Back at Eastcheap, Prince Hal teases Francis, one of the serving boys in the tavern. Falstaff arrives and tells an elaborate lie about his encounter with the highway robbers who stole his money. He says that he put up a most valiant struggle against at least one hundred attackers. Hal plays along and adds witty comments like "Pray God you have not murdered some of them." But Falstaff begins to trip over his own lies and Hal finally admits that he and Poins were the robbers.
Falstaff pretends to have known all along and tells Hal that he ran away only to ensure that no harm came to the future king of England. Mistress Quickly, the hostess of the tavern, announces that a nobleman has arrived with word from the King that Hal must return to the royal palace by morning, for there is news of a rebellion led by Hotspur and others in the Percy clan. Falstaff believes that the King will be angry at Hal and so he suggests that the Prince rehearse exactly what he will say to his father. Falstaff assumes the role of King Henry and chides Hal for his lack of morality and respect for his role as heir to the throne. He condemns Hal's band of rabble-rousing friends, except, of course, for that wonderful chap Falstaff.
Hal then suggests that they reverse roles and he acts the part of the King. He chastises 'Hal' for spending time with that "villainous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan" (II.iv.467-8), and Falstaff, playing Hal, defends himself. Bardolph rushes in and interrupts the role-playing. He announces the arrival of the sheriff who has witnesses that can place Falstaff at the scene of the robbery. Hal tells Falstaff to hide behind the drapery and he assures the Sheriff that Falstaff is not on the premises. The Prince also promises to refund any stolen money and goods to the victims.
The Sheriff leaves satisfied, and Hal checks on Falstaff, only to find that he has fallen asleep behind the curtains. He searches Falstaff's pockets and discovers a list of debts the large knight has incurred. The Prince insists that he will make Falstaff a soldier as punishment: "I'll procure this fat rogue a charge of foot; and I know his death will be a march of twelvescore. The money shall be paid back again with advantage."
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 4
From Henry IV, Part I. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
1. Fat room, vat room. So in Mark 12:1, "The wine-fat."
6. Sworn brother. An allusion to fratres jurati, brothers
sworn to share faithfully the dangers and advantages of
some common enterprise.
7. Drawers, tapsters.
12. A Corinthian. A cant name for a lascivious fellow: Corinth having been noted for its courtesans.
17. Breathe in your watering, take breath while drinking.
24. Under-skinker, an under-drawer or tapster.
28. Bastard, a kind of sweet wine.
36. Perfect, in the part or performance.
45. By 'rlady, by our lady the Virgin.
63. Anon, Francis? Give you the thousand pounds anon,
69. Not-pated, round headed; having close-cropped hair.
Caddis, a kind of worsted tape.
107. Brawn, Falstaff. Rivo, a common Bacchanalian
112. Nether-stocks, stockings. Breeches were called upperstocks.
115. Titan, the sun.
120. Lime, added to give strength to the liquor.
124. A shotten herring, a herring dried.
127. I would I were a weaver, etc. Weavers and tailors
were much addicted to the practice of singing at their work.
131. A dagger of lath, the weapon of the buffoon who was
called the Vice in the ancient comedies.
157. At half-sword, at half-sword distance, in close fight.
160. Hose, breeches.
195. Ward, fencing, guard, posture.
204. Down fell their hose. This banter refers to the points
or tagged laces that held the breeches. So in Twelfth
Night, i. 5, when the Clown says, "I am resolved on two
points," Maria replies, " That, if one break, the other will
hold; or, if both break, your gaskins fall."
205. I followed me close. This expletive use of the word me
gives a quaint turn to the expression.
210. In Kendal green. Kendal was in old times noted for
the making and dyeing of cloths. The dress of Robin Hood
and his merry foresters was Kendal green.
216. Tallow-keech. A keech was the name for a rolled mass
of beef fat.
224. The strappado. By this instrument of punishment a
person was drawn up to its height, and then suddenly with
a jerk let fall half-way, so as to break or disjoint his bones.
228. I, ay, yes. Ay or aye, spelt I in old dramatists.
229. Guilty of this sin, of allowing Falstaff to tell lies.
232. Elf-skin. This alludes to the diminuntive clothing of
an elf or fairy.
235. Vile standing tuck. A tuck is a long thin sword, a rapier. Instead of standing we would now say walking.
244. Out-faced, brow-beat. With a word, in a word.
259. The lion will not touch, etc. The opinion was prevalent in old times that a lion would not harm either true
chastity or true royalty.
277. Give him as much, etc. That is, give him 3s. 4d. The
jest here refers to a nobleman as denoting a man worth a
noble, or 6s. 8d, and a royal man as one worth a royal, or 10s.
397. Of true men, of the honest men we attacked.
302. Fire, an allusion to Bardolph's fiery complexion.
305. These meteors. Referring still to his complexion.
311. Halter, a quibbling reference to choler as suggesting
313. Bombast, cotton-wadding. Now an affected, padded,
tumid style of speech.
322. Amaimon, according to Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft,
a spirit who might be bound at certain hours. He was the
demon king of the east, one of the four ruling spirits invoked by witches.
325. The cross of a Welsh hook. Falstaff here refers to the
custom of swearing upon a figure of the cross engraved on a
sword, or on the hilt, which gave the weapon itself the shape
of a cross.
331. Pistol. An anachronism. The weapon not in use so early as Henry IV.
337. Blue-caps, the name of a weed that grows amongst
357. State, throne, or royal chair. Macbeth III. 4, "Our
hostess keeps her state."
359. Is taken for, is regarded as no better than.
367. Here is my leg, here I do obeisance with my leg.
376. Tickle-brain, the name of some kind of liquor.
387. Prove a micher, etc. Prove a sneaking truant, as boys
do to pick blackberries.
416. A rabbit-sucker, a sucking rabbit. Poulter, a dealer
429. Bolting-hutch, a bin, or hutch, for receiving bolted, or
430. Bombard, a barrel.
431. Roasted Manningtree ox, supposed to refer to a custom
of roasting an ox at Manningtree Fair, in Essex. That
reverend vice, etc. The Vice, Iniquity, and Vanity, were
characters in the ancient dramas called Moralities.
434. Taste sack. Taste is here used for test or try.
439. Take me with you, let me understand you.
470. Never call a true, etc. The mad-cap prince was mad
in reality, and needed no contrivance to make himself appear a madman; to say that the prince was assuming the
role of a mad-cap would be to call a true piece of gold a counterfeit.
474. Your major, a quibble between major officer, or mayor,
and the major proposition of a syllogism.
475. A cart, the cart in which criminals were conveyed to
478. Arras, the wall curtains. Apartments were often hung
round with tapestry curtains.
489. Hue and cry, clamor, outcry.
509. Paul's, St. Paul's Cathedral. Very conspicuous.
521. Ob., a contraction for obolus, a small Greek coin --
three and a half cents.
529. Twelve-score, of frequent occurrence in relation to
archery, cannon, etc., and denoted twelve-score yards.
How to cite the introduction:
Mabillard, Amanda. Introduction to King Henry IV, Part 1 (2.4). Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/1kh4_2_4.html >.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. King Henry IV, Part 1. Ed. Brainerd Kellogg. New York: Clark and Maynard, 1885. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/1kh4_2_4.html >.