called any thing; and I would have done any thing
indeed too, and roundly too. There was I, and little John Doit of
Staffordshire, and black George Barnes, and Francis Pickbone, and
Will Squele, a Cotswold man; you had not four such swinge-bucklers in
all the inns o' court again: and I may say to you, we knew where the
bona-robas were and had the best of them all at commandment. Then was
Jack Falstaff, now Sir John, boy, and page to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of
This Sir John, cousin, that comes hither anon about soldiers?
The same Sir John, the very same. I see him break Skogan's head at the
court-gate, when a' was a crack not thus high: and the very same
day did I fight with one Sampson Stockfish, a fruiterer, behind
Jesu, Jesu, the mad days that I have spent! and to see how many of my
old acquaintance are dead!
We shall all follow, cousin.
Certain, 'tis certain; very sure, very sure: death, as the Psalmist
saith, is certain to all; all shall die. How a good yoke of bullocks at
By my troth, I was not there.
Death is certain. Is old Double of your town living yet?
Jesu, Jesu, dead! a' drew a good bow; and dead! a' shot a fine shoot:
John a Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money on his head.
Dead! a' would have clapped i' the clout at twelve score; and carried
you a forehand shaft a fourteen and fourteen and a half, that it
would have done a man's heart good to see. How a score of ewes now?
Thereafter as they be: a score of good ewes may be worth ten
And is old Double dead?
Here come two of Sir John Falstaffs men, as I think.
[Enter Bardolph, and one with him.]
Good morrow, honest gentlemen: I beseech you, which is justice
I am Robert Shallow, sir; a poor esquire of this county, and one
of the king's justices of the peace: what is your good pleasure
My captain, sir, commends him to you; my captain, Sir John
Falstaff, a tall gentleman, by heaven, and a most gallant leader.
He greets me well, sir. I knew him a good backsword man. How
doth the good knight? may I ask how my lady his wife doth?
Sir, pardon; a soldier is better accommodated than with a wife.
It is well said, in faith, sir; and it is well said indeed too.
Better accommodated! it is good; yea, indeed, is it: good phrases are
surely, and ever were, very commendable. Accommodated! it comes of
"accommodo:" very good; a good phrase.
Pardon me, sir; I have heard the word. Phrase call you it? By this
day, I know not the phrase; but I will maintain the word with my sword
to be a soldier-like word, and a word of exceeding good command, by
Accommodated; that is, when a man is, as they say, accommodated; or
when a man is, being, whereby a' may be thought to be accommodated;
which is an excellent thing.
It is very just.
Look, here comes good Sir John. Give me your good hand, give me your
worship's good hand: by my troth, you like well and bear your years
very well: welcome, good Sir John.
I am glad to see you well, good Master Robert Shallow: Master
Surecard, as I think?
No, Sir John; it is my cousin Silence, in commission with me.
Good Master Silence, it well befits you should be of the peace.
Your good worship is welcome.
Fie! this is hot weather, gentlemen. Have you provided me here
half a dozen sufficient men?
Marry, have we, sir. Will you sit?
Let me see them, I beseech you.
Where's the roll? where's the roll? where's the roll? Let me see,
let me see, let me see.
So, so, so, so, so, so, so: yea, marry, sir: Ralph Mouldy!
Let them appear as I call; let them do so, let them do so.
Let me see; where is Mouldy?
Here, an't please you.
What think you, Sir John? a good-limbed fellow; young, strong,
and of good friends.
Is thy name Mouldy?
Yea, an't please you.
'Tis the more time thou wert used.
Ha, ha, ha! most excellent, i' faith! things that are mouldy lack use:
very singular good! in faith, well said, Sir John, very well said.
I was prick'd well enough before, an you could have let me alone:
my old dame will be undone now for one to do her husbandry and her
drudgery: you need not to have pricked me; there are other men fitter
to go out than I.
Go to: peace, Mouldy; you shall go. Mouldy, it is time you were spent.
Peace, fellow, peace; stand aside: know you where you are? For
the other, Sir John: let me see: Simon Shadow!
Yea, marry, let me have him to sit under: he 's like to be a
Shadow, whose son art thou?
My mother's son, sir.
Thy mother's son! like enough; and thy father's shadow: so the son of
the female is the shadow of the male: it is often so indeed; but
much of the father's substance!
Do you like him, Sir John?
Shadow will serve for summer; prick him; for we have a number of
shadows to fill up the muster-book.
Is thy name Wart?
Thou art a very ragged wart.
Shall I prick him down, Sir John?
It were superfluous; for his apparel is built upon his back and
the whole frame stands upon pins: prick him no more.
Ha, ha, ha! you can do it, sir; you can do it: I commend you
What trade art thou, Feeble?
A woman's tailor, sir.
Shall I prick him, sir?
You may: but if he had been a man's tailor, he'ld ha' prick'd you.
Wilt thou make as many holes in an enemy's battle as thou hast done in
a woman's petticoat?
I will do my good will, sir; you can have no more.
Well said, good woman's tailor! well said, courageous Feeble! thou wilt
be as valiant as the wrathful dove or most magnanimous mouse.
Prick the woman's tailor: well, Master Shallow, deep, Master Shallow.
I would Wart might have gone, sir.
I would thou wert a man's tailor, that thou mightst mend him and make
him fit to go. I cannot put him to a private soldier that is the leader
of so many thousands; let that suffice, most forcible Feeble.
It shall suffice, sir.
I am bound to thee, reverend Feeble. Who is next?
Peter Bullcalf o' th' green!
Yea, marry, let 's see Bullcalf.
'Fore God, a likely fellow! Come, prick me Bullcalf till he roar
O Lord! good my lord captain,--
What, dost thou roar before thou art prick'd?
O Lord, sir! I am a diseased man.
What disease hast thou?
A whoreson cold, sir, a cough, sir, which I caught with ringing
in the king's affairs upon his coronation-day, sir.
Come, thou shalt go to the wars in a gown; we will have away thy cold;
and I will take such order that thy friends shall ring for thee.
Is here all?
Here is two more called than your number; you must have but four here,
sir; and so, I pray you, go in with me to dinner.
Come, I will go drink with you, but I cannot tarry dinner. I am
glad to see you, by my troth, Master Shallow.
O, Sir John, do you remember since we lay all night in the windmill
in Saint George's field?
No more of that, Master Shallow, no more of that.
Ha, 'twas a merry night. And is Jane Nightwork alive?
She lives, Master Shallow.
She never could away with me.
Never, never; she would always say she could not abide Master
By the mass, I could anger her to the heart. She was then a bona-roba.
Doth she hold her own well?
Old, old, Master Shallow.
Nay, she must be old; she cannot choose but be old; certain she 's old;
and had Robin Nightwork by old Nightwork before I came to Clement's Inn.
That's fifty-five year ago.
Ha, cousin Silence, that thou hadst seen that that this knight and I
have seen! Ha, Sir John, said I well?
We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.
That we have, that we have, that we have; in faith, Sir John, we have:
our watchword was "Hem boys!" Come, let 's to dinner; come, let 's
to dinner: Jesus, the days that we have seen! Come, come.
[Exeunt Falstaff and the Justices.]
Good Master Corporate Bardolph, stand my friend; and here 's four
Harry ten shillings in French crowns for you.
In very truth, sir, I had as lief be hanged, sir, as go: and yet,
for mine own part, sir, I do not care; but rather, because I am
unwilling, and, for mine own part, have a desire to stay with my
friends; else, sir, I did not care, for mine own part, so much.
Go to; stand aside.
And, good master corporal captain, for my old dame's sake, stand my
friend: she has nobody to do any thing about her when I am gone;
and she is old, and cannot help herself: you shall have forty, sir.
Go to; stand aside.
By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death:
I'll ne'er bear a base mind: an 't be my destiny, so; an 't be not, so:
no man's too good to serve 's prince; and let it go which way it will, he
that dies this year is quit for the next.
Well said; th'art a good fellow.
Faith, I'll bear no base mind.
[Re-enter Falstaff and the Justices.]
Come, sir, which men shall I have?
Four of which you please.
Sir, a word with you: I have three pound to free Mouldy and
Go to; well.
Come, Sir John, which four will you have?
Do you choose for me.
Marry, then, Mouldy, Bullcalf, Feeble, and Shadow.
Mouldy and Bullcalf: for you, Mouldy, stay at home till you are past
service; and for your part, Bullcalf, grow till you come unto it:
I will none of you.
Sir John, Sir John, do not yourself wrong: they are your likeliest
men, and I would have you served with the best.
Will you tell me, Master Shallow, how to choose a man? Care I for the
limb, the thewes, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man!
Give me the spirit, Master Shallow. Here's Wart; you see what a ragged
appearance it is: a' shall charge you and discharge you with the
motion of a pewterer's hammer, come off and on swifter than he that
gibbets on the brewer's bucket.
And this same half-faced fellow, Shadow; give me this man: he
presents no mark to the enemy; the foeman may with as great aim level
at the edge of a penknife.
And for a retreat; how swiftly will this Feeble the woman's tailor
run off! O, give me the spare men, and spare me the great ones.
Put me a caliver into Wart's hand, Bardolph.
Hold, Wart, traverse; thus, thus, thus.
Come, manage me your caliver. So: very well: go to: very good,
exceeding good. O, give me always a little, lean, old, chapt,
bald shot. Well said, i' faith, Wart; thou'rt a good scab: hold,
there's a tester for thee.
He is not his craft's master; he doth not do it right. I remember at
Mile-end Green, when I lay at Clement's Inn,--I was then Sir Dagonet in
Arthur's show,--there was a little quiver fellow, and a' would manage
you his piece thus; and a' would about and about, and come you in and
come you in: "rah, tah, tah," would a' say; "bounce" would a' say; and
away again would a' go, and again would 'a come: I shall ne'er see
such a fellow.
These fellows will do well. Master Shallow, God keep you, Master Silence:
I will not use many words with you. Fare you well, gentlemen both:
I thank you: I must a dozen mile to-night. Bardolph, give the soldiers
Sir John, the Lord bless you! God prosper your affairs! God send us
peace! At your return visit our house; let our old acquaintance be
renewed: peradventure I will with ye to the court.
'Fore God, I would you would.
Go to; I have spoke at a word. God keep you.
Fare you well, gentle gentlemen.
On, Bardolph; lead the men away.
[Exeunt Bardolph, Recruits, &c.]
As I return, I will fetch off these justices: I do see the bottom
of Justice Shallow.
Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to this vice of lying!
This same starved justice hath done nothing but prate to me of the
wildness of his youth, and the feats he hath done about Turnbull
Street; and every third word a lie, duer paid to the hearer than the
Turk's tribute. I do remember him at Clement's Inn like a man made
after supper of a cheese-paring: when a' was naked, he was, for all
the world, like a fork'd radish, with a head fantastically carved upon
it with a knife: a' was so forlorn, that his dimensions to any thick
sight were invincible: a' was the very genius of famine; yet lecherous
as a monkey, and the whores called him mandrake: a' came ever in the
rearward of the fashion, and sung those tunes to the overscutch'd
huswifes that he heard the carmen whistle, and sware they were his
fancies or his good-nights.
And now is this Vice's dagger become a squire, and talks as familiarly
of John a Gaunt as if he had been sworn brother to him; and I'll be
sworn a' ne'er saw him but once in the Tilt-yard; and then he burst
his head for crowding among the marshal's men.
I saw it, and told John a Gaunt he beat his own name; for you might
have thrust him and all his apparel into an eel-skin; the case of a
treble hautboy was a mansion for him, a court: and now has he land
Well, I'll be acquainted with him, if I return; and it shall go hard
but I'll make him a philosopher's two stones to me: if the young dace
be a bait for the old pike, I see no reason in the law of nature but I
may snap at him.
Let time shape, and there an end.