« PreviousContinue »
SPOKEN BY A DANCER.
FIRST, my fear; then, my court'sy ; last, my speech. My fear is, your displeasure; my court’sy, my duty; and my speech, to beg your pardons. If you look for a good speech now, you undo me; for what I have to say, is of mine own making; and what, indeed, I should say, will, I doubt, prove mine own marring. But to the purpose, and so to the venture.—Be it known to you, (as it is very well,) I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to pray your patience for it, and to promise you a better. I did mean, indeed, to pay you with this ; which, if, like an ill venture, it come unluckily home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here, I promised you, I would be, and here I commit my body to your mercies : bate me some, and I will pay you some, and, as most debtors do, promise you infinitely
If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me, will you command me to use my legs ? and yet that were but light payment,- to dance out of your debt. But a good conscience will make any possible satisfaction, and so will I. All the gentlewomen here have forgiven me; if the gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the gentlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly.
One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will continue the story, with sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katharine of France; where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already he be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man. My tongue is weary; when my legs are too, I will bid you good night: and so kneel down before you:but, indeed, to pray for the queen.
I beseech, mble authtou merry . Fal
King HENRY THE FIFTH.
Officers in King Henry's FLUELLEN,
l formerly servants to Falstaff, now Soldiers BARDOLPH,
in the same.
CHARLES THE Sixth, King of France.
Messengers, and Attendants.
The SCENE, at the beginning of the Play, lies in England; but afterwards wholly in France.
Enter CHORUS. O, FOR a muse of fire that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention ! A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene! Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, Assume the port of Mars; and, at his heels, Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire, Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all, The flat, unraised spirit, that hath dared, On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth So great an object. Can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France ? or may we cram Within this wooden O, the very casques, That did affright the air at Agincourt ? 0, pardon! since a crooked figure may Attest, in little place, a million; And let us, ciphers to this great accompt, On your imaginary forces work. Suppose, within the girdle of these walls Are now confined two mighty monarchies, Whose high, upreared and abutting fronts The perilous, narrow ocean parts asunder. Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts ; Into a thousand parts divide one man, And make imaginary puissance; Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth; For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings, Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times; Turning the accomplishment of many years Into an hour-glass. For the which supply, Admit me chorus to this history; Who, prologue like, your humble patience pray Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.