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The Merry Wives of Windsor
by William Shakespeare [Craig, Oxford edition]
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THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

by William Shakespeare



DRAMATIS PERSONAE

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



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.

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