King Henry IV, Part 1.
(in Modern English)
Act 1 - Scene 2.

King Henry IV, Part 1: Act 1 - Scene 2.

FALSTAFF.

Now, Hal, what time is it, my lad?

HAL.

You are so fat-witted...

With drinking old wine and unbuttoning yourself...

After supper and sleeping on benches after noon...

That you forgot to ask what you'd really like to know!

What the devil do you care about the time?

Unless hours were cups of wine...

And minutes chicken wings...

And clocks were loose women's tongues...

And dials the signs of gambling dens...

And the blessed sun itself...

A pretty girl in flame-coloured taffeta!

I see no reason why you should ask...

For unnecessary things like the time of day.

FALSTAFF.

Indeed, I think you're getting an inkling now, Hal...

For we that snatch purses go by the moon...

And the seven stars, and not by daylight...

Not by Phoebus, that Greek sun-god...

That wandering knight so fair.

So I implore you, sweet wag...

When you are King...

As, God save your grace...

Majesty, I should say...

For you wouldn't have any grace!

HAL.

What, none?

FALSTAFF.

No, by my word...

Not so much as could be a prologue...

To an egg and butter.

HAL.

Well, so what then?

Don't beat around the bush.

FALSTAFF.

Okay then, sweet wag, when you are King...

Let not us that are squires of the night's body...

Be called thieves of the day's beauty!

Let us be Diana's foresters!

Gentlemen of the shade...

Minions of the moon!

And let men call us men of good government...

Being governed as the sea is...

By our noble virginal mistress the moon...

Below whose gaze we steal!

HAL.

Well-spoken, and it holds well too...

For our fortune, we that are the moon's men...

Does ebb and flow like the sea...

Being governed as the sea is...

By the moon!

How's this for proof:

A purse of gold most resolutely snatched...

On Monday night and most dissolutely spent...

On Tuesday morning!

Obtained by swearing, 'Take cover'

And spent with crying 'Give freely'

Now the ebb is as low as the foot of the ladder...

And soon the flow is as high...

As the ridge of the gallows!

FALSTAFF.

By Lord, you speak the truth, lad.

And is not my hostess of the tavern...

A most sweet girlie?

HAL.

As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle!

And is not a leather jerkin...

A most sweet robe of protection?

FALSTAFF.

I don't get it, mad wag!

Again with your clever riddles?

What a plague do I have to do...

With a leather jerkin?

HAL.

Why, what a pox do I have to do...

With my hostess of the tavern?

FALSTAFF.

Well, you've called her over to pay her...

Many a time.

HAL.

Did I ever ask you to pay your part?

FALSTAFF.

No, I'll give you your credit where it's due...

You paid it all there.

HAL.

Yeah, and elsewhere!

So far as my coin would stretch!

And where it could not...

I used credit.

FALSTAFF.

Yeah, and used it so liberally...

That it might've raised suspicion...

Were it not here apparent...

That you're the heir apparent...

But please enlighten me, sweet wag...

Will there still be gallows in England...

When you are King?

Will true resolution remain stunted as it is...

Being kicked to the curb...

By old Father Joker: the law?

Don't you, when you are King, hang a thief.

HAL.

No: you will...

FALSTAFF.

Will I? O that's rare!

By Lord, I'll make a great judge!

HAL.

You're judging false already:

I mean, you would be in charge of hanging thieves...

And so you'd be a rare hangman.

FALSTAFF.

Well, Hal, well!

That actually kinda mixes with my humor...

Just as well as playing at manners in the court...

I tell you what!

HAL.

Presiding over suits?

FALSTAFF.

Yeah, presiding over suits...

'Cause a hangman has a big wardrobe...

God's blood!

I feel as melancholy as a stray cat...

Or a circus bear!

HAL.

Or a worn-out lion, or a lover's guitar...

FALSTAFF.

Yeah, or the sound of a Lincolnshire bagpipe!

HAL.

Did you eat too much rabbit?

How 'bout dumping your melancholy...

In the Moor-ditch sewers?

FALSTAFF.

You come up with the grossest similes...

And are indeed...

The most analytical, rascalliest...

Sweet young Prince!

But, Hal, please...

Trouble me no more with vanity.

I wish to God you and I knew...

Where a commodity of good names could be bought!

An old lord of the council...

Scolded me the other day in the street...

About you, Sir!

But I ignored him!

Even so, he spoke very wisely...

But I didn't pay any attention!

Nevertheless, he spoke wisely...

And in the street too!

HAL.

Good for you.

Because wisdom cries out in the streets...

And nobody pays attention...

FALSTAFF.

Aw you have a damnable way of keeping at it...

And could really corrupt a saint!

You've really been a bad influence on me, Hal!

God forgive you for it!

Before I knew you, Hal, I was totally innocent...

And now am I, if a man should speak freely...

Little better than one of the wicked...

I must give up this loose life...

And I will give it up!

Lord, if I do not, I'm a lowlife!

I'll be damned...

Never a King's son in Christendom!

HAL.

Where do we snatch a purse tomorrow, Jack?

FALSTAFF.

God's wounds, wherever you want, lad!

I'll show up...

And if I don't, call me lowlife and confuse me.

HAL.

I see you've really turned a new leaf:

From praying to purse-taking!

FALSTAFF.

Why, Hal, it's my vocation, Hal!

It's no sin for a man...

To work hard at his job.

Poins! Now we'll find out...

Whether Gadshill has met his match...

O, if men are to be saved by merit...

What hellhole's hot enough for Poins?

This is the most omnipotent lowlife...

That ever shouted 'Hand it over' to an honest man.

HAL.

Morning, Ned.

POINS.

Good morning, sweet Hal.

What says Monsieur Remorse?

What says Sir John Sack-and-Sugar?

Jack!

What deal did you and the devil come to...

About your soul, that you sold him...

Last Good Friday for a cup of Madeira...

And a cold chicken leg?

HAL.

Sir John stands by his word:

The devil will get his end of the bargain!

John hasn't yet been a contract-breaker:

He'll give the devil his due.

POINS.

Then you're damned...

For keeping your word to the devil.

HAL.

Otherwise he'd been damned for conning the devil.

POINS.

My lads, my lads!

Tomorrow morning, by four o'clock...

We meet up early with Gadshill!

There are pilgrims heading to Canterbury...

With rich offerings!

And traders riding to London with large purses!

I have masks for you all...

You have your own horses!

Gadshill is spending the night in Rochester!

I reserved supper tomorrow night in Eastcheap!

The whole thing's as easy as sleeping!

If you guys go...

I'll stuff your purses full of coins!

If you don't go...

Well just hang out at home and be hanged!

FALSTAFF.

Listen up, Yedward!

If I hang out at home and don't go...

I'll hang you for going!

POINS.

Will you, Chops?

FALSTAFF.

Hal, you in on this one?

HAL.

Who, me? I rob? I a thief?

Not I, I can assure you...

FALSTAFF.

There's no honesty or manhood...

Or any good fellowship in you...

And you're not of any royal blood...

If you don't take this dare for ten shillings!

HAL.

Well then...

I guess once in my days I'll sow wild oats...

FALSTAFF.

That's well said!

HAL.

Nope, come what may, I'll stay home...

FALSTAFF.

Lord, I'll be a traitor then...

When you are King!

HAL.

I don't care.

POINS.

Sir John, listen...

Leave me alone with the prince:

I will propose to him...

Good-enough reasons for this adventure...

That he'll go.

FALSTAFF.

Well, God grant you the spirit of persuasion...

And him the ears of profiting...

That what you speak may move him...

And what he hears may be believed...

That the true prince may for fun's sake...

Still turn out a false thief!

For the poor abuses of the time...

Need a human face! See you later!

You can find me in Eastcheap...

HAL.

Later, you late spring!

Later, you holy summer!

POINS.

Now, my good, sweet, honey lord...

Ride with us tomorrow...

I have a prank to pull off...

That I cannot manage alone:

Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto, and Gadshill...

Shall rob those men...

Whom we have already detained.

You and I will not be there!

When they have the booty...

If you and I don't rob them...

Cut this head off from my shoulders!

HAL.

How do we ditch them when heading off?

POINS.

Well, we just leave before or after them!

And set up a meeting place...

At which we'll conveniently not arrive...

And then they'll stumble...

Upon the exploit themselves!

No sooner will they have pulled it off...

Than we'll set upon them!

HAL.

Yeah, but they'll probably recognize us...

By our horses, by our clothes...

And by every other mannerism...

To be who we really are...

POINS.

Come on! They won't see our horses...

I'll tie them up in the woods.

We'll change our masks after we leave!

And, my boy...

I brought along some cloth sacks...

To mask our usual outer clothing!

HAL.

Yeah, but they might overpower us.

POINS.

Well, as far as two of them go...

I know them to be such mighty cowards...

As ever turned their backs and ran!

As for the third one...

If he should fight longer than necessary...

I'll stop wearing a sword!

Check it out...

The beauty of this joke will be...

The incredible lies...

That this large rogue who just left...

Will tell us when we meet for dinner:

How he was jumped by at least thirty!

What blocks, what punches!

What an ordeal he had to endure!

And in exposing these lies lies the joke...

HAL.

Alright! I'll go with you!

Provide us with all the necessary items...

And meet me tomorrow night in Eastcheap.

I'll have dinner there, good-bye.

POINS.

Good-bye, my lord!

HAL.

I know what you guys are...

And for a while I'll go along...

With the rude humor of your laziness.

Yet in doing so I'll imitate the sun...

Who allows the base contagious clouds...

To cover up his beauty to the world!

Who, when he sees it fit again to be himself...

Being wanted, he may be more admired...

By breaking through the foul and ugly mist...

Of vapors that seemed to stifle him.

If each day of the year was a holiday...

To play would be as boring as to work.

But when they come rarely, they come wished-for!

Nothing's pleasant except rare accidents.

So when I throw off this loose behavior...

Paying off the debt I never promised...

By showing how much better than my word I am...

By that much I'll confirm men's hopes...

Like bright metal on the dusty ground...

My reformation, glittering beyond my faults...

Shall shine all the better and attract more eyes...

Than that which has no foil to set it off!

I'll offend so much, as to make offence a skill...

Redeeming when men least think I will!

Previous: Act 1. Scene 1.

Next: Act 1. Scene 3.

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