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yea-forsooth knave! to bear a gentleman in hand,1 and then stand upon security!-The whoreson smoothpates do now wear nothing but high shoes, and bunches of keys at their girdles; and if a man is thorough 2 with them in honest taking up, then they must stand upon-security. I had as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth, as offer to stop it with security. I looked he 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 lantern to light him.-Where's Bardolph ?
Page. He's gone into Smithfield, to buy your worship a horse.
Fal. I bought him in Paul's, and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield; an I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, and wived.
Enter the Lord Chief Justice,3 and an Attendant.
Page. Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the prince for striking him about Bardolph.
Fal. Wait close, I will not see him.
Ch. Just. He that was in question for the robbery? Atten. 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.
Ch. Just. What, to York? Call him back again. Atten. Sir John Falstaff!
Fal. Boy, tell him I am deaf,
Page. You must speak louder; my master is deaf. Ch. Just. I am sure he is, to the hearing of any
1 To bear in hand is to keep in expectation by false promises.
2 i. e. in their debt, by taking up goods on credit.
3 This judge was sir Wm. Gascoigne, chief justice of the King's Bench. He died Dec. 17, 1413.
thing good.-Go, pluck him by the elbow; I must speak with him.
Atten. Sir John,
Fal. What! a young knave, and beg! 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.
Atten. You mistake me, sir.
Fal. 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.
Atten. 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.
Fal. 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 takest leave, thou wert better be hanged. You hunt counter; hence! avaunt!
Atten. Sir, my lord would speak with you.
Fal. 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, hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time; and I most humbly beseech your lordship, to have a reverend care of your health.
Ch. Just. Sir John, I sent for you before dition to Shrewsbury.
1 To hunt counter was to hunt the wrong way, to trace the scent backwards; to hunt it by the heel is the technical phrase. Falstaff means to tell the man that he is on a wrong scent. The folio and the modern editions print hunt-counter with a hyphen, so as to make it appear like a name; but in the quartos the words are disjoined-hunt counter.
Fal. An't please your lordship, I hear, his majesty is returned with some discomfort from Wales.
Ch. Just. I talk not of his majesty.-You would not come when I sent for you.
Fal. And I hear, moreover, his highness is fallen into this same whoreson apoplexy.
Ch. Just. Well, Heaven mend him! I pray, let me speak with you.
Fal. This apoplexy is, as I take it, a kind of lethargy, an't please your lordship; a kind of sleeping in the blood, a whoreson tingling.
Ch. Just. What tell you me of it? be it as it is. Fal. It hath its original from much grief; from study, and perturbation of the brain. I have read the cause of its effects in Galen; it is a kind of deafness.
Ch. Just. I think you are fallen into the disease ; for you hear not what I say to you.
Fal. Very well, my lord, very well; rather, an't please you, it is the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled withal.
Ch. Just. To punish you by the heels would amend the attention of your ears; and I care not, if I do become your physician.
Fal. 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.
Ch. Just. I sent for you, when there were matters against you for your life, to come speak with me.
Fal. As I was then advised by my learned counsel in the laws of this land-service, I did not come.
Ch. Just. Well, the truth is, sir John, you live in great infamy.
1 In the quarto edition this speech stands thus :—
“Old. Very well, my lord, very well.”
This is a strong corroboration of the tradition that Falstaff was first called Oldcastle.
Fal. He that buckles him in my belt, cannot live in less.
Ch. Just. Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.
Fal. I would it were otherwise; I would my means were greater, and my waist slenderer.
Ch. Just. You have misled the youthful prince.
Fal. The young prince hath misled me. I am the fellow with the great belly, and he my dog.
Ch. Just. Well, I am loath to gall a new-healed wound; your day's service at Shrewsbury hath a little gilded over your night's exploit on Gad's-hill. You may thank the unquiet time for your quiet o'erposting that action.
Fal. My lord?
Ch. Just. But since all is well, keep it so; wake not a sleeping wolf.
Fal. To wake a wolf, is as bad as to smell a fox. Ch. Just. What! you are as a candle, the better part burnt out.
Fal. A wassel candle,' my lord; all tallow; if I did say of wax, my growth would approve the truth.
Ch. Just. There is not a white hair on your face, but should have his effect of gravity.
Fal. His effect of gravy, gravy, gravy.
Ch. Just. You follow the young prince up and down, like his ill angel.
Fal. Not so, my lord; your ill angel is light; but, I 2 hope, he that looks upon me, will take me without weighing and yet, in some respects, I grant, I cannot go, I cannot tell.3 Virtue is of so little regard in these coster-monger times, that true valor is turned bear-herd. Pregnancy is made a tapster, and hath his quick wit wasted in giving reckonings; all the other gifts apper
1 A wassel candle is a large candle lighted up at a feast.
2 "As light as a clipped angel" is a comparison frequent in the old comedies.
3 I cannot tell, Johnson explains, "I cannot be taken in a reckoning, I cannot pass current." Mr. Gifford objects to this explanation, and says that it merely means "I cannot tell what to think of it."
4 Pregnancy is readiness.
tinent 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 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.
Ch. Just. 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!
Fal. 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 hollaing, 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 o' the ear that the prince gave you, he gave it like a rude prince, and you took it like a sensible lord. I have checked him for it; and the young lion repents; marry, not in ashes and sackcloth; but in new silk and old sack.
Ch. Just. Well, Heaven send the prince a better companion!
Fal. Heaven send the companion a better prince! I cannot rid my hands of him.
Ch. Just. Well, the king hath severed you and prince Harry. I hear you are a going with lord John of Lancaster, against the archbishop, and the earl of Northumberland.
Fal. 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
1 Single is simple, silly.