Henry IV, Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

PRINCE HENRY

Why, how couldst thou know these men in Kendal green, when it was so dark thou couldst not see thy hand? Come, tell us your reason. What sayest thou to this?

PRINCE HENRY

Well, how could you know that these men were wearing green when it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face? Go ahead, tell us. What do you have to say to that?

POINS

Come, your reason, Jack, your reason.

POINS

Come on, tell us, Jack, go on.

FALSTAFF

210What, upon compulsion? Zounds, an I were at the strappado or all the racks in the world, I would not tell you on compulsion. Give you a reason on compulsion? If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.

FALSTAFF

What, just because you command me? Dammit, if I were being tortured on all the contraptions in the world, I wouldn’t speak just because you commanded. Speak just because you command! If my reasons were as cheap as blackberries, I wouldn’t give away my reasons just because I was commanded. Not I.

PRINCE HENRY

215I’ll be no longer guilty of this sin. This sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker, this huge hill of flesh—

PRINCE HENRY

I’m not going to put up with this any longer. This red-faced coward, this flattener of mattresses, this breaker of horses' backs, this huge hill of flesh—

FALSTAFF

'Sblood, you starveling, you elfskin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle, you stockfish! O, for breath to utter what is like thee! You tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bowcase, you vile standing tuck—

FALSTAFF

Dammit! You scarecrow, you skin of an elf, you dried-out ox’s tongue, you bull’s penis, you salted cod! Oh, I wish I had enough breath to tell you all the things you are! You yardstick, you empty sheath, you case for a violinist’s bow, you disgusting erect sword—

PRINCE HENRY

Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again, and when thou hast tired thyself in base comparisons, hear me speak but this.

PRINCE HENRY

Catch your breath for a moment, then start again. And when you’ve tired yourself with these awful comparisons, listen to me say just one thing.

POINS

Mark, Jack.

POINS

Listen closely, Jack.

PRINCE HENRY

225We two saw you four set on four, and bound them and were masters of their wealth. Mark now how a plain tale shall put you down. Then did we two set on you four and, with a word, outfaced you from your prize, and have it; yea, and can show it you here in the house. And, Falstaff, you carried your guts away as nimbly, with as quick dexterity, and roared for mercy, and still run and roared, as ever I heard bull-calf. What a slave art thou to hack thy sword as thou hast done, and then say it was in fight! What trick, what device, what starting-hole canst thou now find out to hide thee from this open and apparent shame?

PRINCE HENRY

The two of us saw you four jump four men, tie them up and take their money. Now listen to how the simple truth will shame you. Then the two of us jumped the four of you. And with just a word, we stole your prize from you. Now we have it, and we can show it to you right here in the bar. And Falstaff, you ran away as quickly and as lightfootedly, as a cow from the slaughter, screaming for mercy, as you ran and screamed. What a lowlife you are, to hack up your sword and say it happened in a fight! What outrageous story, what trick, what hiding place can you possibly find to hide you from your open and obvious shame?