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


Scoena Secunda.
770
Enter Falstaffe, Pistoll, Robin, Quickly, Bardolffe,
Ford.
Fal. I will not lend thee a penny.
Pist. Why then the world's mine Oyster, which I,
with sword will open.
775Fal. Not a penny: I haue beene content (Sir,) you
should lay my countenance to pawne: I haue grated vp-
on my good friends for three Repreeues for you, and
your Coach-fellow Nim; or else you had look'd through
the grate, like a Geminy of Baboones: I am damn'd in
780hell, for swearing to Gentlemen my friends, you were
good Souldiers, and tall-fellowes. And when Mistresse
Briget lost the handle of her Fan, I took't vpon mine ho-
nour thou hadst it not.
Pist. Didst not thou share? hadst thou not fifteene
785pence?
Fal. Reason, you roague, reason: thinkst thou Ile en-
danger my soule, gratis? at a word, hang no more about
mee, I am no gibbet for you: goe, a short knife, and a
throng, to your Mannor of Pickt-hatch: goe, you'll not
790beare a Letter for mee you roague? you stand vpon your
hononor: why, (thou vnconfinable basenesse) it is as much
as I can doe to keepe the termes of my honor precise:
I, I, I my selfe sometimes, leauing the feare of heauen on
the left hand, and hiding mine honor in my necessity, am
795faine to shufflle: to hedge, and to lurch, and yet, you
Rogue, will en-sconce your raggs; your Cat-a-Moun-
taine-lookes, your red-lattice phrases, and your bold-
beating-oathes, vnder the shelter of your honor? you
will not doe it? you?
800Pist. I doe relent: what would thou more of man?
Robin. Sir, here's a woman would speake with you.
Fal. Let her approach.
Qui. Giue your worship good morrow.
Fal. Good-morrow, good-wife.
805Qui. Not so and't please your worship.
Fal. Good maid then.
Qui. Ile be sworne,
As my mother was the first houre I was borne.
Fal. I doe beleeue the swearer; what with me?
810Qui. Shall I vouch-safe your worship a word, or
two?
Fal. Two thousand (faire woman) and ile vouchsafe
thee the hearing.
Qui. There is one Mistresse Ford, (Sir) I pray come a
815little neerer this waies: I my selfe dwell with M. Doctor
Caius:
Fal. Well, on; Mistresse Ford, you say.
Qui. Your worship saies very true: I pray your wor-
ship come a little neerer this waies.
820Fal. I warrant thee, no-bodie heares: mine owne
people, mine owne people.
Qui. Are they so? heauen-blesse them, and make
them his Seruants.
Fal. Well; Mistresse Ford, what of her?
825Qui. Why, Sir; shee's a good-creature; Lord, Lord,
your Worship's a wanton: well: heauen forgiue you,
and all of vs, I pray ---.
Fal. Mistresse Ford: come, Mistresse Ford.
Qui. Marry this is the short, and the long of it: you
830haue brought her into such a Canaries, as 'tis wonder-
full: the best Courtier of them all (when the Court lay
at Windsor) could neuer haue brought her to such a Ca-
narie: yet there has beene Knights, and Lords, and Gen-
tlemen, with their Coaches; I warrant you Coach after
835Coach, letter after letter, gift after gift, smelling so sweet-
ly; all Muske, and so rushling, I warrant you, in silke
and golde, and in such alligant termes, and in such wine
and suger of the best, and the fairest, that would haue
wonne any womans heart: and I warrant you, they could
840neuer get an eye-winke of her: I had my selfe twentie
Angels giuen me this morning, but I defie all Angels (in
any such sort, as they say) but in the way of honesty: and
I warrant you, they could neuer get her so much as sippe
on a cup with the prowdest of them all, and yet there has
845beene Earles: nay, (which is more) Pentioners, but I
warrant you all is one with her.
Fal. But what saies shee to mee? be briefe my good
shee-Mercurie.
Qui. Marry, she hath receiu'd your Letter: for the
850which she thankes you a thousand times; and she giues
you to notifie, that her husband will be absence from his
house, betweene ten and eleuen.
Fal. Ten, and eleuen.
Qui. I, forsooth: and then you may come and see the
855picture (she sayes) that you wot of: Master Ford her hus-
band will be from home: alas, the sweet woman leades
an ill life with him: hee's a very iealousie-man; she leads
a very frampold life with him, (good hart.)
Fal. Ten, and eleuen.
860Woman, commend me to her, I will not faile her.
Qui. Why, you say well: But I haue another messen-
ger to your worship: Mistresse Page hath her heartie
commendations to you to: and let mee tell you in your
eare, shee's as fartuous a ciuill modest wife, and one (I
865tell you) that will not misse you morning nor euening
prayer, as any is in Windsor, who ere bee the other: and
shee bade me tell your worship, that her husband is sel-
dome from home, but she hopes there will come a time.
I neuer knew a woman so doate vpon a man; surely I
870thinke you haue charmes, la: yes in truth.
Fal. Not I, I assure thee; setting the attraction of my
good parts aside, I haue no other charmes.
Qui. Blessing on your heart for't.
Fal. But I pray thee tell me this: has Fords wife, and
875Pages wife acquainted each other, how they loue me?
Qui. That were a iest indeed: they haue not so little
grace I hope, that were a tricke indeed: But Mistris Page
would desire you to send her your little Page of al loues:
her husband has a maruellous infectiō to the little Page:
880and truely Master Page is an honest man: neuer a wife in
Windsor leades a better life then she do's: doe what shee
will, say what she will, take all, pay all, goe to bed when
she list, rise when she list, all is as she will: and truly she
deserues it; for if there be a kinde woman in Windsor, she
885is one: you must send her your Page, no remedie.
Fal. Why, I will.
Qu. Nay, but doe so then, and looke you, hee may
come and goe betweene you both: and in any case haue
a nay-word, that you may know one anothers minde,
890and the Boy neuer neede to vnderstand any thing; for
'tis not good that children should know any wickednes:
olde folkes you know, haue discretion, as they say, and
know the world.
Fal. Farethee-well, commend mee to them both:
895there's my purse, I am yet thy debter: Boy, goe along
with this woman, this newes distracts me.
Pist. This Puncke is one of Cupids Carriers,
Clap on more sailes, pursue: vp with your sights:
Giue fire: she is my prize, or Ocean whelme them all.
900Fal. Saist thou so (old Iacke) go thy waies: Ile make
more of thy olde body then I haue done: will they yet
looke after thee? wilt thou after the expence of so much
money, be now a gainer? good Body, I thanke thee: let
them say 'tis grossely done, so it bee fairely done, no
905matter.
Bar. Sir Iohn, there's one Master Broome below would
faine speake with you, and be acquainted with you; and
hath sent your worship a mornings draught of Sacke.
Fal. Broome is his name?
910Bar. I Sir.
Fal. Call him in: such Broomes are welcome to mee,
that ore'flowes such liquor: ah ha, Mistresse Ford and Mi-
stresse Page, haue I encompass'd you? goe to, via.
Ford. 'Blesse you sir.
915Fal. And you sir: would you speake with me?
Ford. I make bold, to presse, with so little prepara-
tion vpon you.
Fal. You'r welcome, what's your will? giue vs leaue
Drawer.
920Ford. Sir, I am a Gentleman that haue spent much,
my name is Broome.
Fal. Good Master Broome, I desire more acquaintance
of you.
Ford. Good Sir Iohn, I sue for yours: not to charge
925you, for I must let you vnderstand, I thinke my selfe in
better plight for a Lender, then you are: the which hath
something emboldned me to this vnseason'd intrusion:
for they say, if money goe before, all waies doe lye
open.
930Fal. Money is a good Souldier (Sir) and will on.
Ford. Troth, and I haue a bag of money heere trou-
bles me: if you will helpe to beare it (Sir Iohn) take all,
or halfe, for easing me of the carriage.
Fal. Sir, I know not how I may deserue to bee your
935Porter.
Ford. I will tell you sir, if you will giue mee the hea-
ring.
Fal. Speake (good Master Broome) I shall be glad to
be your Seruant.
940Ford. Sir, I heare you are a Scholler: (I will be briefe
with you) and you haue been a man long knowne to me,
though I had neuer so good means as desire, to make my
selfe acquainted with you. I shall discouer a thing to
you, wherein I must very much lay open mine owne im-
945perfection: but (good Sir Iohn) as you haue one eye vp-
on my follies, as you heare them vnfolded, turne another
into the Register of your owne, that I may passe with a
reproofe the easier, sith you your selfe know how easie it
is to be such an offender.
950Fal. Very well Sir, proceed.
Ford. There is a Gentlewoman in this Towne, her
husbands name is Ford.
Fal. Well Sir.
Ford. I haue long lou'd her, and I protest to you, be-
955stowed much on her: followed her with a doating ob-
seruance: Ingross'd opportunities to meete her: fee'd e-
uery slight occasion that could but nigardly giue mee
sight of her: not only bought many presents to giue her,
but haue giuen largely to many, to know what shee
960would haue giuen: briefly, I haue pursu'd her, as Loue
hath pursued mee, which hath beene on the wing of all
occasions: but whatsoeuer I haue merited, either in my
minde, or in my meanes, meede I am sure I haue receiued
none, vnlesse Experience be a Iewell, that I haue purcha-
965sed at an infinite rate, and that hath taught mee to say
this,
"Loue like a shadow flies, when substance Loue pursues,
"Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.
Fal. Haue you receiu'd no promise of satisfaction at
970her hands?
Ford. Neuer.
Fal. Haue you importun'd her to such a purpose?
Ford. Neuer.
Fal. Of what qualitie was your loue then?
975Ford. Like a fair house, built on another mans ground,
so that I haue lost my edifice, by mistaking the place,
where I erected it.
Fal. To what purpose haue you vnfolded this to me?
For. When I haue told you that, I haue told you all:
980Some say, that though she appeare honest to mee, yet in
other places shee enlargeth her mirth so farre, that there
is shrewd construction made of her. Now (Sir Iohn) here
is the heart of my purpose: you are a gentleman of ex-
cellent breeding, admirable discourse, of great admit-
985tance, authenticke in your place and person, generally
allow'd for your many war-like, court-like, and learned
preparations.
Fal. O Sir.
Ford. Beleeue it, for you know it: there is money,
990spend it, spend it, spend more; spend all I haue, onely
giue me so much of your time in enchange of it, as to lay
an amiable siege to the honesty of this Fords wife: vse
your Art of wooing; win her to consent to you: if any
man may, you may as soone as any.
995Fal. Would it apply well to the vehemency of your
affection that I should win what you would enioy? Me-
thinkes you prescribe to your selfe very preposterously.
Ford. O, vnderstand my drift: she dwells so securely
on the excellency of her honor, that the folly of my soule
1000dares not present it selfe: shee is too bright to be look'd
against. Now, could I come to her with any detection
in my hand; my desires had instance and argument to
commend themselues, I could driue her then from the
ward of her purity, her reputation, her marriage-vow,
1005and a thousand other her defences, which now are too-
too strongly embattaild against me: what say you too't,
Sir Iohn?
Fal. Master Broome, I will first make bold with your
money: next, giue mee your hand: and last, as I am a
1010gentleman, you shall, if you will, enioy Fords wife.
Ford. O good Sir.
Fal. I say you shall.
Ford. Want no money (Sir Iohn) you shall want none.
Fal. Want no Mistresse Ford (Master Broome) you shall
1015want none: I shall be with her (I may tell you) by her
owne appointment, euen as you came in to me, her assi-
stant, or goe-betweene, parted from me: I say I shall be
with her betweene ten and eleuen: for at that time the
iealious-rascally-knaue her husband will be forth: come
1020you to me at night, you shall know how I speed.
Ford. I am blest in your acquaintance: do you know
Ford Sir?
Fal. Hang him (poore Cuckoldly knaue) I know
him not: yet I wrong him to call him poore: They say
1025the iealous wittolly-knaue hath masses of money, for
the which his wife seemes to me well-fauourd: I will vse
her as the key of the Cuckoldly-rogues Coffer, & ther's
my haruest-home.
Ford. I would you knew Ford, sir, that you might a-
1030uoid him, if you saw him.
Fal. Hang him, mechanicall-salt-butter rogue; I wil
stare him out of his wits: I will awe-him with my cud-
gell: it shall hang like a Meteor ore the Cuckolds horns:
Master Broome, thou shalt know, I will predominate o-
1035uer the pezant, and thou shalt lye with his wife. Come
to me soone at night: Ford's a knaue, and I will aggra-
uate his stile: thou (Master Broome) shalt know him for
knaue, and Cuckold. Come to me soone at night.
Ford. What a damn'd Epicurian-Rascall is this? my
1040heart is ready to cracke with impatience: who saies this
is improuident iealousie? my wife hath sent to him, the
howre is fixt, the match is made: would any man haue
thought this? see the hell of hauing a false woman: my
bed shall be abus'd, my Coffers ransack'd, my reputati-
1045on gnawne at, and I shall not onely receiue this villanous
wrong, but stand vnder the adoption of abhominable
termes, and by him that does mee this wrong: Termes,
names: Amaimon sounds well: Lucifer, well: Barbason,
well: yet they are Diuels additions, the names of fiends:
1050But Cuckold, Wittoll, Cuckold? the Diuell himselfe
hath not such a name. Page is an Asse, a secure Asse; hee
will trust his wife, hee will not be iealous: I will rather
trust a Fleming with my butter, Parson Hugh the Welsh-
man with my Cheese, an Irish-man with my Aqua-vitæ-
1055bottle, or a Theefe to walke my ambling gelding, then
my wife with her selfe. Then she plots, then shee rumi-
nates, then shee deuises: and what they thinke in their
hearts they may effect; they will breake their hearts but
they will effect. Heauen bee prais'd for my iealousie:
1060eleuen o'clocke the howre, I will preuent this, detect
my wife, bee reueng'd on Falstaffe, and laugh at Page. I
will about it, better three houres too soone, then a my-
nute too late: fie, fie, fie: Cuckold, Cuckold, Cuckold.
Exti.