Henry IV, Part II "How Ill White Hairs Become A Fool And Jester"
by William Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part II book cover
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"How Ill White Hairs Become A Fool And Jester"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: With King Henry IV dead, the responsibilities of the crown have fallen upon his eldest son, the carousing and reckless youth, Prince Henry. The new monarch, now Henry V, wastes no time in letting it be known that he is changed. When his old drinking companion, the roguish Sir John Falstaff, approaches the new king in a "public place," expecting a boon, Henry casts him off in the following speech:

KING HENRY THE FIFTHI know thee not old man, fall to thy prayers.How ill white hairs become a fool and jester.I have long dreamed of such a kind of man,So surfeit-swelled, so old, and so profane;But being awaked, I do despise my dream.Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace,Leave gormandizing, know the grave doth gapeFor thee thrice wider than for other men.Reply not to me with a fool-born jest,Presume not that I am the thing I was;For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,That I have turned away my former self,So will I those that kept me company.. . .