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  • Title: The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folio 1, 1623)

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
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    The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Merry Wiues of Windsor.
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Ford. I will tell you sir, if you will giue mee the hea-
    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
    "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
    Fal. O Sir.
    Ford. Beleeue it, for you know it: there is money,
    990spend it, spend it, spend more; spend all I haue, onely