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The Merry Wives of Windsor
Entire Play

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

In The Merry Wives of Windsor, fat, disreputable Sir John Falstaff pursues two housewives, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, who outwit…

Act 1, scene 1

Justice Shallow and his nephew Slender accompany Sir Hugh the parson to the Pages’ home. There they meet Sir John…

Act 1, scene 2

Sir Hugh sends Slender’s servant Simple with a letter to Mistress Quickly asking her to intercede with Anne Page on…

Act 1, scene 3

Falstaff, in desperate need of funds, dismisses his servant Bardolph, who enters the employ of the Host of the Garter….

Act 1, scene 4

Delivering Sir Hugh’s letter to Mistress Quickly, Simple is discovered by her employer Dr. Caius (another of Anne’s suitors). Furious…

Act 2, scene 1

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford compare their love letters from Falstaff and plot revenge against him. Pistol and Nym tell…

Act 2, scene 2

Falstaff receives Mistress Ford’s invitation to visit; he then accepts “Brook’s” money in exchange for his promise to compromise Mistress…

Act 2, scene 3

Dr. Caius responds furiously when Sir Hugh fails to meet him for their duel. The Host calms his anger by…

Act 3, scene 1

Page, Shallow, and Slender join Sir Hugh, who is waiting to fight Dr. Caius. When the Host brings Dr. Caius…

Act 3, scene 2

Ford, knowing of Falstaff’s visit to Mistress Ford, gathers as many men as he can to go with him to…

Act 3, scene 3

Mistress Ford and Mistress Page begin their revenge against Falstaff. As Falstaff joins Mistress Ford, Mistress Page enters with news…

Act 3, scene 4

Attempting to court Anne Page, Fenton is interrupted first by his rival Slender and then by a hostile Master and…

Act 3, scene 5

Falstaff agrees once again to visit Mistress Ford and again informs “Brook” of his plans.

Act 4, scene 1

William, the young son of Master and Mistress Page, is briefly tested on his Latin by Sir Hugh.

Act 4, scene 2

Visiting Mistress Ford, Falstaff is again interrupted by Mistress Page, again with news of Ford’s threatening approach. This time the…

Act 4, scene 3

Some Germans want to hire the Host’s horses.

Act 4, scene 4

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, having fully disclosed their dealings with Falstaff to their husbands, conspire with them to humiliate…

Act 4, scene 5

The Host learns his horses have been stolen. Mistress Quickly approaches Falstaff with another invitation, this time to meet Mistress…

Act 4, scene 6

The Host is asked to arrange for a vicar to marry Anne to Fenton that night.

Act 5, scene 1

Falstaff, having agreed to meet Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, promises success to “Brook.”

Act 5, scene 2

Slender prepares to elope with Anne Page.

Act 5, scene 3

Dr. Caius waits to elope with Anne Page. Mistress Page and Mistress Ford follow their plan to torment Falstaff.

Act 5, scene 4

Sir Hugh and the “fairies” approach.

Act 5, scene 5

Falstaff is tormented by the “fairies” and then publicly humiliated. Slender and Dr. Caius enter in turn to report that…

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ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans.

SHALLOW Sir Hugh, persuade me not. I will make a
 Star-Chamber matter of it. If he were twenty Sir
 John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow,
 Esquire.
SLENDER 5In the county of Gloucester, Justice of Peace
 and Coram.
SHALLOW Ay, Cousin Slender, and Custalorum.
SLENDER Ay, and Ratolorum too; and a gentleman born,
 Master Parson, who writes himself “Armigero”
10 in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation—
 “Armigero!”
SHALLOW Ay, that I do, and have done any time these
 three hundred years.
SLENDER All his successors gone before him hath
15 done ’t, and all his ancestors that come after him
 may. They may give the dozen white luces in their
 coat.
SHALLOW It is an old coat.
SIR HUGH The dozen white louses do become an old
20 coat well. It agrees well, passant. It is a familiar
 beast to man and signifies love.
SHALLOW The luce is the fresh fish. The salt fish is an
 old coat.
SLENDER I may quarter, coz.
7

9
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SHALLOW 25You may, by marrying.
SIR HUGH It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
SHALLOW Not a whit.
SIR HUGH Yes, py ’r Lady. If he has a quarter of your
 coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my
30 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 compromises
 between you.
SHALLOW 35The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.
SIR HUGH 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 visaments in that.
SHALLOW 40Ha! O’ my life, if I were young again, the
 sword should end it.
SIR HUGH 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
45 it. There is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master
 Thomas Page, which is pretty virginity.
SLENDER Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair
 and speaks small like a woman?
SIR HUGH It is that fery person for all the ’orld, as just
50 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
55 pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between
 Master Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.
SLENDER Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred
 pound?
SIR HUGH Ay, and her father is make her a petter
60 penny.

11
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER I know the young gentlewoman. She has
 good gifts.
SIR HUGH Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is
 goot gifts.
SHALLOW 65Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff
 there?
SIR HUGH 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
70 you be ruled by your well-willers. I will peat
 the door for Master Page. He knocks. What ho?
 Got pless your house here.
PAGE, within Who’s there?
SIR HUGH Here is Got’s plessing, and your friend, and
75 Justice Shallow, and here young Master Slender,
 that peradventures shall tell you another tale, if
 matters grow to your likings.

Enter Master Page.

PAGE I am glad to see your Worships well. I thank you
 for my venison, Master Shallow.
SHALLOW 80Master Page, I am glad to see you. Much
 good do it your good heart! I wished your venison
 better; it was ill killed. How doth good Mistress
 Page? And I thank you always with my heart, la,
 with my heart.
PAGE 85Sir, I thank you.
SHALLOW Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.
PAGE I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.
SLENDER How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I
 heard say he was outrun on Cotsall.
PAGE 90It could not be judged, sir.
SLENDER You’ll not confess, you’ll not confess.
SHALLOW That he will not. ’Tis your fault, ’tis your
 fault. ’Tis a good dog.
PAGE A cur, sir.

13
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SHALLOW 95Sir, he’s a good dog and a fair dog. Can there
 be more said? He is good and fair. Is Sir John Falstaff
 here?
PAGE Sir, he is within, and I would I could do a good
 office between you.
SIR HUGH 100It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.
SHALLOW He hath wronged me, Master Page.
PAGE Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.
SHALLOW If it be confessed, it is not redressed. Is not
 that so, Master Page? He hath wronged me, indeed
105 he hath; at a word, he hath. Believe me. Robert
 Shallow, Esquire, saith he is wronged.

Enter Sir John Falstaff, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol.

PAGE Here comes Sir John.
FALSTAFF Now, Master Shallow, you’ll complain of me
 to the King?
SHALLOW 110Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my
 deer, and broke open my lodge.
FALSTAFF But not kissed your keeper’s daughter.
SHALLOW Tut, a pin. This shall be answered.
FALSTAFF I will answer it straight: I have done all this.
115 That is now answered.
SHALLOW The Council shall know this.
FALSTAFF ’Twere better for you if it were known in
 counsel. You’ll be laughed at.
SIR HUGH Pauca verba, Sir John, good worts.
FALSTAFF 120Good worts? Good cabbage!—Slender, I
 broke your head. What matter have you against
 me?
SLENDER Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against
 you and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph,
125 Nym, and Pistol.
BARDOLPH You Banbury cheese!
SLENDER Ay, it is no matter.
PISTOL How now, Mephostophilus?

15
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER Ay, it is no matter.
NYM 130Slice, I say! Pauca, pauca. Slice, that’s my humor.
SLENDER, (to Shallow) Where’s Simple, my man?
 Can you tell, cousin?
SIR HUGH Peace, I pray you. Now let us understand;
 there is three umpires in this matter, as I understand:
135 that is, Master Page (fidelicet Master Page);
 and there is myself (fidelicet myself); and the three
 party is, lastly and finally, mine Host of the Garter.
PAGE We three to hear it and end it between them.
SIR HUGH Fery goot. I will make a prief of it in my
140 notebook, and we will afterwards ’ork upon the
 cause with as great discreetly as we can.
FALSTAFF Pistol.
PISTOL He hears with ears.
SIR HUGH The tevil and his tam! What phrase is this,
145 “He hears with ear”? Why, it is affectations.
FALSTAFF Pistol, did you pick Master Slender’s purse?
SLENDER Ay, by these gloves, did he—or I would I
 might never come in mine own great chamber
 again else—of seven groats in mill-sixpences,
150 and two Edward shovel-boards that cost me two
 shilling and twopence apiece of Yed Miller, by
 these gloves.
FALSTAFF Is this true, Pistol?
SIR HUGH No, it is false, if it is a pickpurse.
PISTOL 155Ha, thou mountain foreigner!—Sir John and
 master mine, I combat challenge of this latten
 bilbo.—Word of denial in thy labras here! Word of
 denial! Froth and scum, thou liest.
SLENDER, indicating Nym By these gloves, then ’twas
160 he.
NYM Be avised, sir, and pass good humors. I will say
 “marry trap with you” if you run the nuthook’s
 humor on me. That is the very note of it.

17
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER By this hat, then, he in the red face had it.
165 For, though I cannot remember what I did when
 you made me drunk, yet I am not altogether an
 ass.
FALSTAFF What say you, Scarlet and John?
BARDOLPH Why, sir, for my part, I say the gentleman
170 had drunk himself out of his five sentences.
SIR HUGH It is “his five senses.” Fie, what the ignorance
 is!
BARDOLPH, to Falstaff And being fap, sir, was, as
 they say, cashiered. And so conclusions passed the
175 careers.
SLENDER Ay, you spake in Latin then too. But ’tis no
 matter. I’ll ne’er be drunk whilst I live again but in
 honest, civil, godly company, for this trick. If I be
 drunk, I’ll be drunk with those that have the fear of
180 God, and not with drunken knaves.
SIR HUGH So Got ’udge me, that is a virtuous mind.
FALSTAFF You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen.
 You hear it.

Enter Anne Page with wine.

PAGE Nay, daughter, carry the wine in. We’ll drink
185 within.Anne Page exits.
SLENDER O heaven, this is Mistress Anne Page.

Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page.

PAGE How now, Mistress Ford?
FALSTAFF Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well
 met. By your leave, good mistress.He kisses her.
PAGE 190Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome.—Come, we
 have a hot venison pasty to dinner. Come, gentlemen,
 I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.
All but Slender, Shallow, and Sir Hugh exit.
SLENDER I had rather than forty shillings I had my
 book of Songs and Sonnets here!

19
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

Enter Simple.

195 How now, Simple? Where have you been? I must
 wait on myself, must I? You have not the Book of
 Riddles
 about you, have you?
SIMPLE Book of Riddles? Why, did you not lend it to
 Alice Shortcake upon Allhallowmas last, a fortnight
200 afore Michaelmas?
SHALLOW, to Slender Come, coz; come, coz. We stay
 for you. A word with you, coz. Marry, this, coz:
 there is, as ’twere, a tender, a kind of tender, made
 afar off by Sir Hugh here. Do you understand me?
SLENDER 205Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable. If it be
 so, I shall do that that is reason.
SHALLOW Nay, but understand me.
SLENDER So I do, sir.
SIR HUGH Give ear to his motions, Master Slender. I
210 will description the matter to you, if you be capacity
 of it.
SLENDER Nay, I will do as my cousin Shallow says. I
 pray you, pardon me. He’s a Justice of Peace in his
 country, simple though I stand here.
SIR HUGH 215But that is not the question. The question is
 concerning your marriage.
SHALLOW Ay, there’s the point, sir.
SIR HUGH Marry, is it, the very point of it—to Mistress
 Anne Page.
SLENDER 220Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon any
 reasonable demands.
SIR HUGH 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
225 the mouth. Therefore, precisely, can you carry your
 good will to the maid?
SHALLOW Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?

21
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one
 that would do reason.
SIR HUGH 230Nay, Got’s lords and His ladies! You must
 speak positable, if you can carry her your desires
 towards her.
SHALLOW That you must. Will you, upon good dowry,
 marry her?
SLENDER 235I will do a greater thing than that, upon your
 request, cousin, in any reason.
SHALLOW Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz.
 What I do is to pleasure you, coz. Can you love the
 maid?
SLENDER 240I 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
245 more content. But if you say “Marry her,” I will
 marry her. That I am freely dissolved, and
 dissolutely.
SIR HUGH It is a fery discretion answer, save the fall is
 in the ’ord “dissolutely.” The ’ort is, according to
250 our meaning, “resolutely.” His meaning is good.
SHALLOW Ay, I think my cousin meant well.
SLENDER Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la!

Enter Anne Page.

SHALLOW Here comes fair Mistress Anne.—Would I
 were young for your sake, Mistress Anne.
ANNE 255The dinner is on the table. My father desires
 your Worships’ company.
SHALLOW I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne.
SIR HUGH ’Od’s plessèd will, I will not be absence at
 the grace.Sir Hugh and Shallow exit.
ANNE, to Slender 260Will ’t please your Worship to come
 in, sir?

23
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 1

SLENDER No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily. I am very
 well.
ANNE The dinner attends you, sir.
SLENDER 265I am not ahungry, I thank you, forsooth. (To
 Simple.) 
Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go
 wait upon my cousin Shallow. (Simple exits.) A
 Justice of Peace sometime may be beholding to his
 friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy
270 yet, till my mother be dead. But what though? Yet
 I live like a poor gentleman born.
ANNE I may not go in without your Worship. They will
 not sit till you come.
SLENDER I’ faith, I’ll eat nothing. I thank you as much
275 as though I did.
ANNE I pray you, sir, walk in.
SLENDER I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised
 my shin th’ other day with playing at sword and
 dagger with a master of fence—three veneys for a
280 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’ th’ town?
ANNE I think there are, sir. I heard them talked of.
SLENDER I love the sport well, but I shall as soon quarrel
285 at it as any man in England. You are afraid if
 you see the bear loose, are you not?
ANNE Ay, indeed, sir.
SLENDER That’s meat and drink to me, now. I have
 seen Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken
290 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-favored
 rough things.

Enter Page.

PAGE Come, gentle Master Slender, come. We stay for
295 you.

25
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 2

SLENDER I’ll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
PAGE By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! Come,
 come.
SLENDER Nay, pray you, lead the way.
PAGE 300Come on, sir.
SLENDER Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
ANNE Not I, sir. Pray you, keep on.
SLENDER Truly, I will not go first, truly, la! I will not do
 you that wrong.
ANNE 305I pray you, sir.
SLENDER I’ll rather be unmannerly than troublesome.
 You do yourself wrong, indeed, la!
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Sir Hugh Evans and Simple.

SIR HUGH 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
5 washer and his wringer.
SIMPLE Well, sir.
SIR HUGH Nay, it is petter yet. Give her this letter
 (handing him a paper), for it is a ’oman that altogether’s
 acquaintance with Mistress Anne Page;
10 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.
They exit.




27
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter Sir John Falstaff, Host, Bardolph, Nym, Pistol,
and Robin, Falstaff’s Page.


FALSTAFF Mine Host of the Garter!
HOST What says my bullyrook? Speak scholarly and
 wisely.
FALSTAFF Truly, mine Host, I must turn away some of
5 my followers.
HOST Discard, bully Hercules, cashier. Let them wag;
 trot, trot.
FALSTAFF I sit at ten pounds a week.
HOST Thou ’rt an emperor—Caesar, Keiser, and
10 Pheazar. I will entertain Bardolph. He shall draw,
 he shall tap. Said I well, bully Hector?
FALSTAFF Do so, good mine Host.
HOST I have spoke. Let him follow.—Let me see thee
 froth and lime. I am at a word. Follow.
Host exits.
FALSTAFF 15Bardolph, follow him. A tapster is a good
 trade. An old cloak makes a new jerkin, a withered
 servingman a fresh tapster. Go. Adieu.
BARDOLPH It is a life that I have desired. I will thrive.
PISTOL O base Hungarian wight, wilt thou the spigot
20 wield?Bardolph exits.
NYM He was gotten in drink. Is not the humor
 conceited?
FALSTAFF I am glad I am so acquit of this tinderbox.
 His thefts were too open. His filching was like an
25 unskillful singer; he kept not time.
NYM The good humor is to steal at a minute’s rest.
PISTOL “Convey,” the wise it call. “Steal”? Foh, a fico
 for the phrase!
FALSTAFF Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels.
PISTOL 30Why, then, let kibes ensue.
FALSTAFF There is no remedy. I must cony-catch, I
 must shift.

29
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 3

PISTOL Young ravens must have food.
FALSTAFF Which of you know Ford of this town?
PISTOL 35I ken the wight. He is of substance good.
FALSTAFF My honest lads, I will tell you what I am
 about.
PISTOL Two yards and more.
FALSTAFF No quips now, Pistol. Indeed, I am in the
40 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;
45 and the hardest voice of her behavior, to be Englished
 rightly, is “I am Sir John Falstaff’s.”
PISTOL, aside to Nym He hath studied her will and
 translated her will—out of honesty into English.
NYM, aside to Pistol The anchor is deep. Will that
50 humor pass?
FALSTAFF Now, the report goes, she has all the rule of
 her husband’s purse. He hath a legion of angels.
PISTOL, aside to Nym As many devils entertain, and
 “To her, boy,” say I.
NYM, aside to Pistol 55The humor rises; it is good.
 Humor me the angels.
FALSTAFF, showing two papers 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
60 parts with most judicious oeillades. Sometimes
 the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes
 my portly belly.
PISTOL, aside to Nym Then did the sun on dunghill
 shine.
NYM, aside to Pistol 65I thank thee for that humor.
FALSTAFF O, she did so course o’er my exteriors with
 such a greedy intention that the appetite of her
 eye did seem to scorch me up like a burning-glass.

31
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Here’s another letter to her. She bears the purse
70 too; she is a region in Guiana, all gold and bounty.
 I will be cheaters 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
75 Ford. We will thrive, lads, we will thrive.
PISTOL 
 Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become,
 And by my side wear steel? Then Lucifer take all!
NYM, to Falstaff I will run no base humor. Here, take
 the humor-letter. I will keep the havior of
80 reputation.
FALSTAFF, giving papers 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 i’ th’ hoof, seek shelter, pack!
85 Falstaff will learn the humor of the age:
 French thrift, you rogues—myself and skirted page.
Falstaff and Robin exit.
PISTOL 
 Let vultures gripe thy guts! For gourd and fullam
 holds,
 And high and low beguiles the rich and poor.
90 Tester I’ll have in pouch when thou shalt lack,
 Base Phrygian Turk!
NYM I have operations which be humors of revenge.
PISTOL Wilt thou revenge?
NYM By welkin and her star!
PISTOL 95With wit or steel?
NYM With both the humors, I. I will discuss the
 humor of this love to Ford.
PISTOL 
 And I to Page shall eke unfold
  How Falstaff, varlet vile,

33
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 4

100 His dove will prove, his gold will hold,
  And his soft couch defile.
NYM My humor shall not cool. I will incense Ford to
 deal with poison. I will possess him with yellowness,
 for the revolt of mine is dangerous. That is
105 my true humor.
PISTOL Thou art the Mars of malcontents. I second
 thee. Troop on.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Mistress Quickly and Simple.

MISTRESS QUICKLY What, John Rugby! (Enter 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
5 house, here will be an old abusing of God’s patience
 and the King’s English.
RUGBY I’ll go watch.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Go, and we’ll have a posset for ’t
 soon at night, in faith, at the latter end of a seacoal
10 fire. (Rugby exits.) An honest, willing, kind fellow
 as ever servant shall come in house withal; and, I
 warrant you, no telltale 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
15 fault. But let that pass. Peter Simple you say your
 name is?
SIMPLE Ay, for fault of a better.
MISTRESS QUICKLY And Master Slender’s your master?
SIMPLE Ay, forsooth.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 20Does he not wear a great round
 beard like a glover’s paring knife?
SIMPLE No, forsooth. He hath but a little wee face,
 with a little yellow beard, a Cain-colored beard.

35
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 4

MISTRESS QUICKLY A softly-sprited man, is he not?
SIMPLE 25Ay, 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.
MISTRESS QUICKLY How say you? O, I should remember
 him. Does he not hold up his head, as it were,
30 and strut in his gait?
SIMPLE Yes, indeed, does he.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Well, heaven send Anne Page no
 worse fortune! Tell Master Parson Evans I will do
 what I can for your master. Anne is a good girl, and
35 I wish—

Enter Rugby.

RUGBY Out, alas! Here comes my master.
MISTRESS QUICKLY We shall all be shent.—Run in here,
 good young man. Go into this closet. He will not
 stay long. (Simple exits.) What, John Rugby!
40 John! What, John, I say! Go, John, go enquire for
 my master. I doubt he be not well, that he comes
 not home.Rugby exits.
 (She sings.) And down, down, adown ’a, etc.

Enter Doctor Caius.

DOCTOR CAIUS Vat is you sing? I do not like dese toys.
45 Pray you, go and vetch me in my closet un boîtier
 vert
, a box, a green-a box. Do intend vat I speak?
 A green-a box.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Ay, forsooth. I’ll fetch it you.
 (Aside.) I am glad he went not in himself. If he
50 had found the young man, he would have been
 horn-mad.She exits.
DOCTOR CAIUS Fe, fe, fe, fe! Ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Je
 m’en vais à la cour—la grande affaire.


Enter Mistress Quickly with a small box.

MISTRESS QUICKLY Is it this, sir?
DOCTOR CAIUS 55Oui, mets-le à mon pocket. Dépêche,
 quickly. Vere is dat knave Rugby?

37
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 4

MISTRESS QUICKLY What, John Rugby, John!

Enter Rugby.

RUGBY Here, sir.
DOCTOR CAIUS You are John Rugby, and you are Jack
60 Rugby. Come, take-a your rapier, and come after
 my heel to the court.
RUGBY ’Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.
DOCTOR CAIUS By my trot, I tarry too long. Od’s
 me! Qu’ai-j’oublié? Dere is some simples in my
65 closet dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave
 behind.He exits.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Ay me! He’ll find the young man
 there, and be mad!

Enter Doctor Caius.

DOCTOR CAIUS O diable, diable! Vat is in my closet? Villainy!
70 Larron! (Pulling out Simple.) Rugby, my
 rapier!
MISTRESS QUICKLY Good master, be content.
DOCTOR CAIUS Wherefore shall I be content-a?
MISTRESS QUICKLY The young man is an honest man.
DOCTOR CAIUS 75What shall de honest man do in my
 closet? Dere is no honest man dat shall come in
 my closet.
MISTRESS QUICKLY I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic.
 Hear the truth of it. He came of an errand to me
80 from Parson Hugh.
DOCTOR CAIUS Vell?
SIMPLE Ay, forsooth. To desire her to—
MISTRESS QUICKLY Peace, I pray you.
DOCTOR CAIUS Peace-a your tongue.—Speak-a your
85 tale.
SIMPLE To desire this honest gentlewoman, your
 maid, to speak a good word to Mistress Anne Page
 for my master in the way of marriage.

39
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 4

MISTRESS QUICKLY This is all, indeed, la! But I’ll ne’er
90 put my finger in the fire, and need not.
DOCTOR CAIUS, to Simple Sir Hugh send-a you?—
 Rugby, baille me some paper.—Tarry you a little-a
 while.

Rugby brings paper, and Doctor Caius writes.

MISTRESS QUICKLY, aside to Simple I am glad he is so
95 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
100 master, look you, for I keep his house, and I wash,
 wring, brew, bake, scour, dress meat and drink,
 make the beds, and do all myself—
SIMPLE, aside to Quickly ’Tis a great charge to come
 under one body’s hand.
MISTRESS QUICKLY, aside to Simple 105Are you advised 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.
110 But notwithstanding that, I know Anne’s mind.
 That’s neither here nor there.
DOCTOR CAIUS, handing paper to Simple You, jack’nape,
 give-a this letter to Sir Hugh. By gar, it is a
 shallenge. I will cut his troat in de park, and I will
115 teach a scurvy jackanape 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.
Simple exits.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Alas, he speaks but for his friend.
DOCTOR CAIUS 120It 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

41
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 4

 Host of de Jarteer to measure our weapon. By gar,
 I will myself have Anne Page.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 125Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall
 be well. We must give folks leave to prate. What
 the goodyear!
DOCTOR CAIUS Rugby, come to the court with me. (To
 Mistress Quickly.) 
By gar, if I have not Anne Page,
130 I shall turn your head out of my door.—Follow my
 heels, Rugby.
MISTRESS QUICKLY You shall have Anne—
Caius and Rugby exit.
 fool’s head of your own. No, I know Anne’s mind
 for that. Never a woman in Windsor knows more
135 of Anne’s mind than I do, nor can do more than I
 do with her, I thank heaven.
FENTON, within Who’s within there, ho?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Who’s there, I trow? Come near the
 house, I pray you.

Enter Fenton.

FENTON 140How now, good woman? How dost thou?
MISTRESS QUICKLY The better that it pleases your good
 Worship to ask.
FENTON What news? How does pretty Mistress Anne?
MISTRESS QUICKLY In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and
145 honest, and gentle; and one that is your friend, I
 can tell you that by the way, I praise heaven for it.
FENTON Shall I do any good, think’st thou? Shall I not
 lose my suit?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Troth, sir, all is in His hands above.
150 But notwithstanding, Master Fenton, I’ll be sworn
 on a book she loves you. Have not your Worship a
 wart above your eye?
FENTON Yes, marry, have I. What of that?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Well, thereby hangs a tale. Good
155 faith, it is such another Nan! But, I detest, an honest

43
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 1. SC. 4

 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,
160 go to.
FENTON Well, I shall see her today. Hold, there’s
 money for thee. (He hands her money.) Let me
 have thy voice in my behalf. If thou see’st her before
 me, commend me.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 165Will I? I’ faith, that we will. And I
 will tell your Worship more of the wart the next
 time we have confidence, and of other wooers.
FENTON Well, farewell. I am in great haste now.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Farewell to your Worship.
(Fenton exits.)
170 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?
She exits.


ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter Mistress Page reading a letter.

MISTRESS PAGE What, have I ’scaped love letters in
 the holiday time of my beauty, and am I now a
 subject for them? Let me see.
She reads.
 Ask me no reason why I love you, for though Love
5 use Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for
 his counselor. 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
10 it suffice thee, Mistress Page—at the least, if the love
 of soldier can suffice—that I love thee. I will not say
 pity me—’tis not a soldier-like phrase—but I say love
 me. By me,
 Thine own true knight,
15 By day or night,
 Or any kind of light,
 With all his might
 For thee to fight,

 John Falstaff.

20 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 behavior hath this Flemish drunkard
47

49
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

 picked—with the devil’s name!—out of my conversation,
25 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.
30 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 FORD Mistress Page! Trust me, I was going to
 your house.
MISTRESS PAGE And, trust me, I was coming to you.
35 You look very ill.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, I’ll ne’er believe that. I have to
 show to the contrary.
MISTRESS PAGE Faith, but you do, in my mind.
MISTRESS FORD Well, I do, then. Yet I say I could show
40 you to the contrary. O Mistress Page, give me some
 counsel.
MISTRESS PAGE What’s the matter, woman?
MISTRESS FORD O woman, if it were not for one trifling
 respect, I could come to such honor!
MISTRESS PAGE 45Hang the trifle, woman; take the honor.
 What is it? Dispense with trifles. What is it?
MISTRESS FORD If I would but go to hell for an eternal
 moment or so, I could be knighted.
MISTRESS PAGE What, thou liest! Sir Alice Ford? These
50 knights will hack, and so thou shouldst not alter
 the article of thy gentry.
MISTRESS FORD We burn daylight. Here, read, read. Perceive
 how I might be knighted. (She gives a paper
 to Mistress Page, who reads it.) 
I shall think the
55 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

51
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

 orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness
 that I would have sworn his disposition
60 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
65 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?
MISTRESS PAGE Letter for letter, but that the name of
70 Page and Ford differs! To thy great comfort in this
 mystery of ill opinions, here’s the twin brother of
 thy letter. (She gives a paper to Mistress Ford, who
 reads it.) 
But let thine inherit first, for I protest
 mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of
75 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
80 under Mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty
 lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.
MISTRESS FORD Why, this is the very same—the very
 hand, the very words. What doth he think of us?
MISTRESS PAGE Nay, I know not. It makes me almost
85 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.
MISTRESS FORD 90“Boarding” call you it? I’ll be sure to
 keep him above deck.
MISTRESS PAGE So will I. If he come under my hatches,
 I’ll never to sea again. Let’s be revenged on him.
 Let’s appoint him a meeting, give him a show of

53
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

95 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.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, I will consent to act any villainy
 against him that may not sully the chariness of our
100 honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! It
 would give eternal food to his jealousy.
MISTRESS PAGE Why, look where he comes, and my
 good man too. He’s as far from jealousy as I am
 from giving him cause, and that, I hope, is an
105 unmeasurable distance.
MISTRESS FORD You are the happier woman.
MISTRESS PAGE Let’s consult together against this greasy
 knight. Come hither.They talk aside.

Enter Ford with Pistol, and Page with Nym.

FORD Well, I hope it be not so.
PISTOL 
110 Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs.
 Sir John affects thy wife.
FORD Why, sir, my wife is not young.
PISTOL 
 He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,
 Both young and old, one with another, Ford.
115 He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.
FORD Love my wife?
PISTOL 
 With liver burning hot. Prevent,
 Or go thou like Sir Acteon, he,
 With Ringwood at thy heels.
120 O, odious is the name!
FORD What name, sir?
PISTOL The horn, I say. Farewell.
 Take heed, have open eye, for thieves do foot by
 night.
125 Take heed, ere summer comes or cuckoo birds do
 sing.—

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Away, Sir Corporal Nym.—Believe it, Page. He
 speaks sense.He exits.
FORD, aside I will be patient. I will find out this.
NYM, to Page 130And this is true. I like not the humor of
 lying. He hath wronged me in some humors. I
 should have borne the humored 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.
135 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 humor of bread and
 cheese. Adieu.He exits.
PAGE, aside “The humor of it,” quoth he? Here’s a fellow
140 frights English out of his wits.
FORD, aside I will seek out Falstaff.
PAGE, aside I never heard such a drawling, affecting
 rogue.
FORD, aside If I do find it—well.
PAGE, aside 145I will not believe such a Cataian, though
 the priest o’ th’ town commended him for a true
 man.
FORD, aside ’Twas a good sensible fellow—well.

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford come forward.

PAGE, to Mistress Page How now, Meg?
MISTRESS PAGE 150Whither go you, George? Hark you.
They talk aside.
MISTRESS FORD, to Ford How now, sweet Frank? Why
 art thou melancholy?
FORD I melancholy? I am not melancholy. Get you
 home. Go.
MISTRESS FORD 155Faith, thou hast some crochets in thy
 head now.—Will you go, Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE Have with you.—You’ll come to dinner,
 George? (Aside to Mistress Ford.) Look who
 comes yonder.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

Enter Mistress Quickly.

160 She shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.
MISTRESS FORD Trust me, I thought on her. She’ll fit it.
MISTRESS PAGE, to Mistress Quickly You are come to
 see my daughter Anne?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Ay, forsooth. And, I pray, how does
165 good Mistress Anne?
MISTRESS PAGE Go in with us and see. We have an
 hour’s talk with you.
Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and
Mistress Quickly exit.

PAGE How now, Master Ford?
FORD You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
PAGE 170Yes, and you heard what the other told me?
FORD Do you think there is truth in them?
PAGE Hang ’em, slaves! I do not think the knight
 would offer it. But these that accuse him in his intent
 towards our wives are a yoke of his discarded
175 men, very rogues, now they be out of service.
FORD Were they his men?
PAGE Marry, were they.
FORD I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at
 the Garter?
PAGE 180Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend this voyage
 toward my wife, I would turn her loose to him;
 and what he gets more of her than sharp words, let
 it lie on my head.
FORD I do not misdoubt my wife, but I would be loath
185 to turn them together. A man may be too confident.
 I would have nothing lie on my head. I cannot
 be thus satisfied.

Enter Host.

PAGE Look where my ranting Host of the Garter
 comes. There is either liquor in his pate or money
190 in his purse when he looks so merrily.—How now,
 mine Host?

59
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 1

HOST How now, bullyrook? Thou ’rt a gentleman.—
 Cavaleiro Justice, I say!

Enter Shallow.

SHALLOW I follow, mine Host, I follow.—Good even
195 and twenty, good Master Page. Master Page, will
 you go with us? We have sport in hand.
HOST Tell him, Cavaleiro Justice; tell him, bullyrook.
SHALLOW Sir, there is a fray to be fought between
 Sir Hugh the Welsh priest and Caius the French
200 doctor.
FORD Good mine Host o’ th’ Garter, a word with you.
HOST What say’st thou, my bullyrook?
The Host and Ford talk aside.
SHALLOW, to Page Will you go with us to behold it?
 My merry Host hath had the measuring of their
205 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.
Shallow and Page talk aside.
HOST, to Ford Hast thou no suit against my knight,
 my guest cavalier?
FORD 210None, I protest. But I’ll give you a pottle of
 burnt sack to give me recourse to him, and tell him
 my name is Brook—only for a jest.
HOST My hand, bully. Thou shalt have egress and
 regress—said I well?—and thy name shall be
215 Brook. It is a merry knight. (To Shallow and
 Page.) 
Will you go, ameers?
SHALLOW Have with you, mine Host.
PAGE I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill
 in his rapier.
SHALLOW 220Tut, sir, I could have told you more. In these
 times you stand on distance—your passes, stoccados,
 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
225 fellows skip like rats.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 2

HOST Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?
PAGE Have with you. I had rather hear them scold
 than fight.Page, Host, and Shallow exit.
FORD Though Page be a secure fool and stands so
230 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
235 labor. If she be otherwise, ’tis labor well bestowed.
He exits.


Scene 2
Enter Sir John Falstaff and Pistol.

FALSTAFF I will not lend thee a penny.
PISTOL Why then, the world’s mine oyster, which I
 with sword will open.
FALSTAFF Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you
5 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 gemini of baboons.
 I am damned in hell for swearing to gentlemen my
10 friends you were good soldiers and tall fellows.
 And when Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her
 fan, I took ’t upon mine honor thou hadst it not.
PISTOL Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen
 pence?
FALSTAFF 15Reason, you rogue, reason. Think’st 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 Pickt-hatch,
 go. You’ll not bear a letter for me, you rogue? You
20 stand upon your honor? Why, thou unconfinable

63
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 2

 baseness, it is as much as I can do to keep the
 terms of my honor precise. Ay, ay, I myself sometimes,
 leaving the fear of God on the left hand
 and hiding mine honor in my necessity, am fain to
25 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 honor! You will
 not do it? You?
PISTOL 30I do relent. What would thou more of man?

Enter Robin.

ROBIN Sir, here’s a woman would speak with you.
FALSTAFF Let her approach.

Enter Mistress Quickly.

MISTRESS QUICKLY Give your Worship good morrow.
FALSTAFF Good morrow, goodwife.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 35Not so, an ’t please your Worship.
FALSTAFF Good maid, then.
MISTRESS QUICKLY I’ll be sworn—as my mother was,
 the first hour I was born.
FALSTAFF I do believe the swearer. What with me?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 40Shall I vouchsafe your Worship a
 word or two?
FALSTAFF Two thousand, fair woman, and I’ll vouchsafe
 thee the hearing.
MISTRESS QUICKLY There is one Mistress Ford, sir—I
45 pray, come a little nearer this ways. I myself dwell
 with Master Doctor Caius.
FALSTAFF Well, on. “Mistress Ford,” you say—
MISTRESS QUICKLY Your Worship says very true. I pray
 your Worship, come a little nearer this ways.
FALSTAFF 50I warrant thee, nobody hears. Mine own
 people, mine own people.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Are they so? God bless them and
 make them His servants!

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 2

FALSTAFF Well, “Mistress Ford”—what of her?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 55Why, sir, she’s a good creature.
 Lord, Lord, your Worship’s a wanton! Well, heaven
 forgive you and all of us, I pray!
FALSTAFF “Mistress Ford”—come, “Mistress Ford”—
MISTRESS QUICKLY Marry, this is the short and the long
60 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
65 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
70 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
75 her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of
 them all. And yet there has been earls—nay, which
 is more, pensioners—but, I warrant you, all is one
 with her.
FALSTAFF But what says she to me? Be brief, my good
80 she-Mercury.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Marry, she hath received your letter,
 for the which she thanks you a thousand times,
 and she gives you to notify that her husband will
 be absence from his house between ten and eleven.
FALSTAFF 85Ten and eleven?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Ay, forsooth; and then you may come
 and see the picture, she says, that you wot of. Master
 Ford, her husband, will be from home. Alas, the
 sweet woman leads an ill life with him. He’s a very

67
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 2

90 jealousy man. She leads a very frampold life with
 him, good heart.
FALSTAFF Ten and eleven. Woman, commend me to
 her. I will not fail her.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Why, you say well. But I have another
95 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,
100 whoe’er be the other. And she bade me tell
 your Worship that her husband is seldom from
 home, but she hopes there will come a time. I
 never knew a woman so dote upon a man. Surely, I
 think you have charms, la! Yes, in truth.
FALSTAFF 105Not I, I assure thee. Setting the attraction of
 my good parts aside, I have no other charms.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Blessing on your heart for ’t!
FALSTAFF But I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford’s wife
 and Page’s wife acquainted each other how they
110 love me?
MISTRESS QUICKLY That were a jest indeed! They have
 not so little grace, I hope. That were a trick indeed!
 But Mistress Page would desire you to send her
 your little page, of all loves. Her husband has a
115 marvelous 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
120 will. And, truly, she deserves it, for if there be a
 kind woman in Windsor, she is one. You must send
 her your page, no remedy.
FALSTAFF Why, I will.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Nay, but do so then, and, look you,
125 he may come and go between you both. And in any

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ACT 2. SC. 2

 case have a nayword, that you may know one another’s
 mind, and the boy never need to understand
 anything; for ’tis not good that children
 should know any wickedness. Old folks, you know,
130 have discretion, as they say, and know the world.
FALSTAFF Fare thee well. Commend me to them both.
 There’s my purse. (He gives her money.) I am yet
 thy debtor.—Boy, go along with this woman. (Mistress
 Quickly and Robin exit.) 
This news distracts
135 me.
PISTOL, aside 
 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!
He exits.
FALSTAFF Sayst thou so, old Jack? Go thy ways. I’ll
140 make more of thy old body than I have done. Will
 they yet look after thee? Wilt thou, after the expense
 of so much money, be now a gainer? Good
 body, I thank thee. Let them say ’tis grossly done;
 so it be fairly done, no matter.

Enter Bardolph with wine.

BARDOLPH 145Sir 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.(He hands Falstaff the wine.)
FALSTAFF Brook is his name?
BARDOLPH 150Ay, sir.
FALSTAFF Call him in. Such Brooks are welcome to
 me that o’erflows such liquor.(Bardolph exits.)
 Ah ha, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, have I encompassed
 you? Go to. Via!

Enter Bardolph with Ford disguised as Brook.

FORD, as Brook 155God bless you, sir.
FALSTAFF And you, sir. Would you speak with me?

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FORD, as Brook I make bold to press with so little
 preparation upon you.
FALSTAFF You’re welcome. What’s your will?—Give us
160 leave, drawer.Bardolph exits.
FORD, as Brook Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent
 much. My name is Brook.
FALSTAFF Good Master Brook, I desire more acquaintance
 of you.
FORD, as Brook 165Good 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 emboldened me to
 this unseasoned intrusion; for they say, if money
170 go before, all ways do lie open.
FALSTAFF Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.
FORD, as Brook Troth, and I have a bag of money
 here troubles me. He sets it down. If you will help
 to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for easing me
175 of the carriage.
FALSTAFF Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your
 porter.
FORD, as Brook I will tell you, sir, if you will give me
 the hearing.
FALSTAFF 180Speak, good Master Brook. I shall be glad
 to be your servant.
FORD, as Brook 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
185 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
190 of your own, that I may pass with a reproof
 the easier, sith you yourself know how easy it is to
 be such an offender.

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FALSTAFF Very well, sir. Proceed.
FORD, as Brook There is a gentlewoman in this
195 town—her husband’s name is Ford.
FALSTAFF Well, sir.
FORD, as Brook I have long loved her and, I protest
 to you, bestowed much on her, followed her with
 a doting observance, engrossed opportunities to
200 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
205 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
210 this:
 “Love like a shadow flies when substance love
 pursues,
 Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.”
FALSTAFF Have you received no promise of satisfaction
215 at her hands?
FORD, as Brook Never.
FALSTAFF Have you importuned her to such a
 purpose?
FORD, as Brook Never.
FALSTAFF 220Of what quality was your love, then?
FORD, as Brook Like a fair house built on another
 man’s ground, so that I have lost my edifice by
 mistaking the place where I erected it.
FALSTAFF To what purpose have you unfolded this to
225 me?
FORD, as Brook 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

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 2

230 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 warlike, courtlike, and
235 learned preparations.
FALSTAFF O, sir!
FORD, as Brook Believe it, for you know it. There is
 money. (He points to the bag.) Spend it, spend
 it, spend more; spend all I have. Only give me so
240 much of your time in exchange of it as to lay an
 amiable siege to the honesty of this Ford’s wife.
 Use your art of wooing; win her to consent to you.
 If any man may, you may as soon as any.
FALSTAFF Would it apply well to the vehemency of
245 your affection that I should win what you would
 enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself very
 preposterously.
FORD, as Brook O, understand my drift. She dwells
 so securely on the excellency of her honor that the
250 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,
255 her reputation, her marriage vow, and a thousand
 other her defenses, which now are too too strongly
 embattled against me. What say you to ’t, Sir
 John?
FALSTAFF, taking the bag Master Brook, I will first
260 make bold with your money; next, give me your
 hand; and, last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if
 you will, enjoy Ford’s wife.
FORD, as Brook O, good sir!
FALSTAFF I say you shall.
FORD, as Brook 265Want no money, Sir John; you shall
 want none.

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ACT 2. SC. 2

FALSTAFF Want no Mistress Ford, Master Brook; you
 shall want none. I shall be with her, I may tell you,
 by her own appointment. Even as you came in to
270 me, her assistant or go-between parted from me. I
 say I shall be with her between ten and eleven, for
 at that time the jealous, rascally knave her husband
 will be forth. Come you to me at night. You
 shall know how I speed.
FORD, as Brook 275I am blessed in your acquaintance.
 Do you know Ford, sir?
FALSTAFF Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know
 him not. Yet I wrong him to call him poor. They
 say the jealous wittolly knave hath masses of
280 money, for the which his wife seems to me well-favored.
 I will use her as the key of the cuckoldly
 rogue’s coffer, and there’s my harvest home.
FORD, as Brook I would you knew Ford, sir, that you
 might avoid him if you saw him.
FALSTAFF 285Hang 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
290 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.Falstaff exits.
FORD What a damned epicurean rascal is this! My
295 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
300 coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at. And
 I shall not only receive this villainous wrong but
 stand under the adoption of abominable terms,

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ACT 2. SC. 3

 and by him that does me this wrong. Terms,
 names! “Amaimon” sounds well, “Lucifer” well,
305 “Barbason” well; yet they are devils’ additions, the
 names of fiends. But “Cuckold,” “Wittoll,” “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
310 my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my
 cheese, an Irishman with my aquavitae 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
315 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
320 than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! Cuckold, cuckold,
 cuckold!
He exits.


Scene 3
Enter Doctor Caius and Rugby.

DOCTOR CAIUS Jack Rugby.
RUGBY Sir?
DOCTOR CAIUS Vat is the clock, Jack?
RUGBY ’Tis past the hour, sir, that Sir Hugh promised
5 to meet.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, he has save his soul dat he is no
 come. He has pray his Pible well dat he is no come.
 By gar, Jack Rugby, he is dead already if he be
 come.
RUGBY 10He is wise, sir. He knew your Worship would
 kill him if he came.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 3

DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, de herring is no dead so as I vill
 kill him. Take your rapier, Jack. I vill tell you how I
 vill kill him.
RUGBY 15Alas, sir, I cannot fence.
DOCTOR CAIUS Villainy, take your rapier.
RUGBY Forbear. Here’s company.

Enter Page, Shallow, Slender, and Host.

HOST God bless thee, bully doctor!
SHALLOW God save you, Master Doctor Caius!
PAGE 20Now, good Master Doctor!
SLENDER Give you good morrow, sir.
DOCTOR CAIUS Vat be all you, one, two, tree, four, come
 for?
HOST To see thee fight, to see thee foin, to see thee traverse;
25 to see thee here, to see thee there; to see
 thy pass, thy puncto, 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 Galien, my heart of elder, ha?
30 Is he dead, bully stale? Is he dead?
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, he is de coward jack-priest of de
 vorld. He is not show his face.
HOST Thou art a Castalion King Urinal Hector of
 Greece, my boy!
DOCTOR CAIUS 35I pray you, bear witness that me have
 stay six or seven, two, tree hours for him, and he is
 no come.
SHALLOW He is the wiser man, Master Doctor. He is a
 curer of souls, and you a curer of bodies. If you
40 should fight, you go against the hair of your professions.—
 Is it not true, Master Page?
PAGE Master Shallow, you have yourself been a great
 fighter, though now a man of peace.
SHALLOW Bodykins, Master Page, though I now be old
45 and of the peace, if I see a sword out, my finger

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 3

 itches to make one. Though we are justices and
 doctors and churchmen, Master Page, we have
 some salt of our youth in us. We are the sons of
 women, Master Page.
PAGE 50’Tis true, Master Shallow.
SHALLOW It will be found so, Master Page.—Master
 Doctor Caius, I am come to fetch you home. I am
 sworn of the peace. You have showed yourself a
 wise physician, and Sir Hugh hath shown himself
55 a wise and patient churchman. You must go with
 me, Master Doctor.
HOST Pardon, guest Justice. (To Caius.) A word,
 Monsieur Mockwater.
DOCTOR CAIUS “Mockvater”? Vat is dat?
HOST 60“Mockwater,” in our English tongue, is “valor,”
 bully.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, then I have as much mockvater
 as de Englishman. Scurvy jack-dog priest! By gar,
 me vill cut his ears.
HOST 65He will clapper-claw thee tightly, bully.
DOCTOR CAIUS “Clapper-de-claw”? Vat is dat?
HOST That is, he will make thee amends.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, me do look he shall clapper-de-claw
 me, for, by gar, me vill have it.
HOST 70And I will provoke him to ’t, or let him wag.
DOCTOR CAIUS Me tank you for dat.
HOST And moreover, bully—(He draws Shallow, Page,
 and Slender aside.) 
But first, Master guest, and
 Master Page, and eke Cavaleiro Slender, go you
75 through the town to Frogmore.
PAGE Sir Hugh is there, is he?
HOST He is there. See what humor he is in; and I will
 bring the doctor about by the fields. Will it do
 well?
SHALLOW 80We will do it.
PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER Adieu, good Master
 Doctor.Page, Shallow, and Slender exit.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 2. SC. 3

DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, me vill kill de priest, for he speak
 for a jackanape to Anne Page.
HOST 85Let him die. Sheathe thy impatience; throw cold
 water on thy choler. Go about the fields with me
 through Frogmore. I will bring thee where Mistress
 Anne Page is, at a farmhouse a-feasting, and
 thou shalt woo her. Cried game! Said I well?
DOCTOR CAIUS 90By gar, me dank you vor dat. By gar, I
 love you, and I shall procure-a you de good guest:
 de earl, de knight, de lords, de gentlemen, my
 patients.
HOST For the which I will be thy adversary toward
95 Anne Page. Said I well?
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, ’tis good. Vell said.
HOST Let us wag, then.
DOCTOR CAIUS Come at my heels, Jack Rugby.
They exit.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Enter Sir Hugh Evans (with a book and a sword)
and Simple (carrying Sir Hugh’s gown).


SIR HUGH I pray you now, good Master Slender’s servingman
 and friend Simple by your name, which
 way have you looked for Master Caius, that calls
 himself doctor of physic?
SIMPLE 5Marry, sir, the Petty-ward, the Park-ward,
 every way; Old Windsor way, and every way but
 the town way.
SIR HUGH I most fehemently desire you, you will also
 look that way.
SIMPLE 10I will, sir.He exits.
SIR HUGH Pless my soul, how full of cholers 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
15 opportunities for the ’ork. Pless my soul!
(Sings.)
 To shallow rivers, to whose falls
 Melodious birds sings madrigals.
 There will we make our peds of roses
 And a thousand fragrant posies.
20 To shallow—

 Mercy on me, I have a great dispositions to cry.
89

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 1

(Sings.)
 Melodious birds sing madrigals—
 Whenas I sat in Pabylon—
 And a thousand vagram posies.
25 To shallow rivers, to whose falls
 Melodious birds sings madrigals.


Enter Simple.

SIMPLE Yonder he is, coming this way, Sir Hugh.
SIR HUGH He’s welcome.
(Sings.)
 To shallow rivers, to whose falls—
30 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 Pray you, give me my gown—or else keep it
35 in your arms.

Enter Page, Shallow, and Slender.

SHALLOW How now, Master Parson? Good morrow,
 good Sir Hugh. Keep a gamester from the dice,
 and a good student from his book, and it is
 wonderful.
SLENDER, aside 40Ah, sweet Anne Page!
PAGE God save you, good Sir Hugh!
SIR HUGH God pless you from His mercy sake, all of
 you!
SHALLOW What, the sword and the word? Do you
45 study them both, Master Parson?
PAGE And youthful still—in your doublet and hose
 this raw rheumatic day?
SIR HUGH There is reasons and causes for it.
PAGE We are come to you to do a good office, Master
50 Parson.
SIR HUGH Fery well. What is it?

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ACT 3. SC. 1

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
55 ever you saw.
SHALLOW I have lived fourscore years and upward. I
 never heard a man of his place, gravity, and learning
 so wide of his own respect.
SIR HUGH What is he?
PAGE 60I think you know him: Master Doctor Caius, the
 renowned French physician.
SIR HUGH Got’s will and His passion of my heart! I had
 as lief you would tell me of a mess of porridge.
PAGE Why?
SIR HUGH 65He has no more knowledge in Hibbocrates
 and Galen—and he is a knave besides, a cowardly
 knave as you would desires to be acquainted
 withal.
PAGE, to Shallow I warrant you, he’s the man should
70 fight with him.
SLENDER, aside O, sweet Anne Page!
SHALLOW It appears so by his weapons. Keep them
 asunder. Here comes Doctor Caius.

Enter Host, Doctor Caius, and Rugby.
Caius and Sir Hugh offer to fight.


PAGE Nay, good Master Parson, keep in your weapon.
SHALLOW 75So do you, good Master Doctor.
HOST Disarm them, and let them question. Let them
 keep their limbs whole and hack our English.
Page and Shallow disarm Caius and Sir Hugh.
DOCTOR CAIUS, to Sir Hugh I pray you, let-a me speak
 a word with your ear. Verefore vill you not
80 meet-a me?
SIR HUGH, aside to Caius Pray you, use your patience.
 (Aloud.) In good time.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, you are de coward, de Jack dog,
 John ape.

95
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 1

SIR HUGH, aside to Caius 85Pray you, let us not be
 laughing-stocks to other men’s humors. I desire
 you in friendship, and I will one way or other
 make you amends. (Aloud.) By Jeshu, I will knog
 your urinal about your knave’s cogscomb.
DOCTOR CAIUS 90Diable! 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 As I am a Christians soul, now look you, this
 is the place appointed. I’ll be judgment by mine
95 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
100 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. (To Caius.) Give me thy hand, terrestrial;
105 so. (To Sir Hugh.) 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. (To Page and Shallow.) Come, lay their
110 swords to pawn. (To Caius and Sir Hugh.) Follow
 me, lads of peace, follow, follow, follow.
Host exits.
SHALLOW Afore God, a mad Host. Follow, gentlemen,
 follow.
SLENDER, aside O, sweet Anne Page!
Shallow, Page, and Slender exit.
DOCTOR CAIUS 115Ha, do I perceive dat? Have you make-a
 de sot of us, ha, ha?
SIR HUGH This is well! He has made us his vloutingstog.
 I desire you that we may be friends, and let

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 2

 us knog our prains together to be revenge on this
120 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 125Well, I will smite his noddles. Pray you,
 follow.
Sir Hugh, Caius, Simple, and Rugby exit.


Scene 2
Enter Robin followed by Mistress Page.

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 5I 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 10Truly, 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 15Be sure of that—two other husbands.
FORD Where had you this pretty weathercock?
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 20Sir John Falstaff.

99
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 2

FORD Sir John Falstaff!
MISTRESS PAGE He, he. I can never hit on ’s name.
 There is such a league between my goodman and
 he. Is your wife at home indeed?
FORD 25Indeed, she is.
MISTRESS PAGE By your leave, sir. I am sick till I see
 her.Mistress Page and Robin exit.
FORD Has Page any brains? Hath he any eyes? Hath
 he any thinking? Sure they sleep; he hath no use
30 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.
35 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
40 Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure
 and willful Acteon, and to these violent proceedings
 all my neighbors shall cry aim. A clock
 strikes. 
The clock gives me my cue, and my assurance
 bids me search. There I shall find Falstaff. I
45 shall be rather praised for this than mocked, for it
 is as positive as the earth is firm that Falstaff is
 there. I will go.

Enter Page, Shallow, Slender, Host, Sir Hugh
Evans, Doctor Caius, and Rugby.


SHALLOW, PAGE, ETC. Well met, Master Ford.
FORD Trust me, a good knot. I have good cheer at
50 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.

101
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 2

SHALLOW 55We 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
60 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, to Page What say you to young Master Fenton?
65 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
70 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
75 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,
80 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.
Shallow and Slender exit.
DOCTOR CAIUS Go home, John Rugby. I come anon.
Rugby exits.
HOST 85Farewell, my hearts. I will to my honest knight
 Falstaff, and drink canary with him.He exits.
FORD, aside I think I shall drink in pipe-wine first
 with him; I’ll make him dance.—Will you go,
 gentles?

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

PAGE, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH 90Have with you to
 see this monster.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Mistress Ford and Mistress Page.

MISTRESS FORD What, John! What, Robert!
MISTRESS PAGE Quickly, quickly! Is the buck-basket—
MISTRESS FORD I warrant.—What, Robert, I say!

Enter John and Robert with a large buck-basket.

MISTRESS PAGE Come, come, come.
MISTRESS FORD 5Here, 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 brewhouse,
10 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
15 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.John and Robert exit.
MISTRESS PAGE 20Here 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.

105
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

MISTRESS PAGE 25You 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
30 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.
35 (Robin exits.) Mistress Page, remember you your
 cue.
MISTRESS PAGE I warrant thee. If I do not act it, hiss
 me.She exits.
MISTRESS FORD Go to, then. We’ll use this unwholesome
40 humidity, this gross-wat’ry pumpion. We’ll
 teach him to know turtles from jays.

Enter Sir John Falstaff.

FALSTAFF “Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel?”
 Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough.
 This is the period of my ambition. O, this blessèd
45 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
50 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
55 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.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

FALSTAFF 60Thou art a tyrant 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 semicircled farthingale. I see what thou wert,
 if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend.
65 Come, thou canst not hide it.
MISTRESS FORD Believe me, there’s no such thing in
 me.
FALSTAFF What made me love thee? Let that persuade
 thee. There’s something extraordinary in thee.
70 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 deserv’st it.
MISTRESS FORD 75Do 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 80Well, 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.

Enter Robin.

ROBIN 85Mistress 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
90 the arras.
MISTRESS FORD Pray you, do so. She’s a very tattling
 woman.Falstaff stands behind the arras.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

Enter Mistress Page.

 What’s the matter? How now?
MISTRESS PAGE O Mistress Ford, what have you done?
95 You’re shamed, you’re overthrown, you’re undone
 forever!
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
100 cause of suspicion!
MISTRESS FORD What cause of suspicion?
MISTRESS PAGE What cause of suspicion? Out upon you!
 How am I mistook in you!
MISTRESS FORD Why, alas, what’s the matter?
MISTRESS PAGE 105Your husband’s coming hither, woman,
 with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman
 that he says is here now in the house, by
 your consent, to take an ill advantage of his absence.
 You are undone.
MISTRESS FORD 110’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
115 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
 forever.
MISTRESS FORD 120What 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
125 rather” and “you had rather.” Your husband’s here
 at hand. Bethink you of some conveyance. In the

111
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ACT 3. SC. 3

 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
130 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 comes forward.
FALSTAFF 135Let 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? (Aside to
 him.) 
Are these your letters, knight?
FALSTAFF, aside to Mistress Page I love thee. Help me
140 away. Let me creep in here. I’ll never—

Falstaff goes into the basket; they cover
him with dirty clothes.


MISTRESS PAGE, to Robin Help to cover your master,
 boy.—Call your men, Mistress Ford.—You dissembling
 knight!Robin exits.
MISTRESS FORD What, John! Robert! John!

Enter Robert and John.

145 Go, take up these clothes here quickly. Where’s the
 cowlstaff? Look how you drumble! Carry them to
 the laundress in Datchet Mead. Quickly! Come.

Enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius,
and Sir Hugh Evans.


FORD Pray you, come near. If I suspect without cause,
 why then make sport at me. Then let me be your
150 jest; I deserve it.—How now? Whither bear you
 this?
ROBERT and JOHN To the laundress, forsooth.
MISTRESS FORD Why, what have you to do whither they
 bear it? You were best meddle with buck-washing!

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

FORD 155Buck? 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.
Robert and John exit with the buck-basket.
 Gentlemen, I have dreamed tonight; I’ll tell you my
 dream. Here, here, here be my keys. Ascend my
160 chambers. Search, seek, find out. I’ll warrant we’ll
 unkennel the fox. Let me stop this way first. (He
 locks the door.) 
So, now uncape.
PAGE Good Master Ford, be contented. You wrong
 yourself too much.
FORD 165True, Master Page.—Up, gentlemen. You shall
 see sport anon. Follow me, gentlemen.He exits.
SIR HUGH This is fery fantastical humors and
 jealousies.
DOCTOR CAIUS By gar, ’tis no the fashion of France. It is
170 not jealous in France.
PAGE Nay, follow him, gentlemen. See the issue of his
 search.Page, Sir Hugh, and Caius exit.
MISTRESS PAGE Is there not a double excellency in this?
MISTRESS FORD I know not which pleases me better—
175 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
180 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
185 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

115
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 3

190 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 tomorrow
 eight o’clock to have amends.

Enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius, and Sir Hugh.

FORD 195I cannot find him. Maybe 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 200Ay, I do so.
MISTRESS FORD Heaven make you better than your
 thoughts!
FORD Amen!
MISTRESS PAGE You do yourself mighty wrong, Master
205 Ford.
FORD Ay, ay. I must bear it.
SIR HUGH If there be anypody 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 210Be gar, nor I too. There is nobodies.
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 215’Tis my fault, Master Page. I suffer for it.
SIR HUGH 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 220Well, 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

117
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 4

 this.—Come, wife—come, Mistress Page, I pray
 you, pardon me. Pray, heartily, pardon me.
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford exit.
PAGE, to Caius and Sir Hugh 225Let’s go in, gentlemen.
 But, trust me, we’ll mock him. (To Ford, Caius,
 and Sir Hugh.) 
I do invite you tomorrow morning
 to my house to breakfast. After, we’ll a-birding together;
 I have a fine hawk for the bush. Shall it be
230 so?
FORD Anything.
SIR HUGH If there is one, I shall make two in the
 company.
DOCTOR CAIUS If there be one or two, I shall make-a the
235 turd.
FORD Pray you, go, Master Page.
Ford and Page exit.
SIR HUGH 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 240A lousy knave, to have his gibes and his
 mockeries!
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Fenton and Anne Page.

FENTON 
 I see I cannot get thy father’s love;
 Therefore no more turn me to him, sweet Nan.
ANNE 
 Alas, how then?
FENTON  Why, thou must be thyself.
5 He doth object I am too great of birth,
 And that, my state being galled with my expense,
 I seek to heal it only by his wealth.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 4

 Besides these, other bars he lays before me—
 My riots past, my wild societies—
10 And tells me ’tis a thing impossible
 I should love thee but as a property.
ANNE Maybe he tells you true.
FENTON 
 No, heaven so speed me in my time to come!
 Albeit I will confess thy father’s wealth
15 Was the first motive that I wooed thee, Anne,
 Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value
 Than stamps in gold or sums in sealèd bags.
 And ’tis the very riches of thyself
 That now I aim at.
ANNE 20 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 talk aside.

Enter Shallow, Slender, and Mistress Quickly.

SHALLOW Break their talk, Mistress Quickly. My kinsman
25 shall speak for himself.
SLENDER I’ll make a shaft or a bolt on ’t. ’Slid, ’tis but
 venturing.
SHALLOW Be not dismayed.
SLENDER No, she shall not dismay me. I care not for
30 that, but that I am afeard.
MISTRESS QUICKLY, to Anne Hark ye, Master Slender
 would speak a word with you.
ANNE 
 I come to him. (Aside.) This is my father’s choice.
 O, what a world of vile ill-favored faults
35 Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!
MISTRESS QUICKLY And how does good Master Fenton?
 Pray you, a word with you.They talk aside.
SHALLOW, to Slender She’s coming. To her, coz! O
 boy, thou hadst a father!

121
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 4

SLENDER 40I 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 45Ay, that I do, as well as I love any woman in
 Gloucestershire.
SHALLOW He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.
SLENDER Ay, that I will, come cut and longtail, under
 the degree of a squire.
SHALLOW 50He will make you a hundred and fifty
 pounds jointure.
ANNE Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
SHALLOW Marry, I thank you for it. I thank you for that
 good comfort.—She calls you, coz. I’ll leave you.
He steps aside.
ANNE 55Now, Master Slender.
SLENDER Now, good Mistress Anne.
ANNE What is your will?
SLENDER My will? ’Od’s heartlings, that’s a pretty jest
 indeed! I ne’er made my will yet, I thank heaven. I
60 am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise.
ANNE I mean, Master Slender, what would you with
 me?
SLENDER Truly, for mine own part, I would little or
 nothing with you. Your father and my uncle hath
65 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.

Enter Page and Mistress Page.

 Here he comes.
PAGE 
 Now, Master Slender.—Love him, daughter Anne.—
70 Why, how now? What does Master Fenton here?

123
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 4

 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 75She 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.
Page, Shallow, and Slender exit.
MISTRESS QUICKLY, to Fenton 80Speak to Mistress Page.
FENTON 
 Good Mistress Page, for that I love your daughter
 In such a righteous fashion as I do,
 Perforce, against all checks, rebukes, and manners,
 I must advance the colors of my love
85 And not retire. Let me have your good will.
ANNE 
 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 
 Alas, I had rather be set quick i’ th’ earth
90 And bowled 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.
95 Till then, farewell, sir. She must needs go in;
 Her father will be angry.
FENTON 
 Farewell, gentle mistress.—Farewell, Nan.
Mistress Page and Anne Page exit.

125
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 5

MISTRESS QUICKLY This is my doing now. “Nay,” said I,
 “will you cast away your child on a fool and a
100 physician? Look on Master Fenton.” This is my
 doing.
FENTON 
 I thank thee; and I pray thee, once tonight
 Give my sweet Nan this ring. There’s for thy pains.
He gives her money and a ring.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Now heaven send thee good fortune.
Fenton exits.
105 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
110 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!
She exits.


Scene 5
Enter Sir John Falstaff.

FALSTAFF Bardolph, I say!

Enter Bardolph.

BARDOLPH Here, sir.
FALSTAFF Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in ’t.
Bardolph exits.
 Have I lived to be carried in a basket like a barrow
5 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. ’Sblood, the rogues

127
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 5

 slighted me into the river with as little remorse as
10 they would have drowned a blind bitch’s puppies,
 fifteen i’ th’ 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
15 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! By the Lord, I should have
 been a mountain of mummy.

Enter Bardolph with cups of sack.

BARDOLPH Here’s Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with
20 you.
FALSTAFF Come, let me pour in some sack to the
 Thames water, for my belly’s as cold as if I had
 swallowed snowballs for pills to cool the reins. He
 drinks. 
Call her in.
BARDOLPH 25Come in, woman.

Enter Mistress Quickly.

MISTRESS QUICKLY By your leave, I cry you mercy. Give
 your Worship good morrow.
FALSTAFF, to Bardolph Take away these chalices. Go
 brew me a pottle of sack finely.
BARDOLPH 30With eggs, sir?
FALSTAFF Simple of itself. I’ll no pullet sperm in my
 brewage.Bardolph exits.
 How now?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Marry, sir, I come to your Worship
35 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
40 not her fault. She does so take on with her men;
 they mistook their erection.

129
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 5

FALSTAFF So did I mine, to build upon a foolish
 woman’s promise.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it
45 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 50Well, 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, say’st thou?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 55Eight and nine, sir.
FALSTAFF Well, be gone. I will not miss her.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Peace be with you, sir.
Mistress Quickly exits.
FALSTAFF I marvel I hear not of Master Brook. He
 sent me word to stay within. I like his money well.

Enter Ford disguised as Brook.

60 O, here he comes.
FORD, as Brook God bless you, sir.
FALSTAFF Now, Master Brook, you come to know
 what hath passed between me and Ford’s wife.
FORD, as Brook That indeed, Sir John, is my
65 business.
FALSTAFF Master Brook, I will not lie to you. I was at
 her house the hour she appointed me.
FORD, as Brook And sped you, sir?
FALSTAFF Very ill-favoredly, Master Brook.
FORD, as Brook 70How 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

131
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 3. SC. 5

75 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
80 his wife’s love.
FORD, as Brook What, while you were there?
FALSTAFF While I was there.
FORD, as Brook And did he search for you and could
 not find you?
FALSTAFF 85You 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, as Brook 90A buck-basket!
FALSTAFF By the Lord, a buck-basket! Rammed me
 in with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings,
 greasy napkins, that, Master Brook, there
 was the rankest compound of villainous smell that
95 ever offended nostril.
FORD, as Brook 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
100 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
105 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.
110 I suffered the pangs of three several deaths: first,

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ACT 3. SC. 5

 an intolerable fright to be detected with a jealous
 rotten bellwether; 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
115 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
120 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 horseshoe! Think of that—hissing
 hot—think of that, Master Brook.
FORD, as Brook 125In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that
 for my sake you have suffered all this. My suit,
 then, is desperate. You’ll undertake her no more?
FALSTAFF Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna,
 as I have been into Thames, ere I will leave her
130 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, as Brook ’Tis past eight already, sir.
FALSTAFF 135Is 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
140 Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.Falstaff exits.
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
145 and buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself
 what I am. I will now take the lecher. He is at my

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ACT 3. SC. 5

 house. He cannot ’scape me. ’Tis impossible he
 should. He cannot creep into a half-penny purse,
 nor into a pepper-box. But lest the devil that
150 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.
He exits.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter Mistress Page, Mistress Quickly, and William.

MISTRESS PAGE Is he at Master Ford’s already, think’st
 thou?
MISTRESS QUICKLY Sure he is by this, or will be presently.
 But truly he is very courageous mad about
5 his throwing into the water. Mistress Ford desires
 you to come suddenly.
MISTRESS PAGE I’ll be with her by and by. I’ll but bring
 my young man here to school.

Enter Sir Hugh Evans.

 Look where his master comes. ’Tis a playing day, I
10 see.—How now, Sir Hugh, no school today?
SIR HUGH No. Master Slender is let the boys leave to
 play.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Blessing of his heart!
MISTRESS PAGE Sir Hugh, my husband says my son
15 profits nothing in the world at his book. I pray you,
 ask him some questions in his accidence.
SIR HUGH Come hither, William. Hold up your head.
 Come.
MISTRESS PAGE Come on, sirrah. Hold up your head.
20 Answer your master. Be not afraid.
SIR HUGH William, how many numbers is in nouns?
WILLIAM Two.
139

141
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ACT 4. SC. 1

MISTRESS QUICKLY Truly, I thought there had been one
 number more, because they say “’Od’s nouns.”
SIR HUGH 25Peace your tattlings!—What is “fair,”
 William?
WILLIAM Pulcher.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Polecats? There are fairer things
 than polecats, sure.
SIR HUGH 30You are a very simplicity ’oman. I pray you,
 peace.—What is lapis, William?
WILLIAM A stone.
SIR HUGH And what is “a stone,” William?
WILLIAM A pebble.
SIR HUGH 35No. It is lapis. I pray you, remember in your
 prain.
WILLIAM Lapis.
SIR HUGH That is a good William. What is he, William,
 that does lend articles?
WILLIAM 40Articles are borrowed of the pronoun and be
 thus declined: singulariter, nominativo, hic, haec,
 hoc
.
SIR HUGH Nominativo, hig, haeg, hog. Pray you, mark:
 genitivo, huius. Well, what is your accusative case?
WILLIAM 45Accusativo, hinc.
SIR HUGH I pray you, have your remembrance, child.
 Accusativo, hung, hang, hog.
MISTRESS QUICKLY “Hang-hog” is Latin for bacon, I
 warrant you.
SIR HUGH 50Leave your prabbles, ’oman.—What is the
 focative case, William?
WILLIAM O—vocativo—O—
SIR HUGH Remember, William, focative is caret.
MISTRESS QUICKLY And that’s a good root.
SIR HUGH 55’Oman, forbear.
MISTRESS PAGE, to Mistress Quickly Peace!
SIR HUGH What is your genitive case plural, William?
WILLIAM Genitive case?

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ACT 4. SC. 2

SIR HUGH Ay.
WILLIAM 60Genitive: horum, harum, horum.
MISTRESS QUICKLY Vengeance of Ginny’s case! Fie on
 her! Never name her, child, if she be a whore.
SIR HUGH For shame, ’oman!
MISTRESS QUICKLY You do ill to teach the child such
65 words.—He teaches him to hick and to hack,
 which they’ll do fast enough of themselves, and to
 call “whorum.”—Fie upon you!
SIR HUGH ’Oman, art thou lunatics? Hast thou no understandings
 for thy cases and the numbers of the
70 genders? Thou art as foolish Christian creatures as
 I would desires.
MISTRESS PAGE, to Mistress Quickly Prithee, hold thy
 peace.
SIR HUGH Show me now, William, some declensions of
75 your pronouns.
WILLIAM Forsooth, I have forgot.
SIR HUGH 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.
MISTRESS PAGE 80He is a better scholar than I thought he
 was.
SIR HUGH He is a good sprag memory. Farewell, Mistress
 Page.
MISTRESS PAGE Adieu, good Sir Hugh.—Get you home,
85 boy. (To Mistress Quickly.) Come. We stay too
 long.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Sir John Falstaff and Mistress Ford.

FALSTAFF Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up
 my sufferance. I see you are obsequious in your
 love, and I profess requital to a hair’s breadth, not

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ACT 4. SC. 2

 only, Mistress Ford, in the simple office of love,
5 but in all the accoutrement, compliment, and ceremony
 of it. But are you sure of your husband now?
MISTRESS FORD He’s a-birding, sweet Sir John.
MISTRESS PAGE, within What ho, gossip Ford! What
 ho!
MISTRESS FORD 10Step into th’ chamber, Sir John.
Falstaff exits.

Enter Mistress Page.

MISTRESS PAGE How now, sweetheart, who’s at home
 besides yourself?
MISTRESS FORD Why, none but mine own people.
MISTRESS PAGE Indeed?
MISTRESS FORD 15No, certainly. Aside to her. Speak
 louder.
MISTRESS PAGE Truly, I am so glad you have nobody
 here.
MISTRESS FORD Why?
MISTRESS PAGE 20Why, 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
25 “Peer out, peer out!” that any madness I ever yet
 beheld seemed but tameness, civility, and patience
 to this his distemper he is in now. I am glad the fat
 knight is not here.
MISTRESS FORD Why, does he talk of him?
MISTRESS PAGE 30Of none but him, and swears he was
 carried out, the last time he searched for him, in a
 basket; protests to my husband he is now here;
 and hath drawn him and the rest of their company
 from their sport to make another experiment of
35 his suspicion. But I am glad the knight is not here.
 Now he shall see his own foolery.

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ACT 4. SC. 2

MISTRESS FORD How near is he, Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE Hard by, at street end. He will be here
 anon.
MISTRESS FORD 40I am undone! The knight is here.
MISTRESS PAGE Why then, you are utterly shamed, and
 he’s but a dead man. What a woman are you! Away
 with him, away with him! Better shame than
 murder.
MISTRESS FORD 45Which way should he go? How should
 I bestow him? Shall I put him into the basket
 again?

Enter Sir John Falstaff.

FALSTAFF No, I’ll come no more i’ th’ basket. May I not
 go out ere he come?
MISTRESS PAGE 50Alas, 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
55 chimney.
MISTRESS FORD There they always use to discharge
 their birding pieces.
MISTRESS PAGE Creep into the kiln-hole.
FALSTAFF Where is it?
MISTRESS FORD 60He will seek there, on my word. Neither
 press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he
 hath an abstract for the remembrance of such
 places, and goes to them by his note. There is no
 hiding you in the house.
FALSTAFF 65I’ll go out, then.
MISTRESS PAGE If you go out in your own semblance,
 you die, Sir John—unless you go out disguised.
MISTRESS FORD How might we disguise him?
MISTRESS PAGE Alas the day, I know not. There is no
70 woman’s gown big enough for him; otherwise he

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ACT 4. SC. 2

 might put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief, and
 so escape.
FALSTAFF Good hearts, devise something. Any extremity
 rather than a mischief.
MISTRESS FORD 75My maid’s aunt, the fat woman of
 Brentford, has a gown above.
MISTRESS PAGE On my word, it will serve him. She’s as
 big as he is. And there’s her thrummed hat and her
 muffler too.—Run up, Sir John.
MISTRESS FORD 80Go, go, sweet Sir John. Mistress Page
 and I will look some linen for your head.
MISTRESS PAGE Quick, quick! We’ll come dress you
 straight. Put on the gown the while.
Falstaff exits.
MISTRESS FORD I would my husband would meet him
85 in this shape. He cannot abide the old woman of
 Brentford. He swears she’s a witch, forbade her my
 house, and hath threatened to beat her.
MISTRESS PAGE Heaven guide him to thy husband’s
 cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards!
MISTRESS FORD 90But is my husband coming?
MISTRESS PAGE Ay, in good sadness is he, and talks of
 the basket too, howsoever he hath had
 intelligence.
MISTRESS FORD We’ll try that; for I’ll appoint my men
95 to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door
 with it as they did last time.
MISTRESS PAGE Nay, but he’ll be here presently. Let’s go
 dress him like the witch of Brentford.
MISTRESS FORD I’ll first direct my men what they shall
100 do with the basket. Go up. I’ll bring linen for him
 straight.She exits.
MISTRESS PAGE Hang him, dishonest varlet! We cannot
 misuse him enough.
 We’ll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
105 Wives may be merry and yet honest too.

151
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 2

 We do not act that often jest and laugh;
 ’Tis old but true: “Still swine eats all the draff.”
She exits.

Enter Mistress Ford with Robert and John,
who bring the buck-basket.


MISTRESS FORD Go, sirs, take the basket again on your
 shoulders. Your master is hard at door. If he bid
110 you set it down, obey him. Quickly, dispatch.
She exits.
ROBERT Come, come, take it up.
JOHN Pray heaven it be not full of knight again.
ROBERT I hope not. I had lief as bear so much lead.
They pick up the basket.

Enter Ford, Page, Doctor Caius, Sir Hugh
Evans, and Shallow.


FORD Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you
115 any way then to unfool me again?—Set down the
 basket, villain. They put the basket down. Somebody
 call my wife. Youth in a basket! O, you panderly
 rascals! There’s a knot, a gang, a pack, a
 conspiracy against me. Now shall the devil be
120 shamed.—What, wife, I say! Come, come forth!
 Behold what honest clothes you send forth to
 bleaching!
PAGE Why, this passes, Master Ford! You are not to go
 loose any longer; you must be pinioned.
SIR HUGH 125Why, 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.

Enter Mistress Ford.

 Come hither, Mistress Ford.—Mistress Ford, the
130 honest woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature,

153
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 2

 that hath the jealous fool to her husband!—I
 suspect without cause, mistress, do I?
MISTRESS FORD Heaven be my witness you do, if you
 suspect me in any dishonesty.
FORD 135Well said, brazen-face. Hold it out.—Come
 forth, sirrah.He pulls clothes out of the basket.
PAGE This passes.
MISTRESS FORD Are you not ashamed? Let the clothes
 alone.
FORD 140I shall find you anon.
SIR HUGH ’Tis unreasonable. Will you take up your
 wife’s clothes? Come, away.
FORD, to the Servants Empty the basket, I say.
MISTRESS FORD Why, man, why?
FORD 145Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed
 out of my house yesterday in this basket.
 Why may not he be there again? In my house I am
 sure he is. My intelligence is true, my jealousy is
 reasonable.—Pluck me out all the linen.
MISTRESS FORD 150If you find a man there, he shall die a
 flea’s death.Robert and John empty the basket.
PAGE Here’s no man.
SHALLOW By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford.
 This wrongs you.
SIR HUGH 155Master 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 160Help to search my house this one time. If I find
 not what I seek, show no color for my extremity.
 Let me forever be your table-sport. Let them say of
 me “As jealous as Ford, that searched a hollow
 walnut for his wife’s leman.” Satisfy me once
165 more. Once more search with me.
Robert and John refill the basket and carry it off.

155
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 2

MISTRESS FORD, calling offstage What ho, Mistress
 Page! Come you and the old woman down. My
 husband will come into the chamber.
FORD “Old woman”? What old woman’s that?
MISTRESS FORD 170Why, it is my maid’s aunt of Brentford.
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
175 fortune-telling. She works by charms, by spells, by
 th’ figure, and such daubery as this is, beyond our
 element. We know nothing.— Come down, you
 witch, you hag, you! Come down, I say!
Ford seizes a cudgel.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, good sweet husband!—Good gentlemen,
180 let him not strike the old woman.

Enter Mistress Page and Sir John Falstaff disguised
as an old woman.


MISTRESS PAGE Come, Mother Pratt; come, give me
 your hand.
FORD I’ll pratt her. (He beats Falstaff.) Out of my
 door, you witch, you rag, you baggage, you polecat,
185 you runnion! Out, out! I’ll conjure you, I’ll
 fortune-tell you!Falstaff exits.
MISTRESS PAGE Are you not ashamed? I think you have
 killed the poor woman.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, he will do it.—’Tis a goodly credit
190 for you.
FORD Hang her, witch!
SIR HUGH By yea and no, I think the ’oman is a witch
 indeed. I like not when a ’oman has a great peard.
 I spy a great peard under her muffler.
FORD 195Will 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.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 3

PAGE Let’s obey his humor a little further. Come,
200 gentlemen.
Ford, Page, Caius, Sir Hugh, and Shallow exit.
MISTRESS PAGE Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.
MISTRESS FORD Nay, by th’ Mass, that he did not; he
 beat him most unpitifully, methought.
MISTRESS PAGE I’ll have the cudgel hallowed and hung
205 o’er the altar. It hath done meritorious service.
MISTRESS FORD What think you? May we, with the
 warrant of womanhood and the witness of a good
 conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?
MISTRESS PAGE The spirit of wantonness is, sure,
210 scared out of him. If the devil have him not in fee
 simple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I
 think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.
MISTRESS FORD Shall we tell our husbands how we
 have served him?
MISTRESS PAGE 215Yes, by all means—if it be but to scrape
 the figures out of your husband’s brains. If they
 can find in their hearts the poor unvirtuous fat
 knight shall be any further afflicted, we two will
 still be the ministers.
MISTRESS FORD 220I’ll warrant they’ll have him publicly
 shamed, and methinks there would be no period to
 the jest should he not be publicly shamed.
MISTRESS PAGE Come, to the forge with it, then shape
 it. I would not have things cool.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Host and Bardolph.

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

159
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 4

HOST What duke should that be comes so secretly? I
5 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
10 week at command; I have turned away my other
 guests. They must come off. I’ll sauce them. Come.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Page, Ford, Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and
Sir Hugh Evans.


SIR HUGH ’Tis one of the best discretions of a ’oman as
 ever I did look upon.
PAGE And did he send you both these letters at an
 instant?
MISTRESS PAGE 5Within 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 honor
 stand,
10 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 offense.
 But let our plot go forward. Let our wives
15 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
20 park at midnight? Fie, fie, he’ll never come.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 4

SIR HUGH You say he has been thrown in the rivers
 and has been grievously peaten as an old ’oman.
 Methinks there should be terrors in him, that he
 should not come. Methinks his flesh is punished;
25 he shall have no desires.
PAGE So think I too.
MISTRESS FORD 
 Devise but how you’ll use him when he comes,
 And let us two devise to bring him thither.
MISTRESS PAGE 
 There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter,
30 Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
 Doth all the wintertime, at still midnight,
 Walk round about an oak, with great ragged horns,
 And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
 And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a
35 chain
 In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
 You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
 The superstitious idle-headed eld
 Received and did deliver to our age
40 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?
MISTRESS FORD  Marry, this is our device,
45 That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us.
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?
MISTRESS PAGE 
50 That likewise have we thought upon, and thus:
 Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,

163
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 4

 And three or four more of their growth we’ll dress
 Like urchins, aufs, and fairies, green and white,
 With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads
55 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 diffusèd song. Upon their sight,
 We two in great amazedness will fly.
60 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.
FORD 65 And till he tell the truth,
 Let the supposèd fairies pinch him sound
 And burn him with their tapers.
MISTRESS PAGE  The truth being known,
 We’ll all present ourselves, dis-horn the spirit,
70 And mock him home to Windsor.
FORD  The children must
 Be practiced well to this, or they’ll ne’er do ’t.
SIR HUGH I will teach the children their behaviors, and
 I will be like a jackanapes also, to burn the knight
75 with my taber.
FORD That will be excellent. I’ll go buy them vizards.
MISTRESS PAGE 
 My Nan shall be the queen of all the fairies,
 Finely attirèd in a robe of white.
PAGE 
 That silk will I go buy. (Aside.) And in that time
80 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.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 5

MISTRESS PAGE 
85 Fear not you that. Go get us properties
 And tricking for our fairies.
SIR HUGH Let us about it. It is admirable pleasures and
 fery honest knaveries.
Page, Ford, and Sir Hugh exit.
MISTRESS PAGE Go, Mistress Ford,
90 Send quickly to Sir John to know his mind.
Mistress Ford exits.
 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.
95 The doctor is well-moneyed, and his friends
 Potent at court. He, none but he, shall have her,
 Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her.
She exits.


Scene 5
Enter Host and Simple.

HOST What wouldst thou have, boor? What, thickskin?
 Speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick,
 snap.
SIMPLE Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff
5 from Master Slender.
HOST There’s his chamber, his house, his castle, his
 standing-bed and truckle-bed. ’Tis painted about
 with the story of the Prodigal, fresh and new. Go,
 knock and call. He’ll speak like an Anthropophaginian
10 unto thee. Knock, I say.
SIMPLE There’s an old woman, a fat woman, gone up
 into his chamber. I’ll be so bold as stay, sir, till she
 come down. I come to speak with her, indeed.
HOST Ha? A fat woman? The knight may be robbed.
15 I’ll call.—Bully knight! Bully Sir John! Speak from

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 5

 thy lungs military. Art thou there? It is thine Host,
 thine Ephesian, calls.
FALSTAFF, within How now, mine Host?
HOST Here’s a Bohemian Tartar tarries the coming
20 down of thy fat woman. Let her descend, bully, let
 her descend. My chambers are honorable. Fie! Privacy?
 Fie!

Enter Sir John Falstaff.

FALSTAFF There was, mine Host, an old fat woman
 even now with me, but she’s gone.
SIMPLE 25Pray you, sir, was ’t not the wise woman of
 Brentford?
FALSTAFF Ay, marry, was it, mussel-shell. What would
 you with her?
SIMPLE My master, sir, my Master Slender, sent to her,
30 seeing her go through the streets, to know, sir,
 whether one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain,
 had the chain or no.
FALSTAFF I spake with the old woman about it.
SIMPLE And what says she, I pray, sir?
FALSTAFF 35Marry, she says that the very same man that
 beguiled Master Slender of his chain cozened him
 of it.
SIMPLE I would I could have spoken with the woman
 herself. I had other things to have spoken with her
40 too from him.
FALSTAFF What are they? Let us know.
HOST Ay, come. Quick!
SIMPLE I may not conceal them, sir.
HOST Conceal them, or thou diest.
SIMPLE 45Why, 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?

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ACT 4. SC. 5

FALSTAFF 50To have her or no. Go. Say the woman told
 me so.
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
55 glad with these tidings.He exits.
HOST Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, Sir John. Was
 there a wise woman with thee?
FALSTAFF Ay, that there was, mine Host, one that hath
 taught me more wit than ever I learned before in
60 my life. And I paid nothing for it neither, but was
 paid for my learning.

Enter Bardolph.

BARDOLPH, to Host Out, alas, sir, cozenage, mere
 cozenage!
HOST Where be my horses? Speak well of them,
65 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
70 Doctor Faustuses.
HOST They are gone but to meet the Duke, villain. Do
 not say they be fled. Germans are honest men.

Enter Sir Hugh Evans.

SIR HUGH Where is mine Host?
HOST What is the matter, sir?
SIR HUGH 75Have a care of your entertainments. There is
 a friend of mine come to town tells me there is
 three cozen-Germans that has cozened all the
 hosts of Readings, of Maidenhead, of Colnbrook,
 of horses and money. I tell you for good will, look
80 you. You are wise, and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks,
 and ’tis not convenient you should be cozened.
 Fare you well.He exits.

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ACT 4. SC. 5

Enter Doctor Caius.

DOCTOR CAIUS Vere is mine Host de Jarteer?
HOST Here, Master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful
85 dilemma.
DOCTOR CAIUS I cannot tell vat is dat. But it is tell-a me
 dat you make grand preparation for a duke de
 Jamanie. By my trot, dere is no duke that the court
 is know to come. I tell you for good will. Adieu.
He exits.
HOST, to Bardolph 90Hue and cry, villain, go!—Assist
 me, knight. I am undone.—Fly, run; hue and cry,
 villain! I am undone.Host and Bardolph exit.
FALSTAFF I would all the world might be cozened, for I
 have been cozened and beaten too. If it should
95 come to the ear of the court how I have been transformed,
 and how my transformation hath been
 washed and cudgeled, 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
100 fine wits till I were as crestfallen as a dried pear. I
 never prospered since I forswore myself at
 primero. Well, if my wind were but long enough, I
 would repent.

Enter Mistress Quickly.

 Now, whence come you?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 105From the two parties, forsooth.
FALSTAFF The devil take one party, and his dam the
 other, and so they shall be both bestowed. I have
 suffered more for their sakes, more than the villainous
 inconstancy of man’s disposition is able to
110 bear.
MISTRESS QUICKLY And have not they suffered? Yes, I
 warrant, speciously one of them. Mistress Ford,

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ACT 4. SC. 6

 good heart, is beaten black and blue that you cannot
 see a white spot about her.
FALSTAFF 115What tell’st thou me of black and blue? I was
 beaten myself into all the colors of the rainbow,
 and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of
 Brentford. But that my admirable dexterity of wit,
 my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, delivered
120 me, the knave constable had set me i’ th’
 stocks, i’ th’ common stocks, for a witch.
MISTRESS 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
125 somewhat. She gives him a paper. Good hearts,
 what ado here is to bring you together! Sure, one
 of you does not serve heaven well, that you are so
 crossed.
FALSTAFF Come up into my chamber.
They exit.


Scene 6
Enter Fenton and Host.

HOST Master Fenton, talk not to me. My mind is
 heavy. I will give over all.
FENTON 
 Yet hear me speak. Assist me in my purpose,
 And, as I am a gentleman, I’ll give thee
5 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,
10 Who mutually hath answered my affection,
 So far forth as herself might be her chooser,

175
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ACT 4. SC. 6

 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
15 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. He shows the Host a
 paper. 
Hark, good mine Host:
20 Tonight 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
25 Away with Slender, and with him at Eton
 Immediately to marry. She hath consented. Now, sir,
 Her mother, ever strong against that match
 And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed
 That he shall likewise shuffle her away,
30 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:
35 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—
40 For they must all be masked and vizarded—
 That quaint in green she shall be loose enrobed,
 With ribbons pendent flaring ’bout her head;
 And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe,
 To pinch her by the hand, and on that token
45 The maid hath given consent to go with him.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 4. SC. 6

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,
50 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;
55 Besides, I’ll make a present recompense.
They exit.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter Sir John Falstaff and Mistress Quickly.

FALSTAFF Prithee, no more prattling. Go. I’ll hold. This
 is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers.
 Away, go. They say there is divinity in odd
 numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death.
5 Away.
MISTRESS 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.Mistress Quickly exits.

Enter Ford disguised as Brook.

10 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, as Brook Went you not to her yesterday, sir, as
15 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
20 jealousy in him, Master Brook, that ever governed
 frenzy. I will tell you, he beat me grievously,
 in the shape of a woman; for in the shape of man,
181

183
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 3

 Master Brook, I fear not Goliath with a weaver’s
 beam, because I know also life is a shuttle. I am in
25 haste. Go along with me; I’ll tell you all, Master
 Brook. Since I plucked geese, played truant, and
 whipped top, I knew not what ’twas to be beaten
 till lately. Follow me. I’ll tell you strange things of
 this knave Ford, on whom tonight I will be revenged,
30 and I will deliver his wife into your hand.
 Follow. Strange things in hand, Master Brook!
 Follow.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Page, Shallow, and Slender.

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
5 have a nayword 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
10 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.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and Doctor Caius.

MISTRESS PAGE Master Doctor, my daughter is in
 green. When you see your time, take her by the

185
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 4

 hand; away with her to the deanery, and dispatch
 it quickly. Go before into the park. We two must go
5 together.
DOCTOR CAIUS I know vat I have to do. Adieu.
MISTRESS PAGE Fare you well, sir.Caius exits.
 My husband will not rejoice so much at the abuse
 of Falstaff as he will chafe at the doctor’s marrying
10 my daughter. But ’tis no matter. Better a little chiding
 than a great deal of heartbreak.
MISTRESS FORD Where is Nan now, and her troop of
 fairies, and the Welsh devil Hugh?
MISTRESS PAGE They are all couched in a pit hard by
15 Herne’s oak, with obscured lights, which, at the
 very instant of Falstaff’s and our meeting, they will
 at once display to the night.
MISTRESS FORD That cannot choose but amaze him.
MISTRESS PAGE If he be not amazed, he will be
20 mocked. If he be amazed, he will every way be
 mocked.
MISTRESS FORD We’ll betray him finely.
MISTRESS PAGE 
 Against such lewdsters and their lechery,
 Those that betray them do no treachery.
MISTRESS FORD 25The hour draws on. To the oak, to the
 oak!
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Sir Hugh Evans and boys disguised,
like him, as Fairies.


SIR HUGH 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.They exit.




187
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

Scene 5
Enter Sir John Falstaff wearing a buck’s head.

FALSTAFF The Windsor bell hath struck twelve. The
 minute draws on. Now, the hot-blooded gods assist
 me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy
 Europa; love set on thy horns. O powerful love,
5 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
10 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,
15 Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow?

Enter Mistress Page and Mistress Ford.

 Who comes here? My doe?
MISTRESS FORD Sir John? Art thou there, my deer, my
 male deer?
FALSTAFF My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain
20 potatoes, let it thunder to the tune of “Greensleeves,”
 hail kissing-comfits, and snow eryngoes; let there
 come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me
 here.He embraces her.
MISTRESS FORD Mistress Page is come with me,
25 sweetheart.
FALSTAFF Divide me like a bribed 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
30 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 within.

189
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

MISTRESS PAGE Alas, what noise?
MISTRESS FORD Heaven forgive our sins!
FALSTAFF 35What should this be?
MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE Away, away.
The two women run off.
FALSTAFF I think the devil will not have me damned,
 lest the oil that’s in me should set hell on fire. He
 would never else cross me thus.

Enter Mistress Quickly, Pistol, Sir Hugh Evans,
Anne Page and boys, all disguised as Fairies and
carrying tapers.


MISTRESS QUICKLY, as Fairy Queen 
40 Fairies black, gray, green, and white,
 You moonshine revelers and shades of night,
 You orphan heirs of fixèd destiny,
 Attend your office and your quality.
 Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.
PISTOL, as Hobgoblin 
45 Elves, list your names. Silence, you airy toys!—
 Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap,
 Where fires thou find’st unraked and hearths
 unswept.
 There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry.
50 Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery.
FALSTAFF, aside 
 They are fairies. He that speaks to them shall die.
 I’ll wink and couch. No man their works must eye.
He crouches down and covers his eyes.
SIR HUGH, as a fairy 
 Where’s Bead? Go you, and where you find a maid
 That ere she sleep has thrice her prayers said,
55 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.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

MISTRESS QUICKLY, as Fairy Queen 60About, about!
 Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out.
 Strew good luck, aufs, on every sacred room,
 That it may stand till the perpetual doom
 In state as wholesome as in state ’tis fit,
65 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 installment, coat, and sev’ral crest
 With loyal blazon evermore be blest!
70 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
75 In em’rald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white,
 Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
 Buckled below fair knighthood’s bending knee.
 Fairies use flowers for their charactery.
 Away, disperse! But till ’tis one o’clock,
80 Our dance of custom round about the oak
 Of Herne the Hunter let us not forget.
SIR HUGH, as a fairy 
 Pray you, lock hand in hand. Yourselves in order set;
 And twenty glowworms shall our lanterns be,
 To guide our measure round about the tree.
85 But stay! I smell a man of Middle Earth.
FALSTAFF, aside Heavens defend me from that Welsh
 fairy, lest he transform me to a piece of cheese.
PISTOL, as Hobgoblin, to Falstaff 
 Vile worm, thou wast o’erlooked even in thy birth.
MISTRESS QUICKLY, as Fairy Queen, to Sir Hugh 
 With trial-fire touch me his finger-end.
90 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.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

PISTOL, as Hobgoblin 
 A trial, come!
SIR HUGH, as a fairy  Come, will this wood take fire?
Sir Hugh puts a taper to Falstaff’s finger, and he starts.
FALSTAFF 95O, O, O!
MISTRESS QUICKLY, as 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.

Here they pinch him and sing about him, and Doctor
Caius comes one way and steals away a boy in white.
And Slender comes another way; he takes a boy in
green. And Fenton
 steals Mistress Anne Page.


FAIRIES sing 
 Fie on sinful fantasy!
100 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.
105 Pinch him, fairies, mutually;
 Pinch him for his villainy.

 Pinch him and burn him and turn him about,
 Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out.

A noise of hunting is made within, and all the fairies
run away from Falstaff, who pulls off his buck’s head
and rises up.
 Enter Page, Mistress Page,
Mistress Ford and Ford.


PAGE, to Falstaff 
 Nay, do not fly. I think we have watched you now.
110 Will none but Herne the Hunter serve your turn?
MISTRESS PAGE 
 I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher.—
 Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives?

195
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

She points to the horns.
 See you these, husband? Do not these fair yokes
 Become the forest better than the town?
FORD, to Falstaff 115Now, 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
120 pounds of money, which must be paid to Master
 Brook. His horses are arrested for it, Master
 Brook.
MISTRESS FORD Sir John, we have had ill luck. We
 could never meet. I will never take you for my love
125 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
130 the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of
 my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into
 a received belief, in despite of the teeth of all
 rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now
 how wit may be made a Jack-a-Lent when ’tis upon
135 ill employment.
SIR HUGH Sir John Falstaff, serve Got and leave your
 desires, and fairies will not pinse you.
FORD Well said, Fairy Hugh.
SIR HUGH And leave you your jealousies too, I pray
140 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’erreaching
145 as this? Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too?
 Shall I have a coxcomb of frieze? ’Tis time I were
 choked with a piece of toasted cheese.

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

SIR HUGH Seese is not good to give putter. Your belly is
 all putter.
FALSTAFF 150“Seese” and “putter”? Have I lived to stand at
 the taunt of one that makes fritters of English?
 This is enough to be the decay of lust and late
 walking through the realm.
MISTRESS PAGE Why, Sir John, do you think though we
155 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?
MISTRESS PAGE 160A puffed man?
PAGE Old, cold, withered, and of intolerable entrails?
FORD And one that is as slanderous as Satan?
PAGE And as poor as Job?
FORD And as wicked as his wife?
SIR HUGH 165And 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
170 me. I am dejected. I am not able to answer the
 Welsh flannel. Ignorance itself is a plummet o’er
 me. Use me as you will.
FORD Marry, sir, we’ll bring you to Windsor to one
 Master Brook, that you have cozened of money,
175 to whom you should have been a pander. Over and
 above that you have suffered, I think to repay that
 money will be a biting affliction.
PAGE Yet be cheerful, knight. Thou shalt eat a posset
 tonight at my house, where I will desire thee to
180 laugh at my wife, that now laughs at thee. Tell her
 Master Slender hath married her daughter.
MISTRESS PAGE, aside Doctors doubt that. If Anne
 Page be my daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius’
 wife.

199
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

Enter Slender.

SLENDER 185Whoa, ho, ho, Father Page!
PAGE Son, how now! How now, son! Have you
 dispatched?
SLENDER “Dispatched”? I’ll make the best in Gloucestershire
 know on ’t. Would I were hanged, la, else!
PAGE 190Of 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 swinged him,
 or he should have swinged me. If I did not think it
195 had been Anne Page, would I might never stir! And
 ’tis a post-master’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,
200 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 205I 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 post-master’s
 boy.
MISTRESS PAGE Good George, be not angry. I knew of
210 your purpose, turned my daughter into green,
 and indeed she is now with the doctor at the deanery,
 and there married.

Enter Doctor Caius.

DOCTOR CAIUS Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened!
 I ha’ married un garçon, a boy; un paysan, by
215 gar, a boy. It is not Anne Page. By gar, I am
 cozened.

201
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

MISTRESS PAGE Why? Did you take her in green?
DOCTOR CAIUS Ay, be gar, and ’tis a boy. Be gar, I’ll raise
 all Windsor.
FORD 220This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?

Enter Fenton and Anne Page.

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
225 Master Slender?
MISTRESS 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.
230 The truth is, she and I, long since contracted,
 Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.
 Th’ offense is holy that she hath committed,
 And this deceit loses the name of craft,
 Of disobedience, or unduteous title,
235 Since therein she doth evitate and shun
 A thousand irreligious cursèd hours
 Which forcèd marriage would have brought upon her.
FORD, to Page and Mistress Page 
 Stand not amazed. Here is no remedy.
 In love the heavens themselves do guide the state.
240 Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.
FALSTAFF I am glad, though you have ta’en a special
 stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath
 glanced.
PAGE 
 Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy.
245 What cannot be eschewed must be embraced.

203
The Merry Wives of Windsor
ACT 5. SC. 5

FALSTAFF 
 When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chased.
MISTRESS PAGE 
 Well, I will muse no further.—Master Fenton,
 Heaven give you many, many merry days.—
 Good husband, let us every one go home
250 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 tonight shall lie with Mistress Ford.
They exit.