Page images
PDF
EPUB

from your prize, and have it; yea, and can show it you here in the house: And, Falstaff, you carried your paunch away as nimbly, with as quick dexterity, and roared for mercy, and still ran and roared, as ever I heard bull-calf. Why, what a slave art thou, to hack thy sword as thou hast done, and then say it was in fight! What trick, what device, what starting hole, canst thou now find out, to hide thee from this open

and apparent shame? [Poins.] Ay, Jack, come, let's hear: what trick hast thou

now?

[Falstaff] Ha! ha! ha!—d'ye think I did not know you ?

why, I knew you as well as he that made you. Hear you, my masters, —was it for me to kill the heir apparent ? should I turn upon the true prince ? Why, thou know 'st I am as valiant as Hercules ; but beware instinct : the lion will not touch the true prince: I was a coward on instinct, I grant you, --and I shall think better of myself and thee during life; myself, for a valiant lion, and thee, for a true prince.

But I am glad you have the money, lads. 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 extempore ? [P. Henry.] Content, Jack; and the argument shall be, thy

running away. [Falstaff.] Ah, no more of that, Hal, an thou lovest me.

But what would our sweet hostess with us, that she

comes unsent for ? [Hostess.] I would speak with my lord the prince. [P. Henry.] My lady the hostess, what say'st thou to me? [Hostess.] My lord, there is a nobleman of the court at the door, would speak with you :

he
says

he comes from

your father.

[Falstaff.] What manner of man is he?

[Hostess.] An old man. [Falstaff:] What doth gravity out of his bed at midnight?

Hal, shall I give him his answer? I'll send him

packing, i' faith. [P. Henry.] Now, sirs, by ’r lady, you fought fair; so did

you, Peto; you are lions too; you ran away upon in

stinct, Bardolph. [Bardolph.] 'Faith, I ran when I saw the others run. [P. Henry.] Tell me now, in earnest, how came Falstaff's

sword so hacked ? [Bardolph.] 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 he persuaded us to do the like: yea, and to tickle our noses with speargrass to make them bleed, and then to be-slubber our garments with it, and swear it was the blood of good men and true. For my part I did that I have not done these seven years, -I blushed to hear his monstrous

devices. [P. Henry.] O villain, thou stolest a cup of sack eighteen

years ago, and wert taken with the manner, and ever since thou hast blushed extempore. With that nose on fire, more terrible than sword, what instinct hadst thou for running? But here comes lean Jack, here comes barebone. How long is it, Jack, since thou saw'st

thine own knee? [Falstaff.] 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 an alderman's thumb-ring: a plague upon
sighing and grief! it blows a man up like a bladder !
But here'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 swore the devil his true liegeman

on the cross of a Welsh hook,—what call you him ? [P. Henry.] 0, Glendower.

[Falstaff.] Owen, Owen; the same; and his son-in-law,

Mortimer; and old Northumberland; and that sprightly Scot of Scots, Douglas, that runs a-horseback up a hill

, perpendicular; and one Mordake; and a thousand blue-caps more :—Worcester is stolen away by night. Thy father's beard is turned white with the news; and you may buy land as cheap as stinking mackerel. Tell

me, Hal, art thou not horribly afraid ? [P. Henry.] Not a whit, 'faith : I lack some of thy instinct. [Falstaff:] Well, thou wilt be horribly chid when thou

comest to thy father; if thou love me, practise an

answer.

[P. Henry.] Well, do thou stand for my father, and examine

me on the particulars of my life. [Falstaff.] Shall I ? content:—this chair shall be my state,

this dagger my sceptre, and this cushion my crown

Heigh, heigh, what's the matter now, hostess ? [Hostess.] The sheriff, the sheriff, and all the watch are at

the door. [Falstaff.] Out with you! leave us alone : let us act our

play. [Hostess.] My lord, they come to search the house : shall I

let them in ?

[Falstaff ] Dost thou hear, Hal? deny the sheriff; if not,

let him enter; and if I become not a cart as well as

another man, a plague on my bringing up. [P. Henry.] Go, hide thee behind the arras : the rest

walk up stairs. Now, my masters, for a true face

and a good conscience.
[Falstaff.] Both of which I have had; but their date is out;

and therefore I 'll hide me.
[P. Henry.] Hostess, call in the sheriff.

[a pause.] Now, master sheriff, what's your will with me?"

[ocr errors]

[Sheriff.] First pardon me, my lord. A hue and cry

Hath follow'd certain men unto this house :
And one of them, my gracious lord, is known;
A
gross

fat man, as fat as butter. [P. Henry.] Sheriff,

The man at this time is employ'd by me:
But I engage my word, that by to-morrow
At dinner-time, he shall be answerable
For anything he shall be charg'd withal.

And so, let me entreat you, leave the house.
[Sheriff.] I will, my lord : good night.
[P. Henry.] Good morrow, is it not?
[Sheriff.] It is,-near two o'clock.
[P. Henry.] Well, sir; farewell!

Why, Poins, this oily rascal is as well known as St.

Paul's. Go call him forth. [Poins.] Falstaff! Falstaff! He is fast asleep behind the

arras, and snoring like a horse. [P. Henry.] Search his pockets, Ned.—What hast thou

found ?

[ocr errors]

[Poins.] Nothing but papers, my lord. [P. Henry.] Read them.

d. [Poins.] I will, my lord. “ Item, a capon, 2 2

Item, sauce,

4 Item, sack, 2 gallons, 5 8 Item, anchovies and

sack after supper, 2 6

Item, bread, a halfpenny." [P. Henry.] Oh monstrous ! only one hapenny-worth of

bread to all that intolerable deal of sack! What there is else, keep close; we'll read it to more advantage : there let him sleep till day. I'll to the court in the morning : we must all to the wars, and thy place shall be honourable. For this fat rogue, I'll procure him a

charge of foot, and I know his death will be a march of twelve-score yards. The money taken from these travellers shall be paid back again with advantage. Be with me be-times in the morning, and so good morrow,

Poins. [Poins.] Good morrow, good my lord.

THE PREPARATIONS FOR OPPOSING THE PERCIES; THE MARCH 'To

THE North; AND THE BATTLE OF SHREWSBURY; INDICATED
BY SCENES SUPPOSED TO OCCUR IN THE PRESENCE CHAMBER;
AT THE Boar's HEAD TAVERN ; AT HOTSPUR'S CAMP; ON THE
ROAD TO COVENTRY; IN THE KING'S CAMP; AND ON THE FIELD
OF SHREWSBURY.

HISTORICAL MEMORANDA. Young Percy had entered into a correspondence with Glendower, and, a plan of operations being concluded between them, he marched from the north with his retainers, and his Scotch allies, in order to join Glendower in or near Wales. The king had a small army on foot, and instantly hurried to meet the rebels before their junction with the Welsh. He approached young Percy near Shrewsbury, and a general engagement took place on the 21st July 1403. In the battle young Percy was killed by an unknown hand; an obscurity of which Shakspeare avails himself, to give a dramatic colouring to the fact. He makes him fall in single combat by the hand of prince Henry : and, to account for the ignorance of history of a fact so striking, he represents another person boastingly taking the merit of the deed to himself, and the prince not forward to remove the doubt which would hence be generated on the subject. We can indeed hardly believe, seeing Falstaff only as a buffoon, that the world would be ready to give him credit for a good service done at Shrewsbury.” Such, however, is Shakspeare's view of this character of his own creation. Falstaff is one person to the world, and another to the audience of a theatre. Nor is it without good reason, that the author of the essay on Falstaff already alluded to, maintains,—though the courage of Falstaff, is always shown in the play under circumstances of doubt and imputation,—though it is clear he loves life and its good things too well not to keep out of danger when he can,—that he is not naturally a coward; and that even the prince does not seriously think him one.

We must imagine the Presence-chamber, with a numerous court. The prince of Wales is in attendance. The king speaks:

« PreviousContinue »