Henry IV, Part 1

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 2 Scene 1
No Fear Act 2 Scene 1 Page 4

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CHAMBERLAIN

No, I’ll none of it. I pray thee keep that for the hangman, for I know thou worshipest Saint Nicholas as truly as a man of falsehood may.

CHAMBERLAIN

I don’t want it; keep it for the hangman. I know you worship the patron saint of highway robbery, as much as a godless man like you worships anything.

GADSHILL

What talkest thou to me of the hangman? If I hang, I’ll make a fat pair of gallows, for if I hang, old Sir John hangs with me, and thou knowest he is no starveling. Tut, there are other Troyans that thou dream’st not of, the which for sport sake are content to do the profession some grace, that would, if matters should be looked into, for their own credit sake make all whole. I am joined with no foot-land-rakers, no long-staff sixpenny strikers, none of these mad mustachio purple-hued malt-worms, but with nobility and tranquillity, burgomasters and great oneyers, such as can hold in, such as will strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than drink, and drink sooner than pray, and yet, zounds, I lie, for they pray continually to their saint the commonwealth, or rather not pray to her but prey on her, for they ride up and down on her and make her their boots.

GADSHILL

Why are you taking to me about the hangman? If I hang, I’ll make half of a fat pair on the gallows, because if I hang, old Sir John will be hanging right with me—and he’s not exactly thin. Please! Our gang has some members you could never guess, and for their own amusement, they’re happy to lend the profession of thievery some respect. If we were ever investigated, they would smooth everything over. I’ve got no wandering highwaymen, no thieves with homemade weapons, no red-faced drunks with crazy mustaches. Only men of calm and noble demeanor for me: magistrates and court officials. Men who can keep a secret; who’d rather smack you than speak, rather speak than drink, and rather drink than pray.—No! That’s a lie! They pray all the time to England, their patron saint. Or rather, they don’t pray to her; they prey on her. They ride her up and down and then make her their

boots

Gadshill means they plunder England, or take her “booty”; the Chamberlain puns on the words boots/booty.

boots
.

CHAMBERLAIN

What, the commonwealth their boots? Will she hold out water in foul way?

CHAMBERLAIN

Make her their boots? Why, will she keep their feet dry from muddy water?

GADSHILL

She will, she will. Justice hath liquored her. We steal as in a castle, cocksure. We have the receipt of fern seed; we walk invisible.

GADSHILL

She can, she can. She’s been greased with so many bribes that she’s waterproof. We thieve in complete safety; we’ve got a potion that makes us invisible.

CHAMBERLAIN

Nay, by my faith, I think you are more beholding to the night than to fern seed for your walking invisible.

CHAMBERLAIN

Oh, I don’t think so. It’s the dark of night that makes you hard to see, not a secret potion.

GADSHILL

Give me thy hand. Thou shalt have a share in our purchase, as I am a true man.

GADSHILL

Let’s shake hands. You’ll get a share of our spoils; I swear on my honor as a true man.