Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Henry VIII.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth
 
Act V. Scene IV.
 
The Palace-Yard.
 
Noise and tumult within.  Enter Porter and his Man.
  Port.  You’ll leave your noise anon, ye rascals. Do you take the court for Paris-garden? ye rude slaves, leave your gaping.
  [Within.]  Good Master porter, I belong to the larder.
  Port.  Belong to the gallows, and be hanged, you rogue! Is this a place to roar in? Fetch me a dozen crab-tree staves, and strong ones: these are but switches to ’em. I’ll scratch your heads: you must be seeing christenings! Do you look for ale and cakes here, you rude rascals?        5
  Man.  Pray, sir, be patient: ’tis as much impossible—
Unless we sweep ’em from the door with cannons—
To scatter ’em, as ’tis to make ’em sleep
On May-day morning; which will never be.
We may as well push against Paul’s as stir ’em.        10
  Port.  How got they in, and be hang’d?
  Man.  Alas, I know not; how gets the tide in?
As much as one sound cudgel of four foot—
You see the poor remainder—could distribute,
I made no spare, sir.        15
  Port.        You did nothing, sir.
  Man.  I am not Samson, nor Sir Guy, nor Colbrand,
To mow ’em down before me; but if I spar’d any
That had a head to hit, either young or old,
He or she, cuckold or cuckold-maker,        20
Let me ne’er hope to see a chine again;
And that I would not for a cow, God save her!
[Within.]  Do you hear, Master porter?
  Port.  I shall be with you presently, good
Master puppy. Keep the door close, sirrah.        25
  Man.  What would you have me do?
  Port.  What should you do, but knock ’em down by the dozens? Is this Moorfields to muster in? or have we some strange Indian with the great tool come to court, the women so besiege us? Bless me, what a fry of fornication is at door! On my Christian conscience, this one christening will beget a thousand: here will be father, godfather, and all together.
  Man.  The spoons will be the bigger, sir. There is a fellow somewhat near the door, he should be a brazier by his face, for, o’ my conscience, twenty of the dog days now reign in ’s nose: all that stand about him are under the line, they need no other penance. That fire-drake did I hit three times on the head, and three times was his nose discharged against me: he stands there, like a mortar-piece, to blow us. There was a haberdasher’s wife of small wit near him, that railed upon me till her pinked porringer fell off her head, for kindling such a combustion in the state. I missed the meteor once, and hit that woman, who cried out, ‘Clubs!’ when I might see from far some forty truncheoners draw to her succour, which were the hope o’ the Strand, where she was quartered. They fell on; I made good my place; at length they came to the broomstaff to me; I defied ’em still; when suddenly a file of boys behind ’em, loose shot, delivered such a shower of pebbles, that I was fain to draw mine honour in, and let ’em win the work. The devil was amongst ’em, I think, surely.
  Port.  These are the youths that thunder at a playhouse, and fight for bitten apples; that no audience, but the Tribulation of Tower-hill, or the Limbs of Limehouse, their dear brothers, are able to endure. I have some of ’em in Limbo Patrum, and there they are like to dance these three days; besides the running banquet of two beadles, that is to come.
 
Enter the Lord Chamberlain.
        30
  Cham.  Mercy o’ me, what a multitude are here!
They grow still too, from all parts they are coming,
As if we kept a fair here! Where are these porters,
These lazy knaves? Ye have made a fine hand, fellows:
There’s a trim rabble let in. Are all these        35
Your faithful friends o’ the suburbs? We shall have
Great store of room, no doubt, left for the ladies,
When they pass back from the christening.
  Port.        An ’t please your honour,
We are but men; and what so many may do,        40
Not being torn a-pieces, we have done:
An army cannot rule ’em.
  Cham.        As I live,
If the king blame me for ’t, I’ll lay ye all
By the heels, and suddenly; and on your heads        45
Clap round fines for neglect: ye’re lazy knaves;
And here ye lie baiting of bombards, when
Ye should do service. Hark! the trumpets sound;
They’re come already from the christening.
Go, break among the press, and find a way out        50
To let the troop pass fairly, or I’ll find
A Marshalsea shall hold ye play these two months.
  Port.  Make way there for the princess.
  Man.        You great fellow,
Stand close up, or I’ll make your head ache.        55
  Port.  You i’ the camlet, get up o’ the rail:
I’ll pick you o’er the pales else.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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