Eastcheap. A Room in the Boar’s-Head Tavern.
[Enter Falstaff and Bardolph.]
FAL. Bardolph, am I not fallen away vilely since this last action? do I not bate? do I not dwindle? Why, my skin hangs about me like an old lady’s loose gown; I am withered like an old apple-John. Well, I’ll repent, and that suddenly, while I am in some liking; I shall be out of heart shortly, and then I shall have no strength to repent. An I have not forgotten what the inside of a church is made of, I am a peppercorn, a brewer’s horse: the inside of a church! Company, villainous company, hath been the spoil of me.
Sir John, you are so fretful, you cannot live long.
FAL. Why, there is it: come, sing me a song; make me merry. I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need to be; virtuous enough; swore little; diced not above seven times a week; paid money that I borrowed —three or four times; lived well, and in good compass: and now I live out of all order, out of all compass.
BARD. Why, you are so fat, Sir John, that you must needs be out of all compass, —out of all reasonable compass, Sir John.
FAL. Do thou amend thy face, and I’ll amend my life: thou art our admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop,—but ’tis in the nose of thee; thou art the Knight of the Burning Lamp.
Why, Sir John, my face does you no harm.
FAL. No, I’ll be sworn; I make as good use of it as many a man doth of a death’s-head or a memento mori: I never see thy face but I think upon hell-fire, and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his robes, burning, burning. If thou wert any way given to virtue, I would swear by thy face; my oath should be, By this fire, that’s God’s angel: but thou art altogether given over; and wert indeed, but for the light in thy face, the son of utter darkness. When thou rann’st up Gad’s-hill in the night to catch my horse, if I did not think thou hadst been an ignis fatuus or a ball of wildfire, there’s no purchase in money. O, thou art a perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! Thou hast saved me a thousand marks in links and torches, walking with thee in the night betwixt tavern and tavern: but the sack that thou hast drunk me would have bought me lights as good cheap at the dearest chandler’s in Europe. I have maintain’d that salamander of yours with fire any time this two-and-thirty years; God reward me for it!
‘Sblood, I would my face were in your stomach!
God-a-mercy! so should I be sure to be heart-burn’d.—
[Enter the Hostess.]
How now, Dame Partlet the hen! have you enquir’d yet who pick’d my pocket?
HOST. Why, Sir John, what do you think, Sir John? do you think I keep thieves in my house? I have search’d, I have inquired, so has my husband, man by man, boy by boy, servant by servant: the tithe of a hair was never lost in my house before.
Ye lie, hostess: Bardolph was shaved, and lost many a hair; and
I’ll be sworn my pocket was pick’d. Go to, you are a woman, go.
HOST. Who, I? no; I defy thee: God’s light, I was never call’d so in mine own house before.
Go to, I know you well enough.
HOST. No, Sir John; you do not know me, Sir John. I know you, Sir John: you owe me money, Sir John; and now you pick a quarrel to beguile me of it: I bought you a dozen of shirts to your back.
FAL. Dowlas, filthy dowlas: I have given them away to bakers’ wives, and they have made bolters of them.
Now, as I am a true woman, holland of eight shillings an ell.
You owe money here besides, Sir John, for your diet and by-drinkings,
and money lent you, four-and-twenty pound.
He had his part of it; let him pay.
He? alas, he is poor; he hath nothing.
FAL. How! poor? look upon his face; what call you rich? let them coin his nose, let them coin his cheeks: I’ll not pay a denier. What, will you make a younker of me? shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but I shall have my pocket pick’d? I have lost a seal-ring of my grandfather’s worth forty mark.
HOST. O Jesu, I have heard the Prince tell him, I know not how oft, that that ring was copper!
FAL. How! the Prince is a Jack, a sneak-cup: ‘sblood, an he were here, I would cudgel him like a dog, if he would say so.—
[Enter Prince Henry and Pointz, marching. Falstaff meets them, playing on his truncheon like a fife.]
How now, lad? is the wind in that door, i’faith? must we all march?
Yea, two-and-two, Newgate-fashion.
My lord, I pray you, hear me.
PRINCE. What say’st thou, Mistress Quickly? How doth thy husband? I love him well; he is an honest man.
Good my lord, hear me.
Pr’ythee, let her alone, and list to me.
What say’st thou, Jack?
FAL. The other night I fell asleep here behind the arras, and had my pocket pick’d: this house is turn’d bawdy-house; they pick pockets.
What didst thou lose, Jack?
FAL. Wilt thou believe me, Hal? three or four bonds of forty pound a-piece and a seal-ring of my grandfather’s.
A trifle, some eight-penny matter.
HOST. So I told him, my lord; and I said I heard your Grace say so; and, my lord, he speaks most vilely of you, like a foul-mouth’d man as he is; and said he would cudgel you.
What! he did not?
There’s neither faith, truth, nor womanhood in me else.
FAL. There’s no more faith in thee than in a stew’d prune; nor no more truth in thee than in a drawn fox; and, for woman-hood, Maid Marian may be the deputy’s wife of the ward to thee. Go, you thing, go.
HOST. Say, what thing? what thing? I am an honest man’s wife: and, setting thy knighthood aside, thou art a knave to call me so.
Setting thy womanhood aside, thou art a beast to say otherwise.
Say, what beast, thou knave, thou?
What beast! why, an otter.
An otter, Sir John, why an otter?
FAL. Why, she’s neither fish nor flesh; a man knows not where to have her.
HOST. Thou art an unjust man in saying so; thou or any man knows where to have me, thou knave, thou!
Thou say’st true, hostess; and he slanders thee most grossly.
HOST. So he doth you, my lord; and said this other day you ought him a thousand pound.
Sirrah, do I owe you a thousand pound?
A thousand pound, Hal! a million: thy love is worth a million; thou owest me thy love.
Nay, my lord, he call’d you Jack, and said he would cudgel you.
Did I, Bardolph?
Indeed, Sir John, you said so.
Yea, if he said my ring was copper.
I say ’tis copper: darest thou be as good as thy word now?
FAL. Why, Hal, thou know’st, as thou art but man, I dare; but as thou art prince, I fear thee as I fear the roaring of the lion’s whelp.
And why not as the lion?
FAL. The King himself is to be feared as the lion: dost thou think I’ll fear thee as I fear thy father? nay, an I do, I pray God my girdle break.
PRINCE. Sirrah, there’s no room for faith, truth, nor honesty in this bosom of thine; it is all fill’d up with midriff. Charge an honest woman with picking thy pocket! why, thou whoreson, impudent, emboss’d rascal, if there were anything in thy pocket but tavern-reckonings, and one poor pennyworth of sugar-candy to make thee long-winded,—if thy pocket were enrich’d with any other injuries but these, I am a villain: and yet you will stand to it; you will not pocket-up wrong. Art thou not ashamed!
FAL. Dost thou hear, Hal? thou know’st, in the state of innocency Adam fell; and what should poor Jack Falstaff do in the days of villainy? Thou see’st I have more flesh than another man; and therefore more frailty. You confess, then, you pick’d my pocket?
It appears so by the story.
FAL. Hostess, I forgive thee: go, make ready breakfast; love thy husband, look to thy servants, cherish thy guests: thou shalt find me tractable to any honest reason; thou see’st I am pacified.—Still? Nay, pr’ythee, be gone.
Now, Hal, to the news at Court: for the robbery, lad, how is that answered?
PRINCE. O, my sweet beef, I must still be good angel to thee: the money is paid back again.
O, I do not like that paying back; ’tis a double labour.
I am good friends with my father, and may do any thing.
FAL. Rob me the exchequer the first thing thou doest, and do it with unwash’d hands too.
Do, my lord.
I have procured thee, Jack, a charge of Foot.
FAL. I would it had been of Horse. Where shall I find one that can steal well? O, for a fine thief, of the age of two-and-twenty or thereabouts! I am heinously unprovided. Well, God be thanked for these rebels; they offend none but the virtuous: I laud them, I praise them.
Go bear this letter to Lord John of Lancaster,
My brother John; this to my Lord of Westmoreland.—
Go, Pointz, to horse, to horse; for thou and I
Have thirty miles to ride yet ere dinner-time.—
Meet me to-morrow, Jack, i’ the Temple-hall
At two o’clock in th’ afternoon:
There shalt thou know thy charge; and there receive
Money and order for their furniture.
The land is burning; Percy stands on high;
And either they or we must lower lie.
Rare words! brave world!—Hostess, my breakfast; come:—
O, I could wish this tavern were my drum!