Henry IV, Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 4

page Act 2 Scene 4 Page 19

Original Text

Modern Text

FALSTAFF

'Sblood, my lord, they are false.— (to the others) Nay, I’ll tickle you for a young prince, i' faith.

FALSTAFF

For God’s sake, my lord, they are lies. (to the others) I’ll make you laugh by playing a young prince, I truly will.

PRINCE HENRY

Swearest thou? Ungracious boy, henceforth ne'er look on me. Thou art violently carried away from grace. There is a devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man. A tun of man is thy companion. Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humors, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloakbag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend Vice, that gray iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? Wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink it? Wherein neat and cleanly but to carve a capon and eat it? Wherein cunning but in craft? Wherein crafty but in villany? Wherein villanous but in all things? Wherein worthy but in nothing?

PRINCE HENRY

Are you swearing, you ungracious boy? From now on, do not even look at me. You have been violently turned away from goodness; there is a devil that haunts you, in the shape of an old, fat man. A ton of man is your companion. Why do you associate with that trunk of bodily fluids, that sifting bin of beastliness, that swollen sack of disease, that huge jug of wine, that stuffed suitcase of guts, that roasted ox crammed with pudding, that ancient

Vice

Vice, a familiar character from medieval morality plays, led people into immorality.

Vice
, that gray-haired immorality, that father criminal, that aged vanity? What is he good for, besides tasting wine and drinking it? What does he do skillfully, besides carving chickens and eating them? What’s he smart about besides schemes? What does he scheme about besides crime? What is he criminal about besides everything? What is he good for besides nothing?

FALSTAFF

I would your Grace would take me with you. Whom means your Grace?

FALSTAFF

I wish your highness would help me follow your meaning. Who do you mean, your grace?

PRINCE HENRY

That villanous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan.

PRINCE HENRY

That criminal, loathsome corrupter of youth: Falstaff, that old, white-bearded devil.

FALSTAFF

410My lord, the man I know.

FALSTAFF

My lord, I know the man.

PRINCE HENRY

I know thou dost.

PRINCE HENRY

I know you do.

FALSTAFF

But to say I know more harm in him than in myself were to say more than I know. That he is old, the more the pity; his white hairs do witness it. But that he is, saving your reverence, a whoremaster, that I utterly deny. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked. If to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damned. If to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh’s lean kine are to be loved. No, my good lord, banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins, but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant being, as he is old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s company. Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.

FALSTAFF

But to make me claim that he’s any more harmful than I am—well, I can’t claim that. Yes he’s old, and it’s a shame: his white hair proves it. But that he’s a—forgive me—pimp? That I absolutely deny. If drinking wine and sugar is a fault, then God forgive us all. If being old and merry is a sin, then I know a lot of old men who are going to hell. If being fat means you should be hated, than we should all love

Pharoah’s lean cows

In the Bible, Pharoah’s dream of seven emaciated cows prophesies famine for Egypt.

Pharoah’s lean cows
. No, your highness. Get rid of Peto, get rid of Bardolph, get rid of Poins. But as for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, honest Jack Falstaff, brave Jack Falstaff, and therefore even more brave, given that he is old Jack Falstaff—do not get rid of him. Do not get rid of him. If you get rid of him, you’ll be getting rid of the whole world.