Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
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The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folio 1, 1623)

Actus Secundus. Scoena Prima.
Enter Mistris Page, Mistris Ford, Master Page, Master
Ford, Pistoll, Nim, Quickly, Host, Shallow.
Mist. Page. What, haue scap'd Loue-letters in the
555holly-day-time of my beauty, and am I now a subiect
for them? let me see?
Aske me no reason why I loue you, for though Loue vse Rea-
son for his precisian, hee admits him not for his Counsailour:
you are not yong, no more am I: goe to then, there's simpathie:
560you are merry, so am I: ha, ha, then there's more simpathie:
you loue sacke, and so do I: would you desire better simpathie?
Let it suffice thee (Mistris Page) at the least if the Loue of
Souldier can suffice, that I loue thee: I will not say pitty mee,
'tis not a Souldier-like phrase; but I say, loue me:
By me, thine owne true Knight, by day or night:
Or any kinde of light, with all his might,
For thee to fight. Iohn Falstaffe.
What a Herod of Iurie is this? O wicked, wicked world:
One that is well-nye worne to peeces with age
570To show himselfe a yong Gallant? What an vnwaied
Behauiour hath this Flemish drunkard pickt (with
The Deuills name) out of my conuersation, that he dares
In this manner assay me? why, hee hath not beene thrice
In my Company: what should I say to him? I was then
575Frugall of my mirth: (heauen forgiue mee:) why Ile
Exhibit a Bill in the Parliament for the putting downe
of men: how shall I be reueng'd on him? for reueng'd I
will be? as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
Mis Ford. Mistris Page, trust me, I was going to your
Mis Page. And trust me, I was comming to you: you
looke very ill.
Mis. Ford. Nay, Ile nere beleeee that; I haue to shew
to the contrary.
585Mis. Page. 'Faith but you doe in my minde.
Mis. Ford. Well: I doe then: yet I say, I could shew
you to the contrary: O Mistris Page, giue mee some
Mis. Page. What's the matter, woman?
590Mi. Ford. O woman: if it were not for one trifling re-
spect, I could come to such honour.
Mi. Page. Hang the trifle (woman) take the honour:
what is it? dispence with trifles: what is it?
Mi. Ford. If I would but goe to hell, for an eternall
595moment, or so: I could be knighted.
Mi. Page. What thou liest? Sir Alice Ford? these
Knights will hacke, and so thou shouldst not alter the ar-
ticle of thy Gentry.
Mi. Ford. Wee burne day-light: heere, read, read:
600perceiue how I might bee knighted, I shall thinke the
worse of fat men, as long as I haue an eye to make diffe-
rence of mens liking: and yet hee would not sweare:
praise womens modesty: and gaue such orderly and wel-
behaued reproofe to al vncomelinesse, that I would haue
605sworne his disposition would haue gone to the truth of
his words: but they doe no more adhere and keep place
together, then the hundred Psalms to the tune of Green-
sleeues: What tempest (I troa) threw this Whale, (with
so many Tuns of oyle in his belly) a'shoare at Windsor?
610How shall I bee reuenged on him? I thinke the best way
were, to entertaine him with hope, till the wicked fire
of lust haue melted him in his owne greace: Did you e-
uer heare the like?
Mis. Page. Letter for letter; but that the name of
615Page and Ford differs: to thy great comfort in this my-
stery of ill opinions, heere's the twyn-brother of thy Let-
ter: but let thine inherit first, for I protest mine neuer
shall: I warrant he hath a thousand of these Letters, writ
with blancke-space for different names (sure more): and
620these are of the second edition: hee will print them out
of doubt: for he cares not what hee puts into the presse,
when he would put vs two: I had rather be a Giantesse,
and lye vnder Mount Pelion: Well; I will find you twen-
tie lasciuious Turtles ere one chaste man.
625Mis. Ford. Why this is the very same: the very hand:
the very words: what doth he thinke of vs?
Mis. Page. Nay I know not: it makes me almost rea-
die to wrangle with mine owne honesty: Ile entertaine
my selfe like one that I am not acquainted withall: for
630sure vnlesse hee know some straine in mee, that I know
not my selfe, hee would neuer haue boorded me in this
Mi. Ford. Boording, call you it? Ile bee sure to keepe
him aboue decke.
635Mi. Page. So will I: if hee come vnder my hatches,
Ile neuer to Sea againe: Let's bee reueng'd on him: let's
appoint him a meeting: giue him a show of comfort in
his Suit, and lead him on with a fine baited delay, till hee
hath pawn'd his horses to mine Host of the Garter.
640Mi. Ford. Nay, I wil consent to act any villany against
him, that may not sully the charinesse of our honesty: oh
that my husband saw this Letter: it would giue eternall
food to his iealousie.
Mis. Page. Why look where he comes; and my good
645man too: hee's as farre from iealousie, as I am from gi-
uing him cause, and that (I hope) is an vnmeasurable di-
Mis. Ford. You are the happier woman.
Mis. Page. Let's consult together against this greasie
650Knight: Come hither.
Ford. Well: I hope, it be not so.
Pist. Hope is a curtall-dog in some affaires:
Sir Iohn affects thy wife.
Ford. Why sir, my wife is not young.
655Pist. He wooes both high and low, both rich & poor,
both yong and old, one with another (Ford) he loues the
Gally-mawfry (Ford) perpend.
Ford. Loue my wife?
Pist. With liuer, burning hot: preuent:
660Or goe thou like Sir Acteon he, with
Ring-wood at thy heeles: O, odious is the name.
Ford. What name Sir?
Pist. The horne I say: Farewell:
Take heed, haue open eye, for theeues doe foot by night.
665Take heed, ere sommer comes, or Cuckoo-birds do sing.
Away sir Corporall Nim:
Beleeue it (Page) he speakes sence.
Ford. I will be patient: I will find out this.
Nim. And this is true: I like not the humor of lying:
670hee hath wronged mee in some humors: I should haue
borne the humour'd Letter to her: but I haue a sword:
and it shall bite vpon my necessitie: he loues your wife;
There's the short and the long: My name is Corporall
Nim: I speak, and I auouch; 'tis true: my name is Nim:
675and Falstaffe loues your wife: adieu, I loue not the hu-
mour of bread and cheese: adieu.
Page. The humour of it (quoth 'a?) heere's a fellow
frights English out of his wits.
Ford. I will seeke out Falstaffe.
680Page. I neuer heard such a drawling-affecting rogue.
Ford. If I doe finde it: well.
Page. I will not beleeue such a Cataian, though the
Priest o'th'Towne commended him for a true man.
Ford. 'Twas a good sensible fellow: well.
685Page. How now Meg?
Mist. Page. Whether goe you (George?) harke you.
Mis. Ford. How now (sweet Frank) why art thou me-
Ford. I melancholy? I am not melancholy:
690Get you home: goe.
Mis. Ford. Faith, thou hast some crochets in thy head,
Now: will you goe, Mistris Page?
Mis. Page. Haue with you: you'll come to dinner
George? Looke who comes yonder: shee shall bee our
695Messenger to this paltrie Knight.
Mis. Ford. Trust me, I thought on her: shee'll fit it.
Mis. Page. You are come to see my daughter Anne?
Qui. I forsooth: and I pray how do's good Mistresse
700Mis Page. Go in with vs and see: we haue an houres
talke with you.
Page. How now Master Ford?
For. You heard what this knaue told me, did you not?
Page. Yes, and you heard what the other told me?
705Ford. Doe you thinke there is truth in them?
Pag. Hang 'em slaues: I doe not thinke the Knight
would offer it: But these that accuse him in his intent
towards our wiues, are a yoake of his discarded men: ve-
ry rogues, now they be out of seruice.
710Ford. Were they his men?
Page. Marry were they.
Ford. I like it neuer the beter for that,
Do's he lye at the Garter?
Page. I marry do's he: if hee should intend this voy-
715age toward my wife, I would turne her loose to him;
and what hee gets more of her, then sharpe words, let it
lye on my head.
Ford. I doe not misdoubt my wife: but I would bee
loath to turne them together: a man may be too confi-
720dent: I would haue nothing lye on my head: I cannot
be thus satisfied.
Page. Looke where my ranting-Host of the Garter
comes: there is eyther liquor in his pate, or mony in his
purse, when hee lookes so merrily: How now mine
Host. How now Bully-Rooke: thou'rt a Gentleman
Caueleiro Iustice, I say.
Shal. I follow, (mine Host) I follow: Good-euen,
and twenty (good Master Page.) Master Page, wil you go
730with vs? we haue sport in hand.
Host. Tell him Caueleiro-Iustice: tell him Bully-
Shall. Sir, there is a fray to be fought, betweene Sir
Hugh the Welch Priest, and Caius the French Doctor.
735Ford. Good mine Host o'th' Garter: a word with you.
Host. What saist thou, my Bully-Rooke?
Shal. Will you goe with vs to behold it? My merry
Host hath had the measuring of their weapons; and (I
thinke) hath appointed them contrary places: for (be-
740leeue mee) I heare the Parson is no Iester: harke, I will
tell you what our sport shall be.
Host. Hast thou no suit against my Knight? my guest-
Shal. None, I protest: but Ile giue you a pottle of
745burn'd sacke, to giue me recourse to him, and tell him
my name is Broome: onely for a iest.
Host. My hand, (Bully:) thou shalt haue egresse and
regresse, (said I well?) and thy name shall be Broome. It
is a merry Knight: will you goe An-heires?
750Shal. Haue with you mine Host.
Page. I haue heard the French-man hath good skill
in his Rapier.
Shal. Tut sir: I could haue told you more: In these
times you stand on distance: your Passes, Stoccado's, and
755I know not what: 'tis the heart (Master Page) 'tis heere,
'tis heere: I haue seene the time, with my long-sword, I
would haue made you fowre tall fellowes skippe like
Host. Heere boyes, heere, heere: shall we wag?
760Page. Haue with you: I had rather heare them scold,
then fight.
Ford. Though Page be a secure foole, and stands so
firmely on his wiues frailty; yet, I cannot put-off my o-
pinion so easily: she was in his company at Pages house:
765and what they made there, I know not. Well, I wil looke
further into't, and I haue a disguise, to sound Falstaffe; if
I finde her honest, I loose not my labor: if she be other-
wise, 'tis labour well bestowed.