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

Act IV. Scene III.

The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth

Another Part of the Forest.

Alarums.Excursions.Enter FALSTAFF and COLEVILE, meeting.

Fal.What’s your name, sir? of what condition are you, and of what place, I pray?

Cole.I am a knight, sir; and my name is Colevile of the dale.

Fal.Well then, Colevile is your name, a knight is your degree, and your place the dale: Colevile shall still be your name, a traitor your degree, and the dungeon your place, a place deep enough; so shall you be still Colevile of the dale.

Cole.Are not you Sir John Falstaff?

Fal.As good a man as he, sir, whoe’er I am. Do ye yield, sir, or shall I sweat for you? If I do sweat, they are the drops of thy lovers, and they weep for thy death: therefore rouse up fear and trembling, and do observance to my mercy.

Cole.I think you are Sir John Falstaff, and in that thought yield me.

Fal.I have a whole school of tongues in this belly of mine, and not a tongue of them all speaks any other word but my name. An I had but a belly of any indifferency, I were simply the most active fellow in Europe: my womb, my womb, my womb undoes me. Here comes our general.


Lanc.The heat is past, follow no further now.

Call in the powers, good cousin Westmoreland.[Exit WESTMORELAND.

Now, Falstaff, where have you been all this while?

When everything is ended, then you come:

These tardy tricks of yours will, on my life,

One time or other break some gallows’ back.

Fal.I would be sorry, my lord, but it should be thus: I never knew yet but rebuke and check was the reward of valour. Do you think me a swallow, an arrow, or a bullet? have I, in my poor and old motion, the expedition of thought? I have speeded hither with the very extremest inch of possibility; I have foundered nine score and odd posts; and here, travel-tainted as I am, have, in my pure and immaculate valour, taken Sir John Colevile of the dale, a most furious knight and valorous enemy. But what of that? he saw me, and yielded; that I may justly say with the hook-nosed fellow of Rome, ‘I came, saw, and overcame.’

Lanc.It was more of his courtesy than your deserving.

Fal.I know not: here he is, and here I yield him; and I beseech your Grace, let it be booked with the rest of this day’s deeds; or, by the Lord, I will have it in a particular ballad else, with mine own picture on the top on ’t, Colevile kissing my foot. To the which course if I be enforced, if you do not all show like gilt two-pences to me, and I in the clear sky of fame o’ershine you as much as the full moon doth the cinders of the element, which show like pins’ heads to her, believe not the word of the noble. Therefore let me have right, and let desert mount.

Lanc.Thine’s too heavy to mount.

Fal.Let it shine then.

Lanc.Thine’s too thick to shine.

Fal.Let it do something, my good lord, that may do me good, and call it what you will.

Lanc.Is thy name Colevile?

Cole.It is, my lord.

Lanc.A famous rebel art thou, Colevile.

Fal.And a famous true subject took him.

Cole.I am, my lord, but as my betters are

That led me hither: had they been rul’d by me

You should have won them dearer than you have.

Fal.I know not how they sold themselves: but thou, like a kind fellow, gavest thyself away gratis, and I thank thee for thee.


Lanc.Have you left pursuit?

West.Retreat is made and execution stay’d.

Lanc.Send Colevile with his confederates

To York, to present execution.

Blunt, lead him hence, and see you guard him sure.[Exit BLUNT and Others with COLEVILE, guarded.

And now dispatch we toward the court, my lords:

I hear, the king my father is sore sick:

Our news shall go before us to his majesty,

Which, cousin[addressing WESTMORELAND], you shall bear, to comfort him;

And we with sober speed will follow you.

Fal.My lord, I beseech you, give me leave to go,

Through Gloucestershire, and when you come to court

Stand my good lord, pray, in your good report.

Lanc.Fare you well, Falstaff: I, in my condition,

Shall better speak of you than you deserve.[Exeunt all but FALSTAFF.

Fal.I would you had but the wit: ’twere better than your dukedom. Good faith, this same young sober-blooded boy doth not love me; nor a man cannot make him laugh; but that’s no marvel, he drinks no wine. There’s never none of these demure boys come to any proof; for thin drink doth so over-cool their blood, and making many fish-meals, that they fall into a kind of male green-sickness; and then, when they marry, they get wenches. They are generally fools and cowards, which some of us should be too but for inflammation. A good sherris-sack hath a two-fold operation in it. It ascends me into the brain; dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapours which environ it; makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble fiery and delectable shapes; which, deliver’d o’er to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit. The second property of your excellent sherris is, the warming of the blood; which, before cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice: but the sherris warms it and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extreme. It illumineth the face, which, as a beacon, gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom, man, to arm; and then the vital commoners and inland petty spirits muster me all to their captain, the heart, who, great and puffed up with this retinue, doth any deed of courage; and this valour comes of sherris. So that skill in the weapon is nothing without sack, for that sets it a-work; and learning, a mere hoard of gold kept by a devil till sack commences it and sets it in act and use. Hereof comes it that Prince Harry is valiant; for the cold blood he did naturally inherit of his father, he hath, like lean, sterile, and bare land, manured, husbanded, and tilled, with excellent endeavour of drinking good and good store of fertile sherris, that he is become very hot and valiant. If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them should be, to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.


How now, Bardolph?

Bard.The army is discharged all and gone.

Fal.Let them go. I’ll through Gloucestershire; and there will I visit Master Robert Shallow, esquire: I have him already tempering between my finger and my thumb, and shortly will I seal with him. Come away.[Exeunt.