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Supposed sincere and holy in his thoughts,
North. I knew of this before ; but, to speak truth,
posts, and letters, and make friends with speed; Never so few, and never yet more need. [Exeunt.
SCENE II. London. A Street.
Enter Sir John FALSTAFF, with his Page bearing his
sword and buckler. Fal. Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water? 2
Page. He said, sir, the water itself was a good, healthy water; but for the party that owed it, he might have more diseases than he knew for.
Fal. Men of all sorts take a pride to gird“ at me. The brain of this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to vent any thing that tends to laughter, more than I invent, or is invented on me. I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men. I do here walk before thee, like a sow, that hath overwhelmed all her litter but one. If the prince put thee into my service for any other reason than to set me off, why then I have no judgment. Thou whoreson mandrake, thou art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never manned with an agate 2 till now: but I will set you neither in gold nor silver, but in vile apparel, and send you back again to your master, for a jewel ; the juvenal, the prince your master, whose chin is not yet fledged. I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand, than he shall get one on his cheek; and yet he will not stick to say, his face is a face-royal. God may finish it when he will, it is not a hair amiss yet : he may keep it still as a face-royal," for a barber shall never earn sixpence out of it; and yet he will be crowing, as if he had writ man ever since his father was a bachelor. He may keep his own grace, but he is almost out of mine, 1 can assure him. What said master Dumbleton about the satin for my short cloak, and slops ?
1 i. e. great and small, all ranks. 2 This quackery was once so much in fashion that Linacre, the founder of the College of Physicians, formed a statute to restrain apothecaries from carrying the water of their patients to a doctor, and afterwards giving medicines in consequence of the opinions pronounced concerning it. This statute was followed by another, which forbade the doctors themselves to pronounce on any disorder from such an uncertain diagnostic. But this did not extinguish the practice.
4 « Gird (Mr. Gifford says) is a mere metathesis of gride, and means a thrust, a blow: the metaphorical use of the word for a smart stroke of wit, taunt, reproachful retort, &c., is justified by a similar application of kindred terms in all languages.
Page. He said, sir, you should procure him better assurance than Bardolph ; he would not take his bond and yours; he liked not the security.
Fal. Let him be damned like the glutton! may his tongue be hotter! 5-A whoreson Achitophel! a rascally
1 A root supposed to have the shape of a man. Quacks and impostors counterfeited, with the root briony, figures resembling parts of the human body, which were sold to the credulous as endued with specific virtues. See sir Thomas Brown's Vulgar Errors, p. 72, edit. 1686.
2 An agate is used metaphorically for a very diminutive person, in allusion to the small figures cut in agate for rings and broaches.
3 Juvenal occurs in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and in Love's Labor's Lost. It is also used in many places by Chaucer for a young
4 Johnson says that, a face-royal, Falstaff means a face exempt from the touch of vulgar hands. Steevens imagines that there inay be a quibble intended on the coin called a real, or royal ; that a barber can no more earn sixpence by his face, than by the face stamped on the coin, the one requiring as little shaving as the other. Mason thinks that Falstaff's conceit is, “ If nothing be taken out of a royal, it will remain a royal still, as it was.” The reader will decide for himself.
5 An allusion to the fate of the rich man, who had fared sumptuously every day, when he requested a drop of water to cool his tongue.
yea-forsooth knave! to bear a gentleman in hand,' and then stand upon security !—The whoreson smoothpates do now wear nothing but high shoes, and bunches of keys at their girdles; and if a man is thorough? with them in honest taking up, then they must stand upon-security. I had as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth, as offer to stop it with security. I looked he should have sent me two-and-twenty yards of satin, as I am a true knight, and he sends me security. Well, he may sleep in security ; for he hath the horn of abundance, and the lightness of his wife shines through it; and yet cannot he see, though he have his own lantern to light him.—Where's Bardolph ?
Page. He's gone into Smithfield, to buy your worship a horse.
Fal. I bought him in Paul's, and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield; an I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, and wived.
Enter the Lord Chief Justice, and an Attendant.
Page. Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the prince for striking him about Bardolph.
Fal. Wait close, I will not see him.
Atten. He, my lord ; but he hath since done good service at Shrewsbury; and, as I hear, is now going with some charge to the lord John of Lancaster.
Ch. Just. What, to York ? Call him back again.
1 To bear in hand is to keep in expectation by false promises. 2 i. e. in their debt, by taking up goods on credit.
3 This judge was sir Wm. Gascoigne, chief justice of the King's Bench. He died Dec. 17, 1413.
thing good.-Go, pluck him by the elbow; I must speak with him.
Atten. Sir John,
Fal. What! a young knave, and beg! Is there not wars ? is there not employment ? Doth not the king lack subjects? do not the rebels need soldiers ? Though it be a shame to be on any side but one, it is worse shame to beg than to be on the worst side, were it worse than the name of rebellion can tell how to make it.
Atten. You mistake me, sir.
Fal. Why, sir, did I say you were an honest man? Setting my knighthood and my soldiership aside, I had lied in my throat if I had said so.
Atten. I pray you, sir, then set your knighthood and your soldiership aside; and give me leave to tell you, you lie in your throat, if you say I am any other than an honest man.
Fal. I give thee leave to tell me so! I lay aside that which grows to me! If thou get’st any leave of me, hang me; if thou takest leave, thou wert better be hanged. You hunt counter;' hence! avaunt!
Åtten. Sir, my lord would speak with you.
Fal. My good lord !-God give your lordship good time of day. I am glad to see your lordship abroad. I heard say, your lordship was sick: I hope your lordship goes abroad by advice. Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time; and I most humbly beseech your lordship, to have a reverend care of your health. Ch. Just. Sir John, I sent for
your expedition to Shrewsbury.
1 To hunt counter was to hunt the wrong way, to trace the scent backwards ; to hunt it by the heel is the technical phrase. Falstaff means to tell the man that he is on a wrong scent. The folio and the modern editions print hunt-counter with a hyphen, so as to make it appear like a name; but in the quartos the words are disjoined-hunt counter.
Fal. An't please your lordship, I hear, his majesty is returned with some discomfort from Wales.
Ch. Just. 1 talk not of his majesty.—You would not come when I sent for
you. Fal. And I hear, moreover, his highness is fallen into this same whoreson apoplexy. Ch. Just. Well, Heaven mend him! I
pray, speak with you.
Fal. This apoplexy is, as I take it, a kind of lethargy, an't please your lordship; a kind of sleeping in the blood, a whoreson tingling.
Ch. Just. What tell you me of it? be it as it is.
Fal. It hath its original from much grief; from study, and perturbation of the brain. I have read the cause of its effects in Galen; it is a kind of deafness.
Ch. Just. I think you are fallen into the disease; for you hear not what I say to you.
Fal.' Very well, my lord, very well; rather, an't please you, it is the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled withal.
Ch. Just. To punish you by the heels would amend the attention of your ears; and I care not, if I do become your physician.
Fal. I am as poor as Job, my lord; but not so patient. Your lordship may minister the potion of imprisonment to me, in respect of poverty ; but how I should be your patient to follow your prescriptions, the wise may make some dram of a scruple, or, indeed, a scruple itself.
Ch. Just. I sent for you, when there were matters against you for your life, to come speak with me.
Fal. As I was then advised by my learned counsel in the laws of this land-service, I did not come.
Ch. Just. Well, the truth is, sir John, you live in great infamy.
1 In the quarto edition this speech stands thus :
“ Old. Very well, my lord, very well.” This is a strong corroboration of the tradition that Falstaff was first called Oldcastle. VOL. IV.