Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Not Peer Reviewed

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folio 1, 1623)

Scena Quarta.
Enter Page, Ford, Mistris Page, Mistris
Ford, and Euans.
Eua. 'Tis one of the best discretions of a o'man as e-
2125uer I did looke vpon.
Page. And did he send you both these Letters at an
Mist. Page. VVithin a quarter of an houre.
Ford. Pardon me (wife) henceforth do what yu wilt:
2130I rather will suspect the Sunne with gold,
Then thee with wantonnes: Now doth thy honor stand
(In him that was of late an Heretike)
As firme as faith.
Page. 'Tis well, 'tis well, no more:
2135Be not as extreme in submission, as in offence,
But let our plot go forward: Let our wiues
Yet once againe (to make vs publike sport)
Appoint a meeting with this old fat-fellow,
Where we may take him, and disgrace him for it.
2140Ford. There is no better way then that they spoke of.
Page. How? to send him word they'll meete him in
the Parke at midnight? Fie, fie, he'll neuer come.
Eu. You say he has bin throwne in the Riuers: and
has bin greeuously peaten, as an old o'man: me-thinkes
2145there should be terrors in him, that he should not come:
Me-thinkes his flesh is punish'd, hee shall haue no de-
Page. So thinke I too.
M. Ford. Deuise but how you'l vse him whē he comes,
2150And let vs two deuise to bring him thether.
Mis. Page. There is an old tale goes, that Herne the
Hunter (sometime a keeper heere in Windsor Forrest)
Doth all the winter time, at still midnight
Walke round about an Oake, with great rag'd-hornes,
2155And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And make milch-kine yeeld blood, and shakes a chaine
In a most hideous and dreadfull manner.
You haue heard of such a Spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed-Eld
2160Receiu'd, and did deliuer to our age
This tale of Herne the Hunter, for a truth.
Page. Why yet there want not many that do feare
In deepe of night to walke by this Hernes Oake:
But what of this?
2165Mist. Ford. Marry this is our deuise,
That Falstaffe at that Oake shall meete with vs.
Page. Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come,
And in this shape, when you haue brought him thether,
What shall be done with him? What is your plot?
2170Mist.Pa. That likewise haue we thoght vpon: & thus:
Nan Page (my daughter) and my little sonne,
And three or foure more of their growth, wee'l dresse
Like Vrchins, Ouphes, and Fairies, greene and white,
With rounds of waxen Tapers on their heads,
2175And rattles in their hands; vpon a sodaine,
As Falstaffe, she, and I, are newly met,
Let them from forth a saw-pit rush at once
With some diffused song: Vpon their sight
We two, in great amazednesse will flye:
2180Then let them all encircle him about,
And Fairy-like to pinch the vncleane Knight;
And aske him why that houre of Fairy Reuell,
In their so sacred pathes, he dares to tread
In shape prophane.
2185Ford. And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed Fairies pinch him, sound,
And burne him with their Tapers.
Mist. Page. The truth being knowne,
We'll all present our selues; dis-horne the spirit,
2190And mocke him home to Windsor.
Ford. The children must
Be practis'd well to this, or they'll neu'r doo't.
Eua. I will teach the children their behauiours: and I
will be like a Iacke-an-Apes also, to burne the Knight
2195with my Taber.
Ford. That will be excellent,
Ile go buy them vizards.
Mist. Page. My Nan shall be the Queene of all the
Fairies, finely attired in a robe of white.
2200Page. That silke will I go buy, and in that time
Shall M. Slender steale my Nan away,
And marry her at Eaton: go, send to Falstaffe straight.
Ford. Nay, Ile to him againe in name of Broome,
Hee'l tell me all his purpose: sure hee'l come.
2205Mist. Page. Feare not you that: Go get vs properties
And tricking for our Fayries.
Euans. Let vs about it,
It is admirable pleasures, and ferry honest knaueries.
Mis. Page. Go Mist. Ford,
2210Send quickly to Sir Iohn, to know his minde:
Ile to the Doctor, he hath my good will,
And none but he to marry with Nan Page:
That Slender (though well landed) is an Ideot:
And he, my husband best of all affects:
2215The Doctor is well monied, and his friends
Potent at Court: he, none but he shall haue her,
Though twenty thousand worthier come to craue her.