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  • 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 purpose, 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 infinitely.
    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 cloyed 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.