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King Henry IV, Part II

Please see the bottom of the page for extensive explanatory notes and other helpful resources.

ACT II SCENE I London. A street. 
 Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY, FANG and his Boy with her,and SNARE following 
MISTRESS QUICKLY Master Fang, have you entered the action? 
FANG It is entered. 
MISTRESS QUICKLY Where's your yeoman? Is't a lusty yeoman? will a' 
 stand to 't?
FANG Sirrah, where's Snare? 
MISTRESS QUICKLY O Lord, ay! good Master Snare. 
SNARE Here, here. 
FANG Snare, we must arrest Sir John Falstaff. 
MISTRESS QUICKLY Yea, good Master Snare; I have entered him and all.
SNARE It may chance cost some of us our lives, for he will stab. 12
MISTRESS QUICKLY Alas the day! take heed of him; he stabbed me in 
 mine own house, and that most beastly: in good 
 faith, he cares not what mischief he does. If his 
 weapon be out: he will foin like any devil; he will
 spare neither man, woman, nor child. 
FANG If I can close with him, I care not for his thrust. 
MISTRESS QUICKLY No, nor I neither: I'll be at your elbow. 
FANG An I but fist him once; an a' come but within my vice,-- 20
MISTRESS QUICKLY I am undone by his going; I warrant you, he's an
 infinitive thing upon my score. Good Master Fang, 
 hold him sure: good Master Snare, let him not 
 'scape. A' comes continuantly to Pie-corner--saving 
 your manhoods--to buy a saddle; and he is indited to 
 dinner to the Lubber's-head in Lumbert street, to
 Master Smooth's the silkman: I pray ye, since my 
 exion is entered and my case so openly known to the 
 world, let him be brought in to his answer. A 
 hundred mark is a long one for a poor lone woman to 
 bear: and I have borne, and borne, and borne, and
 have been fubbed off, and fubbed off, and fubbed 
 off, from this day to that day, that it is a shame 
 to be thought on. There is no honesty in such 
 dealing; unless a woman should be made an ass and a 
 beast, to bear every knave's wrong. Yonder he
 comes; and that errant malmsey-nose knave, Bardolph, 
 with him. Do your offices, do your offices: Master 
 Fang and Master Snare, do me, do me, do me your offices. 37
 Enter FALSTAFF, Page, and BARDOLPH. 
FALSTAFFHow now! whose mare's dead? what's the matter?
FANGSir John, I arrest you at the suit of Mistress Quickly.
FALSTAFFAway, varlets! Draw, Bardolph: cut me off the
villain's head: throw the quean in the channel.
MISTRESS QUICKLYThrow me in the channel! I'll throw thee in the
channel. Wilt thou? wilt thou? thou bastardly
rogue! Murder, murder! Ah, thou honeysuckle
villain! wilt thou kill God's officers and the
king's? Ah, thou honey-seed rogue! thou art a
honey-seed, a man-queller, and a woman-queller.
FALSTAFFKeep them off, Bardolph.
FANGA rescue! a rescue!
MISTRESS QUICKLYGood people, bring a rescue or two. Thou wo't, wo't
thou? Thou wo't, wo't ta? do, do, thou rogue! do,
thou hemp-seed! 51
FALSTAFFAway, you scullion! you rampallion! You
fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.
[Enter the Lord Chief-Justice, and his men]
Lord Chief-JusticeWhat is the matter? keep the peace here, ho!
MISTRESS QUICKLYGood my lord, be good to me. I beseech you, stand to me.
Lord Chief-JusticeHow now, Sir John! what are you brawling here?
Doth this become your place, your time and business?
You should have been well on your way to York.
Stand from him, fellow: wherefore hang'st upon him? 59
MISTRESS QUICKLYO most worshipful lord, an't please your grace, I am
a poor widow of Eastcheap, and he is arrested at my suit.
Lord Chief-JusticeFor what sum?
MISTRESS QUICKLYIt is more than for some, my lord; it is for all,
all I have. He hath eaten me out of house and home;
he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of
his: but I will have some of it out again, or I
will ride thee o' nights like the mare.
FALSTAFFI think I am as like to ride the mare, if I have
any vantage of ground to get up.
Lord Chief-JusticeHow comes this, Sir John? Fie! what man of good
temper would endure this tempest of exclamation?
Are you not ashamed to enforce a poor widow to so
rough a course to come by her own? 71
FALSTAFFWhat is the gross sum that I owe thee?
MISTRESS QUICKLYMarry, if thou wert an honest man, thyself and the
money too. Thou didst swear to me upon a
parcel-gilt goblet, sitting in my Dolphin-chamber,
at the round table, by a sea-coal fire, upon
Wednesday in Wheeson week, when the prince broke
thy head for liking his father to a singing-man of
Windsor, thou didst swear to me then, as I was
washing thy wound, to marry me and make me my lady
thy wife. Canst thou deny it? Did not goodwife
Keech, the butcher's wife, come in then and call me
gossip Quickly? coming in to borrow a mess of
vinegar; telling us she had a good dish of prawns;
whereby thou didst desire to eat some; whereby I
told thee they were ill for a green wound? And
didst thou not, when she was gone down stairs,
desire me to be no more so familiarity with such
poor people; saying that ere long they should call
me madam? And didst thou not kiss me and bid me
fetch thee thirty shillings? I put thee now to thy
book-oath: deny it, if thou canst. 89
FALSTAFFMy lord, this is a poor mad soul; and she says up
and down the town that the eldest son is like you:
she hath been in good case, and the truth is,
poverty hath distracted her. But for these foolish
officers, I beseech you I may have redress against them.
Lord Chief-JusticeSir John, Sir John, I am well acquainted with your
manner of wrenching the true cause the false way. It
is not a confident brow, nor the throng of words
that come with such more than impudent sauciness
from you, can thrust me from a level consideration:
you have, as it appears to me, practised upon the
easy-yielding spirit of this woman, and made her
serve your uses both in purse and in person. 101
MISTRESS QUICKLYYea, in truth, my lord.
Lord Chief-JusticePray thee, peace. Pay her the debt you owe her, and
unpay the villany you have done her: the one you
may do with sterling money, and the other with
current repentance.
FALSTAFFMy lord, I will not undergo this sneap without
reply. You call honourable boldness impudent
sauciness: if a man will make courtesy and say
nothing, he is virtuous: no, my lord, my humble
duty remembered, I will not be your suitor. I say



to you, I do desire deliverance from these officers,
being upon hasty employment in the king's affairs. 112
Lord Chief-JusticeYou speak as having power to do wrong: but answer
in the effect of your reputation, and satisfy this
poor woman.
FALSTAFFCome hither, hostess.
[Enter GOWER]
Lord Chief-JusticeNow, Master Gower, what news?
GOWERThe king, my lord, and Harry Prince of Wales
Are near at hand: the rest the paper tells.
FALSTAFFAs I am a gentleman.120
MISTRESS QUICKLYFaith, you said so before.
FALSTAFFAs I am a gentleman. Come, no more words of it.
MISTRESS QUICKLYBy this heavenly ground I tread on, I must be fain
to pawn both my plate and the tapestry of my
dining-chambers.
FALSTAFFGlasses, glasses is the only drinking: and for thy
walls, a pretty slight drollery, or the story of
the Prodigal, or the German hunting in water-work,
is worth a thousand of these bed-hangings and these
fly-bitten tapestries. Let it be ten pound, if thou
canst. Come, an 'twere not for thy humours, there's
not a better wench in England. Go, wash thy face,
and draw the action. Come, thou must not be in
this humour with me; dost not know me? come, come, I
know thou wast set on to this.
MISTRESS QUICKLYPray thee, Sir John, let it be but twenty nobles: i'
faith, I am loath to pawn my plate, so God save me,
la!
FALSTAFFLet it alone; I'll make other shift: you'll be a138
fool still.
MISTRESS QUICKLYWell, you shall have it, though I pawn my gown. I
hope you'll come to supper. You'll pay me all together?
FALSTAFFWill I live?
[To BARDOLPH]
Go, with her, with her; hook on, hook on.
MISTRESS QUICKLYWill you have Doll Tearsheet meet you at supper?
FALSTAFFNo more words; let's have her.
[Exeunt MISTRESS QUICKLY, BARDOLPH, Officers and Boy]
Lord Chief-JusticeI have heard better news.
FALSTAFFWhat's the news, my lord?150
Lord Chief-JusticeWhere lay the king last night?
GOWERAt Basingstoke, my lord.
FALSTAFFI hope, my lord, all's well: what is the news, my lord?
Lord Chief-JusticeCome all his forces back?
GOWERNo; fifteen hundred foot, five hundred horse,
Are marched up to my lord of Lancaster,
Against Northumberland and the Archbishop.
FALSTAFFComes the king back from Wales, my noble lord?
Lord Chief-JusticeYou shall have letters of me presently:
Come, go along with me, good Master Gower.
FALSTAFFMy lord!
Lord Chief-JusticeWhat's the matter?159
FALSTAFFMaster Gower, shall I entreat you with me to dinner?
GOWERI must wait upon my good lord here; I thank you,
good Sir John.
Lord Chief-JusticeSir John, you loiter here too long, being you are to
take soldiers up in counties as you go.
FALSTAFFWill you sup with me, Master Gower?
Lord Chief-JusticeWhat foolish master taught you these manners, Sir John?
FALSTAFFMaster Gower, if they become me not, he was a fool
that taught them me. This is the right fencing
grace, my lord; tap for tap, and so part fair.170
Lord Chief-JusticeNow the Lord lighten thee! thou art a great fool.
[Exeunt]

Continue to 2 Henry IV, Act 2, Scene 2

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Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 1
From King Henry the Fourth, second part. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.


1. entered the action, set in motion the legal process against Falstaff; though the Hostess's language is of doubtful accuracy. As in 1. 27 below, the Hostess uses the corruption "exion," Dyce substitutes that form here.

3. yeoman, bailiff's follower, tipstaff.

3, 4. will a' ... it? will he boldly execute the arrest?

9, 10. I have entered . . . all, I have taken all the necessary steps for the action against him.

13. Alas the day! sorrow on the day! though the words the day add little to the force of the exclamation; alas is from the "O. F. a, ah! and las, wretched (that I am)" (Skeat, Ety. Dict.). The commoner form of the expression was "Alackaday," or "Alack the day."

15. foin, thrust, lunge, with his sword; O. F. fouine, an eel-spear.

19, 20. An I but fist ... vice, if I can only lay my grasp upon him, if only he comes within reach of my vice-like clutch.

21. I am ... going, if he once gets away, I shall be undone, for there will be no further hope of recovering what he owes me.

21, 2. an infinitive ... score, he is infinitely in my debt.

23. continuantly, continually, constantly: Pie-corner, near Giltspur Street, afterwards famous as the point at which the Great Fire ended.

24. saving your manhoods. An apologetic expression, as though she had said something that she ought not.

25. indited, invited: Lubber's-head, the Hostess's corruption of "Libbard's (i.e. leopard's) head." In former days houses were not numbered, but in place of numbers they had over their doors some sign or emblem, a custom still prevailing in inns in country towns and villages.

26. Lumbert street, Lombard Street, which derived its name from the Lombardy merchants who frequented it in early times. silk-man, silk-mercer.

27. exion, the Hostess's corruption of action.

28. 9. A hundred mark ... one, a hundred marks is a long score, debt, to run up; with a play on the word mark in the sense of a coin of that name and of a mark made as a reckoning. For one, Theobald conjectured loan; Collier, score; Grant White, own'n, i.e. owing: lone, solitary, single; Steevens points out that in Pt. I. Mistress Quickly had a husband alive.

30. fubbed off, put off with excuses; cp. Cor. i. 1. 97, "to fob off our disgrace with a tale"; the two forms being only varieties of spelling. Halliwell, Arch. and. Prov. Dict., gives to "fub, to put off, deceive. At marbles, an irregular mode of projecting the taw by an effort of the whole hand, instead of the thumb only."

33, 4. unless a woman . . . wrong, unless women are to be made mere beasts of burden to be treated in any shameful way that knaves may choose.

35. malmsey-nose knave, red -nosed villain; the redness being due to the amount of malmsey wine he had drunk: malmsey, a strong sweet wine, from Malvasia, a town on the east coast of the Morea.

35, 6. your offices, the duty of arresting Falstaff.

37. do me, i. e. in my behalf.

38. whose mare's dead? What, is all this fuss about nothing? So, in Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, iv. I, Wellbred, entering upon a dispute, exclaims "How now! who's cow has calved?"

40. cut me, as above, 1. 37, "Do me."

41. quean, hussy, jade, vile woman; originally the same word as queen, the sense being "woman": channel, gutter of the street, kennel. In former days these "channels" with running water in them commonly fringed the kerb of the pathway at the sides of streets, and they are still to be seen in old towns.

44. honey-suckle, the Hostess's corruption of "homicidal," as honey-seed is of "homicide."

46. a man-queller, a man-slayer, homicide; the old verb to "quell" meaning to kill, subdue; A.S. cwellan.

48. A rescue! a rescue! the usual cry for assistance when the king's officers were resisted by force; the phrase was originally "at rescue," i.e. "to the rescue!" The Hostess takes the word to be some weapon that the officer called for. To "make a rescue" was to deliver a captured man from the custody of an officer, as in C. E. iv. 4. 114, "Thou, gaoler, thou, I am thy prisoner: wilt thou suffer them To make a rescue."

51. hemp-seed! generally taken as another of the Hostess's corruptions of 'homicide,' which seems unlikely. More probably, it seems to me, she means 'you rascal born for a halter,' halters being woven out of hemp. Cp. ii. H. VI. iv. 7. 95, "Ye shall have a hempen caudle then and the help of hatchet"; H. V. iii. 6. 45, "And let not hemp his wind-pipe suffocate."

52. scullion, properly one of the lowest menials in a household who wiped out the pots and dishes; here merely a term of abuse: rampallian, a term of abuse common in the old dramatists, and more commonly spelled "rampallion," possibly with some connection in the mind of the speaker with a ramping lion, one who springs upon a person as a bailiff might. Cp. the more modern term "rapscallion": fustilarian, apparently a coinage of Falstaff's mint, and possibly from Lat. fustis, a cudgel, or one who carries a cudgel, as a bailiff's follower did.

59. Stand from him, let go of him.

63. some, the Hostess does not understand the Chief-Justice's "sum."

67. the mare, the night-mare; an incubus to whose agency horrible dreams, accompanied by oppression of the breast, were supposed to be due; the word in this sense is, says Skeat, from the root mar, to pound, crush.

68, 9. what man ... exclamation? how could any man of a noble nature so wrong a woman as to provoke her to such a tempest of reproaches as those with which she justly assails you?

71. to come by her own, to recover what is due to her.

73, 4. thyself ... too, you would admit that you owe me not only the money I claim but yourself in marriage: Steevens says that in articles parcel-gilt, i,e. partly gilt, the gilding was upon those parts only that were embossed, i.e. in relief.

75. Dolphin-chamber. It was customary to give particular names to each room in an inn; cp. Ft. I. ii. 4. 30, "Score a pint of bastard in the Half- Moon"; 1. 42, "look down into the Pomgarnet."

76. Wheeson, Whitsun; the week beginning with Whit-Sunday, i.e. white Sunday, seven weeks after Easter. The origin of the term is supposed to be from that season being specially appointed for christenings and ordinations, at which ceremonies white garments were worn. For the minute prolixity of the Hostess's speech here compare that of the garrulous old Nurse in R. J. i. 2. 16 et seqq.

77. broke this head, cracked the skin of your head, so that the blood flowed from it; cp. R. J. i. 3. 38, "she broke her BROW," i.e. bruised her forehead: liking, likening; cp. i. H. VI. iv. 6. 48, "like me to the peasant boys of France."

79. my lady. As a knight, Falstaff could bring that title to the woman he married; cp. K. J. i. 1. 184, "Well, now can I make any Joan a lady," said by the newly knighted Faulconbridge.

80. goodwife Keech, my gossip Keech; the word Keech means the fat of an ox or a cow, rolled up by the butcher in a round lump, and so is appropriately given here to the wife of a butcher, as in H. VIII. i. 1. 55, it is applied to Wolsey, a butcher's son.

81. gossip, literally 'related in God,' i.e. one who stands sponsor in baptism for a child. "Gossips, then," says Trench, Eng. Past and Present, "are first the sponsors, brought by the act of a common sponsorship into affinity and near familiarity with one another; secondly, these sponsors, who being thus brought together, allow themselves with one another in familiar, and then in trivial and idle, talk; thirdly, they are any who allow themselves in this trivial and idle talk" ... so cronies, intimate friends; nowadays the word is used only of the idle talk of such cronies.

82. a mess of vinegar, a portion, small quantity of vinegar; properly that which is set on the table, from O. F. mes, Low Lat. mittere, to place; Malone compares the Scriptural phrase "a mess of pottage."

83. whereby, whereupon.

84. a green wound, a fresh, not yet healed, wound.

85. 6. to be ... people, not to allow such low people to be on such familiar terms with me as to call me "gossip Quickly" and borrow trifles of me in this way.

87. call me madam, call me "my lady," use terms of respect to me.

88. I put thee ... book-oath, I call upon you to answer, taking your Bible-oath to the truth of your words.

90, 1. up and down the town, publicly, wherever she goes.

92. in good case, comfortably off, not the poor woman she now is: distracted her, driven her out of her senses.

93, 4. I may ... against them, I may be set free and they be punished for having dared to arrest me.

98. such more ... sauciness, such impudence as deserves a stronger term than sauciness.

98, 9. can thrust ... consideration, can deter me from taking a fair view of the case and seeing justice done to the poor woman.

105, 6. with sterling ... repentance. The Chief-Justice puns upon the words sterling and current, which are used of coin that passes as of good, full, recognised, value; sterling, a shortened form of "easterling," the Easterlings or North German merchants being the first moneyers in England.

107. sneap, rebuke, reprimand; to "sneap" = to pinch, check, is connected with to "snub"; for its literal sense, cp. L. L. L. i. 1. 100, "Biron is like an envious sneaping frost That bites the first-born infants of the spring"; W. T. i. 2. 13, "that may blow No sneaping winds at home, to make us say 'This is put forth too truly.'"

109. make courtesy, show deference, humility; the 'courtesy,' modern 'curtsy,' was formerly used of men as well as of women; nowadays the word is used of women only, and especially of those of humbler rank showing deference to their superiors, the word "bow" having taken its place for a salutation between equals.

110. my humble ... remembered, be it said with all mindfulness of the respect due to your position: I will ... suitor, I do not ask it with the humility of a suitor, but claim it as the right of one now acting in the king's behalf in a matter of urgent importance. "Falstaff," observes Knight, "claimed the protection legally called quia profecturus," i.e. as being about to set forth (on the king's affairs).

113. You speak ... wrong, you talk as though your commission on the king's business justified you in robbing a poor woman.

114. answer ... reputation, "act up to what your reputation promises" (Schmidt); effect, tenour, import; cp. H. V. v. 2. 72, "our just demands; Whose tenours and particular effects You have enscheduled briefly in your hands": satisfy, pay her what is due.

120. As I am a gentleman, I promise you on my faith as a gentleman; said aside to the Hostess.

122. no more ... it, let's have no more discussion of the matter.

123. By this ... on. Mrs. Quickly mixes up two forms of oath, "by heaven," and "by this ground": I must be fain to, I shall have to bring myself to, I shall be obliged to consent to; fain, glad, eager; "the sense," says Skeat, "seems to have been originally 'fixed'; hence 'suited,' 'satisfied,' 'content.'"In modern usage, in which however the word is somewhat rare, there is almost always a sense of constraint implied.

124. tapestry, with which walls were formerly hung. The finest tapestry came from Arras, a town in Artois, France, and was often called "arras."

126. Glasses ... drinking, don't bother yourself with regrets about your plate, there is nothing so pleasant to drink out of as glasses.

127. drollery, "a picture or sketch of some scene of low humour" (Dyce, Gloss.). In the Tempest, iii. 3. 21, the word is used of a puppet-show: the Prodigal, i.e. of the parable of the prodigal son in Scripture.

128. the German ... water-work, "the representation of a German boar-hunt, perhaps some particular boar-hunt, ... executed in water-colour (or distemper?) on cloth" (Dyce, Gloss).

129. these bed-hangings, said contemptuously of her tapestries as being fit for bed curtains only: fly-bitten, fly-blown, mouldy.

129, 30. Let it be ... canst, make up the sum (which she is to lend him) to ten pounds, if you can.

131. humours, fits of ill temper.

132. draw, withdraw.

134. set on, instigated; one so generous as you are could not have thought of such a thing of your own accord.

135. let it be ... nobles, be satisfied with twenty nobles; "noble," a coin worth 6s. 8d.

137, 8, Let it alone ... still, never mind, don't trouble yourself in the matter, I'll manage to get the money in some other quarter; you will be a fool to the end of your life, and never know what is to your own advantage; i.e. you will lose the chance of having me for a husband for the sake of a few pounds.

142. hook on, go with her and do not leave her till she has pawned her goods and got the money.

144. No more words, as you like; do anything you please.

145. I have ... news, this is not as good news as it might be.

148. Basingstoke, in Hampshire, about fifty miles from London.

151. Come ... back? are all his troops returning with him?

156. of me, from me.

160. shall I entreat ... dinner? will you let me persuade you to dine with me?

163, 4. being you are to, ... go, it being your commission to enlist soldiers on your way to join Prince John. For "being that," = since, cp. M. A. iv. 1. 251, "Being that I flow in grief."

168, 9. he was ... me, hinting that he had learnt his politeness from the Chief-Justice: the right ... grace, the perfection of art in fencing, the highest skill in logical combat; cp. A. Y. L. iii. 2. 127, "that 's the right virtue of a medlar."

170. tap ... fair, hit for hit, and so to separate in all good feeling, without any soreness at getting the worst of the encounter.

171. lighten, with a pun on 'enlighten' and on 'make lighter,' i.e. less of a fool.

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How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. King Henry IV, second part. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1911. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/2kh4_2_1.html >.
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