The Complete Works of William Shakespeare The Merry Wives of Windsor

Part 2 out of 2

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, say'st 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

Enter FORD disguised

FORD. Bless you, sir!
FALSTAFF. Now, Master Brook, you come to know what
hath pass'd 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 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 embrac'd, kiss'd, 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
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
convey'd me into a buck-basket.
FORD. A buck-basket!
FALSTAFF. By the Lord, a buck-basket! Ramm'd 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
suffer'd to bring this woman to evil for your good. Being
thus cramm'd in the basket, a couple of Ford's knaves, his
hinds, were call'd 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 ask'd them once or twice what they had in their
basket. I quak'd for fear lest the lunatic knave would have
search'd 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 compass'd like a good bilbo in the
circumference of a peck, hilt to point, heel to head; and
then, to be stopp'd in, like a strong distillation, with
stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease. Think of
-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-stew'd in grease, like
a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cool'd,
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 suffer'd 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
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 halfpenny 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



Windsor. A street


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.


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?
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,
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.
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?
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
WILLIAM. Forsooth, I have forgot.
EVANS. It is qui, quae, quod; if you forget your qui's, your
quae's, and your quod's, 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


FORD'S house


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 hoa, gossip Ford, what hoa!
MRS. FORD. Step into th' chamber, Sir John. Exit FALSTAFF


MRS. PAGE. How now, sweetheart, who's at home besides
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. 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 seem'd 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 search'd 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 sham'd, 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?


FALSTAFF. No, I'll come no more i' th' 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
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
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 disguis'd.
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 thrumm'd 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
threat'ned 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


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.


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 sham'd. 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 pinion'd.
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.


Come hither, Mistress Ford; 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 asham'd? 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 convey'd
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
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.
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 search'd 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 th' figure, and such daub'ry 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, and MISTRESS PAGE

MRS. PAGE. Come, Mother Prat; come. give me your hand.
FORD. I'll prat her. [Beating him] Out of my door, you
witch, you hag, you. baggage, you polecat, you ronyon!
Out, out! I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you.
MRS. PAGE. Are you not asham'd? I think you have kill'd 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 his 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 all but MRS. FORD and MRS. PAGE
MRS. PAGE. Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.
MRS. FORD. Nay, by th' mass, that he did not; he beat him
most unpitifully methought.
MRS. PAGE. I'll have the cudgel hallow'd 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 scar'd 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 serv'd
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
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 sham'd;
and methinks there would be no period to the jest, should
he not be publicly sham'd.
MRS. PAGE. Come, to the forge with it then; shape it. I
would not have things cool. Exeunt


The Garter Inn


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 turn'd away my other guests. They must
come off; I'll sauce them. Come. Exeunt


FORD'S house


EVANS. 'Tis one of the best discretions of a oman as ever
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 punish'd; 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
Receiv'd, 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 Herme, 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
Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,
And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphes, 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 nev'r 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
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.
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


The Garter Inn


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;
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
I come to speak with her, indeed.
HOST. Ha! a fat woman? The knight may be robb'd. I'll call.
Bully knight! Bully Sir John! Speak from thy lungs
military. Art thou there? It is thine host, thine Ephesian,
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!


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
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 beguil'd 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
beguil'd Master Slender of his chain cozen'd 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
SIMPLE. May I be bold to say so, sir?
FALSTAFF. Ay, sir, like who more bold?
SIMPLE., I thank your worship; I shall make my master glad
with these tidings. Exit SIMPLE
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 learn'd before in my life;
and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my


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.


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 cozen'd all the hosts of Readins,
of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you
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


CAIUS. Vere is mine host de Jarteer?
HOST. Here, Master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful
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.
FALSTAFF. I would all the world might be cozen'd, for I have
been cozen'd and beaten too. If it should come to the ear
of the court how I have been transformed, and how my
transformation hath been wash'd and cudgell'd, 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 crestfall'n as a dried
I never prosper'd since I forswore myself at primero. Well,
if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers,
would repent.


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 suffer'd more
for their sakes, more than the villainous inconstancy of
man's disposition is able to bear.
QUICKLY. And have not they suffer'd? 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 tell'st 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, deliver'd me, the knave constable
had set me i' th' stocks, i' th' 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 cross'd.
FALSTAFF. Come up into my chamber. Exeunt


The Garter Inn


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 the
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 answer'd 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. Fat Falstaff
Hath a great scene. 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 dean'ry, 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



The Garter Inn


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 disguised

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 govern'd 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 pluck'd geese,
play'd truant, and whipp'd top, I knew not what 'twas to
be beaten till lately. Follow me. I'll tell you strange
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


Windsor Park


PAGE. Come, come; we'll couch i' th' Castle ditch till we
see the light of our fairies. Remember, son Slender, my
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


A street leading to the Park


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
MRS. FORD. Where is Nan now, and her troop of fairies, and
the Welsh devil, Hugh?
MRS. PAGE. They are all couch'd in a pit hard by Herne's
oak, with obscur'd lights; which, at the very instant of
Falstaff's and our meeting, they will at once display to the
MRS. FORD. That cannot choose but amaze him.
MRS. PAGE. If he be not amaz'd, he will be mock'd; if he be
amaz'd, he will every way be mock'd.
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!


Windsor Park

Enter SIR HUGH EVANS like a satyr, 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


Another part of the Park

Enter FALSTAFF disguised as HERNE

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
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' th' forest. Send me a cool
rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow?
Who comes here? my doe?


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! [A noise of horns]
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 damn'd, 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, ANNE PAGE as
a fairy, and OTHERS as the Fairy Queen, fairies, and
Hobgoblin; all with tapers

FAIRY QUEEN. 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.
PUCK. 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 Pede? Go you, and where you find a maid
That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said,
Raise 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.
FAIRY QUEEN. 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 sev'ral crest,
With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!
And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring;
Th' 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 em'rald tufts, flow'rs purple, blue and white;
Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee.
Fairies use flow'rs 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!
PUCK. Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.
FAIRY QUEEN. 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.
PUCK. A trial, come.
EVANS. Come, will this wood take fire?
[They put the tapers to his fingers, and he starts]
FALSTAFF. Oh, oh, oh!
FAIRY QUEEN. Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!
About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme;
And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.
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 villainy;
Pinch him and burn him and turn him about,
Till candles and star-light and moonshine be out.

During this song they 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 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


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 receiv'd 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 chok'd with a piece of
toasted cheese.
EVANS. Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all
FALSTAFF. 'Seese' and 'putter'! Have I liv'd 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 puff'd man?
PAGE. Old, cold, wither'd, 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 cozen'd of money, to whom you
should have been a pander. Over and above that you have
suffer'd, I think to repay that money will be a biting
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.


SLENDER. Whoa, ho, ho, father Page!
PAGE. Son, how now! how now, son! Have you dispatch'd'?
SLENDER. Dispatch'd! I'll make the best in Gloucestershire
know on't; would I were hang'd, 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'
th' church, I would have swing'd him, or he should have
swing'd 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.
MRS. PAGE. Good George, be not angry. I knew of your
purpose; turn'd my daughter into green; and, indeed, she
is now with the Doctor at the dean'ry, and there married.


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, be gar, and 'tis a boy; be gar, I'll raise all
Windsor. Exit CAIUS
FORD. This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?
PAGE. My heart misgives me; here comes Master Fenton.


How now, Master Fenton!
ANNE. Pardon, good father. Good my mother, pardon.
PAGE. Now, Mistress, how chance you went not with Master
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.
Th' 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 glanc'd.
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




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