Falstaff's Boasting by Shakespeare

This scene will give a good chance to practise variety of expression, both in words and action. Falstaff throws himself into all the attitudes, and elevates and depresses his voice, as if he was actually engaged in the combat he describes—preserving the utmost gravity of face, until he finds that the Prince has really detected him. Then the "fat rogue" bursts into a jolly, unctuous laugh, and carries off the honors, after all:

P. Henry.   What's the matter?

Fal.   What's the matter? there be four of us here have ta'en a thousand pound this morning.

P. Hen.   Where is it, Jack? where is it?

Fal.   Where is it? taken from us it is: a hundred upon poor four of us.

P. Hen.   What, a hundred, man?

Fal.   I am a rogue, if I were not at half-sword with a dozen of them two hours together. I have 'scaped by miracle. I am eight times thrust through the doublet; four, through the hose; my buckler cut through and through; my sword hacked like a hand-saw ecce signum. I never dealt better since I was a man: all would not do. A plague of all cowards!—Let them speak: if they speak more or less than truth, they are villains, and the sons of darkness.

P. Hen.   Speak, sirs: how was it?

Gads.   We four set upon some dozen,—

Fal.   Sixteen at least, my lord.

Gads.   And bound them.

Peto.   No, no, they were not bound.

Fal.   You rogue, they were bound, every man of them; or I am a Jew else, an Ebrew Jew.

Gads.   As we were sharing, some six or seven fresh men set upon us.

Fal.   And unbound the rest, and then come in the other.

P. Hen.   What, fought ye with them all?

Fal.   All! I know not what ye call, all; but if I fought not with fifty of them, I am a bunch of radish; if there were not two or three and fifty upon poor old Jack, then I am no two-legged creature.

Poins.   Pray God, you have not murdered some of them.

Fal.   Nay, that's past praying for, for I have peppered two of them: two, I am sure, I have paid; two rogues in buckram suits. I tell thee what, Hal,—if I tell thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse. Thou knowest my old ward;—here I lay, and thus I bore my point. Four rogues in buckram let drive at me.—

P. Hen.   What, four? thou said'st but two, even now.

Fal.   Four, Hal; I told thee four.

Poins.   Ay, ay, he said four.

Fal.   These four came all a-front, and mainly thrust at me. I made no more ado, but took all their seven points in my target, thus.

P. Hen.   Seven? why, there were but four, even now.

Fal.   In buckram.

Poins.   Ay, four in buckram suits.

Fal.   Seven, by these hilts, or I am a villain else.

P. Hen.   Pr'ythee, let him alone; we shall have more anon.

Fal.   Dost thou hear me, Hal?

P. Hen.   Ay, and mark thee too, Jack.

Fal.   Do, so, for it is worth the listening to. The nine in buckram that I told thee of,——

P. Hen.   So, two more already.

Fal.   Their points being broken,——

Poins.   Down fell their hose.

Fal.   Began to give me ground: But I followed me close, came in foot and hand: and, with a thought, seven of the eleven I paid.

P. Hen.   O monstrous! eleven buckram men grown out of two!

Fal.   But, as the devil would have it, three misbegotten knaves, in Kendal green, came at my back, and let drive at me; for it was so dark, Hal, that thou couldst not see thy hand.

P. Hen.   These lies are like the father that begets them; gross as a mountain, open palpable. Why, thou clay-brained guts; thou knotty-pated fool! thou whoreson, obscene, greasy, tallow-keech,—

Fal.   What, art thou mad? art thou mad? is not the truth, the truth?

P. Hen.   Why, how couldst thou know these men  in Kendal green, when it was so dark thou couldst not see thy hand? come, tell us thy reason; what sayest thou to this?

Poins.   Come, your reason, Jack, your reason.

Fal.   What, upon compulsion? No; were I at the strappado, or all the racks in the world, I would not tell you on compulsion. Give you a reason on compulsion! if reasons were as plenty as blackberries I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.

P. Hen.   I'll be no longer guilty of this sin; this sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horse back-breaker, this huge hill of flesh;—

Fal.   Away, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat's-tongue, bull's-pizzle, you stock-fish,—O for breath to utter what is like thee!—you tailor's yard, you sheathe, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck;—

P. Hen.   Well, breathe a while and then to it again; and when thou hast tired thyself in base comparisons hear me speak but this.

Poins.   Mark, Jack.

P. Hen.   We two saw you four set on four: you bound them, and were masters of their wealth.—Mark now how plain a tale shall put you down.—Then did we two set on you four: and, with a word, out-faced you from your prize, and have it; yea, and can show it you here in the house:—and, Falstaff, you carried your guts away as nimbly, with as quick dexterity, and roared for mercy, and still ran and roared, as ever I heard bull-calf. What a slave art thou, to hack thy sword, as thou hast done; and then say, it was a fight! What trick, what device, what starting-hole, canst now find out, to hide thee from this open and apparent shame?

Poins.   Come, let's hear, Jack: What trick hast thou now?

Fal.   By the Lord, I knew ye, as well as he that  made ye. Why, hear ye, my masters: Was it for me to kill the heir apparent? Should I turn upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest, I am as valiant as Hercules; but beware instinct; the lion will not touch the true prince. Instinct is a great matter; I was a coward on instinct. I shall think the better of myself and thee, during my life; I, for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince. But, by the Lord, lads, I am glad you have the money.—Hostess, clap to the doors; watch to-night, pray to-morrow.—Gallant, lads, boys, hearts of gold. All the titles of good fellowship come to you! What, shall we be merry? shall we have a play extempore?