2. Scene II. A public Road near Coventry.
[Enter Falstaff and Bardolph.]
Bardolph, get thee before to Coventry; fill me a bottle of
sack: our soldiers shall march through; we'll to Sutton-Co'fil'
Will you give me money, captain?
Lay out, lay out.
This bottle makes an angel.
An if it do, take it for thy labour; an if it make twenty,
take them all; I'll answer the coinage. Bid my lieutenant
Peto meet me at the town's end.
I will, captain: farewell.
If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused gurnet. I have
misused the King's press damnably. I have got, in exchange of
a hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I
press'd me none but good householders, yeomen's sons; inquired
me out contracted bachelors, such as had been ask'd twice on the
banns; such a commodity of warm slaves as had as lief hear the
Devil as a drum; such as fear the report of a caliver worse than
a struck fowl or a hurt wild-duck. I press'd me none but such
toasts-and-butter, with hearts in their bodies no bigger than
pins'-heads, and they have bought out their services; and now
my whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants,
gentlemen of companies, slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the
painted cloth, where the glutton's dogs licked his sores; and
such as, indeed, were never soldiers, but discarded unjust
serving-men, younger sons to younger brothers, revolted tapsters,
and ostlers trade-fallen; the cankers of a calm world and a long
peace; ten times more dishonourable ragged than an old faced
ancient: and such have I, to fill up the rooms of them that have
bought out their services, that you would think that I had a
hundred and fifty tattered Prodigals lately come from
swine-keeping, from eating draff and husks. A mad fellow met me on
the way, and told me I had unloaded all the gibbets, and press'd
the dead bodies.
No eye hath seen such scarecrows. I'll not march through Coventry
with them, that's flat: nay, and the villains march wide betwixt
the legs, as if they had gyves on; for, indeed, I had the most of
them out of prison. There's but a shirt and a half in all my company;
and the half-shirt is two napkins tack'd together and thrown over the
shoulders like a herald's coat without sleeves; and the shirt, to say
the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Alban's, or the red-nose
innkeeper of Daventry.
But that's all one; they'll find linen enough on every hedge.