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Mistress Page (Julie Hughett) and Falstaff (John Rousseau) in "The Merry Wives of Windsor", staged by Pacific Repertory Theatre at the Golden Bough Playhouse in Carmel, Ca., in 1999.

The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare, first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. It features the fat knight Sir John Falstaff, and is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life. It has been adapted for the opera on occasions.

Contents

Sources

Some elements of The Merry Wives of Windsor may have been adapted from Il Pecorone, a collection of stories by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino; one of these stories was included in William Painter's The Palace of Pleasure.[1]

Date and text

Title page of the 1602 quarto

The play's date of composition is unknown; it was registered for publication in 1602, but was probably several years old by that date. Textual allusions to the Order of the Garter suggest that the play may have been intended for performance in April 1597, prior to the installation in May of the Knights-Elect of that order at Windsor; if so, it was probably performed when Elizabeth I attended Garter Feast on April 23. This was not necessarily the premiere; presumably, the play was also staged at the public theatre.

The Garter theory is only speculation, but it is corroborated by a story first recorded by John Dennis (dramatist) in 1702: that Shakespeare was commanded to write the play by Queen Elizabeth, who wanted to see 'Falstaff in love'. (That such a story was first recorded one hundred years later – in the same year in which Dennis had made an adaptation of Merry Wives – makes it suspect.)

However, support for this theory is divided. If the Garter theory is correct, it would mean that Shakespeare wrote 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' between Henry IV part 1 and part 2. Critics have trouble believing this because of all the inconsistencies that appear between the Henry plays and Merry Wives. For example, there are no references to any of the major events going on at the time such as the rebellion (Henry IV part 1), or the English invasion of France (Henry IV part 2).

January 18, 1602 was the date the play was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company. The first quarto was published later that year, in an inferior text, by bookseller Arthur Johnson. It was published in a second quarto in 1619, as part of William Jaggard's False Folio; the superior First Folio text followed in 1623.

The title page of Q1 states that the play was acted by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, "Both before Her Majesty, and elsewhere." The earliest performance known with certainty occurred on November 4, 1604, at Whitehall Palace. Another known performance took place on November 15, 1638, at the Cockpit Theatre.

The play alludes to a German duke, who is generally thought to be Frederick I, Duke of Württemberg, who had visited England in 1592 and was elected to the Order of the Garter in 1597 (and who was eventually only installed in Stuttgart on November 6, 1603).

There is an indication that Falstaff in Merry Wives was originally called Sir John Oldcastle, as was true of Falstaff in the Henry IV plays. See: Sir John Oldcastle and Sir John Fastolf.

Characters

  • Sir John Falstaff
  • Bardolph, Pistol, Nym, (Followers of Falstaff)
  • Robin, Son/page to Falstaff.
  • Messrs. Ford & Page, two Gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
  • William Page, a Boy, Son to Page.
  • Sir Hugh Evans, a Welsh Parson
  • Doctor Caius, a French Physician.
  • Rugby, a Servant to Doctor Caius.
  • Shallow, a Country Justice.
  • Slender, Cousin to Shallow.
  • Simple, Servant to Slender.
  • Fenton, a young Gentleman.
  • The Host of the Garter Inn.
  • Mistress Ford
  • Mistress Page
  • Anne Page, her Daughter, in love with Fenton.

Synopsis

The play anachronistically places Sir John Falstaff, who had previously appeared in Shakespeare's plays about the medieval King Henry IV and set circa 1400, in the contemporary setting of the Elizabethan era, circa 1600.

Falstaff arrives in Windsor very short on money. He decides, to obtain financial advantage, that he will court two wealthy married women, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. Falstaff decides to send the women identical love letters, and asks his servants – Pistol and Nym – to deliver them to the wives. When they refuse Falstaff sacks them and in revenge the men tell Ford and Page (the husbands) of Falstaff's intentions. Page is not concerned but the jealous Ford persuades the Host of the Garter to introduce him to Falstaff as a 'Master Brook' so that he can find out Falstaff's plans.

Meanwhile, three different men are trying to win the hand of Page's daughter, Mistress Anne Page. Mistress Page would like her daughter to marry Doctor Caius, a French physician, whereas the girl's father would like her to marry Master Slender. Anne herself is in love with Master Fenton, but Page had previously rejected Fenton as a suitor due to his having squandered his considerable fortune on high-class living. Hugh Evans, a Welsh parson, tries to enlist the help of Mistress Quickly (servant to Doctor Caius) in wooing Anne for Slender, but the doctor discovers this and challenges Evans to a duel. The Host of the Garter prevents this duel by telling both men a different meeting place, causing much amusement for himself, Justice Shallow, Page and others. Evans and Caius decide to work together to be revenged on the Host.

When the women receive the letters, each goes to tell the other and they quickly find that the letters are almost identical. The "merry wives" are not interested in the aging, overweight Falstaff as a suitor; however, for the sake of their own amusement and to gain revenge for his indecent assumptions towards them both, they pretend to respond to his advances.

This all results in great embarrassment for Falstaff. 'Brook' says he is in love with Mistress Ford but cannot woo her as she is too virtuous. He offers to pay Falstaff to court her, saying that once she has lost her honour he will be able to tempt her himself. Falstaff cannot believe his luck, and tells 'Brook' he has already arranged to meet Mistress Ford while her husband is out. Falstaff leaves to keep his appointment and Ford soliloquies that he is right to suspect his wife and that the trusting Page is a fool.

Johann Heinrich Füssli: "Fallstaff im Wäschekorb", 1792

When Falstaff arrives to meet Mistress Ford, the merry wives trick him into hiding in a laundry basket ("buck basket") full of filthy, smelly clothes awaiting laundering. When the jealous Ford returns to try and catch his wife with the knight, the wives have the basket taken away and the contents (including Falstaff) dumped into the river. Although this affects Falstaff's pride, his ego is surprisingly resilient. He is convinced that the wives are just "playing hard to get" with him, so he continues his pursuit of sexual advancement, with its attendant capital and opportunities for blackmail.

Again Falstaff goes to meet the women but Mistress Page comes back and warns Mistress Ford of her husband's approach again. They try to think of ways to hide him other than the laundry basket which he refuses to get into again. They trick him again, this time into disguising himself as Mistress Ford's maid's fat aunt, the fat woman of Brentford. Ford tries once again to catch his wife with the knight but ends up beating the "old woman", whom he despises, and throwing her out of his house. Black and blue, Falstaff laments his bad luck.

Eventually the wives tell their husbands about the series of jokes they have played on Falstaff, and together they devise one last trick which ends up with the Knight being humiliated in front of the whole town. They tell Falstaff to dress as "Herne, the Hunter" and meet them by an old oak tree in Windsor Forest (now part of Windsor Great Park). They then dress several of the local children, including Anne and William Page, as fairies and get them to pinch and burn Falstaff to punish him. Page plots to dress Anne in white and tells Slender to steal her away and marry her during the revels. Mistress Page and Doctor Caius arrange to do the same, but they arrange Anne shall be dressed in green. Anne tells Fenton this, and he and the Host arrange for Anne and Fenton to be married instead.

The wives meet Falstaff, and almost immediately the "fairies" attack. Slender, Caius, and Fenton steal away their brides-to-be during the chaos, and the rest of the characters reveal their true identities to Falstaff.

Although he is embarrassed, Falstaff takes the joke surprisingly well, as he sees it was what he deserved. Ford says he must pay back the 20 pounds 'Brook' gave him and takes the Knight's horses as recompense. Slender suddenly appears and says he has been deceived – the 'girl' he took away to marry was not Anne but a young boy. Caius arrives with similar news – however, he has actually married his boy! Fenton and Anne arrive and admit that they love each other and have been married. Fenton chides the parents for trying to force Anne to marry men she did not love and the parents accept the marriage and congratulate the young pair. Eventually they all leave together and Mistress Page even invites Falstaff to come with them: "let us every one go home, and laugh at this sport o'er by a country fire; Sir John and all".

Performance

Merry Wives was one of the first Shakespearean plays to be performed once the theatres re-opened in 1660 after the Interregnum. Samuel Pepys saw the King's Company act it on Dec. 6, 1660, and again in 1661 and 1667 (though he didn't like it, anytime). In 1702 John Dennis offered an adaptation (it has been called a "perversion") of the play, titled The Comical Gallant, or the Amours of Sir John Falstaff — which flopped. In 1824 Frederick Reynolds included Merry Wives in his series of operatic adaptations, with music by Henry Bishop. Charles Kean returned to Shakespeare's text in an 1851 production.[2] Arthur Sullivan composed incidental music for use in Act V of an 1874 production at the Gaiety Theatre, London, which was also used in the 1889 Haymarket Theatre production.[3]

During the period of anti-German feelings in England during World War I, many German names and titles were changed and given more English-sounding names, including the royal family's from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. Kaiser Wilhelm II countered this by jokingly saying that he was off to see a performance of 'The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.'

Themes

Key themes of Merry Wives include love and marriage, jealousy and revenge, social class and wealth. Explored with irony, sexual innuendo, sarcasm, and stereotypical views of classes and nationalities, these themes help to give the play something closer to a modern-day view than is often found in Shakespeare's plays.

The play is centered on the class prejudices of middle-class England. The lower class is represented by characters such as Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol (Falstaff's followers), and the upper class is represented by Sir John Falstaff and Master Fenton. Shakespeare uses both Latin and misused English to represent the attitudes and differences of the people of this era. Much of the comedic effect of the play is derived from misunderstandings between characters.

Another prominent Elizabethan theme that runs through the play is the idea of the cuckold. Elizabethans found the idea of a woman cheating on her husband absolutely hilarious and seem to have assumed that if a man was married then his wife was cheating on him. Because a cuckolded husband was said to "wear horns", any reference, no matter how oblique, to horns or a horned animal (for example, the "buck" basket where Falstaff finds himself) probably brought down the house.

Criticism

Most critics consider Merry Wives to be one of Shakespeare's weaker plays, and the Falstaff of Merry Wives to be much inferior to the Falstaff of the two Henry IV plays. That Shakespeare would so stumble with one of his greatest creations is puzzling and a satisfactory reason for this remains to be found. The likeliest explanation, if the Garter Feast theory is accepted, is that the play was written hastily, to order for a special occasion, within severe time constraints and rushed to meet a Royal deadline of possibly as little as only 14 days.

It has also been said that Shakespeare was one of Queen Elizabeth I's favorite playwrights and that she so enjoyed the buffoon Falstaff that she personally requested that Shakespeare write an entire comedy surrounding Falstaff. This would explain the powerful female characters as a bow to the queen and grand slapstick comedy surrounding Falstaff's mishaps in the play.

Adaptations and cultural references

A scene from the original production of Verdi's Falstaff (1893).
  • The play was revised and adapted by John Dennis in 1702 as The Comical Gallant.

Note

  1. ^ Van Santvoord, George, editor, The Merry Wives of Windsor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1922): 119.
  2. ^ F. E. Halliday, A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964, Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; p. 314.
  3. ^ Sullivan's incidental music to The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, accessed 5 January 2010

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Merry Wives of Windsor is one of Shakespeare's comedies. It deals with the misadventures of Sir John Falstaff and of other characters first seen in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2.

Contents

Act I

  • I will make a Star Chamber matter of it.
    • Shallow, scene i
  • All his successors, gone before him, have done’t; and all his ancestors, that come after him, may.
    • Slender, scene i
  • It is a familiar beast to man, and signifies love.
    • Evans, scene i
  • Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is good gifts.
    • Evans, scene i
  • Mine host of the Garter.
    • Evans, scene i
  • I had rather than forty shillings I had my book of Songs and Sonnets here.
    • Slender, scene i
  • If there be no great love in the beginning, yet heaven may decrease it upon better acquaintance, when we are married and have more occasion to know one another: I hope, upon familiarity will grow more contempt.
    • Slender, scene i
  • O base Gongarian wight! wilt thou the spigot wield?
    • Pistol, scene iii
  • Convey, the wise it call: steal! foh; a fico for the phrase!
    • Pistol, scene iii
  • Bear you these letters tightly;
    Sail like my pinnace to these golden shores.
    • Falstaff, scene iii
  • Tester I’ll have in pouch, when thou shalt lack,
    Base Phrygian Turk!
    • Pistol, scene iii
  • Thou art the Mars of malcontents.
    • Pistol, scene iii
  • Here will be an old abusing of God's patience, and the King's English.
    • Mistress Quickly, scene iv

Act II

  • We burn day-light.
    • Mistress Ford, scene i
  • I love not the humour of bread and cheese; and there’s the humour of it.
    • Nym, scene i
  • 'Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now.
    • Mistress Ford, scene i
  • Why, then the world's mine oyster,
    Which I with sword will open.
    • Pistol, scene ii
  • This is the short and the long of it.
    • Mistress Quickly, scene ii
  • I have pursued her, as love hath pursued me; which hath been, on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited, either in my mind, or in my means, meed, I am sure, I have received none, unless experience be a jewel.
    • Ford, scene ii
  • Falstaff: Of what quality was your love then?
    Ford: Like a fair house, built on another man’s ground.
    • scene ii
  • We have some salt of our youth in us.
    • Shallow, scene iii

Act III

  • Your hearts are mighty, your skins are whole.
    • Host, scene i
  • I cannot tell what the dickens his name is.
    • Mistress Page, scene ii
  • What a taking was he in, when your husband asked what was in the basket!
    • Mistress Page, scene iii
  • O, what a world of vile ill-favour’d faults
    Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a-year!
    • Anne Page, scene iv
  • Happy man be his dole!
    • Slender, scene iv
  • You may know by my size, that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking.
    • Falstaff, scene v
  • As good luck would have it.
    • Falstaff, scene v
  • The rankest compound of villainous smell, that ever offended nostril.
    • Falstaff, scene v
  • A man of my kidney.
    • Falstaff, scene v
  • Think of that, master Brook.
    • Falstaff, scene v

Act IV

  • Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again; he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind; so curses all Eve’s daughters, of what complexion soever.
    • Mistress Page, scene ii

Act V

  • This is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. Away, go; they say, there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death.
    • Falstaff, scene i

External links

Wikipedia
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Wikisource
Wikisource has original text related to:

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
by William Shakespeare
Facsimile of the first page of The Merry Wives of Windsor from the First Folio, published in 1623

DRAMATIS PERSONAE (Persons Represented):

SIR JOHN FALSTAFF
FENTON, a young gentleman
SHALLOW, a country justice
SLENDER, cousin to Shallow
FORD, Gentleman dwelling at Windsor
PAGE, Gentleman dwelling at Windsor
WILLIAM PAGE, a boy, son to Page
SIR HUGH EVANS, a Welsh parson
DOCTOR CAIUS, a French physician
HOST of the Garter Inn
BARDOLPH, PISTOL, NYM, Followers of Falstaff
ROBIN, page to Falstaff
SIMPLE, servant to Slender
RUGBY, servant to Doctor Caius
MISTRESS FORD
MISTRESS PAGE
MISTRESS ANNE PAGE, her daughter, in love with Fenton
MISTRESS QUICKLY, servant to Doctor Caius
SERVANTS to Page, Ford, &c.

SCENE: Windsor; and the neighbourhood

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Contents

ACT I.

SCENE 1. Windsor. Before PAGE'S house.

[Enter JUSTICE SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS.]

SHALLOW.

Sir Hugh, persuade me not; I will make a Star Chamber matter
of it; if he were twenty Sir John Falstaffs, he shall not
abuse Robert Shallow, esquire.

SLENDER.

In the county of Gloucester, Justice of Peace, and 'coram.'

SHALLOW.

Ay, cousin Slender, and 'cust-alorum.'

SLENDER.

Ay, and 'rato-lorum' too; and a gentleman born, Master Parson,
who writes himself 'armigero' in any bill, warrant, quittance,
or obligation—'armigero.'

SHALLOW.

Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three hundred years.

SLENDER.

All his successors, gone before him, hath done't; and all his
ancestors, that come after him, may: they may give the dozen
white luces in their coat.

SHALLOW.

It is an old coat.

EVANS.

The dozen white louses do become an old coat well; it agrees well,
passant; it is a familiar beast to man, and signifies love.

SHALLOW.

The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old
coat.

SLENDER.

I may quarter, coz?

SHALLOW.

You may, by marrying.

EVANS.

It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.

SHALLOW.

Not a whit.

EVANS.

Yes, py'r lady! If he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three
skirts for yourself, in my simple conjectures; but that is all one.
If Sir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of
the church, and will be glad to do my benevolence to make atonements
and compremises between you.

SHALLOW.

The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.

EVANS.

It is not meet the Council hear a riot; there is no fear of Got in
a riot; the Council, look you, shall desire to hear the fear of Got,
and not to hear a riot; take your vizaments in that.

SHALLOW.

Ha! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.

EVANS.

It is petter that friends is the sword and end it; and there is
also another device in my prain, which peradventure prings goot
discretions with it. There is Anne Page, which is daughter to
Master George Page, which is pretty virginity.

SLENDER.

Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.

EVANS.

It is that fery person for all the orld, as just as you will desire;
and seven hundred pounds of moneys, and gold, and silver, is
her grandsire upon his death's-bed—Got deliver to a joyful
resurrections!—give, when she is able to overtake seventeen years
old. It were a goot motion if we leave our pribbles and prabbles,
and desire a marriage between Master Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.

SHALLOW.

Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?

EVANS.

Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.

SHALLOW.

I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.

EVANS.

Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is goot gifts.

SHALLOW.

Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff there?

EVANS.

Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I do despise one that
is false; or as I despise one that is not true. The knight Sir John
is there; and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will
peat the door for Master Page.
[Knocks.] What, hoa! Got pless your house here!

PAGE.

[Within.] Who's there?

EVANS.

Here is Got's plessing, and your friend, and Justice Shallow; and
here young Master Slender, that peradventures shall tell you another
tale, if matters grow to your likings.

[Enter PAGE.]

PAGE.

I am glad to see your worships well. I thank you for my venison,
Master Shallow.

SHALLOW.

Master Page, I am glad to see you; much good do it your good heart!
I wished your venison better; it was ill killed. How doth good
Mistress Page?—and I thank you always with my heart, la! with my
heart.

PAGE.

Sir, I thank you.

SHALLOW.

Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.

PAGE.

I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.

SLENDER.

How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say he was outrun on
Cotsall.

PAGE.

It could not be judged, sir.

SLENDER.

You'll not confess, you'll not confess.

SHALLOW.

That he will not: 'tis your fault; 'tis your fault. 'Tis a good dog.

PAGE.

A cur, sir.

SHALLOW.

Sir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog; can there be more said? he is
good, and fair. Is Sir John Falstaff here?

PAGE.

Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good office
between you.

EVANS.

It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.

SHALLOW.

He hath wronged me, Master Page.

PAGE.

Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.

SHALLOW.

If it be confessed, it is not redressed: is not that so, Master
Page? He hath wronged me; indeed he hath;—at a word, he hath,
—believe me; Robert Shallow, esquire, saith he is wronged.

PAGE.

Here comes Sir John.

[Enter SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, BARDOLPH, NYM, and PISTOL.]

FALSTAFF.

Now, Master Shallow, you'll complain of me to the King?

SHALLOW.

Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my
lodge.

FALSTAFF.

But not kiss'd your keeper's daughter?

SHALLOW.

Tut, a pin! this shall be answered.

FALSTAFF.

I will answer it straight: I have done all this. That is now answered.

SHALLOW.

The Council shall know this.

FALSTAFF.

'Twere better for you if it were known in counsel: you'll be laughed
at.

EVANS.

Pauca verba, Sir John; goot worts.

FALSTAFF.

Good worts! good cabbage! Slender, I broke your head; what matter
have you against me?

SLENDER.

Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against you; and against your
cony-catching rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. They carried me
to the tavern, and made me drunk, and afterwards picked my pocket.

BARDOLPH.

You Banbury cheese!

SLENDER.

Ay, it is no matter.

PISTOL.

How now, Mephostophilus!

SLENDER.

Ay, it is no matter.

NYM.

Slice, I say! pauca, pauca; slice! That's my humour.

SLENDER.

Where's Simple, my man? Can you tell, cousin?

EVANS.

Peace, I pray you. Now let us understand. There is three umpires in
this matter, as I understand: that is—Master Page, fidelicet Master
Page; and there is myself, fidelicet myself; and the three party is,
lastly and finally, mine host of the Garter.

PAGE.

We three to hear it and end it between them.

EVANS.

Fery goot: I will make a prief of it in my note-book; and we will
afterwards ork upon the cause with as great discreetly as we can.

FALSTAFF.

Pistol!

PISTOL.

He hears with ears.

EVANS.

The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this, 'He hears with ear'?
Why, it is affectations.

FALSTAFF.

Pistol, did you pick Master Slender's purse?

SLENDER.

Ay, by these gloves, did he—or I would I might never come in mine
own great chamber again else!—of seven groats in mill-sixpences,
and two Edward shovel-boards that cost me two shilling and two pence
a-piece of Yead Miller, by these gloves.

FALSTAFF.

Is this true, Pistol?

EVANS.

No, it is false, if it is a pick-purse.

PISTOL.

Ha, thou mountain-foreigner!—Sir John and master mine,
I combat challenge of this latten bilbo.
Word of denial in thy labras here!
Word of denial! Froth and scum, thou liest.

SLENDER.

By these gloves, then, 'twas he.

NYM.

Be avised, sir, and pass good humours; I will say 'marry trap' with
you, if you run the nuthook's humour on me; that is the very note
of it.

SLENDER.

By this hat, then, he in the red face had it; for though I cannot
remember what I did when you made me drunk, yet I am not altogether
an ass.

FALSTAFF.

What say you, Scarlet and John?

BARDOLPH.

Why, sir, for my part, I say the gentleman had drunk himself out of
his five sentences.

EVANS.

It is his 'five senses'; fie, what the ignorance is!

BARDOLPH.

And being fap, sir, was, as they say, cashier'd; and so conclusions
passed the careires.

SLENDER.

Ay, you spake in Latin then too; but 'tis no matter; I'll ne'er be
drunk whilst I live again, but in honest, civil, godly company, for
this trick; if I be drunk, I'll be drunk with those that have the
fear of God, and not with drunken knaves.

EVANS.

So Got udge me, that is a virtuous mind.

FALSTAFF.

You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen; you hear it.

[Enter ANNE PAGE with wine; MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.]

PAGE.

Nay, daughter, carry the wine in; we'll drink within.

[Exit ANNE PAGE.]

SLENDER.

O heaven! this is Mistress Anne Page.

PAGE.

How now, Mistress Ford!

FALSTAFF.

Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well met; by your leave,
good mistress. [Kissing her.]

PAGE.

Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome. Come, we have a hot venison pasty
to dinner; come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.

[Exeunt all but SHALLOW, SLENDER, and EVANS.]

SLENDER.

I had rather than forty shillings I had my Book of Songs and Sonnets
here.

[Enter SIMPLE.]

How, Simple! Where have you been? I must wait on myself, must I? You

have not the Book of Riddles about you, have you?

SIMPLE.

Book of Riddles! why, did you not lend it to Alice Shortcake upon
Allhallowmas last, a fortnight afore Michaelmas?

SHALLOW.

Come, coz; come, coz; we stay for you. A word with you, coz; marry,
this, coz: there is, as 'twere, a tender, a kind of tender, made
afar off by Sir Hugh here: do you understand me?

SLENDER.

Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable; if it be so, I shall do that
that is reason.

SHALLOW.

Nay, but understand me.

SLENDER.

So I do, sir.

EVANS.

Give ear to his motions, Master Slender: I will description the
matter to you, if you pe capacity of it.

SLENDER.

Nay, I will do as my cousin Shallow says; I pray you pardon me; he's
a justice of peace in his country, simple though I stand here.

EVANS.

But that is not the question; the question is concerning your marriage.

SHALLOW.

Ay, there's the point, sir.

EVANS.

Marry is it; the very point of it; to Mistress Anne Page.

SLENDER.

Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon any reasonable demands.

EVANS.

But can you affection the 'oman? Let us command to know that of your
mouth or of your lips; for divers philosophers hold that the lips is
parcel of the mouth: therefore, precisely, can you carry your good
will to the maid?

SHALLOW.

Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?

SLENDER.

I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one that would do reason.

EVANS.

Nay, Got's lords and his ladies! you must speak possitable, if you can
carry her your desires towards her.

SHALLOW.

That you must. Will you, upon good dowry, marry her?

SLENDER.

I will do a greater thing than that upon your request, cousin, in any
reason.

SHALLOW.

Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz; what I do is to pleasure
you, coz. Can you love the maid?

SLENDER.

I will marry her, sir, at your request; but if there be no great love
in the beginning, yet heaven may decrease it upon better acquaintance,
when we are married and have more occasion to know one another; I hope
upon familiarity will grow more contempt. But if you say 'Marry her,'
I will marry her; that I am freely dissolved, and dissolutely.

EVANS.

It is a fery discretion answer; save, the fall is in the ort
'dissolutely:' the ort is, according to our meaning, 'resolutely.'
His meaning is good.

SHALLOW.

Ay, I think my cousin meant well.

SLENDER.

Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la!

SHALLOW.

Here comes fair Mistress Anne.

[Re-enter ANNE PAGE.]

Would I were young for your sake, Mistress Anne!

ANNE.

The dinner is on the table; my father desires your worships' company.

SHALLOW.

I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne!

EVANS.

Od's plessed will! I will not be absence at the grace.

[Exeunt SHALLOW and EVANS.]

ANNE.

Will't please your worship to come in, sir?

SLENDER.

No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I am very well.

ANNE.

The dinner attends you, sir.

SLENDER.

I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go, sirrah, for all you are
my man, go wait upon my cousin Shallow.

[Exit SIMPLE.]

A justice of peace sometime may be beholding to his friend for a man.

I keep but three men and a boy yet, till my mother be dead. But what
though? Yet I live like a poor gentleman born.

ANNE.

I may not go in without your worship: they will not sit till you come.

SLENDER.

I' faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you as much as though I did.

ANNE.

I pray you, sir, walk in.

SLENDER.

I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised my shin th' other day
with playing at sword and dagger with a master of fence; three veneys
for a dish of stewed prunes—and, by my troth, I cannot abide the
smell of hot meat since. Why do your dogs bark so? Be there bears i'
the town?

ANNE.

I think there are, sir; I heard them talked of.

SLENDER.

I love the sport well; but I shall as soon quarrel at it as any man
in England. You are afraid, if you see the bear loose, are you not?

ANNE.

Ay, indeed, sir.

SLENDER.

That's meat and drink to me now. I have seen Sackerson loose twenty
times, and have taken him by the chain; but I warrant you, the women
have so cried and shrieked at it that it passed; but women, indeed,
cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough things.

[Re-enter PAGE.]

PAGE.

Come, gentle Master Slender, come; we stay for you.

SLENDER.

I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.

PAGE.

By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! come, come.

SLENDER.

Nay, pray you lead the way.

PAGE.

Come on, sir.

SLENDER.

Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.

ANNE.

Not I, sir; pray you keep on.

SLENDER.

Truly, I will not go first; truly, la! I will not do you that wrong.

ANNE.

I pray you, sir.

SLENDER.

I'll rather be unmannerly than troublesome. You do yourself wrong
indeed, la!

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 2. The same.

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS and SIMPLE.]

EVANS.

Go your ways, and ask of Doctor Caius' house which is the way; and
there dwells one Mistress Quickly, which is in the manner of his
nurse, or his dry nurse, or his cook, or his laundry, his washer,
and his wringer.

SIMPLE.

Well, sir.

EVANS.

Nay, it is petter yet. Give her this letter; for it is a 'oman that
altogether's acquaintance with Mistress Anne Page; and the letter
is to desire and require her to solicit your master's desires to
Mistress Anne Page. I pray you be gone: I will make an end of my
dinner; there's pippins and cheese to come.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 3. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter FALSTAFF, HOST, BARDOLPH, NYM, PISTOL, and ROBIN.]

FALSTAFF.

Mine host of the Garter!

HOST.

What says my bully rook? Speak scholarly and wisely.

FALSTAFF.

Truly, mine host, I must turn away some of my followers.

HOST.

Discard, bully Hercules; cashier; let them wag; trot, trot.

FALSTAFF.

I sit at ten pounds a week.

HOST.

Thou'rt an emperor, Caesar, Keiser, and Pheazar. I will entertain
Bardolph; he shall draw, he shall tap; said I well, bully Hector?

FALSTAFF.

Do so, good mine host.

HOST.

I have spoke; let him follow. [To BARDOLPH] Let me see thee froth and
lime. I am at a word; follow.

[Exit.]

FALSTAFF.

Bardolph, follow him. A tapster is a good trade; an old cloak makes
a new jerkin; a withered serving-man a fresh tapster. Go; adieu.

BARDOLPH.

It is a life that I have desired; I will thrive.

PISTOL.

O base Hungarian wight! Wilt thou the spigot wield?

[Exit BARDOLPH.]

NYM.

He was gotten in drink. Is not the humour conceited?

FALSTAFF.

I am glad I am so acquit of this tinder-box: his thefts were too open;
his filching was like an unskilful singer—he kept not time.

NYM.

The good humour is to steal at a minim's rest.

PISTOL.

'Convey' the wise it call. 'Steal!' foh! A fico for the phrase!

FALSTAFF.

Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels.

PISTOL.

Why, then, let kibes ensue.

FALSTAFF.

There is no remedy; I must cony-catch; I must shift.

PISTOL.

Young ravens must have food.

FALSTAFF.

Which of you know Ford of this town?

PISTOL.

I ken the wight; he is of substance good.

FALSTAFF.

My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about.

PISTOL.

Two yards, and more.

FALSTAFF.

No quips now, Pistol. Indeed, I am in the waist two yards about; but
I am now about no waste; I am about thrift. Briefly, I do mean to
make love to Ford's wife; I spy entertainment in her; she discourses,
she carves, she gives the leer of invitation; I can construe the
action of her familiar style; and the hardest voice of her behaviour,
to be Englished rightly, is 'I am Sir John Falstaff's.'

PISTOL.

He hath studied her will, and translated her will out of honesty into
English.

NYM.

The anchor is deep; will that humour pass?

FALSTAFF.

Now, the report goes she has all the rule of her husband's purse; he
hath a legion of angels.

PISTOL.

As many devils entertain; and 'To her, boy,' say I.

NYM.

The humour rises; it is good; humour me the angels.

FALSTAFF.

I have writ me here a letter to her; and here another to Page's wife,
who even now gave me good eyes too, examined my parts with most
judicious oeillades; sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot,
sometimes my portly belly.

PISTOL.

Then did the sun on dunghill shine.

NYM.

I thank thee for that humour.

FALSTAFF.

O! she did so course o'er my exteriors with such a greedy intention
that the appetite of her eye did seem to scorch me up like a
burning-glass. Here's another letter to her: she bears the purse
too; she is a region in Guiana, all gold and bounty. I will be
cheator to them both, and they shall be exchequers to me; they shall
be my East and West Indies, and I will trade to them both. Go, bear
thou this letter to Mistress Page; and thou this to Mistress Ford.
We will thrive, lads, we will thrive.

PISTOL.

Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become,
And by my side wear steel? then Lucifer take all!

NYM.

I will run no base humour. Here, take the humour-letter; I will keep
the haviour of reputation.

FALSTAFF.

[To ROBIN] Hold, sirrah; bear you these letters tightly;
Sail like my pinnace to these golden shores.
Rogues, hence, avaunt! vanish like hailstones, go;
Trudge, plod away o' hoof; seek shelter, pack!
Falstaff will learn the humour of this age;
French thrift, you rogues; myself, and skirted page.

[Exeunt FALSTAFF and ROBIN.]

PISTOL.

Let vultures gripe thy guts! for gourd and fullam holds,
And high and low beguile the rich and poor;
Tester I'll have in pouch when thou shalt lack,
Base Phrygian Turk!

NYM.

I have operations in my head which be humours of revenge.

PISTOL.

Wilt thou revenge?

NYM.

By welkin and her star!

PISTOL.

With wit or steel?

NYM.

With both the humours, I:
I will discuss the humour of this love to Page.

PISTOL.

And I to Ford shall eke unfold
How Falstaff, varlet vile,
His dove will prove, his gold will hold,
And his soft couch defile.

NYM.

My humour shall not cool: I will incense Page to deal with poison;
I will possess him with yellowness, for the revolt of mine is
dangerous: that is my true humour.

PISTOL.

Thou art the Mars of malcontents; I second thee; troop on.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 4. A room in DOCTOR CAIUS'S house.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY, and SIMPLE.]

QUICKLY.

What, John Rugby!

[Enter RUGBY.]

I pray thee go to the casement, and see if you can see my master,

Master Doctor Caius, coming: if he do, i' faith, and find anybody
in the house, here will be an old abusing of God's patience and the
King's English.

RUGBY.

I'll go watch.

QUICKLY.

Go; and we'll have a posset for't soon at night, in faith, at the
latter end of a sea-coal fire.

[Exit RUGBY.]

An honest, willing, kind fellow, as ever servant shall come in house

withal; and, I warrant you, no tell-tale nor no breed-bate; his worst
fault is that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that
way; but nobody but has his fault; but let that pass. Peter Simple
you say your name is?

SIMPLE.

Ay, for fault of a better.

QUICKLY.

And Master Slender's your master?

SIMPLE.

Ay, forsooth.

QUICKLY.

Does he not wear a great round beard, like a glover's paring-knife?

SIMPLE.

No, forsooth; he hath but a little whey face, with a little yellow
beard—a cane-coloured beard.

QUICKLY.

A softly-sprighted man, is he not?

SIMPLE.

Ay, forsooth; but he is as tall a man of his hands as any is between
this and his head; he hath fought with a warrener.

QUICKLY.

How say you?—O! I should remember him. Does he not hold up his head,
as it were, and strut in his gait?

SIMPLE.

Yes, indeed, does he.

QUICKLY.

Well, heaven send Anne Page no worse fortune! Tell Master Parson
Evans I will do what I can for your master: Anne is a good girl,
and I wish—

[Re-enter RUGBY.]

RUGBY.

Out, alas! here comes my master.

QUICKLY.

We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man; go into this
closet. [Shuts SIMPLE in the closet.] He will not stay long. What,
John Rugby! John! what, John, I say! Go, John, go inquire for my
master; I doubt he be not well that he comes not home.

[Exit Rugby.]

[Sings.] And down, down, adown-a, &c.

[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS.]

CAIUS.

Vat is you sing? I do not like des toys. Pray you, go and vetch me
in my closet une boitine verde—a box, a green-a box: do intend vat
I speak? a green-a box.

QUICKLY.

Ay, forsooth, I'll fetch it you. [Aside] I am glad he went not in
himself: if he had found the young man, he would have been horn-mad.

CAIUS.

Fe, fe, fe fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Je m'en vais a la cour—
la grande affaire.

QUICKLY.

Is it this, sir?

CAIUS.

Oui; mettez le au mon pocket: depechez, quickly—Vere is dat knave,
Rugby?

QUICKLY.

What, John Rugby? John!

[Re-enter Rugby.]

RUGBY.

Here, sir.

CAIUS.

You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby: come, take-a your rapier,
and come after my heel to de court.

RUGBY.

'Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.

CAIUS.

By my trot, I tarry too long—Od's me! Qu'ay j'oublie? Dere is some
simples in my closet dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave behind.

QUICKLY.

[Aside.] Ay me, he'll find the young man there, and be mad!

CAIUS.

O diable, diable! vat is in my closet?—Villainy! larron!
[Pulling SIMPLE out.] Rugby, my rapier!

QUICKLY.

Good master, be content.

CAIUS.

Verefore shall I be content-a?

QUICKLY.

The young man is an honest man.

CAIUS.

What shall de honest man do in my closet? dere is no honest man dat
shall come in my closet.

QUICKLY.

I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truth of it: he came of
an errand to me from Parson Hugh.

CAIUS.

Vell.

SIMPLE.

Ay, forsooth, to desire her to—

QUICKLY.

Peace, I pray you.

CAIUS.

Peace-a your tongue!—Speak-a your tale.

SIMPLE.

To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, to speak a good word to
Mistress Anne Page for my master, in the way of marriage.

QUICKLY.

This is all, indeed, la! but I'll ne'er put my finger in the fire,
and need not.

CAIUS.

Sir Hugh send-a you?—Rugby, baillez me some paper: tarry you a
little-a while. [Writes.]

QUICKLY.

I am glad he is so quiet: if he had been throughly moved, you should
have heard him so loud and so melancholy. But notwithstanding, man,
I'll do you your master what good I can; and the very yea and the no
is, the French doctor, my master—I may call him my master, look you,
for I keep his house; and I wash, wring, brew, bake, scour, dress
meat and drink, make the beds, and do all myself—

SIMPLE.

'Tis a great charge to come under one body's hand.

QUICKLY.

Are you avis'd o' that? You shall find it a great charge; and to be
up early and down late; but notwithstanding,—to tell you in your
ear,—I would have no words of it—my master himself is in love with
Mistress Anne Page; but notwithstanding that, I know Anne's mind,
that's neither here nor there.

CAIUS.

You jack'nape; give-a dis letter to Sir Hugh; by gar, it is a
shallenge: I will cut his troat in de Park; and I will teach a scurvy
jack-a-nape priest to meddle or make. You may be gone; it is not good
you tarry here: by gar, I will cut all his two stones; by gar, he
shall not have a stone to throw at his dog.

[Exit SIMPLE.]

QUICKLY.

Alas, he speaks but for his friend.

CAIUS.

It is no matter-a ver dat:—do not you tell-a me dat I shall have
Anne Page for myself? By gar, I vill kill de Jack priest; and I have
appointed mine host of de Jartiere to measure our weapon. By gar, I
vill myself have Anne Page.

QUICKLY.

Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. We must give folks
leave to prate: what, the good-jer!

CAIUS.

Rugby, come to the court vit me. By gar, if I have not Anne Page,
I shall turn your head out of my door. Follow my heels, Rugby.

[Exeunt CAIUS and RUGBY.]

QUICKLY.

You shall have An fool's-head of your own. No, I know Anne's mind for
that: never a woman in Windsor knows more of Anne's mind than I do;
nor can do more than I do with her, I thank heaven.

FENTON.

[Within.] Who's within there? ho!

QUICKLY.

Who's there, I trow? Come near the house, I pray you.

[Enter FENTON.]

FENTON.

How now, good woman! how dost thou?

QUICKLY.

The better, that it pleases your good worship to ask.

FENTON.

What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?

QUICKLY.

In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, and gentle; and one that
is your friend, I can tell you that by the way; I praise heaven for it.

FENTON.

Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? Shall I not lose my suit?

QUICKLY.

Troth, sir, all is in His hands above; but notwithstanding, Master
Fenton, I'll be sworn on a book she loves you. Have not your worship
a wart above your eye?

FENTON.

Yes, marry, have I; what of that?

QUICKLY.

Well, thereby hangs a tale; good faith, it is such another Nan; but,
I detest, an honest maid as ever broke bread. We had an hour's talk
of that wart; I shall never laugh but in that maid's company;—but,
indeed, she is given too much to allicholy and musing. But for you
—well, go to.

FENTON.

Well, I shall see her to-day. Hold, there's money for thee; let me
have thy voice in my behalf: if thou seest her before me, commend me.

QUICKLY.

Will I? i' faith, that we will; and I will tell your worship more of
the wart the next time we have confidence; and of other wooers.

FENTON.

Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.

QUICKLY.

Farewell to your worship.—[Exit FENTON.] Truly, an honest gentleman;
but Anne loves him not; for I know Anne's mind as well as another
does. Out upon 't, what have I forgot?

[Exit.]

ACT II.

SCENE 1. Before PAGE'S house

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, with a letter.]

MRS. PAGE.

What! have I scaped love-letters in the holiday-time of my beauty,
and am I now a subject for them? Let me see.
'Ask me no reason why I love you; for though Love use Reason
for his precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor. You
are not young, no more am I; go to, then, there's sympathy:
you are merry, so am I; ha! ha! then there's more sympathy;
you love sack, and so do I; would you desire better sympathy?
Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page, at the least, if the love
of soldier can suffice, that I love thee. I will not say,
pity me: 'tis not a soldier-like phrase; but I say, Love me.
By me,
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might,
For thee to fight,
JOHN FALSTAFF.'

What a Herod of Jewry is this! O wicked, wicked world! One that is

well-nigh worn to pieces with age to show himself a young gallant.
What an unweighed behaviour hath this Flemish drunkard picked, with
the devil's name! out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner
assay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company! What should I
say to him? I was then frugal of my mirth:—Heaven forgive me! Why,
I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of men.
How shall I be revenged on him? for revenged I will be, as sure as
his guts are made of puddings.

[Enter MISTRESS FORD.]

MRS. FORD.

Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your house.

MRS. PAGE.

And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look very ill.

MRS. FORD.

Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to show to the contrary.

MRS. PAGE.

Faith, but you do, in my mind.

MRS. FORD.

Well, I do, then; yet, I say, I could show you to the contrary.
O, Mistress Page! give me some counsel.

MRS. PAGE.

What's the matter, woman?

MRS. FORD.

O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to
such honour!

MRS. PAGE.

Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour. What is it?—Dispense with
trifles;—what is it?

MRS. FORD.

If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment or so, I could be
knighted.

MRS. PAGE.

What? thou liest. Sir Alice Ford! These knights will hack; and so
thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.

MRS. FORD.

We burn daylight: here, read, read; perceive how I might be knighted.
I shall think the worse of fat men as long as I have an eye to make
difference of men's liking: and yet he would not swear; praised
women's modesty; and gave such orderly and well-behaved reproof to
all uncomeliness that I would have sworn his disposition would have
gone to the truth of his words; but they do no more adhere and keep
place together than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of 'Greensleeves.'
What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in
his belly, ashore at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him? I think
the best way were to entertain him with hope, till the wicked fire of
lust have melted him in his own grease. Did you ever hear the like?

MRS. PAGE.

Letter for letter, but that the name of Page and Ford differs. To thy
great comfort in this mystery of ill opinions, here's the twin-brother
of thy letter; but let thine inherit first, for, I protest, mine never
shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank
space for different names, sure, more, and these are of the second
edition. He will print them, out of doubt; for he cares not what he
puts into the press, when he would put us two: I had rather be a
giantess and lie under Mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty
lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.

MRS. FORD.

Why, this is the very same; the very hand, the very words. What doth
he think of us?

MRS. PAGE.

Nay, I know not; it makes me almost ready to wrangle with mine own
honesty. I'll entertain myself like one that I am not acquainted
withal; for, sure, unless he know some strain in me that I know not
myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.

MRS. FORD.

'Boarding' call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.

MRS. PAGE.

So will I; if he come under my hatches, I'll never to sea again.
Let's be revenged on him; let's appoint him a meeting, give him a
show of comfort in his suit, and lead him on with a fine-baited
delay, till he hath pawned his horses to mine host of the Garter.

MRS. FORD.

Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against him that may not
sully the chariness of our honesty. O, that my husband saw this
letter! It would give eternal food to his jealousy.

MRS. PAGE.

Why, look where he comes; and my good man too: he's as far from
jealousy as I am from giving him cause; and that, I hope, is an
unmeasurable distance.

MRS. FORD.

You are the happier woman.

MRS. PAGE.

Let's consult together against this greasy knight. Come hither.

[They retire.]

[Enter FORD, PISTOL, and PAGE and NYM.]

FORD.

Well, I hope it be not so.

PISTOL.

Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs:
Sir John affects thy wife.

FORD.

Why, sir, my wife is not young.

PISTOL.

He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,
Both young and old, one with another, Ford;
He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.

FORD.

Love my wife!

PISTOL.

With liver burning hot: prevent, or go thou,
Like Sir Actaeon he, with Ringwood at thy heels.—
O! odious is the name!

FORD.

What name, sir?

PISTOL.

The horn, I say. Farewell:
Take heed; have open eye, for thieves do foot by night;
Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo birds do sing.
Away, Sir Corporal Nym.
Believe it, Page; he speaks sense.

[Exit PISTOL.]

FORD.

[Aside] I will be patient: I will find out this.

NYM.

[To PAGE] And this is true; I like not the humour of lying. He hath
wronged me in some humours: I should have borne the humoured letter
to her; but I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He
loves your wife; there's the short and the long. My name is Corporal
Nym; I speak, and I avouch 'tis true. My name is Nym, and Falstaff
loves your wife. Adieu. I love not the humour of bread and cheese;
and there's the humour of it. Adieu.

[Exit NYM.]

PAGE.

[Aside.] 'The humour of it,' quoth 'a! Here's a fellow frights
English out of his wits.

FORD.

I will seek out Falstaff.

PAGE.

I never heard such a drawling, affecting rogue.

FORD.

If I do find it: well.

PAGE.

I will not believe such a Cataian, though the priest o' the town
commended him for a true man.

FORD.

'Twas a good sensible fellow: well.

PAGE.

How now, Meg!

MRS. PAGE.

Whither go you, George?—Hark you.

MRS. FORD.

How now, sweet Frank! why art thou melancholy?

FORD.

I melancholy! I am not melancholy. Get you home, go.

MRS. FORD.

Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now. Will you go,
Mistress Page?

MRS. PAGE.

Have with you. You'll come to dinner, George?
[Aside to MRS. FORD] Look who comes yonder: she shall be our
messenger to this paltry knight.

MRS. FORD.

[Aside to MRS. PAGE] Trust me, I thought on her: she'll fit it.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

MRS. PAGE.

You are come to see my daughter Anne?

QUICKLY.

Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does good Mistress Anne?

MRS. PAGE.

Go in with us and see; we'd have an hour's talk with you.

[Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

PAGE.

How now, Master Ford!

FORD.

You heard what this knave told me, did you not?

PAGE.

Yes; and you heard what the other told me?

FORD.

Do you think there is truth in them?

PAGE.

Hang 'em, slaves! I do not think the knight would offer it; but these
that accuse him in his intent towards our wives are a yoke of his
discarded men; very rogues, now they be out of service.

FORD.

Were they his men?

PAGE.

Marry, were they.

FORD.

I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at the Garter?

PAGE.

Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend this voyage toward my wife,
I would turn her loose to him; and what he gets more of her than
sharp words, let it lie on my head.

FORD.

I do not misdoubt my wife; but I would be loath to turn them together.
A man may be too confident. I would have nothing 'lie on my head': I
cannot be thus satisfied.

PAGE.

Look where my ranting host of the Garter comes. There is either
liquor in his pate or money in his purse when he looks so merrily.

[Enter HOST and SHALLOW.]

How now, mine host!

HOST.

How now, bully-rook! Thou'rt a gentleman. Cavaliero-justice, I say!

SHALLOW.

I follow, mine host, I follow. Good even and twenty, good Master
Page! Master Page, will you go with us? We have sport in hand.

HOST.

Tell him, cavaliero-justice; tell him, bully-rook.

SHALLOW.

Sir, there is a fray to be fought between Sir Hugh the Welsh priest
and Caius the French doctor.

FORD.

Good mine host o' the Garter, a word with you.

HOST.

What say'st thou, my bully-rook?

[They go aside.]

SHALLOW.

[To PAGE.] Will you go with us to behold it? My merry host hath had
the measuring of their weapons; and, I think, hath appointed them
contrary places; for, believe me, I hear the parson is no jester.
Hark, I will tell you what our sport shall be. [They converse apart.]

HOST.

Hast thou no suit against my knight, my guest-cavaliero?

FORD.

None, I protest: but I'll give you a pottle of burnt sack to give me
recourse to him, and tell him my name is Brook, only for a jest.

HOST.

My hand, bully; thou shalt have egress and regress; said I well? and
thy name shall be Brook. It is a merry knight. Will you go, mynheers?

SHALLOW.

Have with you, mine host.

PAGE.

I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill in his rapier.

SHALLOW.

Tut, sir! I could have told you more. In these times you stand on
distance, your passes, stoccadoes, and I know not what: 'tis the
heart, Master Page; 'tis here, 'tis here. I have seen the time with
my long sword I would have made you four tall fellows skip like rats.

HOST.

Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?

PAGE.

Have with you. I had rather hear them scold than fight.

[Exeunt HOST, SHALLOW, and PAGE.]

FORD.

Though Page be a secure fool, and stands so firmly on his wife's
frailty, yet I cannot put off my opinion so easily. She was in his
company at Page's house, and what they made there I know not. Well,
I will look further into 't; and I have a disguise to sound Falstaff.
If I find her honest, I lose not my labour; if she be otherwise,
'tis labour well bestowed.

[Exit.]

SCENE 2. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter FALSTAFF and PISTOL.]

FALSTAFF.

I will not lend thee a penny.

PISTOL.

Why then, the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
I will retort the sum in equipage.

FALSTAFF.

Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you should lay my countenance
to pawn; I have grated upon my good friends for three reprieves for
you and your coach-fellow, Nym; or else you had looked through the
grate, like a geminy of baboons. I am damned in hell for swearing
to gentlemen my friends you were good soldiers and tall fellows; and
when Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her fan, I took 't upon
mine honour thou hadst it not.

PISTOL.

Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen pence?

FALSTAFF.

Reason, you rogue, reason. Thinkest thou I'll endanger my soul
gratis? At a word, hang no more about me, I am no gibbet for you:
go: a short knife and a throng!—to your manor of Picht-hatch! go.
You'll not bear a letter for me, you rogue!—you stand upon your
honour!—Why, thou unconfinable baseness, it is as much as I can do
to keep the terms of my honour precise. I, I, I myself sometimes,
leaving the fear of God on the left hand, and hiding mine honour in
my necessity, am fain to shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch; and yet
you, rogue, will ensconce your rags, your cat-a-mountain looks,
your red-lattice phrases, and your bold-beating oaths, under the
shelter of your honour! You will not do it, you!

PISTOL.

I do relent; what wouldst thou more of man?

[Enter ROBIN.]

ROBIN.

Sir, here's a woman would speak with you.

FALSTAFF.

Let her approach.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

QUICKLY.

Give your worship good morrow.

FALSTAFF.

Good morrow, good wife.

QUICKLY.

Not so, an't please your worship.

FALSTAFF.

Good maid, then.

QUICKLY.

I'll be sworn; As my mother was, the first hour I was born.

FALSTAFF.

I do believe the swearer. What with me?

QUICKLY.

Shall I vouchsafe your worship a word or two?

FALSTAFF.

Two thousand, fair woman; and I'll vouchsafe thee the hearing.

QUICKLY.

There is one Mistress Ford, sir,—I pray, come a little nearer this
ways:—I myself dwell with Master Doctor Caius.

FALSTAFF.

Well, on: Mistress Ford, you say,—

QUICKLY.

Your worship says very true;—I pray your worship come a little
nearer this ways.

FALSTAFF.

I warrant thee nobody hears—mine own people, mine own people.

QUICKLY.

Are they so? God bless them, and make them His servants!

FALSTAFF.

Well: Mistress Ford, what of her?

QUICKLY.

Why, sir, she's a good creature. Lord, Lord! your worship's a wanton!
Well, heaven forgive you, and all of us, I pray.

FALSTAFF.

Mistress Ford; come, Mistress Ford—

QUICKLY.

Marry, this is the short and the long of it. You have brought her
into such a canaries as 'tis wonderful: the best courtier of them
all, when the court lay at Windsor, could never have brought her to
such a canary; yet there has been knights, and lords, and gentlemen,
with their coaches; I warrant you, coach after coach, letter after
letter, gift after gift; smelling so sweetly,—all musk, and so
rushling, I warrant you, in silk and gold; and in such alligant
terms; and in such wine and sugar of the best and the fairest, that
would have won any woman's heart; and I warrant you, they could
never get an eye-wink of her. I had myself twenty angels given me
this morning; but I defy all angels, in any such sort, as they say,
but in the way of honesty: and, I warrant you, they could never get
her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of them all; and yet
there has been earls, nay, which is more, pensioners; but, I warrant
you, all is one with her.

FALSTAFF.

But what says she to me? be brief, my good she-Mercury.

QUICKLY.

Marry, she hath received your letter; for the which she thanks you
a thousand times; and she gives you to notify that her husband will
be absence from his house between ten and eleven.

FALSTAFF.

Ten and eleven?

QUICKLY.

Ay, forsooth; and then you may come and see the picture, she says,
that you wot of: Master Ford, her husband, will be from home. Alas!
the sweet woman leads an ill life with him; he's a very jealousy
man; she leads a very frampold life with him, good heart.

FALSTAFF.

Ten and eleven. Woman, commend me to her; I will not fail her.

QUICKLY.

Why, you say well. But I have another messenger to your worship:
Mistress Page hath her hearty commendations to you too; and let me
tell you in your ear, she's as fartuous a civil modest wife, and
one, I tell you, that will not miss you morning nor evening prayer,
as any is in Windsor, whoe'er be the other; and she bade me tell
your worship that her husband is seldom from home, but she hopes
there will come a time. I never knew a woman so dote upon a man:
surely I think you have charms, la! yes, in truth.

FALSTAFF.

Not I, I assure thee; setting the attraction of my good parts aside,
I have no other charms.

QUICKLY.

Blessing on your heart for 't!

FALSTAFF.

But, I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford's wife and Page's wife
acquainted each other how they love me?

QUICKLY.

That were a jest indeed! They have not so little grace, I hope: that
were a trick indeed! But Mistress Page would desire you to send
her your little page, of all loves: her husband has a marvellous
infection to the little page; and, truly, Master Page is an honest
man. Never a wife in Windsor leads a better life than she does; do
what she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to bed when
she list, rise when she list, all is as she will; and truly she
deserves it; for if there be a kind woman in Windsor, she is one.
You must send her your page; no remedy.

FALSTAFF.

Why, I will.

QUICKLY.

Nay, but do so then; and, look you, he may come and go between
you both; and in any case have a nay-word, that you may know one
another's mind, and the boy never need to understand any thing; for
'tis not good that children should know any wickedness: old folks,
you know, have discretion, as they say, and know the world.

FALSTAFF.

Fare thee well; commend me to them both. There's my purse; I am yet
thy debtor. Boy, go along with this woman.—

[Exeunt MISTRESS QUICKLY and ROBIN.]

This news distracts me.

PISTOL.

This punk is one of Cupid's carriers;
Clap on more sails; pursue; up with your fights;
Give fire; she is my prize, or ocean whelm them all!

[Exit.]

FALSTAFF.

Say'st thou so, old Jack? go thy ways; I'll make more of thy old
body than I have done. Will they yet look after thee? Wilt thou,
after the expense of so much money, be now a gainer? Good body,
I thank thee. Let them say 'tis grossly done; so it be fairly done,
no matter.

[Enter BARDOLPH, with a cup of sack.]

BARDOLPH.

Sir John, there's one Master Brook below would fain speak with you
and be acquainted with you: and hath sent your worship a morning's
draught of sack.

FALSTAFF.

Brook is his name?

BARDOLPH.

Ay, sir.

FALSTAFF.

Call him in. [Exit BARDOLPH.] Such Brooks are welcome to me, that
o'erflow such liquor. Ah, ha! Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, have
I encompassed you? Go to; via!

[Re-enter BARDOLPH, with FORD disguised.]

FORD.

Bless you, sir!

FALSTAFF.

And you, sir; would you speak with me?

FORD.

I make bold to press with so little preparation upon
you.

FALSTAFF.

You're welcome. What's your will?—Give us leave, drawer.

[Exit BARDOLPH.]

FORD.

Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent much: my name is Brook.

FALSTAFF.

Good Master Brook, I desire more acquaintance of you.

FORD.

Good Sir John, I sue for yours: not to charge you; for I must let
you understand I think myself in better plight for a lender than
you are: the which hath something embold'ned me to this unseasoned
intrusion; for they say, if money go before, all ways do lie open.

FALSTAFF.

Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.

FORD.

Troth, and I have a bag of money here troubles me; if you will
help to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for easing me of
the carriage.

FALSTAFF.

Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your porter.

FORD.

I will tell you, sir, if you will give me the hearing.

FALSTAFF.

Speak, good Master Brook; I shall be glad to be your servant.

FORD.

Sir, I hear you are a scholar,—I will be brief with you, and
you have been a man long known to me, though I had never so good
means, as desire, to make myself acquainted with you. I shall
discover a thing to you, wherein I must very much lay open mine
own imperfection; but, good Sir John, as you have one eye upon my
follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register
of your own, that I may pass with a reproof the easier, sith you
yourself know how easy is it to be such an offender.

FALSTAFF.

Very well, sir; proceed.

FORD.

There is a gentlewoman in this town, her husband's name is Ford.

FALSTAFF.

Well, sir.

FORD.

I have long loved her, and, I protest to you, bestowed much on her;
followed her with a doting observance; engrossed opportunities to
meet her; fee'd every slight occasion that could but niggardly
give me sight of her; not only bought many presents to give her,
but have given largely to many to know what she would have given;
briefly, I have pursued her as love hath pursued me; which hath
been on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited,
either in my mind or in my means, meed, I am sure, I have received
none, unless experience be a jewel that I have purchased at an
infinite rate, and that hath taught me to say this,

Love like a shadow flies when substance love pursues;

Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.

FALSTAFF.

Have you received no promise of satisfaction at her hands?

FORD.

Never.

FALSTAFF.

Have you importuned her to such a purpose?

FORD.

Never.

FALSTAFF.

Of what quality was your love, then?

FORD.

Like a fair house built on another man's ground; so that I have
lost my edifice by mistaking the place where I erected it.

FALSTAFF.

To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?

FORD.

When I have told you that, I have told you all. Some say that though
she appear honest to me, yet in other places she enlargeth her mirth
so far that there is shrewd construction made of her. Now, Sir John,
here is the heart of my purpose: you are a gentleman of excellent
breeding, admirable discourse, of great admittance, authentic in
your place and person, generally allowed for your many war-like,
court-like, and learned preparations.

FALSTAFF.

O, sir!

FORD.

Believe it, for you know it. There is money; spend it, spend it;
spend more; spend all I have; only give me so much of your time in
exchange of it as to lay an amiable siege to the honesty of this
Ford's wife: use your art of wooing, win her to consent to you;
if any man may, you may as soon as any.

FALSTAFF.

Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I
should win what you would enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself
very preposterously.

FORD.

O, understand my drift. She dwells so securely on the excellency
of her honour that the folly of my soul dares not present itself;
she is too bright to be looked against. Now, could I come to her
with any detection in my hand, my desires had instance and argument
to commend themselves; I could drive her then from the ward of her
purity, her reputation, her marriage-vow, and a thousand other her
defences, which now are too too strongly embattled against me.
What say you to't, Sir John?

FALSTAFF.

Master Brook, I will first make bold with your money; next, give me
your hand; and last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if you will,
enjoy Ford's wife.

FORD.

O good sir!

FALSTAFF.

I say you shall.

FORD.

Want no money, Sir John; you shall want none.

FALSTAFF.

Want no Mistress Ford, Master Brook; you shall want none. I shall
be with her, I may tell you, by her own appointment; even as you
came in to me her assistant or go-between parted from me: I say
I shall be with her between ten and eleven; for at that time the
jealous rascally knave, her husband, will be forth. Come you to
me at night; you shall know how I speed.

FORD.

I am blest in your acquaintance. Do you know Ford, sir?

FALSTAFF.

Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know him not; yet I wrong him to
call him poor; they say the jealous wittolly knave hath masses of
money; for the which his wife seems to me well-favoured. I will
use her as the key of the cuckoldly rogue's coffer; and there's my
harvest-home.

FORD.

I would you knew Ford, sir, that you might avoid him if you saw him.

FALSTAFF.

Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue! I will stare him out of his
wits; I will awe him with my cudgel; it shall hang like a meteor
o'er the cuckold's horns. Master Brook, thou shalt know I will
predominate over the peasant, and thou shalt lie with his wife.
Come to me soon at night. Ford's a knave, and I will aggravate his
style; thou, Master Brook, shalt know him for knave and cuckold.
Come to me soon at night.

[Exit.]

FORD.

What a damned Epicurean rascal is this! My heart is ready to crack
with impatience. Who says this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath
sent to him; the hour is fixed; the match is made. Would any man
have thought this? See the hell of having a false woman! My bed
shall be abused, my coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at; and
I shall not only receive this villanous wrong, but stand under the
adoption of abominable terms, and by him that does me this wrong.
Terms! names! Amaimon sounds well; Lucifer, well; Barbason, well;
yet they are devils' additions, the names of fiends. But Cuckold!
Wittol!—Cuckold! the devil himself hath not such a name. Page is
an ass, a secure ass; he will trust his wife; he will not be
jealous; I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, Parson Hugh
the Welshman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle,
or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife with herself;
then she plots, then she ruminates, then she devises; and what
they think in their hearts they may effect, they will break their
hearts but they will effect. God be praised for my jealousy!
Eleven o'clock the hour. I will prevent this, detect my wife, be
revenged on Falstaff, and laugh at Page. I will about it; better
three hours too soon than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie!
cuckold! cuckold! cuckold!

[Exit.]

SCENE 3. A field near Windsor.

[Enter CAIUS and RUGBY.]

CAIUS.

Jack Rugby!

RUGBY.

Sir?

CAIUS.

Vat is de clock, Jack?

RUGBY.

'Tis past the hour, sir, that Sir Hugh promised to meet.

CAIUS.

By gar, he has save his soul, dat he is no come; he has pray his
Pible vell dat he is no come: by gar, Jack Rugby, he is dead
already, if he be come.

RUGBY.

He is wise, sir; he knew your worship would kill him if he came.

CAIUS.

By gar, de herring is no dead so as I vill kill him. Take your
rapier, Jack; I vill tell you how I vill kill him.

RUGBY.

Alas, sir, I cannot fence!

CAIUS.

Villany, take your rapier.

RUGBY.

Forbear; here's company.

[Enter HOST, SHALLOW, SLENDER, and PAGE.]

HOST.

Bless thee, bully doctor!

SHALLOW.

Save you, Master Doctor Caius!

PAGE.

Now, good Master Doctor!

SLENDER.

Give you good morrow, sir.

CAIUS.

Vat be all you, one, two, tree, four, come for?

HOST.

To see thee fight, to see thee foin, to see thee traverse; to see
thee here, to see thee there; to see thee pass thy punto, thy stock,
thy reverse, thy distance, thy montant. Is he dead, my Ethiopian?
Is he dead, my Francisco? Ha, bully! What says my Aesculapius?
my Galen? my heart of elder? Ha! is he dead, bully stale? Is he
dead?

CAIUS.

By gar, he is de coward Jack priest of de world; he is not show
his face.

HOST.

Thou art a Castalion King Urinal! Hector of Greece, my boy!

CAIUS.

I pray you, bear witness that me have stay six or seven, two, tree
hours for him, and he is no come.

SHALLOW.

He is the wiser man, Master doctor: he is a curer of souls, and you
a curer of bodies; if you should fight, you go against the hair of
your professions. Is it not true, Master Page?

PAGE.

Master Shallow, you have yourself been a great fighter, though now
a man of peace.

SHALLOW.

Bodykins, Master Page, though I now be old, and of the peace, if
I see a sword out, my finger itches to make one. Though we are
justices, and doctors, and churchmen, Master Page, we have some
salt of our youth in us; we are the sons of women, Master Page.

PAGE.

'Tis true, Master Shallow.

SHALLOW.

It will be found so, Master Page. Master Doctor Caius, I come to
fetch you home. I am sworn of the peace; you have showed yourself
a wise physician, and Sir Hugh hath shown himself a wise and
patient churchman. You must go with me, Master Doctor.

HOST.

Pardon, guest-justice.—A word, Monsieur Mockwater.

CAIUS.

Mock-vater! Vat is dat?

HOST.

Mockwater, in our English tongue, is valour, bully.

CAIUS.

By gar, then I have as much mockvater as de Englishman.—Scurvy
jack-dog priest! By gar, me vill cut his ears.

HOST.

He will clapper-claw thee tightly, bully.

CAIUS.

Clapper-de-claw! Vat is dat?

HOST.

That is, he will make thee amends.

CAIUS.

By gar, me do look he shall clapper-de-claw me; for, by gar, me
vill have it.

HOST.

And I will provoke him to't, or let him wag.

CAIUS.

Me tank you for dat.

HOST.

And, moreover, bully—but first: Master guest, and Master Page,
and eke Cavaliero Slender, go you through the town to Frogmore.

[Aside to them.]

PAGE.

Sir Hugh is there, is he?

HOST.

He is there: see what humour he is in; and I will bring the
doctor about by the fields. Will it do well?

SHALLOW.

We will do it.

PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.

Adieu, good Master Doctor.

[Exeunt PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.]

CAIUS.

By gar, me vill kill de priest; for he speak for a jack-an-ape
to Anne Page.

HOST.

Let him die. Sheathe thy impatience; throw cold water on thy choler;
go about the fields with me through Frogmore; I will bring thee
where Mistress Anne Page is, at a farm-house a-feasting; and thou
shalt woo her. Cried I aim? Said I well?

CAIUS.

By gar, me tank you for dat: by gar, I love you; and I shall
procure-a you de good guest, de earl, de knight, de lords, de
gentlemen, my patients.

HOST.

For the which I will be thy adversary toward Anne Page: said I well?

CAIUS.

By gar, 'tis good; vell said.

HOST.

Let us wag, then.

CAIUS.

Come at my heels, Jack Rugby.

[Exeunt.]

ACT III

SCENE 1. A field near Frogmore.

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS and SIMPLE.]

EVANS.

I pray you now, good Master Slender's serving-man, and friend
Simple by your name, which way have you looked for Master Caius,
that calls himself doctor of physic?

SIMPLE.

Marry, sir, the pittie-ward, the park-ward, every way; old Windsor
way, and every way but the town way.

EVANS.

I most fehemently desire you you will also look that
way.

SIMPLE.

I will, Sir.

[Exit.]

EVANS.

Pless my soul, how full of chollors I am, and trempling of mind!
I shall be glad if he have deceived me. How melancholies I am!
I will knog his urinals about his knave's costard when I have goot
opportunities for the 'ork: pless my soul!

[Sings]

To shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sings madrigals;
There will we make our peds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies.
To shallow—

Mercy on me! I have a great dispositions to cry.

[Sings.]

Melodious birds sing madrigals,—
Whenas I sat in Pabylon,—
And a thousand vagram posies.
To shallow,—

[Re-enter SIMPLE.]

SIMPLE.

Yonder he is, coming this way, Sir Hugh.

EVANS.

He's welcome.

[Sings]

To shallow rivers, to whose falls—

Heaven prosper the right!—What weapons is he?

SIMPLE.

No weapons, sir. There comes my master, Master Shallow, and another
gentleman, from Frogmore, over the stile, this way.

EVANS.

Pray you give me my gown; or else keep it in your arms.
[Reads in a book.]

[Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.]

SHALLOW.

How now, Master Parson! Good morrow, good Sir Hugh. Keep a gamester
from the dice, and a good student from his book, and it is wonderful.

SLENDER.

[Aside] Ah, sweet Anne Page!

PAGE.

'Save you, good Sir Hugh!

EVANS.

Pless you from his mercy sake, all of you!

SHALLOW.

What, the sword and the word! Do you study them both, Master Parson?

PAGE.

And youthful still, in your doublet and hose, this raw rheumatic day!

EVANS.

There is reasons and causes for it.

PAGE.

We are come to you to do a good office, Master Parson.

EVANS.

Fery well; what is it?

PAGE.

Yonder is a most reverend gentleman, who, belike having received
wrong by some person, is at most odds with his own gravity and
patience that ever you saw.

SHALLOW.

I have lived fourscore years and upward; I never heard a man of
his place, gravity, and learning, so wide of his own respect.

EVANS.

What is he?

PAGE.

I think you know him: Master Doctor Caius, the renowned French
physician.

EVANS.

Got's will and His passion of my heart! I had as lief you would
tell me of a mess of porridge.

PAGE.

Why?

EVANS.

He has no more knowledge in Hibbocrates and Galen,—and he is a
knave besides; a cowardly knave as you would desires to be
acquainted withal.

PAGE.

I warrant you, he's the man should fight with him.

SLENDER.

[Aside] O, sweet Anne Page!

SHALLOW.

It appears so, by his weapons. Keep them asunder; here comes
Doctor Caius.

[Enter HOST, CAIUS, and RUGBY.]

PAGE.

Nay, good Master Parson, keep in your weapon.

SHALLOW.

So do you, good Master Doctor.

HOST.

Disarm them, and let them question; let them keep their limbs whole
and hack our English.

CAIUS.

I pray you, let-a me speak a word with your ear: verefore will you
not meet-a me?

EVANS.

[Aside to CAIUS.] Pray you use your patience; in good time.

CAIUS.

By gar, you are de coward, de Jack dog, John ape.

EVANS.

[Aside to CAIUS.] Pray you, let us not be laughing-stogs to other
men's humours; I desire you in friendship, and I will one way or
other make you amends.
[Aloud.] I will knog your urinals about your knave's cogscomb
for missing your meetings and appointments.

CAIUS.

Diable!—Jack Rugby,—mine Host de Jarretiere,—have I not stay for
him to kill him? Have I not, at de place I did appoint?

EVANS.

As I am a Christians soul, now, look you, this is the place
appointed. I'll be judgment by mine host of the Garter.

HOST.

Peace, I say, Gallia and Gaullia; French and Welsh, soul-curer
and body-curer!

CAIUS.

Ay, dat is very good; excellent!

HOST.

Peace, I say! Hear mine host of the Garter. Am I politic? am I
subtle? am I a Machiavel? Shall I lose my doctor? No; he gives me
the potions and the motions. Shall I lose my parson, my priest,
my Sir Hugh? No; he gives me the proverbs and the no-verbs.
Give me thy hand, terrestrial; so;—give me thy hand, celestial;
so. Boys of art, I have deceived you both; I have directed you
to wrong places; your hearts are mighty, your skins are whole,
and let burnt sack be the issue. Come, lay their swords to pawn.
Follow me, lads of peace; follow, follow, follow.

SHALLOW.

Trust me, a mad host!—Follow, gentlemen, follow.

SLENDER.

[Aside] O, sweet Anne Page!

[Exeunt SHALLOW, SLENDER, PAGE, and HOST.]

CAIUS.

Ha, do I perceive dat? Have you make-a de sot of us, ha, ha?

EVANS.

This is well; he has made us his vlouting-stog. I desire you that
we may be friends; and let us knog our prains together to be
revenge on this same scall, scurvy, cogging companion, the host
of the Garter.

CAIUS.

By gar, with all my heart. He promise to bring me where is Anne
Page; by gar, he deceive me too.

EVANS.

Well, I will smite his noddles. Pray you follow.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 2. A street in Windsor.

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN.]

MRS. PAGE.

Nay, keep your way, little gallant: you were wont to be a follower,
but now you are a leader. Whether had you rather lead mine eyes,
or eye your master's heels?

ROBIN.

I had rather, forsooth, go before you like a man than follow him
like a dwarf.

MRS. PAGE.

O! you are a flattering boy: now I see you'll be a courtier.

[Enter FORD.]

FORD.

Well met, Mistress Page. Whither go you?

MRS. PAGE.

Truly, sir, to see your wife. Is she at home?

FORD.

Ay; and as idle as she may hang together, for want of company.
I think, if your husbands were dead, you two would marry.

MRS. PAGE.

Be sure of that—two other husbands.

FORD.

Where had you this pretty weathercock?

MRS. PAGE.

I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of.
What do you call your knight's name, sirrah?

ROBIN.

Sir John Falstaff.

FORD.

Sir John Falstaff!

MRS. PAGE.

He, he; I can never hit on's name. There is such a league between
my good man and he! Is your wife at home indeed?

FORD.

Indeed she is.

MRS. PAGE.

By your leave, sir: I am sick till I see her.

[Exeunt MRS. PAGE and ROBIN.]

FORD.

Has Page any brains? Hath he any eyes? Hath he any thinking? Sure,
they sleep; he hath no use of them. Why, this boy will carry a
letter twenty mile as easy as a cannon will shoot point-blank
twelve score. He pieces out his wife's inclination; he gives
her folly motion and advantage; and now she's going to my wife,
and Falstaff's boy with her. A man may hear this shower sing in
the wind: and Falstaff's boy with her! Good plots! They are laid;
and our revolted wives share damnation together. Well; I will take
him, then torture my wife, pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from
the so seeming Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure
and wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all my
neighbours shall cry aim. [Clock strikes] The clock gives me my
cue, and my assurance bids me search; there I shall find Falstaff.
I shall be rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as
positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is there. I will go.

[Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, SLENDER, HOST, SIR HUGH EVANS,

CAIUS, and RUGBY.]

SHALLOW, PAGE, &c.

Well met, Master Ford.

FORD.

Trust me, a good knot; I have good cheer at home, and I pray you
all go with me.

SHALLOW.

I must excuse myself, Master Ford.

SLENDER.

And so must I, sir; we have appointed to dine with Mistress Anne,
and I would not break with her for more money than I'll speak of.

SHALLOW.

We have lingered about a match between Anne Page and my cousin
Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.

SLENDER.

I hope I have your good will, father Page.

PAGE.

You have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you. But my wife,
Master doctor, is for you altogether.

CAIUS.

Ay, be-gar; and de maid is love-a me: my nursh-a Quickly tell me
so mush.

HOST.

What say you to young Master Fenton? He capers, he dances, he has
eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April
and May; he will carry 't, he will carry 't; 'tis in his buttons;
he will carry 't.

PAGE.

Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is of no having:
he kept company with the wild Prince and Pointz; he is of too high
a region, he knows too much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his
fortunes with the finger of my substance; if he take her, let him
take her simply; the wealth I have waits on my consent, and my
consent goes not that way.

FORD.

I beseech you, heartily, some of you go home with me to dinner:
besides your cheer, you shall have sport; I will show you a monster.
Master Doctor, you shall go; so shall you, Master Page; and you,
Sir Hugh.

SHALLOW.

Well, fare you well; we shall have the freer wooing at Master Page's.

[Exeunt SHALLOW and SLENDER.]

CAIUS.

Go home, John Rugby; I come anon.

[Exit RUGBY.]

HOST.

Farewell, my hearts; I will to my honest knight Falstaff, and drink
canary with him.

[Exit HOST.]

FORD.

[Aside] I think I shall drink in pipe-wine first with him. I'll
make him dance. Will you go, gentles?

ALL.

Have with you to see this monster.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 3. A room in FORD'S house.

[Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. FORD.

What, John! what, Robert!

MRS. PAGE.

Quickly, quickly:—Is the buck-basket—

MRS. FORD.

I warrant. What, Robin, I say!

[Enter SERVANTS with a basket.]

MRS. PAGE.

Come, come, come.

MRS. FORD.

Here, set it down.

MRS. PAGE.

Give your men the charge; we must be brief.

MRS. FORD.

Marry, as I told you before, John and Robert, be ready here hard by
in the brew-house; and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and,
without any pause or staggering, take this basket on your shoulders:
that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry it among the
whitsters in Datchet-Mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch
close by the Thames side.

MRS. PAGE.

You will do it?

MRS. FORD.

I have told them over and over; they lack no direction. Be gone, and
come when you are called.

[Exeunt SERVANTS.]

MRS. PAGE.

Here comes little Robin.

[Enter ROBIN.]

MRS. FORD.

How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?

ROBIN.

My Master Sir John is come in at your back-door, Mistress Ford,
and requests your company.

MRS. PAGE.

You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?

ROBIN.

Ay, I'll be sworn. My master knows not of your being here, and hath
threatened to put me into everlasting liberty, if I tell you of it;
for he swears he'll turn me away.

MRS. PAGE.

Thou 'rt a good boy; this secrecy of thine shall be a tailor to
thee, and shall make thee a new doublet and hose. I'll go hide me.

MRS. FORD.

Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.

[Exit ROBIN.]

Mistress Page, remember you your cue.

MRS. PAGE.

I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.

[Exit.]

MRS. FORD.

Go to, then; we'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watery
pumpion; we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.

[Enter FALSTAFF.]

FALSTAFF.

'Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel?' Why, now let me die, for
I have lived long enough: this is the period of my ambition:
O this blessed hour!

MRS. FORD.

O, sweet Sir John!

FALSTAFF.

Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate, Mistress Ford. Now
shall I sin in my wish; I would thy husband were dead. I'll speak
it before the best lord, I would make thee my lady.

MRS. FORD.

I your lady, Sir John! Alas, I should be a pitiful
lady.

FALSTAFF.

Let the court of France show me such another. I see how thine eye
would emulate the diamond; thou hast the right arched beauty of
the brow that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire
of Venetian admittance.

MRS. FORD.

A plain kerchief, Sir John; my brows become nothing else; nor that
well neither.

FALSTAFF.

By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say so: thou wouldst make an
absolute courtier; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an
excellent motion to thy gait in a semi-circled farthingale. I see
what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend.
Come, thou canst not hide it.

MRS. FORD.

Believe me, there's no such thing in me.

FALSTAFF.

What made me love thee? Let that persuade thee there's something
extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog and say thou art this
and that, like a many of these lisping hawthorn-buds that come
like women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury in
simple-time; I cannot; but I love thee, none but thee; and thou
deservest it.

MRS. FORD.

Do not betray me, sir; I fear you love Mistress Page.

FALSTAFF.

Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by the Counter-gate, which
is as hateful to me as the reek of a lime-kiln.

MRS. FORD.

Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one day find it.

FALSTAFF.

Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.

MRS. FORD.

Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not be in that mind.

ROBIN.

[Within] Mistress Ford! Mistress Ford! here's Mistress Page at the
door, sweating and blowing and looking wildly, and would needs speak
with you presently.

FALSTAFF.

She shall not see me; I will ensconce me behind the arras.

MRS. FORD.

Pray you, do so; she's a very tattling woman.

[FALSTAFF hides himself.]

[Re-enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN.]

What's the matter? How now!

MRS. PAGE.

O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed, you are
overthrown, you are undone for ever!

MRS. FORD.

What's the matter, good Mistress Page?

MRS. PAGE.

O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! having an honest man to your husband,
to give him such cause of suspicion!

MRS. FORD.

What cause of suspicion?

MRS. PAGE.

What cause of suspicion? Out upon you! how am I mistook in you!

MRS. FORD.

Why, alas, what's the matter?

MRS. PAGE.

Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the officers in
Windsor, to search for a gentleman that he says is here now in
the house, by your consent, to take an ill advantage of his absence:
you are undone.

MRS. FORD.

[Aside.] Speak louder.—
'Tis not so, I hope.

MRS. PAGE.

Pray heaven it be not so that you have such a man here! but 'tis
most certain your husband's coming, with half Windsor at his heels,
to search for such a one. I come before to tell you. If you know
yourself clear, why, I am glad of it; but if you have a friend here,
convey, convey him out. Be not amazed; call all your senses to you;
defend your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.

MRS. FORD.

What shall I do?—There is a gentleman, my dear friend; and I fear
not mine own shame as much as his peril: I had rather than a
thousand pound he were out of the house.

MRS. PAGE.

For shame! never stand 'you had rather' and 'you had rather': your
husband's here at hand; bethink you of some conveyance; in the
house you cannot hide him. O, how have you deceived me! Look, here
is a basket; if he be of any reasonable stature, he may creep in
here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to
bucking: or—it is whiting-time—send him by your two men to
Datchet-Mead.

MRS. FORD.

He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?

FALSTAFF.

[Coming forward] Let me see 't, let me see 't. O, let me see 't!
I'll in, I'll in; follow your friend's counsel; I'll in.

MRS. PAGE.

What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?

FALSTAFF.

I love thee and none but thee; help me away: let me creep in here.
I'll never—

[He gets into the basket; they cover him with foul linen.]

MRS. PAGE.

Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men, Mistress Ford. You
dissembling knight!

MRS. FORD.

What, John! Robert! John!

[Exit ROBIN.]

[Re-enter SERVANTS.]

Go, take up these clothes here, quickly; where's the cowl-staff?

Look how you drumble! Carry them to the laundress in Datchet-Mead;
quickly, come.

[Enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS.]

FORD.

Pray you come near. If I suspect without cause, why then make sport
at me, then let me be your jest; I deserve it. How now, whither
bear you this?

SERVANT.

To the laundress, forsooth.

MRS. FORD.

Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You were best meddle
with buck-washing.

FORD.

Buck! I would I could wash myself of the buck! Buck, buck, buck!
ay, buck; I warrant you, buck; and of the season too, it shall appear.

[Exeunt SERVANTS with the basket.]

Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night; I'll tell you my dream. Here,

here, here be my keys: ascend my chambers; search, seek, find out.
I'll warrant we'll unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first.
[Locking the door.] So, now uncape.

PAGE.

Good Master Ford, be contented: you wrong yourself
too much.

FORD.

True, Master Page. Up, gentlemen, you shall see sport anon; follow
me, gentlemen.

[Exit.]

EVANS.

This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.

CAIUS.

By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France; it is not jealous in France.

PAGE.

Nay, follow him, gentlemen; see the issue of his search.

[Exeunt EVANS, PAGE, and CAIUS.]

MRS. PAGE.

Is there not a double excellency in this?

MRS. FORD.

I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or
Sir John.

MRS. PAGE.

What a taking was he in when your husband asked who was in the basket!

MRS. FORD.

I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so throwing him into
the water will do him a benefit.

MRS. PAGE.

Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same strain were in
the same distress.

MRS. FORD.

I think my husband hath some special suspicion of Falstaff's being
here, for I never saw him so gross in his jealousy till now.

MRS. PAGE.

I will lay a plot to try that, and we will yet have more tricks
with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will scarce obey this medicine.

MRS. FORD.

Shall we send that foolish carrion, Mistress Quickly, to him, and
excuse his throwing into the water, and give him another hope, to
betray him to another punishment?

MRS. PAGE.

We will do it; let him be sent for to-morrow eight o'clock, to
have amends.

[Re-enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS.]

FORD.

I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not
compass.

MRS. PAGE.

[Aside to MRS. FORD.] Heard you that?

MRS. FORD.

[Aside to MRS. PAGE.] Ay, ay, peace.—
You use me well, Master Ford, do you?

FORD.

Ay, I do so.

MRS. FORD.

Heaven make you better than your thoughts!

FORD.

Amen!

MRS. PAGE.

You do yourself mighty wrong, Master Ford.

FORD.

Ay, ay; I must bear it.

EVANS.

If there be any pody in the house, and in the chambers, and in the
coffers, and in the presses, heaven forgive my sins at the day of
judgment!

CAIUS.

Be gar, nor I too; there is no bodies.

PAGE.

Fie, fie, Master Ford, are you not ashamed? What spirit, what devil
suggests this imagination? I would not ha' your distemper in this
kind for the wealth of Windsor Castle.

FORD.

'Tis my fault, Master Page: I suffer for it.

EVANS.

You suffer for a pad conscience. Your wife is as honest a 'omans as
I will desires among five thousand, and five hundred too.

CAIUS.

By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.

FORD.

Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come, walk in the Park: I pray
you pardon me; I will hereafter make known to you why I have done
this. Come, wife, come, Mistress Page; I pray you pardon me; pray
heartily, pardon me.

PAGE.

Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me, we'll mock him. I do invite
you to-morrow morning to my house to breakfast; after, we'll
a-birding together; I have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be so?

FORD.

Any thing.

EVANS.

If there is one, I shall make two in the company.

CAIUS.

If there be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.

FORD.

Pray you go, Master Page.

EVANS.

I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine host.

CAIUS.

Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart.

EVANS.

A lousy knave! to have his gibes and his mockeries!

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 4. A room in PAGE'S house.

[Enter FENTON, ANNE PAGE, and MISTRESS QUICKLY. MISTRESS QUICKLY stands apart.]

FENTON.

I see I cannot get thy father's love;
Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.

ANNE.

Alas! how then?

FENTON.

Why, thou must be thyself.
He doth object, I am too great of birth;
And that my state being gall'd with my expense,
I seek to heal it only by his wealth.
Besides these, other bars he lays before me,
My riots past, my wild societies;
And tells me 'tis a thing impossible
I should love thee but as a property.

ANNE.

May be he tells you true.

FENTON.

No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Albeit I will confess thy father's wealth
Was the first motive that I wooed thee, Anne:
Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value
Than stamps in gold, or sums in sealed bags;
And 'tis the very riches of thyself
That now I aim at.

ANNE.

Gentle Master Fenton,
Yet seek my father's love; still seek it, sir.
If opportunity and humblest suit
Cannot attain it, why then,—hark you hither.

[They converse apart.]

[Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

SHALLOW.

Break their talk, Mistress Quickly: my kinsman shall speak for himself.

SLENDER.

I'll make a shaft or a bolt on 't. 'Slid, 'tis but venturing.

SHALLOW.

Be not dismayed.

SLENDER.

No, she shall not dismay me. I care not for that, but that I am afeard.

QUICKLY.

Hark ye; Master Slender would speak a word with you.

ANNE.

I come to him. [Aside.] This is my father's choice.
O, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults
Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!

QUICKLY.

And how does good Master Fenton? Pray you, a
word with you.

SHALLOW.

She's coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!

SLENDER.

I had a father, Mistress Anne; my uncle can tell you good jests
of him. Pray you, uncle, tell Mistress Anne the jest how my father
stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.

SHALLOW.

Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.

SLENDER.

Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Gloucestershire.

SHALLOW.

He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.

SLENDER.

Ay, that I will come cut and long-tail, under the degree of a squire.

SHALLOW.

He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.

ANNE.

Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.

SHALLOW.

Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good comfort. She
calls you, coz; I'll leave you.

ANNE.

Now, Master Slender.

SLENDER.

Now, good Mistress Anne.—

ANNE.

What is your will?

SLENDER.

My will! 'od's heartlings, that's a pretty jest indeed! I ne'er
made my will yet, I thank heaven; I am not such a sickly creature,
I give heaven praise.

ANNE.

I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me?

SLENDER.

Truly, for mine own part I would little or nothing with you. Your
father and my uncle hath made motions; if it be my luck, so; if not,
happy man be his dole! They can tell you how things go better than
I can. You may ask your father; here he comes.

[Enter PAGE and MISTRESS PAGE.]

PAGE.

Now, Master Slender: love him, daughter Anne.
Why, how now! what does Master Fenton here?
You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house:
I told you, sir, my daughter is dispos'd of.

FENTON.

Nay, Master Page, be not impatient.

MRS. PAGE.

Good Master Fenton, come not to my child.

PAGE.

She is no match for you.

FENTON.

Sir, will you hear me?

PAGE.

No, good Master Fenton.
Come, Master Shallow; come, son Slender, in.
Knowing my mind, you wrong me, Master Fenton.

[Exeunt PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.]

QUICKLY.

Speak to Mistress Page.

FENTON.

Good Mistress Page, for that I love your daughter
In such a righteous fashion as I do,
Perforce, against all checks, rebukes, and manners,
I must advance the colours of my love
And not retire: let me have your good will.

ANNE.

Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool.

MRS. PAGE.

I mean it not; I seek you a better husband.

QUICKLY.

That's my master, Master doctor.

ANNE.

Alas! I had rather be set quick i' the earth.
And bowl'd to death with turnips.

MRS. PAGE.

Come, trouble not yourself. Good Master Fenton,
I will not be your friend, nor enemy;
My daughter will I question how she loves you,
And as I find her, so am I affected.
Till then, farewell, sir: she must needs go in;
Her father will be angry.

FENTON.

Farewell, gentle mistress. Farewell, Nan.

[Exeunt MRS. PAGE and ANNE.}

QUICKLY.

This is my doing now: 'Nay,' said I, 'will you cast away your child
on a fool, and a physician? Look on Master Fenton.' This is my doing.

FENTON.

I thank thee; and I pray thee, once to-night
Give my sweet Nan this ring. There's for thy pains.

QUICKLY.

Now Heaven send thee good fortune!

[Exit FENTON.]

A kind heart he hath; a woman would run through fire and water for

such a kind heart. But yet I would my master had Mistress Anne; or
I would Master Slender had her; or, in sooth, I would Master Fenton
had her; I will do what I can for them all three, for so I have
promised, and I'll be as good as my word; but speciously for Master
Fenton. Well, I must of another errand to Sir John Falstaff from my
two mistresses: what a beast am I to slack it!

[Exit.]

SCENE 5. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH.]

FALSTAFF.

Bardolph, I say,—

BARDOLPH.

Here, sir.

FALSTAFF.

Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in 't.

[Exit BARDOLPH.]

Have I lived to be carried in a basket, and to be thrown in the

Thames like a barrow of butcher's offal? Well, if I be served such
another trick, I'll have my brains ta'en out and buttered, and give
them to a dog for a new year's gift. The rogues slighted me into
the river with as little remorse as they would have drowned a blind
bitch's puppies, fifteen i' the litter; and you may know by my size
that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking; if the bottom were as
deep as hell I should down. I had been drowned but that the shore
was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor, for the water swells
a man; and what a thing should I have been when had been swelled!
I should have been a mountain of mummy.

[Re-enter BARDOLPH, with the sack.]

BARDOLPH.

Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.

FALSTAFF.

Come, let me pour in some sack to the Thames water; for my belly's
as cold as if I had swallowed snowballs for pills to cool the reins.
Call her in.

BARDOLPH.

Come in, woman.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

QUICKLY.

By your leave. I cry you mercy. Give your worship good morrow.

FALSTAFF.

Take away these chalices. Go, brew me a pottle of sack finely.

BARDOLPH.

With eggs, sir?

FALSTAFF.

Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.

[Exit BARDOLPH.]

How now!

QUICKLY.

Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.

FALSTAFF.

Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown into the ford;
I have my belly full of ford.

QUICKLY.

Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault: she does so take
on with her men; they mistook their erection.

FALSTAFF.

So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.

QUICKLY.

Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn your heart to
see it. Her husband goes this morning a-birding; she desires you
once more to come to her between eight and nine; I must carry her
word quickly. She'll make you amends, I warrant you.

FALSTAFF.

Well, I will visit her. Tell her so; and bid her think what a man
is; let her consider his frailty, and then judge of my merit.

QUICKLY.

I will tell her.

FALSTAFF.

Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?

QUICKLY.

Eight and nine, sir.

FALSTAFF.

Well, be gone; I will not miss her.

QUICKLY.

Peace be with you, sir.

[Exit.]

FALSTAFF.

I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me word to stay within.
I like his money well. O! here he comes.

[Enter FORD disguised.]

FORD.

Bless you, sir!

FALSTAFF.

Now, Master Brook, you come to know what hath passed between me
and Ford's wife?

FORD.

That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.

FALSTAFF.

Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her house the hour
she appointed me.

FORD.

And how sped you, sir?

FALSTAFF.

Very ill-favouredly, Master Brook.

FORD.

How so, sir? did she change her determination?

FALSTAFF.

No. Master Brook; but the peaking cornuto her husband, Master Brook,
dwelling in a continual 'larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant
of our encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested, and, as
it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; and at his heels a
rabble of his companions, thither provoked and instigated by his
distemper, and, forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.

FORD.

What! while you were there?

FALSTAFF.

While I was there.

FORD.

And did he search for you, and could not find you?

FALSTAFF.

You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes in one Mistress
Page; gives intelligence of Ford's approach; and, in her invention
and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.

FORD.

A buck-basket!

FALSTAFF.

By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed me in with foul shirts and
smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy napkins, that, Master Brook,
there was the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever
offended nostril.

FORD.

And how long lay you there?

FALSTAFF.

Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have suffered to bring
this woman to evil for your good. Being thus crammed in the basket,
a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their
mistress to carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datchet-lane;
they took me on their shoulders; met the jealous knave their
master in the door; who asked them once or twice what they had in
their basket. I quaked for fear lest the lunatic knave would have
searched it; but Fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his
hand. Well, on went he for a search, and away went I for foul
clothes. But mark the sequel, Master Brook: I suffered the pangs
of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright to be
detected with a jealous rotten bell-wether; next, to be compassed
like a good bilbo in the circumference of a peck, hilt to
point, heel to head; and then, to be stopped in, like a strong
distillation, with stinking clothes that fretted in their own
grease: think of that; a man of my kidney, think of that, that am
as subject to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution and
thaw: it was a miracle to 'scape suffocation. And in the height
of this bath, when I was more than half stewed in grease, like
a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing
hot, in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of that, hissing hot,
think of that, Master Brook!

FORD.

In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that for my sake you have suffered
all this. My suit, then, is desperate; you'll undertake her no more.

FALSTAFF.

Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, as I have been into
Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her husband is this morning
gone a-birding; I have received from her another embassy of
meeting; 'twixt eight and nine is the hour, Master Brook.

FORD.

'Tis past eight already, sir.

FALSTAFF.

Is it? I will then address me to my appointment. Come to me at
your convenient leisure, and you shall know how I speed, and the
conclusion shall be crowned with your enjoying her: adieu. You
shall have her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.

[Exit.]

FORD.

Hum! ha! Is this a vision? Is this a dream? Do I sleep? Master Ford,
awake; awake, Master Ford. There's a hole made in your best coat,
Master Ford. This 'tis to be married; this 'tis to have linen and
buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself what I am; I will now
take the lecher; he is at my house. He cannot scape me; 'tis
impossible he should; he cannot creep into a half-penny purse, nor
into a pepper box; but, lest the devil that guides him should aid
him, I will search impossible places. Though what I am I cannot
avoid, yet to be what I would not, shall not make me tame; if I
have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me; I'll be
horn-mad.

[Exit.]

ACT IV.

SCENE I. The street.

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS QUICKLY, and WILLIAM.]

MRS. PAGE.

Is he at Master Ford's already, think'st thou?

QUICKLY.

Sure he is by this; or will be presently; but truly he is very
courageous mad about his throwing into the water. Mistress Ford
desires you to come suddenly.

MRS. PAGE.

I'll be with her by and by; I'll but bring my young man here to
school. Look where his master comes; 'tis a playing day, I see.

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS.]

How now, Sir Hugh, no school to-day?

EVANS.

No; Master Slender is let the boys leave to play.

QUICKLY.

Blessing of his heart!

MRS. PAGE.

Sir Hugh, my husband says my son profits nothing in the world at
his book; I pray you ask him some questions in his accidence.

EVANS.

Come hither, William; hold up your head; come.

MRS. PAGE.

Come on, sirrah; hold up your head; answer your master; be not afraid.

EVANS.

William, how many numbers is in nouns?

WILLIAM.

Two.

QUICKLY.

Truly, I thought there had been one number more, because they say
'Od's nouns.'

EVANS.

Peace your tattlings! What is 'fair,' William?

WILLIAM.

Pulcher.

QUICKLY.

Polecats! There are fairer things than polecats, sure.

EVANS.

You are a very simplicity 'oman; I pray you, peace. What is
'lapis,' William?

WILLIAM.

A stone.

EVANS.

And what is 'a stone,' William?

WILLIAM.

A pebble.

EVANS.

No, it is 'lapis'; I pray you remember in your prain.

WILLIAM.

Lapis.

EVANS.

That is a good William. What is he, William, that does lend articles?

WILLIAM.

Articles are borrowed of the pronoun, and be thus declined:
Singulariter, nominativo; hic, haec, hoc.

EVANS.

Nominativo, hig, hag, hog; pray you, mark: genitivo, hujus. Well,
what is your accusative case?

WILLIAM.

Accusativo, hinc.

EVANS.

I pray you, have your remembrance, child. Accusativo, hung, hang, hog.

QUICKLY.

'Hang-hog' is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.

EVANS.

Leave your prabbles, 'oman. What is the focative case, William?

WILLIAM.

O vocativo, O.

EVANS.

Remember, William: focative is caret.

QUICKLY.

And that's a good root.

EVANS.

'Oman, forbear.

MRS. PAGE.

Peace.

EVANS.

What is your genitive case plural, William?

WILLIAM.

Genitive case?

EVANS.

Ay.

WILLIAM.

Genitive: horum, harum, horum.

QUICKLY.

Vengeance of Jenny's case; fie on her! Never name her, child, if
she be a whore.

EVANS.

For shame, 'oman.

QUICKLY.

You do ill to teach the child such words. He teaches him to hick
and to hack, which they'll do fast enough of themselves; and to
call 'horum;' fie upon you!

EVANS.

'Oman, art thou lunatics? Hast thou no understandings for thy cases,
and the numbers of the genders? Thou art as foolish Christian
creatures as I would desires.

MRS. PAGE.

Prithee, hold thy peace.

EVANS.

Show me now, William, some declensions of your pronouns.

WILLIAM.

Forsooth, I have forgot.

EVANS.

It is qui, quae, quod; if you forget your 'quis', your 'quaes',
and your 'quods', you must be preeches. Go your ways and play; go.

MRS. PAGE.

He is a better scholar than I thought he was.

EVANS.

He is a good sprag memory. Farewell, Mistress Page.

MRS. PAGE.

Adieu, good Sir Hugh.

[Exit SIR HUGH.]

Get you home, boy. Come, we stay too long.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 2. A room in FORD'S house.

[Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS FORD.]

FALSTAFF.

Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my sufferance. I see you
are obsequious in your love, and I profess requital to a hair's
breadth; not only, Mistress Ford, in the simple office of love,
but in all the accoutrement, complement, and ceremony of it. But
are you sure of your husband now?

MRS. FORD.

He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.

MRS. PAGE.

[Within.] What ho! gossip Ford, what ho!

MRS. FORD.

Step into the chamber, Sir John.

[Exit FALSTAFF.]

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. PAGE.

How now, sweetheart! who's at home besides yourself?

MRS. FORD.

Why, none but mine own people.

MRS. PAGE.

Indeed!

MRS. FORD.

No, certainly.—[Aside to her.] Speak louder.

MRS. PAGE.

Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here.

MRS. FORD.

Why?

MRS. PAGE.

Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again. He so takes
on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind;
so curses all Eve's daughters, of what complexion soever; and so
buffets himself on the forehead, crying 'Peer out, peer out!'
that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed but tameness, civility,
and patience, to this his distemper he is in now. I am glad the
fat knight is not here.

MRS. FORD.

Why, does he talk of him?

MRS. PAGE.

Of none but him; and swears he was carried out, the last time he
searched for him, in a basket; protests to my husband he is now
here; and hath drawn him and the rest of their company from their
sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion. But I am glad
the knight is not here; now he shall see his own foolery.

MRS. FORD.

How near is he, Mistress Page?

MRS. PAGE.

Hard by, at street end; he will be here anon.

MRS. FORD.

I am undone! the knight is here.

MRS. PAGE.

Why, then, you are utterly shamed, and he's but a dead man. What
a woman are you! Away with him, away with him! better shame than
murder.

MRS. FORD.

Which way should he go? How should I bestow him? Shall I put him
into the basket again?

[Re-enter FALSTAFF.}

FALSTAFF.

No, I'll come no more i' the basket. May I not go out ere he come?

MRS. PAGE.

Alas! three of Master Ford's brothers watch the door with pistols,
that none shall issue out; otherwise you might slip away ere he
came. But what make you here?

FALSTAFF.

What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.

MRS. FORD.

There they always use to discharge their birding-pieces.

MRS. PAGE.

Creep into the kiln-hole.

FALSTAFF.

Where is it?

MRS. FORD.

He will seek there, on my word. Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk,
well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such
places, and goes to them by his note: there is no hiding you in
the house.

FALSTAFF.

I'll go out then.

MRS. PAGE.

If you go out in your own semblance, you die, Sir John. Unless
you go out disguised,—

MRS. FORD.

How might we disguise him?

MRS. PAGE.

Alas the day! I know not! There is no woman's gown big enough for
him; otherwise he might put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief,
and so escape.

FALSTAFF.

Good hearts, devise something: any extremity rather than a mischief.

MRS. FORD.

My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brainford, has a gown above.

MRS. PAGE.

On my word, it will serve him; she's as big as he is; and there's
her thrummed hat, and her muffler too. Run up, Sir John.

MRS. FORD.

Go, go, sweet Sir John. Mistress Page and I will look some linen
for your head.

MRS. PAGE.

Quick, quick! we'll come dress you straight; put on the gown the while.

[Exit FALSTAFF.]

MRS. FORD.

I would my husband would meet him in this shape; he cannot abide
the old woman of Brainford; he swears she's a witch, forbade her
my house, and hath threatened to beat her.

MRS. PAGE.

Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel; and the devil guide his
cudgel afterwards!

MRS. FORD.

But is my husband coming?

MRS. PAGE.

Ay, in good sadness is he; and talks of the basket too, howsoever
he hath had intelligence.

MRS. FORD.

We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry the basket again,
to meet him at the door with it as they did last time.

MRS. PAGE.

Nay, but he'll be here presently; let's go dress him like the
witch of Brainford.

MRS. FORD.

I'll first direct my men what they shall do with the basket. Go up;
I'll bring linen for him straight.

[Exit.]

MRS. PAGE.

Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough.
We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry and yet honest too.
We do not act that often jest and laugh;
'Tis old but true: 'Still swine eats all the draff.'

[Exit.]

[Re-enter MISTRESS FORD, with two SERVANTS.]

MRS. FORD.

Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders; your master is
hard at door; if he bid you set it down, obey him. Quickly, dispatch.

[Exit.]

FIRST SERVANT.

Come, come, take it up.

SECOND SERVANT.

Pray heaven, it be not full of knight again.

FIRST SERVANT.

I hope not; I had lief as bear so much lead.

[Enter FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS.]

FORD.

Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any way then to
unfool me again? Set down the basket, villain! Somebody call my
wife. Youth in a basket! O you panderly rascals! there's a knot,
a ging, a pack, a conspiracy against me. Now shall the devil be
shamed. What, wife, I say! Come, come forth! behold what honest
clothes you send forth to bleaching!

PAGE.

Why, this passes, Master Ford! you are not to go loose any longer;
you must be pinioned.

EVANS.

Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog.

SHALLOW.

Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well, indeed.

FORD.

So say I too, sir.—

[Re-enter MISTRESS FORD.]

Come hither, Mistress Ford, the honest woman, the modest wife,

the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband!
I suspect without cause, Mistress, do I?

MRS. FORD.

Heaven be my witness, you do, if you suspect me in any dishonesty.

FORD.

Well said, brazen-face! hold it out. Come forth, sirrah.

[Pulling clothes out of the basket.]

PAGE.

This passes!

MRS. FORD.

Are you not ashamed? Let the clothes alone.

FORD.

I shall find you anon.

EVANS.

'Tis unreasonable. Will you take up your wife's clothes? Come away.

FORD.

Empty the basket, I say!

MRS. FORD.

Why, man, why?

FORD.

Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed out of my house
yesterday in this basket: why may not he be there again? In my
house I am sure he is; my intelligence is true; my jealousy is
reasonable. Pluck me out all the linen.

MRS. FORD.

If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.

PAGE.

Here's no man.

SHALLOW.

By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford; this wrongs you.

EVANS.

Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the imaginations of
your own heart; this is jealousies.

FORD.

Well, he's not here I seek for.

PAGE.

No, nor nowhere else but in your brain.

[Servants carry away the basket.]

FORD.

Help to search my house this one time. If I find not what I
seek, show no colour for my extremity; let me for ever be your
table-sport; let them say of me 'As jealous as Ford, that searched
a hollow walnut for his wife's leman.' Satisfy me once more; once
more search with me.

MRS. FORD.

What, hoa, Mistress Page! Come you and the old woman down; my
husband will come into the chamber.

FORD.

Old woman? what old woman's that?

MRS. FORD.

Why, it is my maid's aunt of Brainford.

FORD.

A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not forbid her
my house? She comes of errands, does she? We are simple men;
we do not know what's brought to pass under the profession of
fortune-telling. She works by charms, by spells, by the figure,
and such daubery as this is, beyond our element. We know nothing.
Come down, you witch, you hag you; come down, I say!

MRS. FORD.

Nay, good sweet husband! Good gentlemen, let him not strike the
old woman.

[Re-enter FALSTAFF in woman's clothes, led by MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. PAGE.

Come, Mother Prat; come, give me your hand.

FORD.

I'll prat her.—[Beats him.] Out of my door, you witch, you rag,
you baggage, you polecat, you ronyon! Out, out! I'll conjure you,
I'll fortune-tell you.

[Exit FALSTAFF.]

MRS. PAGE.

Are you not ashamed? I think you have killed the poor woman.

MRS. FORD.

Nay, he will do it. 'Tis a goodly credit for you.

FORD.

Hang her, witch!

EVANS.

By yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witch indeed; I like not when
a 'oman has a great peard; I spy a great peard under her muffler.

FORD.

Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you follow; see but the issue
of my jealousy; if I cry out thus upon no trail, never trust me
when I open again.

PAGE.

Let's obey his humour a little further. Come, gentlemen.

[Exeunt FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, CAIUS, and EVANS.]

MRS. PAGE.

Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.

MRS. FORD.

Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him most unpitifully
methought.

MRS. PAGE.

I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er the altar; it hath
done meritorious service.

MRS. FORD.

What think you? May we, with the warrant of womanhood and the
witness of a good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?

MRS. PAGE.

The spirit of wantonness is sure scared out of him; if the devil
have him not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he will never,
I think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.

MRS. FORD.

Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?

MRS. PAGE.

Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape the figures out of
your husband's brains. If they can find in their hearts the poor
unvirtuous fat knight shall be any further afflicted, we two will
still be the ministers.

MRS. FORD.

I'll warrant they'll have him publicly shamed; and methinks there
would be no period to the jest, should he not be publicly shamed.

MRS. PAGE.

Come, to the forge with it then; shape it. I would not have things
cool.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 3. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter HOST and BARDOLPH.]

BARDOLPH.

Sir, the Germans desire to have three of your horses; the Duke
himself will be to-morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.

HOST.

What duke should that be comes so secretly? I hear not of him in
the court. Let me speak with the gentlemen; they speak English?

BARDOLPH.

Ay, sir; I'll call them to you.

HOST.

They shall have my horses, but I'll make them pay; I'll sauce them;
they have had my house a week at command; I have turned away my
other guests. They must come off; I'll sauce them. Come.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 4. A room in FORD'S house.

[Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and SIR HUGH

EVANS.]

EVANS.

'Tis one of the best discretions of a 'oman as ever I did look upon.

PAGE.

And did he send you both these letters at an instant?

MRS. PAGE.

Within a quarter of an hour.

FORD.

Pardon me, wife. Henceforth, do what thou wilt;
I rather will suspect the sun with cold
Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honour stand,
In him that was of late an heretic,
As firm as faith.

PAGE.

'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.
Be not as extreme in submission
As in offence;
But let our plot go forward: let our wives
Yet once again, to make us public sport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him and disgrace him for it.

FORD.

There is no better way than that they spoke of.

PAGE.

How? To send him word they'll meet him in the park at midnight?
Fie, fie! he'll never come!

EVANS.

You say he has been thrown in the rivers; and has been grievously
peaten as an old 'oman; methinks there should be terrors in him,
that he should not come; methinks his flesh is punished; he shall
have no desires.

PAGE.

So think I too.

MRS. FORD.

Devise but how you'll use him when he comes,
And let us two devise to bring him thither.

MRS. PAGE.

There is an old tale goes that Herne the hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner:
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Received, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.

PAGE.

Why, yet there want not many that do fear
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak.
But what of this?

MRS. FORD.

Marry, this is our device;
That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us,
Disguis'd, like Herne, with huge horns on his head.

PAGE.

Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come,
And in this shape. When you have brought him thither,
What shall be done with him? What is your plot?

MRS. PAGE.

That likewise have we thought upon, and thus:
Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,
And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphs, and fairies, green and white,
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their hands. Upon a sudden,
As Falstaff, she, and I, are newly met,
Let them from forth a sawpit rush at once
With some diffused song; upon their sight
We two in great amazedness will fly:
Then let them all encircle him about,
And fairy-like, to pinch the unclean knight;
And ask him why, that hour of fairy revel,
In their so sacred paths he dares to tread
In shape profane.

MRS. FORD.

And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him sound,
And burn him with their tapers.

MRS. PAGE.

The truth being known,
We'll all present ourselves; dis-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.

FORD.

The children must
Be practis'd well to this or they'll ne'er do 't.

EVANS.

I will teach the children their behaviours; and I will
be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my
taber.

FORD.

That will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards.

MRS. PAGE.

My Nan shall be the Queen of all the Fairies,
Finely attired in a robe of white.

PAGE.

That silk will I go buy. [Aside.] And in that time
Shall Master Slender steal my Nan away,
And marry her at Eton. Go, send to Falstaff straight.

FORD.

Nay, I'll to him again, in name of Brook;
He'll tell me all his purpose. Sure, he'll come.

MRS. PAGE.

Fear not you that. Go, get us properties
And tricking for our fairies.

EVANS.

Let us about it. It is admirable pleasures, and fery
honest knaveries.

[Exeunt PAGE, FORD, and EVANS.]

MRS. PAGE.

Go, Mistress Ford.
Send Quickly to Sir John to know his mind.

[Exit MRS. FORD.]

I'll to the Doctor; he hath my good will,

And none but he, to marry with Nan Page.
That Slender, though well landed, is an idiot;
And he my husband best of all affects:
The Doctor is well money'd, and his friends
Potent at court: he, none but he, shall have her,
Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her.

[Exit.]

SCENE 5. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter HOST and SIMPLE.]

HOST.

What wouldst thou have, boor? What, thick-skin? Speak, breathe,
discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.

SIMPLE.

Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff from Master Slender.

HOST.

There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing-bed and
truckle-bed; 'tis painted about with the story of the Prodigal,
fresh and new. Go knock and call; he'll speak like an
Anthropophaginian unto thee; knock, I say.

SIMPLE.

There's an old woman, a fat woman, gone up into his chamber; I'll
be so bold as stay, sir, till she come down; I come to speak with
her, indeed.

HOST.

Ha! a fat woman? The knight may be robbed. I'll call. Bully knight!
Bully Sir John! Speak from thy lungs military. Art thou there? It
is thine host, thine Ephesian, calls.

FALSTAFF.

[Above] How now, mine host?

HOST.

Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman.
Let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honourible.
Fie! privacy? fie!

[Enter FALSTAFF.]

FALSTAFF.

There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with, me; but
she's gone.

SIMPLE.

Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of Brainford?

FALSTAFF.

Ay, marry was it, mussel-shell: what would you with her?

SIMPLE.

My master, sir, my Master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go
thorough the streets, to know, sir, whether one Nym, sir, that
beguiled him of a chain, had the chain or no.

FALSTAFF.

I spake with the old woman about it.

SIMPLE.

And what says she, I pray, sir?

FALSTAFF.

Marry, she says that the very same man that beguiled Master Slender
of his chain cozened him of it.

SIMPLE.

I would I could have spoken with the woman herself; I had other
things to have spoken with her too, from him.

FALSTAFF.

What are they? Let us know.

HOST.

Ay, come; quick.

SIMPLE.

I may not conceal them, sir.

FALSTAFF.

Conceal them, or thou diest.

SIMPLE.

Why, sir, they were nothing but about Mistress Anne Page: to know
if it were my master's fortune to have her or no.

FALSTAFF.

'Tis, 'tis his fortune.

SIMPLE.

What sir?

FALSTAFF.

To have her, or no. Go; say the woman told me so.

SIMPLE.

May I be bold to say so, sir?

FALSTAFF.

Ay, Sir Tike; like who more bold?

SIMPLE.

I thank your worship; I shall make my master glad with these tidings.

[Exit.]

HOST.

Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, Sir John. Was there a wise
woman with thee?

FALSTAFF.

Ay, that there was, mine host; one that hath taught me more wit
than ever I learned before in my life; and I paid nothing for it
neither, but was paid for my learning.

[Enter BARDOLPH.]

BARDOLPH.

Out, alas, sir! cozenage, mere cozenage!

HOST.

Where be my horses? Speak well of them, varletto.

BARDOLPH.

Run away, with the cozeners; for so soon as I came beyond Eton,
they threw me off, from behind one of them, in a slough of mire;
and set spurs and away, like three German devils, three Doctor
Faustuses.

HOST.

They are gone but to meet the Duke, villain; do not say they be
fled; Germans are honest men.

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS.]

EVANS.

Where is mine host?

HOST.

What is the matter, sir?

EVANS.

Have a care of your entertainments: there is a friend of mine come
to town tells me there is three cozen-germans that has cozened all
the hosts of Readins, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and
money. I tell you for good will, look you; you are wise, and full
of gibes and vlouting-stogs, and 'tis not convenient you should be
cozened. Fare you well.

[Exit.]

[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS.]

CAIUS.

Vere is mine host de Jarteer?

HOST.

Here, Master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.

CAIUS.

I cannot tell vat is dat; but it is tell-a me dat you make grand
preparation for a Duke de Jamany. By my trot, dere is no duke that
the court is know to come; I tell you for good will: Adieu.

[Exit.]

HOST.

Hue and cry, villain, go! Assist me, knight; I am undone. Fly,
run, hue and cry, villain; I am undone!

[Exeunt HOST and BARDOLPH.]

FALSTAFF.

I would all the world might be cozened, for I have been cozened and
beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court how I have
been transformed, and how my transformation hath been washed and
cudgelled, they would melt me out of my fat, drop by drop, and
liquor fishermen's boots with me; I warrant they would whip me
with their fine wits till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear.
I never prospered since I forswore myself at primero. Well, if my
wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

Now! whence come you?

QUICKLY.

From the two parties, forsooth.

FALSTAFF.

The devil take one party and his dam the other! And so they shall
be both bestowed. I have suffered more for their sakes, more than
the villainous inconstancy of man's disposition is able to bear.

QUICKLY.

And have not they suffered? Yes, I warrant; speciously one of them;
Mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you
cannot see a white spot about her.

FALSTAFF.

What tellest thou me of black and blue? I was beaten myself into
all the colours of the rainbow; and was like to be apprehended for
the witch of Brainford. But that my admirable dexterity of wit,
my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, delivered me, the
knave constable had set me i' the stocks, i' the common stocks,
for a witch.

QUICKLY.

Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber; you shall hear how
things go, and, I warrant, to your content. Here is a letter will
say somewhat. Good hearts, what ado here is to bring you together!
Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that you are so crossed.

FALSTAFF.

Come up into my chamber.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 6. Another room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter FENTON and HOST.]

HOST.

Master Fenton, talk not to me; my mind is heavy; I will give over all.

FENTON.

Yet hear me speak. Assist me in my purpose,
And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee
A hundred pound in gold more than your loss.

HOST.

I will hear you, Master Fenton; and I will, at the least, keep your
counsel.

FENTON.

From time to time I have acquainted you
With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page,
Who, mutually, hath answered my affection,
So far forth as herself might be her chooser,
Even to my wish. I have a letter from her
Of such contents as you will wonder at;
The mirth whereof so larded with my matter
That neither, singly, can be manifested
Without the show of both; wherein fat Falstaff
Hath a great scare: the image of the jest
I'll show you here at large. Hark, good mine host:
To-night at Herne's oak, just 'twixt twelve and one,
Must my sweet Nan present the Fairy Queen;
The purpose why is here: in which disguise,
While other jests are something rank on foot,
Her father hath commanded her to slip
Away with Slender, and with him at Eton
Immediately to marry; she hath consented:
Now, sir,
Her mother, even strong against that match
And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed
That he shall likewise shuffle her away,
While other sports are tasking of their minds;
And at the deanery, where a priest attends,
Straight marry her: to this her mother's plot
She seemingly obedient likewise hath
Made promise to the doctor. Now thus it rests:
Her father means she shall be all in white;
And in that habit, when Slender sees his time
To take her by the hand and bid her go,
She shall go with him: her mother hath intended
The better to denote her to the doctor,—
For they must all be mask'd and vizarded—
That quaint in green she shall be loose enrob'd,
With ribands pendent, flaring 'bout her head;
And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe,
To pinch her by the hand: and, on that token,
The maid hath given consent to go with him.

HOST.

Which means she to deceive, father or mother?

FENTON.

Both, my good host, to go along with me:
And here it rests, that you'll procure the vicar
To stay for me at church, 'twixt twelve and one,
And in the lawful name of marrying,
To give our hearts united ceremony.

HOST.

Well, husband your device; I'll to the vicar.
Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a priest.

FENTON.

So shall I evermore be bound to thee;
Besides, I'll make a present recompense.

[Exeunt.]

ACT V.

SCENE 1. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

FALSTAFF.

Prithee, no more prattling; go: I'll hold. This is the third time;
I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. Away! go. They say there is
divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. Away!

QUICKLY.

I'll provide you a chain, and I'll do what I can to get you a pair
of horns.

FALSTAFF.

Away, I say; time wears; hold up your head, and mince.

[Exit MRS. QUICKLY.]

[Enter FORD.]

How now, Master Brook! Master Brook, the matter will be known

tonight, or never. Be you in the Park about midnight, at Herne's
oak, and you shall see wonders.

FORD.

Went you not to her yesterday, sir, as you told me you had appointed?

FALSTAFF.

I went to her, Master Brook, as you see, like a poor old man; but
I came from her, Master Brook, like a poor old woman. That same
knave Ford, her husband, hath the finest mad devil of jealousy
in him, Master Brook, that ever governed frenzy. I will tell you:
he beat me grievously in the shape of a woman; for in the shape
of man, Master Brook, I fear not Goliath with a weaver's beam,
because I know also life is a shuttle. I am in haste; go along
with me; I'll tell you all, Master Brook. Since I plucked geese,
played truant, and whipped top, I knew not what 'twas to be beaten
till lately. Follow me: I'll tell you strange things of this knave
Ford, on whom to-night I will be revenged, and I will deliver his
wife into your hand. Follow. Strange things in hand, Master Brook!
Follow.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 2. Windsor Park.

[Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.]

PAGE.

Come, come; we'll couch i' the castle-ditch till we see the light
of our fairies. Remember, son Slender, my daughter.

SLENDER.

Ay, forsooth; I have spoke with her, and we have a nay-word how
to know one another. I come to her in white and cry 'mum'; she
cries 'budget,' and by that we know one another.

SHALLOW.

That's good too; but what needs either your 'mum' or her 'budget'?
The white will decipher her well enough. It hath struck ten o'clock.

PAGE.

The night is dark; light and spirits will become it well. Heaven
prosper our sport! No man means evil but the devil, and we shall
know him by his horns. Let's away; follow me.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 3. The street in Windsor.

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and DOCTOR CAIUS.]

MRS. PAGE.

Master Doctor, my daughter is in green; when you see your time,
take her by the hand, away with her to the deanery, and dispatch
it quickly. Go before into the Park; we two must go together.

CAIUS.

I know vat I have to do; adieu.

MRS. PAGE.

Fare you well, sir. [Exit CAIUS.] My husband will not rejoice so
much at the abuse of Falstaff as he will chafe at the doctor's
marrying my daughter; but 'tis no matter; better a little chiding
than a great deal of heart break.

MRS. FORD.

Where is Nan now, and her troop of fairies, and the Welsh devil,
Hugh?

MRS. PAGE.

They are all couched in a pit hard by Herne's oak, with obscured
lights; which, at the very instant of Falstaff's and our meeting,
they will at once display to the night.

MRS. FORD.

That cannot choose but amaze him.

MRS. PAGE.

If he be not amazed, he will be mocked; if he be amazed, he will
every way be mocked.

MRS. FORD.

We'll betray him finely.

MRS. PAGE.

Against such lewdsters and their lechery,
Those that betray them do no treachery.

MRS. FORD.

The hour draws on: to the oak, to the oak!

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 4. Windsor Park

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS, disguised, with others as Fairies.]

EVANS.

Trib, trib, fairies; come; and remember your parts. Be pold,
I pray you; follow me into the pit; and when I give the watch-ords,
do as I pid you. Come, come; trib, trib.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 5. Another part of the Park.

[Enter FALSTAFF disguised as HERNE with a buck's head on.]

FALSTAFF.

The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute draws on. Now the
hot-blooded gods assist me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for
thy Europa; love set on thy horns. O powerful love! that in some
respects, makes a beast a man; in some other a man a beast. You
were also, Jupiter, a swan, for the love of Leda. O omnipotent love!
how near the god drew to the complexion of a goose! A fault done
first in the form of a beast; O Jove, a beastly fault! and then
another fault in the semblance of a fowl: think on't, Jove, a foul
fault! When gods have hot backs what shall poor men do? For me,
I am here a Windsor stag; and the fattest, I think, i' the forest.
Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow?
Who comes here? my doe?

[Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. FORD.

Sir John! Art thou there, my deer? my male deer?

FALSTAFF.

My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes; let it
thunder to the tune of 'Greensleeves'; hail kissing-comfits and
snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will
shelter me here.

[Embracing her.]

MRS. FORD.

Mistress Page is come with me, sweetheart.

FALSTAFF.

Divide me like a brib'd buck, each a haunch; I will keep my sides
to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk, and my horns
I bequeath your husbands. Am I a woodman, ha? Speak I like Herne
the hunter? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience; he makes
restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

[Noise within.]

MRS. PAGE.

Alas! what noise?

MRS. FORD.

Heaven forgive our sins!

FALSTAFF.

What should this be?

MRS. FORD.

Away, away!

MRS. PAGE.

Away, away!

[They run off.]

FALSTAFF.

I think the devil will not have me damned, lest the oil that's
in me should set hell on fire; he would never else cross me thus.

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS like a Satyr, PISTOL as a Hobgoblin, ANNE

PAGE as the the Fairy Queen, attended by her Brothers and Others,
as fairies, with waxen tapers on their heads.]

ANNE.

Fairies, black, grey, green, and white,
You moonshine revellers, and shades of night,
You orphan heirs of fixed destiny,
Attend your office and your quality.
Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.

PISTOL.

Elves, list your names: silence, you airy toys!
Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap:
Where fires thou find'st unrak'd, and hearths unswept,
There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry:
Our radiant Queen hates sluts and sluttery.

FALSTAFF.

They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die:
I'll wink and couch: no man their works must eye.

[Lies down upon his face.]

EVANS.

Where's Bede? Go you, and where you find a maid
That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said,
Rein up the organs of her fantasy,
Sleep she as sound as careless infancy;
But those as sleep and think not on their sins,
Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins.

ANNE.

About, about!
Search Windsor castle, elves, within and out:
Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room,
That it may stand till the perpetual doom,
In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit,
Worthy the owner and the owner it.
The several chairs of order look you scour
With juice of balm and every precious flower:
Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest,
With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!
And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring:
The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;
And 'Honi soit qui mal y pense' write
In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue and white;
Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee.
Fairies use flowers for their charactery.
Away! disperse! But, till 'tis one o'clock,
Our dance of custom round about the oak
Of Herne the hunter let us not forget.

EVANS.

Pray you, lock hand in hand; yourselves in order set;
And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,
To guide our measure round about the tree.
But, stay; I smell a man of middle-earth.

FALSTAFF.

Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he transform me
to a piece of cheese!

PISTOL.

Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.

ANNE.

With trial-fire touch me his finger-end:
If he be chaste, the flame will back descend
And turn him to no pain; but if he start,
It is the flesh of a corrupted heart.

PISTOL.

A trial! come.

EVANS.

Come, will this wood take fire?

[They burn him with their tapers.]

FALSTAFF.

Oh, oh, oh!

ANNE.

Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!
About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme;
And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.

SONG.

Fie on sinful fantasy!
Fie on lust and luxury!
Lust is but a bloody fire,
Kindled with unchaste desire,
Fed in heart, whose flames aspire,
As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher.
Pinch him, fairies, mutually;
Pinch him for his villany;
Pinch him and burn him and turn him about,
Till candles and star-light and moonshine be out.

[During this song the Fairies pinch FALSTAFF. DOCTOR CAIUS comes one way, and steals away a fairy in green; SLENDER another way, and takes off a fairy in white; and FENTON comes, and steals away ANNE PAGE. A noise of hunting is heard within. All the fairies run away. FALSTAFF pulls off his buck's head, and rises.]

[Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD. They lay hold on FALSTAFF.]

PAGE.

Nay, do not fly; I think we have watch'd you now:
Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn?

MRS. PAGE.

I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher.
Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives?
See you these, husband? do not these fair yokes
Become the forest better than the town?

FORD.

Now, sir, who's a cuckold now? Master Brook, Falstaff's a knave,
a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, Master Brook; and, Master
Brook, he hath enjoyed nothing of Ford's but his buck-basket,
his cudgel, and twenty pounds of money, which must be paid to
Master Brook; his horses are arrested for it, Master Brook.

MRS. FORD.

Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never
take you for my love again; but I will always count you my deer.

FALSTAFF.

I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass.

FORD.

Ay, and an ox too; both the proofs are extant.

FALSTAFF.

And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought
they were not fairies; and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the
sudden surprise of my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery
into a received belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and
reason, that they were fairies. See now how wit may be made a
Jack-a-Lent when 'tis upon ill employment!

EVANS.

Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires, and fairies
will not pinse you.

FORD.

Well said, fairy Hugh.

EVANS.

And leave you your jealousies too, I pray you.

FORD.

I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able to woo her
in good English.

FALSTAFF.

Have I laid my brain in the sun, and dried it, that it wants matter
to prevent so gross o'er-reaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welsh
goat too? Shall I have a cox-comb of frieze? 'Tis time I were
choked with a piece of toasted cheese.

EVANS.

Seese is not good to give putter: your belly is all putter.

FALSTAFF.

'Seese' and 'putter'! Have I lived to stand at the taunt of one
that makes fritters of English? This is enough to be the decay
of lust and late-walking through the realm.

MRS. PAGE.

Why, Sir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue
out of our hearts by the head and shoulders, and have given
ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could
have made you our delight?

FORD.

What, a hodge-pudding? a bag of flax?

MRS. PAGE.

A puffed man?

PAGE.

Old, cold, withered, and of intolerable entrails?

FORD.

And one that is as slanderous as Satan?

PAGE.

And as poor as Job?

FORD.

And as wicked as his wife?

EVANS.

And given to fornications, and to taverns, and sack and wine, and
metheglins, and to drinkings and swearings and starings, pribbles
and prabbles?

FALSTAFF.

Well, I am your theme; you have the start of me; I am dejected;
I am not able to answer the Welsh flannel. Ignorance itself is
a plummet o'er me; use me as you will.

FORD.

Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one Master Brook, that
you have cozened of money, to whom you should have been a pander:
over and above that you have suffered, I think to repay that money
will be a biting affliction.

MRS. FORD.

Nay, husband, let that go to make amends;
Forget that sum, so we'll all be friends.

FORD.

Well, here's my hand: all is forgiven at last.

PAGE.

Yet be cheerful, knight; thou shalt eat a posset tonight at my
house; where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that now
laughs at thee. Tell her, Master Slender hath married her daughter.

MRS. PAGE.

[Aside] Doctors doubt that; if Anne Page be my daughter, she is,
by this, Doctor Caius' wife.

[Enter SLENDER.]

SLENDER.

Whoa, ho! ho! father Page!

PAGE.

Son, how now! how now, son! have you dispatched?

SLENDER.

Dispatched! I'll make the best in Gloucestershire know on't;
would I were hanged, la, else!

PAGE.

Of what, son?

SLENDER.

I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page, and she's a
great lubberly boy: if it had not been i' the church, I would
have swinged him, or he should have swinged me. If I did not
think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir! and 'tis
a postmaster's boy.

PAGE.

Upon my life, then, you took the wrong.

SLENDER.

What need you tell me that? I think so, when I took a boy for a
girl. If I had been married to him, for all he was in woman's
apparel, I would not have had him.

PAGE.

Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you how you should
know my daughter by her garments?

SLENDER.

I went to her in white and cried 'mum' and she cried 'budget'
as Anne and I had appointed; and yet it was not Anne, but a
postmaster's boy.

EVANS.

Jeshu! Master Slender, cannot you see put marry poys?

PAGE.

O I am vexed at heart: what shall I do?

MRS. PAGE.

Good George, be not angry: I knew of your purpose; turned my
daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the doctor at
the deanery, and there married.

[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS.]

CAIUS.

Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened; I ha' married un
garcon, a boy; un paysan, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page;
by gar, I am cozened.

MRS. PAGE.

Why, did you take her in green?

CAIUS.

Ay, by gar, and 'tis a boy: by gar, I'll raise all Windsor.

[Exit.]

FORD.

This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?

PAGE.

My heart misgives me; here comes Master Fenton.

[Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE.]

How now, Master Fenton!

ANNE.

Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon!

PAGE.

Now, Mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender?

MRS. PAGE.

Why went you not with Master Doctor, maid?

FENTON.

You do amaze her: hear the truth of it.
You would have married her most shamefully,
Where there was no proportion held in love.
The truth is, she and I, long since contracted,
Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.
The offence is holy that she hath committed,
And this deceit loses the name of craft,
Of disobedience, or unduteous title,
Since therein she doth evitate and shun
A thousand irreligious cursed hours,
Which forced marriage would have brought upon her.

FORD.

Stand not amaz'd: here is no remedy:
In love, the heavens themselves do guide the state:
Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.

FALSTAFF.

I am glad, though you have ta'en a special stand
to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanced.

PAGE.

Well, what remedy?—Fenton, heaven give thee joy!
What cannot be eschew'd must be embrac'd.

FALSTAFF.

When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas'd.

MRS. PAGE.

Well, I will muse no further. Master Fenton,
Heaven give you many, many merry days!
Good husband, let us every one go home,
And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
Sir John and all.

FORD.

Let it be so. Sir John,
To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word;
For he, to-night, shall lie with Mistress Ford.

[Exeunt.]

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.







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