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goodman Adam, to the pupil age of this present twelve o'clock at midnight. [Re-enter FRANCIS with Wine.] What's o'clock, Francis ?
Fran. Anon, anon, sir.
P. Hen. That ever this fellow should have fewer words than a parrot, and yet the son of a woman !His industry is — up-stairs, and down-stairs ; his eloquence, the parcel of a reckoning. I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the north; he that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife, - Fye upon this quiet life! I want work. O my sweet Harry, says she, how many hast thou killed to-day? Give my roan horse a drench, says he
; and answers, Some fourteen, an hour after; a trifle, a trifle. I pr’ythee, call in Falstaff; I'll play Percy, and he shall play dame Mortimer his wife. Call in ribs, call in tallow.
Enter FALSTAFF, GADSHILL, BARDOLPH, and
Peto. Poins. Welcome, Jack. Where hast thou been ?
Fal. A plague of all cowards, I say, and a vengeance too! marry, and amen !--Give me a cup of sack, boy. - Ere I lead this life long, I'll sew nether-stocks, and mend them, and foot them too. A plague of all cowards !–Give me a cup of sack, rogue.- Is there no virtue extant ? [He drinks.
P. Hen. Didst thou never see Titan kiss a dish of butter? pitiful-hearted Titan, that melted at the sweet tale of the son! if thou didst, then behold that compound.
Fal. You rogue, here's lime in this sack too : There is nothing but roguery to be found in villainous man: Yet a coward is worse than a cup of sack with lime in it; a villainous coward. --Go thy ways,
old Jack; die when thou wilt, if manhood, good manhood, be not forgotten upon the face of the earth, then am I a shotten herring. There live not three good men unhanged in England; and one of them is fat, and grows old : Heaven help the while ! a bad world, I say! I would, I were a weaver ; I could sing psalms or any thing: A plague of all cowards, I say still. .
P. Hen. How now, wool-sack? what mutter you?
Fal. A king's son! If I do not beat thee out of thy kingdom with a dagger of lath, and drive all thy subjects afore thee like a flock of wild geese, I'll never wear hair on my face more.
You prince of Wales !
P. Hen. Why, you round man ! what's the matter?
Fal. Are you not a coward? answer me to that ; and Poins there?
Poins. Ye fat paunch, an ye call me coward I'll stab thee.
Fal. I call thee coward ! I'll see thee hang'd ere I call thee coward : but I would give a thousand pound, I could run as fast as thou canst. You are straight enough in the shoulders, you care not who sees your back: Call you that backing of your friends ? A plague upon such backing ! give me them that will face me. Give me a cup of sack : - I am a rogue, if I drunk to-day.
P. Hen. villain! thy lips scarce wiped since thou drunk'st last.
Fal. All's one for that. A plague of all cowards, still say I.
[He drinks. P. Hen. What's the matter ?
Fal. What's the matter? there be four of us here have ta'en a thousand pound this morning.
P. Hen. Where is it, Jack? where is it?
Fal. Where is it? taken from us it is : a hundred upon poor four of us. P. Hen. What, a hundred, man?
Fal. I am a rogue, if I were not at half-sword with a dozen of them two hours together. I have 'scap'd by miracle. I am eight times thrust through the doublet; four, through the hose; my buckler cut through and through ; my sword hacked like a handsaw, ecce signum. I never dealt better since I was a man; all would not do. A plague of all cowards ! -Let them speak: if they speak more or less than truth, they are villains, and the sons of darkness.
P. Hen. Speak, sirs ; how was it?
Fal. You rogue, they were bound, every man of them; or I am a Jew else, an Ebrew Jew.
Gads. As we were sharing, some six or seven fresh men set upon us,
Fal. And unbound the rest, and then come in the other.
P. Hen. What, fought ye with them all ?
Fal. All? I know not what ye call all; but if I fought not with fifty of them, I am a bunch of radish : if there were not two or three and fifty upon poor old Jack, then I am no two-legged creature.
Poins. Pray heaven you have not murdered some of them.
Fal. Nay, that's past praying for: for I have peppered two of them : two, I am sure, I have paid; two rogues in buckram suits. I tell thee what, Hal,
if I tell thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse. Thou knowest my old ward ;here I lay, and thus I bore my point. Four rogues in buckram let drive at me,
P. Hen. What, four ? thou said'st but two, even
Fal. Four, Hal; I told thee four.
Fal. These four came all a-front, and mainly thrust at me. I made me no more ado, but took all their seven points in my target, thus.
P. Hen. Seven? why, there were but four, even now.
Fal. In buckram.
P. Hen. Pr’ythee, let him alone; we shall have more anon. Fal. Dost thou hear
Fal. Do so, for it is worth the listening to, These nine in buckram, that I told thee of,
P. Hen. So, two more already.
Fal. Began to give me ground: But I followed me close, came in foot, and hand; and, with a thought, seven of the eleven I paid.
P. Hen. O monstrous ! eleven buckram 'men grown out of two!
Fal. But, as the devil would have it, three mis. begotten knaves, in Kendals green, came at my back, and let drive at me ; for it was so dark, Hal, that thou could'st not see thy hand.
P. Hen. These lies are like the father that begets them; gross as a mountain, open, palpable. Why, thou knotty-pated fool.
Fal. What, art thou mad ? art thou mad? is not the truth, the truth?
P. Hen. Why, how could'st thou know these men in Kendal green, when it was so dark thou could'st not see thy hand ? come tell us your reason ; What sayest thou to this? Poins. Come, your reason, Jack, your Fal. What, upon compulsion ? No; were I at
5 A town in Westmoreland famous for making cloth.
the strappado, or all the racks in the world, I would not tell you on compulsion. Give you a reason on compulsion! if reasons were as plenty as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.
P. Hen. I'll be no longer guilty of this sin ; this sanguine coward, this horse-back-breaker, this huge hill of flesh;
Fal. Away, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neats-tongue, you stock-fish,-0, for breath to utter what is like thee !—you tailor's yard, you sheath, you bow-case !
P. Hen. Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again : and when thou hast tired thyself in base comparisons, hear me speak but this.
Poins. Mark, Jack.
P. Hen. We two saw you four set on four; you bound them, and were masters of their wealth.Mark now, how a plain tale shall put you down. Then did we two set on you four: and, with a word, out-faced you from your prize, and have it; yea, and can show it you here in the house : -and, Falstaff
, you ran away as nimbly, with as quick dexterity, and roared for mercy, and still ran and roared, as ever I heard a bull-calf. What a slave art thou, to hack thy sword as thou hast done; and then say, it was in fight? What trick, what device, what starting-hole, canst thou now find out, to hide thee from this open
apparent shame ? Poins. Come, let's hear, Jack; What trick hast thou now?
Fal. By the Lord, I knew ye, as well as he that made ye. Why, hear ye, my masters : Was it for me to kill the heir apparent ? Should I turn upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest, I am as valiant as Hercules : but beware instinct; the lion will not touch the true prince. Instinct is a great matter; I was a coward on instinct. I shall think the better of myself and thee, during my life I,