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Fal. Seven, by these hilts, or I am a villain else.
Fal. Dost thou hear me, IIal?
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 misbegotten knaves, in Kendal 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 clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-keech',
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?
3 Down fell their hose.] See “ The Winter's Tale," Vol. iii. p. 500 : their hose fell down because the points, i. e. the laces (with metal points), broke. Falstaff uses “points ” in one sense, and Poins in another.
in Kendal green,] i.e green cloth made at Kendal in Westmoreland, famous of old for the manufacture, as might be proved by innumerable authorities of the time.
greasy tallow-keech,) In the old copies it is printed tallow-catch, but it is probably meant for tallow-keech. Percy informs us that a keech of tallow is the fat of an ox, or cow, rolled up by the butcher in a round lump, in order to be carried to the chandler. It is the proper word in use now. In “ Henry IV.” Part ii. Act ii. sc. I, a butcher's wife is called “ dame Keech."
Poins. Come, your reason, Jack, your reason.
Fal. What, upon compulsion ? No; were I at 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 bed-presser, this horse-back-breaker, this huge hill of flesh ;
Fal. Away, you starveling, you elf-skin?, you dried neat’s-tongue, bull's pizzle, you stock-fish,—0, for breath to utter what is like thee you tailor's yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck ;-.
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 plain a 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 carried your guts away as nimbly, with as quick dexterity, and roared for mercy, and still ran and roared, as ever I heard bullcalf. What a slave art thou, to hack thy sword as thou hast done, and then say, it was in fight! What trick, ,
6 No ; were I at the STRAPPADO,] The punishment of the strappado (often alluded to by writers of the time) is thus described in a passage quoted by Steevens :“ The strappado is when the person is drawn up to his height, and then suddenly to let him fall half way with a jerk, which not only breaketh his arms to pieces, but also shaketh all his joints out of joint ; which punishment is better to be hanged, than for a man to undergo.” Randle Holme's “ Academy of Arms and Blazon,” b. iii. ch. vii. p. 310.
7 Away, you starveling, you elf-skin,] So all the copies ; but Sir Thomas Hanmer and Warburton, with considerable appearance of probability, read eelskin, an easy compositor's error. Johnson would have it ef-kin, as if Falstaff intended to call Prince Henry a little fairy; but if eel-skin be not right, “elfskin " seems quite as near the truth as elf-kin.
you bound them,] The old editions have “and bound them,” which does not read with the rest of the passage : "you" was substituted by Pope.
what device, what starting-hole, canst thou now find out, to hide thee from this open and 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, for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince. But, by the Lord, lads, I am glad you have the money.—Hostess, clap to the doors: watch to-night, pray to-morrow.-Gallants, lads, boys, hearts of gold, all the titles of good fellowship come to you ! What! shall we be merry ? shall we have a play extem
P. Hen. Content;—and the argument shall be, thy running away.
Fal. Ah! no more of that, Hal, an thou lovest me.
P. Hen. How now, my lady the hostess ! what say'st thou to me?
Host. Marry, my lord, there is a nobleman of the court at door would speak with you: he says, he comes from your father.
P. Hen. Give him as much as will make him a royal man', and send him back again to my mother.
Fal. What manner of man is he?
9 By the Lord, I knew ye,] The folio omits “By the Lord :" it is found in all the quartos. The same thing occurs again just afterwards ; but these matters in the folio seem governed by no rule, as if the Master of the Revels had been merely arbitrary in his corrections.
I Give him as much as will make him a royal man,] The hostess has previvusly called the messenger a nobleman : the joke lies in the difference between the coins, a royal, which was 10s., and a noble, which was only 6s. 8d. Perhaps Prince Henry meant also that the hostess was to make the messenger royally drunk, and then send him to the queen.
Host. An old man.
Fal. What doth gravity out of his bed at midnight? -Shall I give him his answer?
P. Hen. Pr’ythee, do, Jack.
P. Hen. Now, sirs; by’r lady, you fought fair-;—50 did you, Peto ;—so did you, Bardolph : you are lions too, you ran away upon instinct, you will not touch the true prince, no ;—fie!
Bard. 'Faith, I ran when I saw others run.
P. Hen. 'Faith, tell me now in earnest : how came Falstaft's sword so hacked ?
Peto. Why, he hacked it with his dagger, and said, he would swear truth out of England, but he would make you believe it was done in fight; and persuaded us to do the like.
Bard. Yea, and to tickle our noses with spear grass, to make them bleed; and then to beslubber our garments with it, and to swear it was the blood of true
I did that I did not this seven year before; I blushed to hear his monstrous devices.
P. Hen. O villain! thou stolest a cup of sack eighteen years ago, and wert taken with the manner, and ever since thou hast blushed extempore. Thou hadst fire and sword on thy side, and yet thou ran’st away: what instinct hadst thou for it?
Bard. My lord, do you see these meteors ? do you behold these exhalations?
P. Hen. I do.
2 Now, sirs; BY'R Lady, you fought fair ;] The folio omits“ by’r lady.” In the next speech of Prince Henry it omits “ Faith,” which is, nevertheless, inserted just above. In a subsequent speech by Falstaff, “ by'r lady” is preserved in the folio, as if it were unubjectionable.
Bard. Choler, my lord, if rightly taken.
Here comes lean Jack; here comes bare-bone. Ilow now, my sweet creature of bombast'! How long is't ago, Jack, since thou sawest thine own knee?
Fal. My own knee? when I was about thy years, Hal, I was not an eagle's talon in the waist; I could have crept into any alderman's thumb-ring: a plague of sighing and grief! it blows a man up like a bladder. There's villainous news abroad: here was sir John Bracy from your father : you must to the court in the morning. That same mad fellow of the north, Percy; and he of Wales, that gave Amaimon the bastinado, and made Lucifer cuckold, and swore the devil his true liegeman upon the cross of a Welsh hook,—what, a plague, call you him ?
Poins. O! Glendower.
Fal. Owen, Owen; the same ;-and his son-in-law, Mortimer; and old Northumberland; and that sprightly Scot of Scots, Douglas, that runs o’horseback up a hill perpendicular.
P. Hen. He that rides at high speed, and with his pistol kills a sparrow flying.
Fal. You have hit it.
Fal. Well, that rascal hath good mettle in him; he will not run.
P. Hen. Why, what a rascal art thou, then, to praise him so for running?
Fal. O'horseback, ye cuckoo! but, afoot, he will not budge a foot.
P. Hen. Yes, Jack, upon instinct.
my sweet creature of BOMBAST !] Bombast was cotton-wool ; and according to Steevens, Gerard in his “ Herbal ” calls the cotton-tree the bombast tree. It was used, as well as horse-hair, to stuff out the dress of both sexes.