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Henry IV, Part 1
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Navigate this workHenry IV, Part 1
Act 4, scene 2
Falstaff discloses to the audience how he has misused his commission as an officer to take money from men eager to avoid serving as soldiers, and how he has filled the ranks instead with beggars and prisoners. Prince Hal and Westmoreland overtake him and urge him to hasten to the impending battle.Enter Falstaff ⌜and⌝ Bardolph.
FALSTAFF 2383 Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry. Fill
2384 me a bottle of sack. Our soldiers shall march
2385 through. We’ll to Sutton ⌜Coldfield⌝ tonight.
BARDOLPH 2386 Will you give me money, captain?
FALSTAFF 2387 5Lay out, lay out.
BARDOLPH 2388 This bottle makes an angel.
FALSTAFF 2389 An if it do, take it for thy labor. An if it make
2390 twenty, take them all. I’ll answer the coinage. Bid
2391 my lieutenant Peto meet me at town’s end.
BARDOLPH 2392 10I will, captain. Farewell.He exits.
FALSTAFF 2393 If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a
2394 soused gurnet. I have misused the King’s press
2395 damnably. I have got, in exchange of a hundred
2396 and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I
2397 15 press me none but good householders, ⌜yeomen’s⌝
2398 sons, inquire me out contracted bachelors, such as
2399 had been asked twice on the banns—such a commodity
2400 of warm slaves as had as ⌜lief⌝ hear the devil
2401 as a drum, such as fear the report of a caliver worse
p. 1692402 20 than a struck fowl or a hurt wild duck. I pressed me
2403 none but such toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their
2404 bellies no bigger than pins’ heads, and they have
2405 bought out their services, and now my whole
2406 charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants,
2407 25 gentlemen of companies—slaves as ragged as Lazarus
2408 in the painted cloth, where the glutton’s dogs
2409 licked his sores; and such as indeed were never
2410 soldiers, but discarded, unjust servingmen, younger
2411 sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters, and
2412 30 ostlers tradefallen, the cankers of a calm world and
2413 a long peace, ten times more dishonorable-ragged
2414 than an old feazed ancient; and such have I to fill up
2415 the rooms of them as have bought out their services,
2416 that you would think that I had a hundred and fifty
2417 35 tattered prodigals lately come from swine-keeping,
2418 from eating draff and husks. A mad fellow met me
2419 on the way and told me I had unloaded all the
2420 gibbets and pressed the dead bodies. No eye hath
2421 seen such scarecrows. I’ll not march through Coventry
2422 40 with them, that’s flat. Nay, and the villains
2423 march wide betwixt the legs as if they had gyves on,
2424 for indeed I had the most of them out of prison.
2425 There’s not a shirt and a half in all my company,
2426 and the half shirt is two napkins tacked together
2427 45 and thrown over the shoulders like a herald’s coat
2428 without sleeves; and the shirt, to say the truth,
2429 stolen from my host at Saint Albans or the red-nose
2430 innkeeper of Daventry. But that’s all one; they’ll find
2431 linen enough on every hedge.
Enter the Prince ⌜and the⌝ Lord of Westmoreland.
PRINCE 2432 50How now, blown Jack? How now, quilt?
FALSTAFF 2433 What, Hal, how now, mad wag? What a devil
2434 dost thou in Warwickshire?—My good Lord of
p. 1712435 Westmoreland, I cry you mercy. I thought your
2436 Honor had already been at Shrewsbury.
WESTMORELAND 2437 55Faith, Sir John, ’tis more than time
2438 that I were there and you too, but my powers are
2439 there already. The King, I can tell you, looks for us
2440 all. We must away all night.
FALSTAFF 2441 Tut, never fear me. I am as vigilant as a cat to
2442 60 steal cream.
PRINCE 2443 I think to steal cream indeed, for thy theft hath
2444 already made thee butter. But tell me, Jack, whose
2445 fellows are these that come after?
FALSTAFF 2446 Mine, Hal, mine.
PRINCE 2447 65I did never see such pitiful rascals.
FALSTAFF 2448 Tut, tut, good enough to toss; food for powder,
2449 food for powder. They’ll fill a pit as well as
2450 better. Tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.
WESTMORELAND 2451 Ay, but, Sir John, methinks they are
2452 70 exceeding poor and bare, too beggarly.
FALSTAFF 2453 Faith, for their poverty, I know not where
2454 they had that, and for their bareness, I am sure they
2455 never learned that of me.
PRINCE 2456 No, I’ll be sworn, unless you call three fingers
2457 75 in the ribs bare. But, sirrah, make haste. Percy is
2458 already in the field.He exits.
FALSTAFF 2459 What, is the King encamped?
WESTMORELAND 2460 He is, Sir John. I fear we shall stay too
2461 long.⌜He exits.⌝
FALSTAFF 2462 80Well,
2463 To the latter end of a fray and the beginning of a
2465 Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest.