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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene I.

The First Part of King Henry the Fourth

Rochester.An Inn-Yard.

Enter a Carrier, with a lanthorn in his hand.

First Car.Heigh-ho! An ’t be not four by the day I’ll be hanged: Charles’ Wain is over the new chimney, and yet our horse not packed. What, ostler!

Ost.[Within.]Anon, anon.

First Car.I prithee, Tom, beat Cut’s saddle, put a few flocks in the point; the poor jade is wrung in the withers out of all cess.

Enter another Carrier.

Sec. Car.Peas and beans are as dank here as a dog, and that is the next way to give poor jades the bots; this house is turned upside down since Robin Ostler died.

First Car.Poor fellow! never joyed since the price of oats rose; it was the death of him.

Sec. Car.I think this be the most villanous house in all London road for fleas: I am stung like a tench.

First Car.Like a tench! by the mass, there is ne’er a king christen could be better bit than I have been since the first cock.

Sec. Car.Why, they will allow us ne’er a jordan, and then we leak in the chimney; and your chamber-lie breeds fleas like a loach.

First Car.What, ostler! come away and be hanged, come away.

Sec. Car.I have a gammon of bacon and two razes of ginger, to be delivered as far as Charing-cross.

First Car.Godsbody! the turkeys in my pannier are quite starved. What, ostler! A plague on thee! hast thou never an eye in thy head? canst not hear? An ’twere not as good a deed as drink to break the pate on thee, I am a very villain. Come, and be hanged! hast no faith in thee?


Gads.Good morrow, carriers. What’s o’clock?

First Car.I think it be two o’clock.

Gads.I prithee, lend me thy lanthorn, to see my gelding in the stable.

First Car.Nay, by God, soft: I know a trick worth two of that, i’ faith.

Gads.I prithee, lend me thine.

Sec. Car.Ay, when? canst tell? Lend me thy lanthorn, quoth a’? marry, I’ll see thee hanged first.

Gads.Sirrah carrier, what time do you mean to come to London?

Sec. Car.Time enough to go to bed with a candle, I warrant thee. Come, neighbour Mugs, we’ll call up the gentlemen: they will along with company, for they have great charge.[Exeunt Carriers.

Gads.What, ho! chamberlain!

Cham.[Within.]‘At hand, quoth pick-purse.’

Gads.That’s even as fair as, ‘at hand, quoth the chamberlain’; for thou variest no more from picking of purses than giving direction doth from labouring; thou layest the plot how.


Cham.Good morrow, Master Gadshill. It holds current that I told you yesternight: there’s a franklin in the wild of Kent hath brought three hundred marks with him in gold: I heard him tell it to one of his company last night at supper; a kind of auditor; one that hath abundance of charge too, God knows what. They are up already and call for eggs and butter: they will away presently.

Gads.Sirrah, if they meet not with Saint Nicholas’ clerks, I’ll give thee this neck.

Cham.No, I’ll none of it: I prithee, keep that for the hangman; for I know thou worship’st Saint Nicholas as truly as a man of falsehood may.

GadsWhat talkest thou to me of the hangman? If I hang I’ll make a fat pair of gallows; for if I hang, old Sir John hangs with me, and thou knowest he’s no starveling. Tut! there are other Troyans that thou dreamest not of, the which for sport sake are content to do the profession some grace; that would, if matters should be looked into, for their own credit sake make all whole. I am joined with no foot-landrakers, no long-staff sixpenny strikers, none of these mad mustachio-purple-hued malt worms; but with nobility and tranquillity, burgomasters and great oneyers such as can hold in, such as will strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than drink, and drink sooner than pray: and yet I lie; for they pray continually to their saint, the commonwealth; or, rather, not pray to her, but prey on her, for they ride up and down on her and make her their boots.

Cham.What! the commonwealth their boots? will she hold out water in foul way?

Gads.She will, she will; justice hath liquored her. We steal as in a castle, cock-sure; we have the receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible.

Cham.Nay, by my faith, I think you are more beholding to the night than to fern-seed for your walking invisible.

GadsGive me thy hand: thou shalt have a share in our purchase, as I am a true man.

Cham.Nay, rather let me have it, as you are a false thief.

Gads.Go to; homo is a common name to all men. Bid the ostler bring my gelding out of the stable. Farewell, you muddy knave.[Exeunt.