Eastcheap. The Boar’s Head Tavern.
(Falstaff; Bardolph; Hostess; Prince Henry; Peto)
Falstaff and Bardolph insult one another. The Hostess insists he owes her a great deal of money, which he denies, claiming that he has had his pocket picked in her tavern. Both complain to the newly-arrived Hal, who reprimands Falstaff. The Prince has found the knight a command in the army, and orders him to meet up with him the next day. (84 lines)
Enter Falstaff and Bardolph.
Bardolph, am I not fall’n 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 wither’d 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. And 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.
Why, there is it. Come sing me a bawdy song, make me merry. I was as virtuously given as a gentleman need to be, virtuous enough: swore little, dic’d not above seven times—a week, went to a bawdy-house not above once in a quarter—of an hour, paid money that I borrow’d—three or four times, liv’d well and in good compass, and now I live out of all order, out of all compass.
Why, you are so fat, Sir John, that you must needs be out of all compass, out of all reasonable compass, Sir John.
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.
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 liv’d 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 ran’st up Gadshill 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 sav’d 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 belly!
God-a-mercy, so should I be sure to be heart-burnt.
How now, Dame Partlet the hen? Have you inquir’d yet who pick’d my pocket?
Why, Sir John, what do you think, Sir John? Do you think I keep thieves in my house? I have search’d, I have inquir’d, 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 shav’d, and lost many a hair, and I’ll be sworn my pocket was pick’d. Go to, you are a woman, go.
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.
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.
Dowlas, filthy dowlas. I have given them away to bakers’ wives, 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.
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.
O Jesu, I have heard the Prince tell him, I know not how oft, that that ring was copper!
How? The Prince is a Jack, a sneak-up. ’Sblood, and he were here, I would cudgel him like a dog if he would say so.
Enter the Prince marching, with Peto, and Falstaff meets him playing upon 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.
What say’st thou, Mistress Quickly? How doth thy husband? I love him well, he is an honest man.
Good my lord, hear me.
Prithee let her alone, and list to me.
What say’st thou, Jack?
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?
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.
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.
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 womanhood, Maid Marian may be the deputy’s wife of the ward to thee. Go, you thing, go.
Say, what thing? What thing?
What thing? Why, a thing to thank God on.
I am no thing to thank God on, I would thou shouldst know it. 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?
Why? She’s neither fish nor flesh, a man knows not where to have her.
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.
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?
Why, Hal! Thou knowest, 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?
The King himself is to be fear’d as the lion. Dost thou think I’ll fear thee as I fear thy father? Nay, and I do, I pray God my girdle break.
O, if it should, how would thy guts fall about thy knees! But, sirrah, there’s no room for faith, truth, nor honesty in this bosom of thine; it is all fill’d up with guts and midriff. Charge an honest woman with picking thy pocket! Why, thou whoreson, impudent, emboss’d rascal, if there were any thing in thy pocket but tavern-reckonings, memorandums of bawdy-houses, 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 asham’d?
Dost thou hear, Hal? Thou knowest in the state of innocency Adam fell, and what should poor Jack Falstaff do in the days of villainy? Thou seest 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.
Hostess, I forgive thee. Go make ready breakfast; love thy husband, look to thy servants, cherish thy guesse. Thou shalt find me tractable to any honest reason; thou seest I am pacified still. Nay, prithee be gone.
Now, Hal, to the news at court for the robbery, lad, how is that answer’d?
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 labor.
I am good friends with my father and may do any thing.
Rob me the exchequer the first thing thou doest, and do it with unwash’d hands too.
Do, my lord.
I have procur’d thee, Jack, a charge of foot.
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 thank’d for these rebels, they offend none but the virtuous. I laud them, I praise them.
Go bear this letter to Lord John of Lancaster,
To my brother John; this to my Lord of Westmorland.
Go, Peto, to horse, to horse, for thou and I
Have thirty miles to ride yet ere dinner-time.
Jack, meet me tomorrow in the Temple Hall
At two a’ clock in the 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 we or they must lower lie.
Rare words! Brave world! Hostess, my breakfast, come!
O, I could wish this tavern were my drum!