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Henry IV, Part 1 - Act 1, scene 2
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Navigate this workHenry IV, Part 1 - Act 1, scene 2
Act 1, scene 2
Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff taunt each other, Hal warning Falstaff that he will one day be hanged as a thief and Falstaff insisting that, when Hal becomes king, thieves will have a friend in court. Poins enters to enlist them in an upcoming robbery. Hal refuses, but, after Falstaff leaves, Poins persuades Hal to join in a plot to rob and embarrass Falstaff and the other thieves. Alone, Hal reveals that he will soon end his association with his companions and that, after his “reformation,” he will shine all the brighter against his background of irresponsible living.Enter Prince of Wales, and Sir John Falstaff.
FALSTAFF 0108 Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?
PRINCE 0109 Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old
0110 sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and
0111 sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast
0112 5 forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst
0113 truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with
0114 the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of
0115 sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues
p. 150116 of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses,
0117 10 and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in
0118 flame-colored taffeta, I see no reason why thou
0119 shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time
0120 of the day.
FALSTAFF 0121 Indeed, you come near me now, Hal, for we
0122 15 that take purses go by the moon and the seven
0123 stars, and not by Phoebus, he, that wand’ring
0124 knight so fair. And I prithee, sweet wag, when thou
0125 art king, as God save thy Grace—Majesty, I should
0126 say, for grace thou wilt have none—
PRINCE 0127 20What, none?
FALSTAFF 0128 No, by my troth, not so much as will serve to
0129 be prologue to an egg and butter.
PRINCE 0130 Well, how then? Come, roundly, roundly.
FALSTAFF 0131 Marry then, sweet wag, when thou art king,
0132 25 let not us that are squires of the night’s body be
0133 called thieves of the day’s beauty. Let us be Diana’s
0134 foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the
0135 moon, and let men say we be men of good government,
0136 being governed, as the sea is, by our noble
0137 30 and chaste mistress the moon, under whose countenance
0138 we steal.
PRINCE 0139 Thou sayest well, and it holds well too, for the
0140 fortune of us that are the moon’s men doth ebb and
0141 flow like the sea, being governed, as the sea is, by
0142 35 the moon. As for proof now: a purse of gold most
0143 resolutely snatched on Monday night and most
0144 dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning, got with
0145 swearing “Lay by” and spent with crying “Bring
0146 in”; now in as low an ebb as the foot of the ladder,
0147 40 and by and by in as high a flow as the ridge of the
FALSTAFF 0149 By the Lord, thou sayst true, lad. And is not
0150 my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?
p. 17PRINCE 0151 As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle.
0152 45 And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of
FALSTAFF 0154 How now, how now, mad wag? What, in thy
0155 quips and thy quiddities? What a plague have I to
0156 do with a buff jerkin?
PRINCE 0157 50Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess
0158 of the tavern?
FALSTAFF 0159 Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning
0160 many a time and oft.
PRINCE 0161 Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?
FALSTAFF 0162 55No, I’ll give thee thy due. Thou hast paid all
PRINCE 0164 Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would
0165 stretch, and where it would not, I have used my
FALSTAFF 0167 60Yea, and so used it that were it not here
0168 apparent that thou art heir apparent—But I prithee,
0169 sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in
0170 England when thou art king? And resolution thus
0171 fubbed as it is with the rusty curb of old father Antic
0172 65 the law? Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a
PRINCE 0174 No, thou shalt.
FALSTAFF 0175 Shall I? O rare! By the Lord, I’ll be a brave
PRINCE 0177 70Thou judgest false already. I mean thou shalt
0178 have the hanging of the thieves, and so become a
0179 rare hangman.
FALSTAFF 0180 Well, Hal, well, and in some sort it jumps
0181 with my humor as well as waiting in the court, I
0182 75 can tell you.
PRINCE 0183 For obtaining of suits?
FALSTAFF 0184 Yea, for obtaining of suits, whereof the hangman
0185 hath no lean wardrobe. ’Sblood, I am as
0186 melancholy as a gib cat or a lugged bear.
p. 19PRINCE 0187 80Or an old lion, or a lover’s lute.
FALSTAFF 0188 Yea, or the drone of a Lincolnshire bagpipe.
PRINCE 0189 What sayest thou to a hare, or the melancholy
0190 of Moorditch?
FALSTAFF 0191 Thou hast the most unsavory ⌜similes,⌝ and
0192 85 art indeed the most comparative, rascaliest, sweet
0193 young prince. But, Hal, I prithee trouble me no
0194 more with vanity. I would to God thou and I knew
0195 where a commodity of good names were to be
0196 bought. An old lord of the council rated me the
0197 90 other day in the street about you, sir, but I marked
0198 him not, and yet he talked very wisely, but I
0199 regarded him not, and yet he talked wisely, and in
0200 the street, too.
PRINCE 0201 Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the
0202 95 streets and no man regards it.
FALSTAFF 0203 O, thou hast damnable iteration, and art
0204 indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done
0205 much harm upon me, Hal, God forgive thee for it.
0206 Before I knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing, and now
0207 100 am I, if a man should speak truly, little better than
0208 one of the wicked. I must give over this life, and I
0209 will give it over. By the Lord, an I do not, I am a
0210 villain. I’ll be damned for never a king’s son in
PRINCE 0212 105Where shall we take a purse tomorrow, Jack?
FALSTAFF 0213 Zounds, where thou wilt, lad. I’ll make one.
0214 An I do not, call me villain and baffle me.
PRINCE 0215 I see a good amendment of life in thee, from
0216 praying to purse-taking.
FALSTAFF 0217 110Why, Hal, ’tis my vocation, Hal. ’Tis no sin
0218 for a man to labor in his vocation.
0219 Poins!—Now shall we know if Gadshill have set a
0220 match. O, if men were to be saved by merit, what
p. 210221 hole in hell were hot enough for him? This is the
0222 115 most omnipotent villain that ever cried “Stand!” to
0223 a true man.
PRINCE 0224 Good morrow, Ned.
POINS 0225 Good morrow, sweet Hal.—What says Monsieur
0226 Remorse? What says Sir John Sack-and-Sugar?
0227 120 Jack, how agrees the devil and thee about
0228 thy soul that thou soldest him on Good Friday last
0229 for a cup of Madeira and a cold capon’s leg?
PRINCE 0230 Sir John stands to his word. The devil shall
0231 have his bargain, for he was never yet a breaker of
0232 125 proverbs. He will give the devil his due.
POINS, ⌜to Falstaff⌝ 0233 Then art thou damned for keeping
0234 thy word with the devil.
PRINCE 0235 Else he had been damned for cozening the
POINS 0237 130But, my lads, my lads, tomorrow morning, by
0238 four o’clock early at Gad’s Hill, there are pilgrims
0239 going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders
0240 riding to London with fat purses. I have vizards for
0241 you all. You have horses for yourselves. Gadshill lies
0242 135 tonight in Rochester. I have bespoke supper tomorrow
0243 night in Eastcheap. We may do it as secure as
0244 sleep. If you will go, I will stuff your purses full of
0245 crowns. If you will not, tarry at home and be
FALSTAFF 0247 140Hear you, Yedward, if I tarry at home and
0248 go not, I’ll hang you for going.
POINS 0249 You will, chops?
FALSTAFF 0250 Hal, wilt thou make one?
PRINCE 0251 Who, I rob? I a thief? Not I, by my faith.
FALSTAFF 0252 145There’s neither honesty, manhood, nor
0253 good fellowship in thee, nor thou cam’st not of
0254 the blood royal, if thou darest not stand for ten
PRINCE 0256 Well then, once in my days I’ll be a madcap.
FALSTAFF 0257 150Why, that’s well said.
p. 23PRINCE 0258 Well, come what will, I’ll tarry at home.
FALSTAFF 0259 By the Lord, I’ll be a traitor then when thou
0260 art king.
PRINCE 0261 I care not.
POINS 0262 155Sir John, I prithee leave the Prince and me
0263 alone. I will lay him down such reasons for this
0264 adventure that he shall go.
FALSTAFF 0265 Well, God give thee the spirit of persuasion,
0266 and him the ears of profiting, that what thou
0267 160 speakest may move, and what he hears may be
0268 believed, that the true prince may, for recreation
0269 sake, prove a false thief, for the poor abuses of the
0270 time want countenance. Farewell. You shall find me
0271 in Eastcheap.
PRINCE 0272 165Farewell, ⌜thou⌝ latter spring. Farewell, Allhallown
0273 summer.⌜Falstaff exits.⌝
POINS 0274 Now, my good sweet honey lord, ride with us
0275 tomorrow. I have a jest to execute that I cannot
0276 manage alone. Falstaff, ⌜Peto, Bardolph,⌝ and Gadshill
0277 170 shall rob those men that we have already
0278 waylaid. Yourself and I will not be there. And when
0279 they have the booty, if you and I do not rob them,
0280 cut this head off from my shoulders.
PRINCE 0281 How shall we part with them in setting forth?
POINS 0282 175Why, we will set forth before or after them, and
0283 appoint them a place of meeting, wherein it is at our
0284 pleasure to fail; and then will they adventure upon
0285 the exploit themselves, which they shall have no
0286 sooner achieved but we’ll set upon them.
PRINCE 0287 180Yea, but ’tis like that they will know us by our
0288 horses, by our habits, and by every other appointment
0289 to be ourselves.
POINS 0290 Tut, our horses they shall not see; I’ll tie them
0291 in the wood. Our vizards we will change after we
0292 185 leave them. And, sirrah, I have cases of buckram
0293 for the nonce, to immask our noted outward
p. 25PRINCE 0295 Yea, but I doubt they will be too hard for us.
POINS 0296 Well, for two of them, I know them to be as
0297 190 true-bred cowards as ever turned back; and for the
0298 third, if he fight longer than he sees reason, I’ll
0299 forswear arms. The virtue of this jest will be the
0300 incomprehensible lies that this same fat rogue will
0301 tell us when we meet at supper: how thirty at least
0302 195 he fought with, what wards, what blows, what
0303 extremities he endured; and in the reproof of this
0304 lives the jest.
PRINCE 0305 Well, I’ll go with thee. Provide us all things
0306 necessary and meet me tomorrow night in Eastcheap.
0307 200 There I’ll sup. Farewell.
POINS 0308 Farewell, my lord.Poins exits.
0309 I know you all, and will awhile uphold
0310 The unyoked humor of your idleness.
0311 Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
0312 205 Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
0313 To smother up his beauty from the world,
0314 That, when he please again to be himself,
0315 Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
0316 By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
0317 210 Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.
0318 If all the year were playing holidays,
0319 To sport would be as tedious as to work,
0320 But when they seldom come, they wished-for come,
0321 And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
0322 215 So when this loose behavior I throw off
0323 And pay the debt I never promisèd,
0324 By how much better than my word I am,
0325 By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
0326 And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,
0327 220 My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault,
0328 Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
0329 Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
p. 270330 I’ll so offend to make offense a skill,
0331 Redeeming time when men think least I will.