London. A street.
(Sir John Falstaff; Page; Lord Chief Justice; Servant to the Lord Chief Justice)
Falstaff, who has been pardoned his part in the robbery at Gadshill for his services at the battle of Shrewsbury, is wandering the streets in good humor when the Lord Chief Justice arrives. Falstaff attempts to avoid him, and then refuses to treat him seriously when the Chief Justice attempts to reprove him for his ill life. The Chief Justice absolutely refuses to give Falstaff a thousand pounds to help him raise troops for the expedition against Northumberland and the Archbishop. Almost out of money, Falstaff sends off letters to people who may lend to him. (73 lines)
Enter Sir John Falstaff alone, with his Page, following behind, bearing his sword and buckler.
Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water?
He said, sir, the water itself was a good healthy water, but for the party that ow’d it, he might have more diseases than he knew for.
Men of all sorts take a pride to gird at me. The brain of this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to invent any thing that intends to laughter more than I invent or is invented on me: I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men. I do here walk before thee like a sow that hath overwhelm’d all her litter but one. If the Prince put thee into my service for any other reason than to set me off, why then I have no judgment. Thou whoreson mandrake, thou art fitter to be worn in my cap than to wait at my heels. I was never mann’d with an agot till now, but I will inset you neither in gold nor silver, but in vile apparel, and send you back again to your master for a jewel—the juvenal, the Prince your master, whose chin is not yet fledge. I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand than he shall get one of his cheek, and yet he will not stick to say his face is a face royal. God may finish it when he will, ’tis not a hair amiss yet. He may keep it still at a face royal, for a barber shall never earn sixpence out of it; and yet he’ll be crowing as if he had writ man ever since his father was a bachelor. He may keep his own grace, but he’s almost out of mine, I can assure him. What said Master Dommelton about the satin for my short cloak and my slops?
He said, sir, you should procure him better assurance than Bardolph. He would not take his bond and yours, he lik’d not the security.
Let him be damn’d like the glutton! Pray God his tongue be hotter! A whoreson Achitophel! A rascally yea-forsooth knave, to bear a gentleman in hand, and then stand upon security! The whoreson smoothy-pates do now wear nothing but high shoes, and bunches of keys at their girdles, and if a man is through with them in honest taking up, then they must stand upon security. I had as live they would put ratsbane in my mouth as offer to stop it with security. I look’d ’a should have sent me two and twenty yards of satin (as I am a true knight), and he sends me security! Well, he may sleep in security, for he hath the horn of abundance, and the lightness of his wife shines through it; and yet cannot he see, though he have his own lanthorn to light him. Where’s Bardolph?
He’s gone into Smithfield to buy your worship a horse.
I bought him in Paul’s, and he’ll buy me a horse in Smithfield; and I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were mann’d, hors’d, and wiv’d.
Enter Lord Chief Justice and Servant.
Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the Prince for striking him about Bardolph.
Wait close, I will not see him.
What’s he that goes there?
Falstaff, and’t please your lordship.
He that was in question for the robb’ry?
He, my lord, but he hath since done good service at Shrewsbury, and (as I hear) is now going with some charge to the Lord John of Lancaster.
What, to York? Call him back again.
Sir John Falstaff!
Boy, tell him I am deaf.
You must speak louder, my master is deaf.
I am sure he is, to the hearing of any thing good. Go pluck him by the elbow, I must speak with him.
What? A young knave, and begging? Is there not wars? Is there not employment? Doth not the King lack subjects? Do not the rebels need soldiers? Though it be a shame to be on any side but one, it is worse shame to beg than to be on the worst side, were it worse than the name of rebellion can tell how to make it.
You mistake me, sir.
Why, sir, did I say you were an honest man? Setting my knighthood and my soldiership aside, I had lied in my throat if I had said so.
I pray you, sir, then set your knighthood and your soldiership aside, and give me leave to tell you you lie in your throat if you say I am any other than an honest man.
I give thee leave to tell me so? I lay aside that which grows to me? If thou get’st any leave of me, hang me; if thou tak’st leave, thou wert better be hang’d. You hunt counter, hence, avaunt!
Sir, my lord would speak with you.
Sir John Falstaff, a word with you.
My good lord! God give your lordship good time of day. I am glad to see your lordship abroad. I heard say your lordship was sick, I hope your lordship goes abroad by advice. Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, have yet some smack of an ague in you, some relish of the saltness of time in you, and I most humbly beseech your lordship to have a reverend care of your health.
Sir John, I sent for you before your expedition to Shrewsbury.
And’t please your lordship, I hear his Majesty is return’d with some discomfort from Wales.
I talk not of his Majesty. You would not come when I sent for you.
And I hear, moreover, his Highness is fall’n into this same whoreson apoplexy.
Well, God mend him! I pray you let me speak with you.
This apoplexy, as I take it, is a kind of lethargy, and’t please your lordship, a kind of sleeping in the blood, a whoreson tingling.
What tell you me of it? Be it as it is.
It hath it original from much grief, from study, and perturbation of the brain. I have read the cause of his effects in Galen, it is a kind of deafness.
I think you are fall’n into the disease, for you hear not what I say to you.
Very well, my lord, very well. Rather, and’t please you, it is the disease of not list’ning, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled withal.
To punish you by the heels would amend the attention of your ears, and I care not if I do become your physician.
I am as poor as Job, my lord, but not so patient. Your lordship may minister the potion of imprisonment to me in respect of poverty, but how I should be your patient to follow your prescriptions, the wise may make some dram of a scruple, or indeed a scruple itself.
I sent for you, when there were matters against you for your life, to come speak with me.
As I was then advis’d by my learned counsel in the laws of this land-service, I did not come.
Well, the truth is, Sir John, you live in great infamy.
He that buckles himself in my belt cannot live in less.
Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.
I would it were otherwise, I would my means were greater and my waist slenderer.
You have misled the youthful prince.
The young prince hath misled me. I am the fellow with the great belly, and he my dog.
Well, I am loath to gall a new-heal’d wound. Your day’s service at Shrewsbury hath a little gilded over your night’s exploit on Gadshill. You may thank th’ unquiet time for your quiet o’erposting that action.
But since all is well, keep it so, wake not a sleeping wolf.
To wake a wolf is as bad as smell a fox.
What, you are as a candle, the better part burnt out.
A wassail candle, my lord, all tallow; if I did say of wax, my growth would approve the truth.
There is not a white hair in your face but should have his effect of gravity.
His effect of gravy, gravy, gravy.
You follow the young prince up and down, like his ill angel.
Not so, my lord. Your ill angel is light, but I hope he that looks upon me will take me without weighing, and yet in some respects I grant I cannot go. I cannot tell. Virtue is of so little regard in these costermongers’ times that true valor is turn’d berrord; pregnancy is made a tapster, and his quick wit wasted in giving reckonings; all the other gifts appertinent to man, as the malice of this age shapes them, are not worth a gooseberry. You that are old consider not the capacities of us that are young, you do measure the heat of our livers with the bitterness of your galls; and we that are in the vaward of our youth, I must confess, are wags too.
Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth, that are written down old with all the characters of age? Have you not a moist eye, a dry hand, a yellow cheek, a white beard, a decreasing leg, an increasing belly? Is not your voice broken, your wind short, your chin double, your wit single, and every part about you blasted with antiquity? And will you yet call yourself young? Fie, fie, fie, Sir John!
My lord, I was born about three of the clock in the afternoon, with a white head and something a round belly. For my voice, I have lost it with hallowing and singing of anthems. To approve my youth further, I will not. The truth is, I am only old in judgment and understanding; and he that will caper with me for a thousand marks, let him lend me the money, and have at him! For the box of the year that the Prince gave you, he gave it like a rude prince, and you took it like a sensible lord. I have check’d him for it, and the young lion repents,
marry, not in ashes and sackcloth, but in new silk and old sack.
Well, God send the Prince a better companion!
God send the companion a better prince! I cannot rid my hands of him.
Well, the King hath sever’d you. I hear you are going with Lord John of Lancaster against the Archbishop and the Earl of Northumberland.
Yea, I thank your pretty sweet wit for it. But look you pray, all you that kiss my Lady Peace at home, that our armies join not in a hot day! For, by the Lord, I take but two shirts out with me, and I mean not to sweat extraordinarily. If it be a hot day, and I brandish any thing but a bottle, I would I might never spit white again. There is not a dangerous action can peep out his head but I am thrust upon it. Well, I cannot last ever, but it was alway yet the trick of our English nation, if they have a good thing, to make it too common. If ye will needs say I am an old man, you should give me rest. I would to God my name were not so terrible to the enemy as it is. I were better to be eaten to death with a rust than to be scour’d to nothing with perpetual motion.
Well, be honest, be honest, and God bless your expedition!
Will your lordship lend me a thousand pound to furnish me forth?
Not a penny, not a penny, you are too impatient to bear crosses. Fare you well! Commend me to my cousin Westmorland.
Exeunt Chief Justice and Servant.
If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle. A man can no more separate age and covetousness than ’a can part young limbs and lechery; but the gout galls the one, and the pox pinches the other, and so both the degrees prevent my curses. Boy!
What money is in my purse?
Seven groats and two pence.
I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse; borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable. Go bear this letter to my Lord of Lancaster, this to the Prince, this to the Earl of Westmorland, and this to old Mistress Ursula, whom I have weekly sworn to marry since I perceiv’d the first white hair of my chin. About it, you know where to find me.
A pox of this gout! Or a gout of this pox! For the one or the other plays the rogue with my great toe. ’Tis no matter if I do halt, I have the wars for my color, and my pension shall seem the more reasonable. A good wit will make use of any thing. I will turn diseases to commodity.