ACT 1, SCENE II: London. An apartment of the Prince's.

Enter the PRINCE OF WALES and FALSTAFF.

FALSTAFF: Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?

PRINCE HENRY: Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old
sack and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping
upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to
demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know.                         [5]
What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day?
Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes capons
and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the signs
of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself a fair hot
wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why                      [10]
thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time
of the day.

FALSTAFF: Indeed, you come near me now, Hal; for
we that take purses go by the moon and the seven
stars, and not by Ph¦bus, he, 'that wandering knight                       [15]
so fair.' And, I prithee, sweet wag, when thou art
king, as, God save thy grace,--majesty I should say,
for grace thou wilt have none,--

PRINCE HENRY: What, none?

FALSTAFF: No, by my troth, not so much as will serve                              [20]
to prologue to an egg and butter.

PRINCE HENRY: Well, how then? come, roundly, roundly.

FALSTAFF: Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art
king, let not us that are squires of the night's body be
called thieves of the day's beauty: let us be Diana's                           [25]
foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the
moon; and let men say we be men of good govern-
ment, being governed, as the sea is, by our noble and
chaste mistress the moon, under whose countenance
we steal.                                                                                                        [30]

PRINCE HENRY: Thou sayest well, and it holds well too; for
the fortune of us that are the moon's men doth ebb
and flow like the sea, being governed, as the sea is, by
the moon. As, for proof, now: a purse of gold most
resolutely snatched on Monday night and most                                [35]
dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning; got with
swearing 'Lay by' and spent with crying 'Bring
in;' now in as low an ebb as the foot of the ladder and
by and by in as high a flow as the ridge of the gallows.

FALSTAFF: By the Lord, thou sayest true, lad. And is                                 [40]
not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?

PRINCE HENRY: As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle.
And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance?

FALSTAFF: How now, how now, mad wag! what, in
thy quips and thy quiddities? what a plague have I to                     [45]
do with a buff jerkin?

PRINCE HENRY: Why, what a pox have I to do with my
hostess of the tavern?

FALSTAFF: Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning
many a time and oft.                                                                                 [50]

PRINCE HENRY: Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?

FALSTAFF: No; I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all
there.

PRINCE HENRY: Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would
stretch; and where it would not, I have used my credit.                   [55]

FALSTAFF: Yea, and so used it that were it not here
apparent that thou art heir apparent--But, I prithee,
sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in England
when thou art king? and resolution thus fobbed as
it is with the rusty curb of old father antic the law?                           [60]
Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief.

PRINCE HENRY: No; thou shalt.

FALSTAFF: Shall I? O rare! By the Lord, I'll be a brave
judge.

PRINCE HENRY: Thou judgest false already: I mean, thou shalt             [65]
have the hanging of the thieves and so become a rare
hangman.

FALSTAFF: Well, Hal, well; and in some sort it jumps
with my humour as well as waiting in the court, I can
tell you.                                                                                                         [70]

PRINCE HENRY: For obtaining of suits?

FALSTAFF: Yea, for obtaining of suits, whereof the
hangman hath no lean wardrobe. 'Sblood, I am as
melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear.

PRINCE HENRY: Or an old lion, or a lover's lute.                                        [75]

FALSTAFF: Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bag-
pipe.

PRINCE HENRY: What sayest thou to a hare, or the melan-
choly of Moor-ditch?

FALSTAFF: Thou hast the most unsavoury similes and                             [80]
art indeed the most comparative, rascalliest, sweet
young Prince. But, Hal, I prithee, trouble me no more
with vanity. I would to God thou and I knew where
a commodity of good names were to be bought. An
old lord of the council rated me the other day in the                        [85]
street about you, sir, but I marked him not; and yet he
talked very wisely, but I regarded him not; and yet he
talked wisely, and in the street too.

PRINCE HENRY: Thou didst well; for wisdom cries out in the
streets, and no man regards it.                                                                [90]

FALSTAFF: O, thou hast damnable iteration and are
indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much
harm upon me, Hal; God forgive thee for it! Before
I knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing; and now am I, if a
man should speak truly, little better than one of the                        [95]
wicked. I must give over this life, and I will give it
over: by the Lord, an I do not, I am a villain: I'll be
damned for never a king's son in Christendom.

PRINCE HENRY: Where shall we take a purse tomorrow,
Jack?                                                                                                              [100]

FALSTAFF: 'Zounds, where thou wilt, lad; I'll make
one; an I do not, call me villain and baffle me.

PRINCE HENRY: I see a good amendment of life in thee; from
praying to purse-taking.

FALSTAFF: Why, Hal, 'tis my vocation, Hal; 'tis no                                     [105]
sin for a man to labour in his vocation.
[Enter POINS. Poins! Now shall we know if Gadshill have set a
match. O, if men were to be saved by merit, what
hole in hell were hot enough for him? This is the most
omnipotent villain that ever cried 'Stand' to a true                          [110]
man.

PRINCE HENRY: Good morrow, Ned.

POINS: Good morrow, sweet Hal. What says Monsieur
Remorse? what says Sir John Sack and Sugar? Jack!
how agrees the devil and thee about thy soul, that thou                  [115]
soldest him on Good-Friday last for a cup of Madeira
and a cold capon's leg?

PRINCE HENRY: Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall
have his bargain; for he was never yet a breaker of
proverbs: he will give the devil his due.                                             [120]

POINS: Then art thou damned for keeping thy word
with the devil.

PRINCE HENRY: Else he had been damned for cozening the
devil.

POINS: But, my lads, my lads, to-morrow morning, by                                [125]
four o'clock, early at Gadshill! there are pilgrims
going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders
riding to London with fat purses: I have vizards for
you all; you have horses for yourselves: Gadshill lies
to-night in Rochester: I have bespoke supper to-morrow               [130]
night in Eastcheap: we may do it as secure as sleep.
If you will go, I will stuff your purses full of crowns;
if you will not, tarry at home and be hanged.

FALSTAFF: Hear ye, Yedward; if I tarry at home and
go not, I'll hang you for going.                                                                [135]

POINS: You will, chops?

FALSTAFF: Hal, wilt thou make one?

PRINCE HENRY: Who, I rob? I a thief? not I, by my faith.

FALSTAFF: There's neither honesty, manhood, nor
good fellowship in thee, nor thou camest not of the                         [140]
blood royal, if thou darest not stand for ten shillings.

PRINCE HENRY: Well then, once in my days I'll be a madcap.

FALSTAFF: Why, that's well said.

PRINCE HENRY: Well, come what will, I'll tarry at home.

FALSTAFF: By the Lord, I'll be a traitor then, when                                     [145]
thou art king.

PRINCE HENRY: I care not.

POINS: Sir John, I prithee, leave the prince and me
alone: I will lay him down such reasons for this
adventure that he shall go.                                                                      [150]

FALSTAFF: Well, God give thee the spirit of persuasion
and him the ears of profiting, that what thou speakest
may move and what he hears may be believed, that
the true prince may, for recreation sake, prove a false
thief; for the poor abuses of the time want counte-                           [155]
nance. Farewell: you shall find me in Eastcheap.

PRINCE HENRY: Farewell, thou latter spring! farewell, All-
hallown summer!

[Exit Falstaff.]

POINS: Now, my good sweet honey lord, ride with us
to-morrow: I have a jest to execute that I cannot                                [160]
manage alone. Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto and Gadshill
shall rob those men that we have already waylaid;
yourself and I will not be there; and when they have
the booty, if you and I do not rob them, cut this head
off from my shoulders.                                                                             [165]

PRINCE HENRY: How shall we part with them in setting forth?

POINS: Why, we will set forth before or after them, and
appoint them a place of meeting, wherein it is at our
pleasure to fail, and then will they adventure upon the
exploit themselves; which they shall have no sooner                      [170]
achieved, but we'll set upon them.

PRINCE HENRY: Yea, but 'tis like that they will know us by our
horses, by our habits and by every other appoint-
ment, to be ourselves.

POINS: Tut! our horses they shall not see: I'll tie them                               [175]
in the wood; our vizards we will change after we leave
them: and, sirrah, I have cases of buckram for the
nonce, to immask our noted outward garments.

PRINCE HENRY: Yea, but I doubt they will be too hard for us.

POINS: Well, for two of them, I know them to be as                                    [180]
true-bred cowards as ever turned back; and for the
third, if he fight longer than he sees reason, I'll for-
swear arms. The virtue of this jest will be, the incom-
prehensible lies that this same fat rogue will tell us
when we meet at supper: how thirty, at least, he fought                 [185]
with; what wards, what blows, what extremities he
endured; and in the reproof of this lies the jest.

PRINCE HENRY: Well, I'll go with thee: provide us all things
necessary and meet me to-morrow night in Eastcheap;
there I'll sup. Farewell.                                                                            [190]

POINS: Farewell, my lord.
[Exit Poins.]

PRINCE HENRY: I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds                                     [195]
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.                                           [200]
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behaviour I throw off                                           [205]
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,                                             [210]
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

[Exit.]


Go to the next scene.
Go to the previous scene.
Return to the list of scenes