The Merry Wives of Windsor
William Shakespeare [Craig, Oxford edition]
Part 1 out of 3
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
by William Shakespeare
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 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
SCENE 1. Windsor. Before PAGE'S house.
[Enter JUSTICE SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS.]
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.
In the county of Gloucester, Justice of Peace, and 'coram.'
Ay, cousin Slender, and 'cust-alorum.'
Ay, and 'rato-lorum' too; and a gentleman born, Master Parson,
who writes himself 'armigero' in any bill, warrant, quittance,
Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three hundred years.
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.
It is an old coat.
The dozen white louses do become an old coat well; it agrees well,
passant; it is a familiar beast to man, and signifies love.
The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old
I may quarter, coz?
You may, by marrying.
It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
Not a whit.
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.
The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.
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.
Ha! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.
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.
Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.
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.
Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?
Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.
I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.
Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is goot gifts.
Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff there?
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!
[Within.] Who's there?
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.
I am glad to see your worships well. I thank you for my venison,
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
Sir, I thank you.
Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.
I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.
How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say he was outrun on
It could not be judged, sir.
You'll not confess, you'll not confess.
That he will not: 'tis your fault; 'tis your fault. 'Tis a good dog.
A cur, sir.
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?
Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good office
It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.
He hath wronged me, Master Page.
Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.
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.
Here comes Sir John.
[Enter SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, BARDOLPH, NYM, and PISTOL.]
Now, Master Shallow, you'll complain of me to the King?
Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my
But not kiss'd your keeper's daughter?
Tut, a pin! this shall be answered.
I will answer it straight: I have done all this. That is now answered.
The Council shall know this.
'Twere better for you if it were known in counsel: you'll be laughed
Pauca verba, Sir John; goot worts.
Good worts! good cabbage! Slender, I broke your head; what matter
have you against me?
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.
You Banbury cheese!
Ay, it is no matter.
How now, Mephostophilus!
Ay, it is no matter.
Slice, I say! pauca, pauca; slice! That's my humour.
Where's Simple, my man? Can you tell, cousin?
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.
We three to hear it and end it between them.
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.
He hears with ears.
The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this, 'He hears with ear'?
Why, it is affectations.
Pistol, did you pick Master Slender's purse?
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.
Is this true, Pistol?
No, it is false, if it is a pick-purse.
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.
By these gloves, then, 'twas he.
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
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
What say you, Scarlet and John?
Why, sir, for my part, I say the gentleman had drunk himself out of
his five sentences.
It is his 'five senses'; fie, what the ignorance is!
And being fap, sir, was, as they say, cashier'd; and so conclusions
passed the careires.
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.
So Got udge me, that is a virtuous mind.
You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen; you hear it.
[Enter ANNE PAGE with wine; MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.]
Nay, daughter, carry the wine in; we'll drink within.
[Exit ANNE PAGE.]
O heaven! this is Mistress Anne Page.
How now, Mistress Ford!
Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well met; by your leave,
good mistress. [Kissing her.]
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.]
I had rather than forty shillings I had my Book of Songs and Sonnets
How, Simple! Where have you been? I must wait on myself, must I? You
have not the Book of Riddles about you, have you?
Book of Riddles! why, did you not lend it to Alice Shortcake upon
Allhallowmas last, a fortnight afore Michaelmas?
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?
Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable; if it be so, I shall do that
that is reason.
Nay, but understand me.
So I do, sir.
Give ear to his motions, Master Slender: I will description the
matter to you, if you pe capacity of it.
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.
But that is not the question; the question is concerning your marriage.
Ay, there's the point, sir.
Marry is it; the very point of it; to Mistress Anne Page.
Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon any reasonable demands.
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?
Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?
I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one that would do reason.
Nay, Got's lords and his ladies! you must speak possitable, if you can
carry her your desires towards her.
That you must. Will you, upon good dowry, marry her?
I will do a greater thing than that upon your request, cousin, in any
Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz; what I do is to pleasure
you, coz. Can you love the maid?
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.
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.
Ay, I think my cousin meant well.
Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la!
Here comes fair Mistress Anne.
[Re-enter ANNE PAGE.]
Would I were young for your sake, Mistress Anne!
The dinner is on the table; my father desires your worships' company.
I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne!
Od's plessed will! I will not be absence at the grace.
[Exeunt SHALLOW and EVANS.]
Will't please your worship to come in, sir?
No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I am very well.
The dinner attends you, sir.
I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go, sirrah, for all you are
my man, go wait upon my cousin Shallow.
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.
I may not go in without your worship: they will not sit till you come.
I' faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you as much as though I did.
I pray you, sir, walk in.
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'
I think there are, sir; I heard them talked of.
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?
Ay, indeed, sir.
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.
Come, gentle Master Slender, come; we stay for you.
I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! come, come.
Nay, pray you lead the way.
Come on, sir.
Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
Not I, sir; pray you keep on.
Truly, I will not go first; truly, la! I will not do you that wrong.
I pray you, sir.
I'll rather be unmannerly than troublesome. You do yourself wrong
SCENE 2. The same.
[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS and SIMPLE.]
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.
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.
SCENE 3. A room in the Garter Inn.
[Enter FALSTAFF, HOST, BARDOLPH, NYM, PISTOL, and ROBIN.]
Mine host of the Garter!
What says my bully rook? Speak scholarly and wisely.
Truly, mine host, I must turn away some of my followers.
Discard, bully Hercules; cashier; let them wag; trot, trot.
I sit at ten pounds a week.
Thou'rt an emperor, Caesar, Keiser, and Pheazar. I will entertain
Bardolph; he shall draw, he shall tap; said I well, bully Hector?
Do so, good mine host.
I have spoke; let him follow. [To BARDOLPH] Let me see thee froth and
lime. I am at a word; follow.
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.
It is a life that I have desired; I will thrive.
O base Hungarian wight! Wilt thou the spigot wield?
He was gotten in drink. Is not the humour conceited?
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.
The good humour is to steal at a minim's rest.
'Convey' the wise it call. 'Steal!' foh! A fico for the phrase!
Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels.
Why, then, let kibes ensue.
There is no remedy; I must cony-catch; I must shift.
Young ravens must have food.
Which of you know Ford of this town?
I ken the wight; he is of substance good.
My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about.
Two yards, and more.
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.'
He hath studied her will, and translated her will out of honesty into
The anchor is deep; will that humour pass?
Now, the report goes she has all the rule of her husband's purse; he
hath a legion of angels.
As many devils entertain; and 'To her, boy,' say I.
The humour rises; it is good; humour me the angels.
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.
Then did the sun on dunghill shine.
I thank thee for that humour.
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.
Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become,
And by my side wear steel? then Lucifer take all!
I will run no base humour. Here, take the humour-letter; I will keep
the haviour of reputation.
[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.]
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!
I have operations in my head which be humours of revenge.
Wilt thou revenge?
By welkin and her star!
With wit or steel?
With both the humours, I:
I will discuss the humour of this love to Page.
And I to Ford shall eke unfold
How Falstaff, varlet vile,
His dove will prove, his gold will hold,
And his soft couch defile.
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.
Thou art the Mars of malcontents; I second thee; troop on.
SCENE 4. A room in DOCTOR CAIUS'S house.
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY, and SIMPLE.]
What, John 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
I'll go watch.
Go; and we'll have a posset for't soon at night, in faith, at the
latter end of a sea-coal fire.
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?
Ay, for fault of a better.
And Master Slender's your master?
Does he not wear a great round beard, like a glover's paring-knife?
No, forsooth; he hath but a little whey face, with a little yellow
beard--a cane-coloured beard.
A softly-sprighted man, is he not?
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.
How say you?--O! I should remember him. Does he not hold up his head,
as it were, and strut in his gait?
Yes, indeed, does he.
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--
Out, alas! here comes my master.
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.
[Sings.] And down, down, adown-a, &c.
[Enter DOCTOR 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.
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.
Fe, fe, fe fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Je m'en vais a la cour--
la grande affaire.
Is it this, sir?
Oui; mettez le au mon pocket: depechez, quickly--Vere is dat knave,
What, John Rugby? John!
You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby: come, take-a your rapier,
and come after my heel to de court.
'Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.
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.
[Aside.] Ay me, he'll find the young man there, and be mad!
O diable, diable! vat is in my closet?--Villainy! larron!
[Pulling SIMPLE out.] Rugby, my rapier!
Good master, be content.
Verefore shall I be content-a?
The young man is an honest man.
What shall de honest man do in my closet? dere is no honest man dat
shall come in my closet.
I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truth of it: he came of
an errand to me from Parson Hugh.
Ay, forsooth, to desire her to--
Peace, I pray you.
Peace-a your tongue!--Speak-a your tale.
To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, to speak a good word to
Mistress Anne Page for my master, in the way of marriage.
This is all, indeed, la! but I'll ne'er put my finger in the fire,
and need not.
Sir Hugh send-a you?--Rugby, baillez me some paper: tarry you a
little-a while. [Writes.]
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--
'Tis a great charge to come under one body's hand.
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.
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.
Alas, he speaks but for his friend.
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.
Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. We must give folks
leave to prate: what, the good-jer!
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.]
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.
[Within.] Who's within there? ho!
Who's there, I trow? Come near the house, I pray you.
How now, good woman! how dost thou?
The better, that it pleases your good worship to ask.
What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?
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.
Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? Shall I not lose my suit?
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?
Yes, marry, have I; what of that?
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.
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.
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.
Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.
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?
SCENE 1. Before PAGE'S house
[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, with a letter.]
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.
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might,
For thee to fight,
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.]
Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your house.
And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look very ill.
Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to show to the contrary.
Faith, but you do, in my mind.
Well, I do, then; yet, I say, I could show you to the contrary.
O, Mistress Page! give me some counsel.
What's the matter, woman?
O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to
Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour. What is it?--Dispense with
trifles;--what is it?
If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment or so, I could be
What? thou liest. Sir Alice Ford! These knights will hack; and so
thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.
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?
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.
Why, this is the very same; the very hand, the very words. What doth
he think of us?
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.
'Boarding' call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.
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.
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.
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
You are the happier woman.
Let's consult together against this greasy knight. Come hither.
[Enter FORD, PISTOL, and PAGE and NYM.]
Well, I hope it be not so.
Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs:
Sir John affects thy wife.
Why, sir, my wife is not young.
He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,
Both young and old, one with another, Ford;
He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.
Love my wife!
With liver burning hot: prevent, or go thou,
Like Sir Actaeon he, with Ringwood at thy heels.--
O! odious is the name!
What name, sir?
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.
[Aside] I will be patient: I will find out this.
[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.
[Aside.] 'The humour of it,' quoth 'a! Here's a fellow frights
English out of his wits.
I will seek out Falstaff.
I never heard such a drawling, affecting rogue.
If I do find it: well.
I will not believe such a Cataian, though the priest o' the town
commended him for a true man.
'Twas a good sensible fellow: well.
How now, Meg!
Whither go you, George?--Hark you.
How now, sweet Frank! why art thou melancholy?
I melancholy! I am not melancholy. Get you home, go.
Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now. Will you go,
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.
[Aside to MRS. PAGE] Trust me, I thought on her: she'll fit it.
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]
You are come to see my daughter Anne?
Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does good Mistress Anne?
Go in with us and see; we'd have an hour's talk with you.
[Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and MISTRESS QUICKLY.]
How now, Master Ford!
You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
Yes; and you heard what the other told me?
Do you think there is truth in them?
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.
Were they his men?
Marry, were they.
I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at the Garter?
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.
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.
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!
How now, bully-rook! Thou'rt a gentleman. Cavaliero-justice, I say!
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.
Tell him, cavaliero-justice; tell him, bully-rook.
Sir, there is a fray to be fought between Sir Hugh the Welsh priest
and Caius the French doctor.
Good mine host o' the Garter, a word with you.
What say'st thou, my bully-rook?
[They go aside.]
[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.]
Hast thou no suit against my knight, my guest-cavaliero?
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.
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?
Have with you, mine host.
I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill in his rapier.
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.
Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?
Have with you. I had rather hear them scold than fight.
[Exeunt HOST, SHALLOW, and PAGE.]
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.
SCENE 2. A room in the Garter Inn.
[Enter FALSTAFF and PISTOL.]
I will not lend thee a penny.
Why then, the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
I will retort the sum in equipage.
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.
Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen pence?
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!
I do relent; what wouldst thou more of man?
Sir, here's a woman would speak with you.
Let her approach.
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]
Give your worship good morrow.
Good morrow, good wife.
Not so, an't please your worship.
Good maid, then.
I'll be sworn; As my mother was, the first hour I was born.
I do believe the swearer. What with me?
Shall I vouchsafe your worship a word or two?
Two thousand, fair woman; and I'll vouchsafe thee the hearing.
There is one Mistress Ford, sir,--I pray, come a little nearer this
ways:--I myself dwell with Master Doctor Caius.
Well, on: Mistress Ford, you say,--
Your worship says very true;--I pray your worship come a little
nearer this ways.
I warrant thee nobody hears--mine own people, mine own people.
Are they so? God bless them, and make them His servants!
Well: Mistress Ford, what of her?
Why, sir, she's a good creature. Lord, Lord! your worship's a wanton!
Well, heaven forgive you, and all of us, I pray.
Mistress Ford; come, Mistress Ford--
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.
But what says she to me? be brief, my good she-Mercury.
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.
Ten and eleven?
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.
Ten and eleven. Woman, commend me to her; I will not fail her.
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.
Not I, I assure thee; setting the attraction of my good parts aside,
I have no other charms.
Blessing on your heart for 't!
But, I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford's wife and Page's wife
acquainted each other how they love me?
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.
Why, I will.
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.
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.
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!
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,
[Enter BARDOLPH, with a cup of sack.]
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.
Brook is his name?
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.]
Bless you, sir!
And you, sir; would you speak with me?
I make bold to press with so little preparation upon
You're welcome. What's your will?--Give us leave, drawer.
Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent much: my name is Brook.
Good Master Brook, I desire more acquaintance of you.
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.
Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.
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
Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your porter.
I will tell you, sir, if you will give me the hearing.
Speak, good Master Brook; I shall be glad to be your servant.
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.
Very well, sir; proceed.
There is a gentlewoman in this town, her husband's name is 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.
Have you received no promise of satisfaction at her hands?
Have you importuned her to such a purpose?
Of what quality was your love, then?
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.
To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?
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.
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.
Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I
should win what you would enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself
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?
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.
O good sir!
I say you shall.
Want no money, Sir John; you shall want none.
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.
I am blest in your acquaintance. Do you know Ford, sir?
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
I would you knew Ford, sir, that you might avoid him if you saw him.
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.
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!
SCENE 3. A field near Windsor.
[Enter CAIUS and RUGBY.]
Vat is de clock, Jack?
'Tis past the hour, sir, that Sir Hugh promised to meet.
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.
He is wise, sir; he knew your worship would kill him if he came.
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.
Alas, sir, I cannot fence!
Villany, take your rapier.
Forbear; here's company.
[Enter HOST, SHALLOW, SLENDER, and PAGE.]
Bless thee, bully doctor!
Save you, Master Doctor Caius!
Now, good Master Doctor!
Give you good morrow, sir.
Vat be all you, one, two, tree, four, come for?
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
By gar, he is de coward Jack priest of de world; he is not show
Thou art a Castalion King Urinal! Hector of Greece, my boy!
I pray you, bear witness that me have stay six or seven, two, tree
hours for him, and he is no come.
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?
Master Shallow, you have yourself been a great fighter, though now
a man of peace.
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.
'Tis true, Master 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.
Pardon, guest-justice.--A word, Monsieur Mockwater.
Mock-vater! Vat is dat?
Mockwater, in our English tongue, is valour, bully.
By gar, then I have as much mockvater as de Englishman.--Scurvy
jack-dog priest! By gar, me vill cut his ears.
He will clapper-claw thee tightly, bully.
Clapper-de-claw! Vat is dat?
That is, he will make thee amends.
By gar, me do look he shall clapper-de-claw me; for, by gar, me
vill have it.
And I will provoke him to't, or let him wag.
Me tank you for dat.
And, moreover, bully--but first: Master guest, and Master Page,
and eke Cavaliero Slender, go you through the town to Frogmore.
[Aside to them.]
Sir Hugh is there, is he?
He is there: see what humour he is in; and I will bring the
doctor about by the fields. Will it do well?
We will do it.
PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.
Adieu, good Master Doctor.
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