Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 1 King Henry IV.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
The First Part of King Henry the Fourth
Act IV. Scene II.
A public Road near Coventry.
  Fal.  Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry; fill me a bottle of sack: our soldiers shall march through: we’ll to Sutton-Co’fil’ to-night.
  Bard.  Will you give me money, captain?
  Fal.  Lay out, lay out.        5
  Bard.  This bottle makes an angel.
  Fal.  An if it do, take it for thy labour; and if it make twenty, take them all, I’ll answer the coinage. Bid my Lieutenant Peto meet me at the town’s end.
  Bard.  I will, captain: farewell.  [Exit.
  Fal.  If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused gurnet. I have misused the king’s press damnably. I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me none but good householders, yeomen’s sons; inquire me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves, as had as lief hear the devil as a drum; such as fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck fowl or a hurt wild-duck. I pressed me none but such toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bellies no bigger than pins’ heads, and they have bought out their services; and now my whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants, gentlemen of companies, slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth, where the glutton’s dogs licked his sores; and such as indeed were never soldiers, but discarded unjust serving-men, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters and ostlers trade-fallen, the cankers of a calm world and a long peace; ten times more dishonourable ragged than an old faced ancient: and such have I, to fill up the rooms of them that have bought out their services, that you would think that I had a hundred and fifty tattered prodigals, lately come from swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad fellow met me on the way and told me I had unloaded all the gibbets and pressed the dead bodies. No eye hath seen such scarecrows. I’ll not march through Coventry with them, that’s flat: nay, and the villains march wide betwixt the legs, as if they had gyves on; for, indeed I had the most of them out of prison. There’s but a shirt and a half in all my company; and the half shirt is two napkins tacked together and thrown over the shoulders like a herald’s coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Alban’s, or the red-nose inn-keeper of Daventry. But that’s all one; they’ll find linen enough on every hedge.
  Prince.  How now, blown Jack! how now, quilt!
  Fal.  What, Hal! How now, mad wag! what a devil dost thou in Warwickshire? My good Lord of Westmoreland, I cry you mercy: I thought your honour had already been at Shrewsbury.
  West.  Faith, Sir John, ’tis more than time that I were there, and you too; but my powers are there already. The king, I can tell you, looks for us all: we must away all night.
  Fal.  Tut, never fear me: I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream.
  Prince.  I think to steal cream indeed, for thy theft hath already made thee butter. But tell me, Jack, whose fellows are these that come after?        15
  Fal.  Mine, Hal, mine.
  Prince.  I did never see such pitiful rascals.
  Fal.  Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better: tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.
  West.  Ay, but, Sir John, methinks they are exceeding poor and bare; too beggarly.
  Fal.  Faith, for their poverty, I know not where they had that; and for their bareness, I am sure they never learned that of me.        20
  Prince.  No, I’ll be sworn; unless you call three fingers on the ribs bare. But sirrah, make haste: Percy is already in the field.
  Fal.  What, is the king encamped?
  West.  He is, Sir John: I fear we shall stay too long.
  Fal.  Well,
To the latter end of a fray and the beginning of a feast        25
Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest.  [Exeunt.

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