SCENE I. Westminster. The palace.
[Enter the King in his nightgown, with a Page.]
Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick;
But, ere they come, bid them o'er-read these letters,
And well consider of them: make good speed.
How many thousands of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
In loathsome beds, and leavest the kingly couch
A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
[Enter Warwick and Surrey.]
Many good morrows to your majesty!
Is it good morrow, lords?
'Tis one o'clock, and past.
Why then, good morrow to you all, my lords.
Have you read o'er the letters that I sent you?
We have, my liege.
Then you perceive the body of our kingdom
How foul it is; what rank diseases grow,
And with what danger, near the heart of it.
It is but as a body yet distemper'd;
Which to his former strength may be restored
With good advice and little medicine:
My Lord Northumberland will soon be cool'd.
O God! that one might read the book of fate,
And see the revolution of the times
Make mountains level, and the continent,
Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
Into the sea! and, other times, to see
The beachy girdle of the ocean
Too wide for Neptune's hips; how chances mock,
And changes fill the cup of alteration
With divers liquors! O, if this were seen,
The happiest youth, viewing his progress through,
What perils past, what crosses to ensue,
Would shut the book, and sit him down and die.
'Tis not ten years gone
Since Richard and Northumberland, great friends,
Did feast together, and in two years after
Were they at wars: it is but eight years since
This Percy was the man nearest my soul,
Who like a brother toil'd in my affairs
And laid his love and life under my foot,
Yea, for my sake, even to the eyes of Richard
Gave him defiance. But which of you was by--
You, cousin Nevil, as I may remember--
When Richard, with his eye brimful of tears,
Then check'd and rated by Northumberland,
Did speak these words, now proved a prophecy?
"Northumberland, thou ladder by the which
My cousin Bolingbroke ascends my throne;"
Though then, God knows, I had no such intent,
But that necessity so bow'd the state
That I and greatness were compell'd to kiss:
"The time shall come," thus did he follow it,
"The time will come, that foul sin, gathering head,
Shall break into corruption:" so went on,
Foretelling this same time's condition
And the division of our amity.
There is a history in all men's lives,
Figuring the natures of the times deceased;
The which observed, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life, who in their seeds
And weak beginning lie intreasured.
Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
And by the necessary form of this
King Richard might create a perfect guess
That great Northumberland, then false to him,
Would of that seed grow to a greater falseness;
Which should not find a ground to root upon,
Unless on you.
Are these things then necessities?
Then let us meet them like necessities:
And that same word even now cries out on us:
They say the bishop and Northumberland
Are fifty thousand strong.
It cannot be, my lord;
Rumour doth double, like the voice and echo,
The numbers of the fear'd. Please it your grace
To go to bed. Upon my soul, my lord,
The powers that you already have sent forth
Shall bring this prize in very easily.
To comfort you the more, I have received
A certain instance that Glendower is dead.
Your majesty hath been this fortnight ill,
And these unseason'd hours perforce must add
Unto your sickness.
I will take your counsel:
And were these inward wars once out of hand,
We would, dear lords, unto the Holy Land.
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.