6. EPILOGUE. Spoken by a Dancer.
First my fear; then my courtesy; last my speech. My fear is, your
displeasure; my courtesy, my duty; and my speech, to beg your
pardons. If you look for a good speech now, you undo me: for
what I have to say is of mine own making; and what indeed I
should say will, I doubt, prove mine own marring. But to the
urpose, and so to the venture. Be it known to you, as it is very
well, I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to pray
your patience for it and to promise you a better. I meant indeed to
pay you with this; which, if like an ill venture it come unluckily
home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here I promised
you I would be and here I commit my body to your mercies: bate me
some and I will pay you some and, as most debtors do, promise you
If my tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me, will you command me to
use my legs? and yet that were but light payment, to dance out of
your debt. But a good conscience will make any possible satisfaction,
and so would I. All the gentlewomen here have forgiven me: if the
gentlemen will not, then the gentlemen do not agree with the
gentlewomen, which was never seen before in such an assembly.
One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloy'd with fat
meat, our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it,
and make you merry with fair Katharine of France: where, for any
thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already a' be
killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this
is not the man.
My tongue is weary; when my legs are too, I will bid you good night:
and so kneel down before you; but, indeed, to pray for the queen.