Prince. Do thou stand for my father and examine me upon the particulars of my life.
Fal. Shall I? Content. This chair shall be my state, this dagger my sceptre, and this cushion my crown.
Prince. Thy state is taken for a join'd stool, thy golden sceptre for a leaden dagger, and thy precious rich crown for a pitiful bald crown!
Fal. Well, and the fire of grace be not quite out of thee, now shalt thou be mov'd. Give me a cup of sack to make my eyes look red, that it may be thought I have wept, for I must speak in passion, and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein.
Prince. Well, here is my leg.
Fal. And here is my speech. Stand aside, nobility.
Host. O Jesu, this is excellent sport, i' faith!
Fal. For God's sake, lords, convey my tristful queen,
For tears do stop the flood-gates of her eyes.
Host. O Jesu, he doth it as like one of these harlotry players as ever I see!
Fal. Peace, good pint-pot, peace, good ticklebrain. Harry, I do not only marvel where thou spendest thy time, but also how thou art accompanied; for thought the camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears. That thou art my son I have partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion, but chiefly a villainous trick of thine eye, and a foolish hanging of thy nether lip, that doth warrant me. If then thou be son to me, here lies the point: why being son to me, art thou so pointed at? Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher and eat blackberries? a question not to be ask'd. Shall the son of England prove a thief and take purses? a question to be ask'd. There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and it is known to many in our land by the name of pitch. This pitch (as ancient writers do report) doth defile, so doth the company thou keepest; for, Harry, now I do not speak to thee in drink, but in tears; not in pleasure, but in passion; not in words only, but in woes also. And yet there is a virtuous man whom I have often noted in thy company, but I know not his name.
Prince. What manner of man, and it like you Majesty?
Fal. A goodly portly man, i' faith, and a corpulent, of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage, and as I think, his age some fifty, or, by'r lady, inclining to threescore; and now I remember me, his name is Falstaff. If that man should be lewdly given, he deceiveth me; for, Harry, I see virtue in his looks. If then the tree may be known by the fruit, as the fruit by the tree, then peremptorily I speak it, there is virtue in that Falstaff; him keep with, the rest banish. And tell me now, thou naughty varlet, tell me, where hast thou been this month?
Prince. Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand for me, and I'll play my father.
Fal. Depose me? If thou dost it half so gravely, so majestically, both in word and matter, hang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker or a poulter's hare.
Prince. Well, here I am set.
Fal. And her I stand. Judge, my masters.
Prince. Now, Harry, whence come you?
Fal. My noble lord, from Eastcheap.
Prince. The complaints I hear of thee are grievous.
Fal. ‘Sblood, my lord, they are false.Nay, I'll tickle ye for a young prince, i' faith.
Prince. 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 the trunk of humors, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swoll'n parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuff'd cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverent Vice, that grey 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 villainy? wherein villainous, but in all things? wherein worthy, but in nothing?
Fal. I would your Grace would take me with you. Whom means you Grace?
Prince. That villainous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Sathan.
Fal. My lord, the man I know.
Prince. I know thou dost.
Fal. 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 damn'd. If to be fat be to be hated, then Pharaoh's lean kine are to be lov'd. 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 companybanish plump Jack, and banish all the world.
Prince. I do, I will.
1 Henry IV: II, iv, 376-481
William Shakespeare, from 1 Henry IV.