The Merry Wives of Windsor


Scene I A field near Frogmore.

SIR HUGH EVANS I pray you now, good master Slender's serving-man,
and friend Simple by your name, which way have you
looked for Master Caius, that calls himself doctor of physic?
SIMPLE Marry, sir, the pittie-ward, the park-ward, every
way; old Windsor way, and every way but the town
SIR HUGH EVANS I most fehemently desire you you will also look that
SIMPLE I will, sir.
SIR HUGH EVANS 'Pless my soul, how full of chollors I am, and
trempling of mind! I shall be glad if he have
deceived me. How melancholies I am! I will knog
his urinals about his knave's costard when I have
good opportunities for the ork. 'Pless my soul!
To shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sings madrigals;
There will we make our peds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies.
To shallow--
Mercy on me! I have a great dispositions to cry.
Melodious birds sing madrigals--
When as I sat in Pabylon--
And a thousand vagram posies.
To shallow &c.
[Re-enter SIMPLE]
SIMPLE Yonder he is coming, this way, Sir Hugh.
SIR HUGH EVANS He's welcome.
To shallow rivers, to whose falls-
Heaven prosper the right! What weapons is he?
SIMPLE No weapons, sir. There comes my master, Master
Shallow, and another gentleman, from Frogmore, over
the stile, this way.
SIR HUGH EVANS Pray you, give me my gown; or else keep it in your arms.
SHALLOW How now, master Parson! Good morrow, good Sir Hugh.
Keep a gamester from the dice, and a good student
from his book, and it is wonderful.
SLENDER [Aside] Ah, sweet Anne Page!
PAGE 'Save you, good Sir Hugh!
SIR HUGH EVANS 'Pless you from his mercy sake, all of you!
SHALLOW What, the sword and the word! do you study them
both, master parson?
PAGE And youthful still! in your doublet and hose this
raw rheumatic day!
SIR HUGH EVANS There is reasons and causes for it.
PAGE We are come to you to do a good office, master parson.
SIR HUGH EVANS Fery well: what is it?
PAGE Yonder is a most reverend gentleman, who, belike
having received wrong by some person, is at most
odds with his own gravity and patience that ever you
SHALLOW I have lived fourscore years and upward; I never
heard a man of his place, gravity and learning, so
wide of his own respect.
SIR HUGH EVANS What is he?
PAGE I think you know him; Master Doctor Caius, the
renowned French physician.
SIR HUGH EVANS Got's will, and his passion of my heart! I had as
lief you would tell me of a mess of porridge.
SIR HUGH EVANS He has no more knowledge in Hibocrates and Galen,
--and he is a knave besides; a cowardly knave as you
would desires to be acquainted withal.
PAGE I warrant you, he's the man should fight with him.
SHALLOW [Aside] O sweet Anne Page!
SHALLOW It appears so by his weapons. Keep them asunder:
here comes Doctor Caius.
[Enter Host, DOCTOR CAIUS, and RUGBY]
PAGE Nay, good master parson, keep in your weapon.
SHALLOW So do you, good master doctor.
Host Disarm them, and let them question: let them keep
their limbs whole and hack our English.
DOCTOR CAIUS I pray you, let-a me speak a word with your ear.
Vherefore vill you not meet-a me?
SIR HUGH EVANS [Aside to DOCTOR CAIUS] Pray you, use your patience:
in good time.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, you are de coward, de Jack dog, John ape.
SIR HUGH EVANS [Aside to DOCTOR CAIUS] Pray you let us not be
laughing-stocks to other men's humours; I desire you
in friendship, and I will one way or other make you amends.
I will knog your urinals about your knave's cockscomb
for missing your meetings and appointments.
DOCTOR CAIUS Diable! Jack Rugby,--mine host de Jarteer,--have I
not stay for him to kill him? have I not, at de place
I did appoint?
SIR HUGH EVANS As I am a Christians soul now, look you, this is the
place appointed: I'll be judgement by mine host of
the Garter.
Host Peace, I say, Gallia and Gaul, French and Welsh,
soul-curer and body-curer!
DOCTOR CAIUS Ay, dat is very good; excellent.
Host Peace, I say! hear mine host of the Garter. Am I
politic? am I subtle? am I a Machiavel? Shall I
lose my doctor? no; he gives me the potions and the
motions. Shall I lose my parson, my priest, my Sir
Hugh? no; he gives me the proverbs and the
no-verbs. Give me thy hand, terrestrial; so. Give me
thy hand, celestial; so. Boys of art, I have
deceived you both; I have directed you to wrong
places: your hearts are mighty, your skins are
whole, and let burnt sack be the issue. Come, lay
their swords to pawn. Follow me, lads of peace;
follow, follow, follow.
SHALLOW Trust me, a mad host. Follow, gentlemen, follow.
SLENDER [Aside] O sweet Anne Page!
[Exeunt SHALLOW, SLENDER, PAGE, and Host]
DOCTOR CAIUS Ha, do I perceive dat? have you make-a de sot of
us, ha, ha?
SIR HUGH EVANS This is well; he has made us his vlouting-stog. I
desire you that we may be friends; and let us knog
our prains together to be revenge on this same
scall, scurvy cogging companion, the host of the Garter.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, with all my heart. He promise to bring me
where is Anne Page; by gar, he deceive me too.
SIR HUGH EVANS Well, I will smite his noddles. Pray you, follow.

Scene II A street.

MISTRESS PAGE Nay, keep your way, little gallant; you were wont to
be a follower, but now you are a leader. Whether
had you rather lead mine eyes, or eye your master's heels?
ROBIN I had rather, forsooth, go before you like a man
than follow him like a dwarf.
MISTRESS PAGE O, you are a flattering boy: now I see you'll be a courtier.
[Enter FORD]
FORD Well met, Mistress Page. Whither go you?
MISTRESS PAGE Truly, sir, to see your wife. Is she at home?
FORD Ay; and as idle as she may hang together, for want
of company. I think, if your husbands were dead,
you two would marry.
MISTRESS PAGE Be sure of that,--two other husbands.
FORD Where had you this pretty weather-cock?
MISTRESS PAGE I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my
husband had him of. What do you call your knight's
name, sirrah?
ROBIN Sir John Falstaff.
FORD Sir John Falstaff!
MISTRESS PAGE He, he; I can never hit on's name. There is such a
league between my good man and he! Is your wife at
home indeed?
FORD Indeed she is.
MISTRESS PAGE By your leave, sir: I am sick till I see her.
FORD Has Page any brains? hath he any eyes? hath he any
thinking? Sure, they sleep; he hath no use of them.
Why, this boy will carry a letter twenty mile, as
easy as a cannon will shoot point-blank twelve
score. He pieces out his wife's inclination; he
gives her folly motion and advantage: and now she's
going to my wife, and Falstaff's boy with her. A
man may hear this shower sing in the wind. And
Falstaff's boy with her! Good plots, they are laid;
and our revolted wives share damnation together.
Well; I will take him, then torture my wife, pluck
the borrowed veil of modesty from the so seeming
Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and
wilful Actaeon; and to these violent proceedings all
my neighbours shall cry aim.
[Clock heard]
The clock gives me my cue, and my assurance bids me
search: there I shall find Falstaff: I shall be
rather praised for this than mocked; for it is as
positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is
there: I will go.


| Well met, Master Ford.
FORD Trust me, a good knot: I have good cheer at home;
and I pray you all go with me.
SHALLOW I must excuse myself, Master Ford.
SLENDER And so must I, sir: we have appointed to dine with
Mistress Anne, and I would not break with her for
more money than I'll speak of.
SHALLOW We have lingered about a match between Anne Page and
my cousin Slender, and this day we shall have our answer.
SLENDER I hope I have your good will, father Page.
PAGE You have, Master Slender; I stand wholly for you:
but my wife, master doctor, is for you altogether.
DOCTOR CAIUS Ay, be-gar; and de maid is love-a me: my nursh-a
Quickly tell me so mush.
Host What say you to young Master Fenton? he capers, he
dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he
speaks holiday, he smells April and May: he will
carry't, he will carry't; 'tis in his buttons; he
will carry't.
PAGE Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is
of no having: he kept company with the wild prince
and Poins; he is of too high a region; he knows too
much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his fortunes
with the finger of my substance: if he take her,
let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on
my consent, and my consent goes not that way.
FORD I beseech you heartily, some of you go home with me
to dinner: besides your cheer, you shall have
sport; I will show you a monster. Master doctor,
you shall go; so shall you, Master Page; and you, Sir Hugh.
SHALLOW Well, fare you well: we shall have the freer wooing
at Master Page's.
DOCTOR CAIUS Go home, John Rugby; I come anon.
[Exit RUGBY]
Host Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight
Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
FORD [Aside] I think I shall drink in pipe wine first
with him; I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles?
All Have with you to see this monster.

Scene III A room in FORD'S house.

MISTRESS FORD What, John! What, Robert!
MISTRESS PAGE Quickly, quickly! is the buck-basket--
MISTRESS FORD I warrant. What, Robin, I say!
[Enter Servants with a basket]
MISTRESS PAGE Come, come, come.
MISTRESS FORD Here, set it down.
MISTRESS PAGE Give your men the charge; we must be brief.
MISTRESS FORD Marry, as I told you before, John and Robert, be
ready here hard by in the brew-house: and when I
suddenly call you, come forth, and without any pause
or staggering take this basket on your shoulders:
that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry
it among the whitsters in Datchet-mead, and there
empty it in the muddy ditch close by the Thames side.
MISTRESS PAGE You will do it?
MISTRESS FORD I ha' told them over and over; they lack no
direction. Be gone, and come when you are called.
[Exeunt Servants]
MISTRESS PAGE Here comes little Robin.
[Enter ROBIN]
MISTRESS FORD How now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?
ROBIN My master, Sir John, is come in at your back-door,
Mistress Ford, and requests your company.
MISTRESS PAGE You little Jack-a-Lent, have you been true to us?
ROBIN Ay, I'll be sworn. My master knows not of your
being here and hath threatened to put me into
everlasting liberty if I tell you of it; for he
swears he'll turn me away.
MISTRESS PAGE Thou'rt a good boy: this secrecy of thine shall be
a tailor to thee and shall make thee a new doublet
and hose. I'll go hide me.
MISTRESS FORD Do so. Go tell thy master I am alone.
[Exit ROBIN]
Mistress Page, remember you your cue.
MISTRESS PAGE I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.
MISTRESS FORD Go to, then: we'll use this unwholesome humidity,
this gross watery pumpion; we'll teach him to know
turtles from jays.
FALSTAFF Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel? Why, now let
me die, for I have lived long enough: this is the
period of my ambition: O this blessed hour!
MISTRESS FORD O sweet Sir John!
FALSTAFF Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate,
Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would
thy husband were dead: I'll speak it before the
best lord; I would make thee my lady.
MISTRESS FORD I your lady, Sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady!
FALSTAFF Let the court of France show me such another. I see
how thine eye would emulate the diamond: thou hast
the right arched beauty of the brow that becomes the
ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of
Venetian admittance.
MISTRESS FORD A plain kerchief, Sir John: my brows become nothing
else; nor that well neither.
FALSTAFF By the Lord, thou art a traitor to say so: thou
wouldst make an absolute courtier; and the firm
fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion
to thy gait in a semi-circled farthingale. I see
what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature
thy friend. Come, thou canst not hide it.
MISTRESS FORD Believe me, there is no such thing in me.
FALSTAFF What made me love thee? let that persuade thee
there's something extraordinary in thee. Come, I
cannot cog and say thou art this and that, like a
many of these lisping hawthorn-buds, that come like
women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury
in simple time; I cannot: but I love thee; none
but thee; and thou deservest it.
MISTRESS FORD Do not betray me, sir. I fear you love Mistress Page.
FALSTAFF Thou mightst as well say I love to walk by the
Counter-gate, which is as hateful to me as the reek
of a lime-kiln.
MISTRESS FORD Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one
day find it.
FALSTAFF Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not
be in that mind.
ROBIN [Within] Mistress Ford, Mistress Ford! here's
Mistress Page at the door, sweating and blowing and
looking wildly, and would needs speak with you presently.
FALSTAFF She shall not see me: I will ensconce me behind the arras.
MISTRESS FORD Pray you, do so: she's a very tattling woman.
[FALSTAFF hides himself]
What's the matter? how now!
MISTRESS PAGE O Mistress Ford, what have you done? You're shamed,
you're overthrown, you're undone for ever!
MISTRESS FORD What's the matter, good Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE O well-a-day, Mistress Ford! having an honest man
to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion!
MISTRESS FORD What cause of suspicion?
MISTRESS PAGE What cause of suspicion! Out pon you! how am I
mistook in you!
MISTRESS FORD Why, alas, what's the matter?
MISTRESS PAGE Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the
officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman that
he says is here now in the house by your consent, to
take an ill advantage of his assence: you are undone.
MISTRESS FORD 'Tis not so, I hope.
MISTRESS PAGE Pray heaven it be not so, that you have such a man
here! but 'tis most certain your husband's coming,
with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such a
one. I come before to tell you. If you know
yourself clear, why, I am glad of it; but if you
have a friend here convey, convey him out. Be not
amazed; call all your senses to you; defend your
reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.
MISTRESS FORD What shall I do? There is a gentleman my dear
friend; and I fear not mine own shame so much as his
peril: I had rather than a thousand pound he were
out of the house.
MISTRESS PAGE For shame! never stand 'you had rather' and 'you
had rather:' your husband's here at hand, bethink
you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot
hide him. O, how have you deceived me! Look, here
is a basket: if he be of any reasonable stature, he
may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as
if it were going to bucking: or--it is whiting-time
--send him by your two men to Datchet-mead.
MISTRESS FORD He's too big to go in there. What shall I do?
FALSTAFF [Coming forward] Let me see't, let me see't, O, let
me see't! I'll in, I'll in. Follow your friend's
counsel. I'll in.
MISTRESS PAGE What, Sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
FALSTAFF I love thee. Help me away. Let me creep in here.
I'll never--
[Gets into the basket; they cover him with foul linen]
MISTRESS PAGE Help to cover your master, boy. Call your men,
Mistress Ford. You dissembling knight!
MISTRESS FORD What, John! Robert! John!
[Exit ROBIN]
[Re-enter Servants]
Go take up these clothes here quickly. Where's the
cowl-staff? look, how you drumble! Carry them to
the laundress in Datchet-meat; quickly, come.
FORD Pray you, come near: if I suspect without cause,
why then make sport at me; then let me be your jest;
I deserve it. How now! whither bear you this?
Servant To the laundress, forsooth.
MISTRESS FORD Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You
were best meddle with buck-washing.
FORD Buck! I would I could wash myself of the buck!
Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck;
and of the season too, it shall appear.
[Exeunt Servants with the basket]
Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night; I'll tell you my
dream. Here, here, here be my keys: ascend my
chambers; search, seek, find out: I'll warrant
we'll unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first.
[Locking the door]
So, now uncape.
PAGE Good Master Ford, be contented: you wrong yourself too much.
FORD True, Master Page. Up, gentlemen: you shall see
sport anon: follow me, gentlemen.
SIR HUGH EVANS This is fery fantastical humours and jealousies.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France; it is not
jealous in France.
PAGE Nay, follow him, gentlemen; see the issue of his search.
MISTRESS PAGE Is there not a double excellency in this?
MISTRESS FORD I know not which pleases me better, that my husband
is deceived, or Sir John.
MISTRESS PAGE What a taking was he in when your husband asked who
was in the basket!
MISTRESS FORD I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so
throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
MISTRESS PAGE Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same
strain were in the same distress.
MISTRESS FORD I think my husband hath some special suspicion of
Falstaff's being here; for I never saw him so gross
in his jealousy till now.
MISTRESS PAGE I will lay a plot to try that; and we will yet have
more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will
scarce obey this medicine.
MISTRESS FORD Shall we send that foolish carrion, Mistress
Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the
water; and give him another hope, to betray him to
another punishment?
MISTRESS PAGE We will do it: let him be sent for to-morrow,
eight o'clock, to have amends.
FORD I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that
he could not compass.
MISTRESS PAGE [Aside to MISTRESS FORD] Heard you that?
MISTRESS FORD You use me well, Master Ford, do you?
FORD Ay, I do so.
MISTRESS FORD Heaven make you better than your thoughts!
FORD Amen!
MISTRESS PAGE You do yourself mighty wrong, Master Ford.
FORD Ay, ay; I must bear it.
SIR HUGH EVANS If there be any pody in the house, and in the
chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses,
heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgment!
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, nor I too: there is no bodies.
PAGE Fie, fie, Master Ford! are you not ashamed? What
spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I
would not ha' your distemper in this kind for the
wealth of Windsor Castle.
FORD 'Tis my fault, Master Page: I suffer for it.
SIR HUGH EVANS You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife is as
honest a 'omans as I will desires among five
thousand, and five hundred too.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.
FORD Well, I promised you a dinner. Come, come, walk in
the Park: I pray you, pardon me; I will hereafter
make known to you why I have done this. Come,
wife; come, Mistress Page. I pray you, pardon me;
pray heartily, pardon me.
PAGE Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me, we'll mock
him. I do invite you to-morrow morning to my house
to breakfast: after, we'll a-birding together; I
have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be so?
FORD Any thing.
SIR HUGH EVANS If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
DOCTOR CAIUS If dere be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.
FORD Pray you, go, Master Page.
SIR HUGH EVANS I pray you now, remembrance tomorrow on the lousy
knave, mine host.
DOCTOR CAIUS Dat is good; by gar, with all my heart!
SIR HUGH EVANS A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his mockeries!

Scene IV A room in PAGE'S house.

FENTON I see I cannot get thy father's love;
Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.
ANNE PAGE Alas, how then?
FENTON Why, thou must be thyself.
He doth object I am too great of birth--,
And that, my state being gall'd with my expense,
I seek to heal it only by his wealth:
Besides these, other bars he lays before me,
My riots past, my wild societies;
And tells me 'tis a thing impossible
I should love thee but as a property.
ANNE PAGE May be he tells you true.
FENTON No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
Albeit I will confess thy father's wealth
Was the first motive that I woo'd thee, Anne:
Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value
Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags;
And 'tis the very riches of thyself
That now I aim at.
ANNE PAGE Gentle Master Fenton,
Yet seek my father's love; still seek it, sir:
If opportunity and humblest suit
Cannot attain it, why, then,--hark you hither!
[They converse apart]
SHALLOW Break their talk, Mistress Quickly: my kinsman shall
speak for himself.
SLENDER I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't: 'slid, 'tis but
SHALLOW Be not dismayed.
SLENDER No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that,
but that I am afeard.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Hark ye; Master Slender would speak a word with you.
ANNE PAGE I come to him.
This is my father's choice.
O, what a world of vile ill-favor'd faults
Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a-year!
MISTRESS QUICKLY And how does good Master Fenton? Pray you, a word with you.
SHALLOW She's coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!
SLENDER I had a father, Mistress Anne; my uncle can tell you
good jests of him. Pray you, uncle, tell Mistress
Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of
a pen, good uncle.
SHALLOW Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.
SLENDER Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in
SHALLOW He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.
SLENDER Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail, under the
degree of a squire.
SHALLOW He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.
ANNE PAGE Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
SHALLOW Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good
comfort. She calls you, coz: I'll leave you.
ANNE PAGE Now, Master Slender,--
SLENDER Now, good Mistress Anne,--
ANNE PAGE What is your will?
SLENDER My will! 'od's heartlings, that's a pretty jest
indeed! I ne'er made my will yet, I thank heaven; I
am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise.
ANNE PAGE I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me?
SLENDER Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing
with you. Your father and my uncle hath made
motions: if it be my luck, so; if not, happy man be
his dole! They can tell you how things go better
than I can: you may ask your father; here he comes.
PAGE Now, Master Slender: love him, daughter Anne.
Why, how now! what does Master Fenton here?
You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house:
I told you, sir, my daughter is disposed of.
FENTON Nay, Master Page, be not impatient.
MISTRESS PAGE Good Master Fenton, come not to my child.
PAGE She is no match for you.
FENTON Sir, will you hear me?
PAGE No, good Master Fenton.
Come, Master Shallow; come, son Slender, in.
Knowing my mind, you wrong me, Master Fenton.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Speak to Mistress Page.
FENTON Good Mistress Page, for that I love your daughter
In such a righteous fashion as I do,
Perforce, against all cheques, rebukes and manners,
I must advance the colours of my love
And not retire: let me have your good will.
ANNE PAGE Good mother, do not marry me to yond fool.
MISTRESS PAGE I mean it not; I seek you a better husband.
MISTRESS QUICKLY That's my master, master doctor.
ANNE PAGE Alas, I had rather be set quick i' the earth
And bowl'd to death with turnips!
MISTRESS PAGE Come, trouble not yourself. Good Master Fenton,
I will not be your friend nor enemy:
My daughter will I question how she loves you,
And as I find her, so am I affected.
Till then farewell, sir: she must needs go in;
Her father will be angry.
FENTON Farewell, gentle mistress: farewell, Nan.
MISTRESS QUICKLY This is my doing, now: 'Nay,' said I, 'will you cast
away your child on a fool, and a physician? Look on
Master Fenton:' this is my doing.
FENTON I thank thee; and I pray thee, once to-night
Give my sweet Nan this ring: there's for thy pains.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Now heaven send thee good fortune!
A kind heart he hath: a woman would run through
fire and water for such a kind heart. But yet I
would my master had Mistress Anne; or I would
Master Slender had her; or, in sooth, I would Master
Fenton had her; I will do what I can for them all
three; for so I have promised, and I'll be as good
as my word; but speciously for Master Fenton. Well,
I must of another errand to Sir John Falstaff from
my two mistresses: what a beast am I to slack it!

Scene V A room in the Garter Inn.

FALSTAFF Bardolph, I say,--
BARDOLPH Here, sir.
FALSTAFF Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't.
Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a
barrow of butcher's offal, and to be thrown in the
Thames? Well, if I be served such another trick,
I'll have my brains ta'en out and buttered, and give
them to a dog for a new-year's gift. The rogues
slighted me into the river with as little remorse as
they would have drowned a blind bitch's puppies,
fifteen i' the litter: and you may know by my size
that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking; if the
bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had
been drowned, but that the shore was shelvy and
shallow,--a death that I abhor; for the water swells
a man; and what a thing should I have been when I
had been swelled! I should have been a mountain of mummy.
[Re-enter BARDOLPH with sack]
BARDOLPH Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.
FALSTAFF Let me pour in some sack to the Thames water; for my
belly's as cold as if I had swallowed snowballs for
pills to cool the reins. Call her in.
BARDOLPH Come in, woman!
MISTRESS QUICKLY By your leave; I cry you mercy: give your worship
good morrow.
FALSTAFF Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of
sack finely.
BARDOLPH With eggs, sir?
FALSTAFF Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.
How now!
MISTRESS QUICKLY Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.
FALSTAFF Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown
into the ford; I have my belly full of ford.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault:
she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
FALSTAFF So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
MISTRESS 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.
MISTRESS QUICKLY I will tell her.
FALSTAFF Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Eight and nine, sir.
FALSTAFF Well, be gone: I will not miss her.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Peace be with you, sir.
FALSTAFF I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me word
to stay within: I like his money well. O, here he comes.
[Enter FORD]
FORD Bless you, sir!
FALSTAFF Now, master Brook, you come to know what hath passed
between me and Ford's wife?
FORD That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.
FALSTAFF Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her
house the hour she appointed me.
FORD And sped you, sir?
FALSTAFF Very ill-favoredly, Master Brook.
FORD How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
FALSTAFF No, Master Brook; but the peaking Cornuto her
husband, Master Brook, dwelling in a continual
'larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our
encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested,
and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy;
and at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither
provoked and instigated by his distemper, and,
forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.
FORD What, while you were there?
FALSTAFF While I was there.
FORD And did he search for you, and could not find you?
FALSTAFF You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes
in one Mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford's
approach; and, in her invention and Ford's wife's
distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
FORD A buck-basket!
FALSTAFF By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed me in with foul
shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy
napkins; that, Master Brook, there was the rankest
compound of villanous smell that ever offended nostril.
FORD And how long lay you there?
FALSTAFF Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have
suffered to bring this woman to evil for your good.
Being thus crammed in the basket, a couple of Ford's
knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their
mistress to carry me in the name of foul clothes to
Datchet-lane: they took me on their shoulders; met
the jealous knave their master in the door, who
asked them once or twice what they had in their
basket: I quaked for fear, lest the lunatic knave
would have searched it; but fate, ordaining he
should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well: on went he
for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But
mark the sequel, Master Brook: I suffered the pangs
of three several deaths; first, an intolerable
fright, to be detected with a jealous rotten
bell-wether; next, to be compassed, like a good
bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to
point, heel to head; and then, to be stopped in,
like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes
that fretted in their own grease: think of that,--a
man of my kidney,--think of that,--that am as subject
to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution
and thaw: it was a miracle to scape suffocation.
And in the height of this bath, when I was more than
half stewed in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be
thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing hot,
in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of
that,--hissing hot,--think of that, Master Brook.
FORD In good sadness, I am sorry that for my sake you
have sufferd 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.
FORD Hum! ha! is this a vision? is this a dream? do I
sleep? Master Ford awake! awake, Master Ford!
there's a hole made in your best coat, Master Ford.
This 'tis to be married! this 'tis to have linen
and buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself
what I am: I will now take the lecher; he is at my
house; he cannot 'scape me; 'tis impossible he
should; he cannot creep into a 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.

Next Act

Complete Works Cliff Notes Free Papers! Biography Shakespeare Links Shakespeare discussion