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The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare [Craig, Oxford edition]

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fresh and new. Go knock and call; he'll speak like an
Anthropophaginian 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. I'll call. Bully knight!
Bully Sir John! Speak from thy lungs military. Art thou there? It
is thine host, thine Ephesian, calls.

FALSTAFF.
[Above] How now, mine host?

HOST.
Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman.
Let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honourible.
Fie! privacy? fie!

[Enter FALSTAFF.]

FALSTAFF.
There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with, me; but
she's gone.

SIMPLE.
Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of Brainford?

FALSTAFF.
Ay, marry was it, mussel-shell: what would you with her?

SIMPLE.
My master, sir, my Master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go
thorough 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.
Marry, 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 too, from him.

FALSTAFF.
What are they? Let us know.

HOST.
Ay, come; quick.

SIMPLE.
I may not conceal them, sir.

FALSTAFF.
Conceal them, or thou diest.

SIMPLE.
Why, 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?

FALSTAFF.
To have her, or no. Go; say the woman told me so.

SIMPLE.
May I be bold to say so, sir?

FALSTAFF.
Ay, Sir Tike; like who more bold?

SIMPLE.
I thank your worship; I shall make my master glad with these tidings.

[Exit.]

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 my life; and I paid nothing for it
neither, but was paid for my learning.

[Enter BARDOLPH.]

BARDOLPH.
Out, alas, sir! cozenage, mere cozenage!

HOST.
Where be my horses? Speak well of them, 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 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.]

EVANS.
Where is mine host?

HOST.
What is the matter, sir?

EVANS.
Have 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 Readins, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and
money. I tell you for good will, look you; you are wise, and full
of gibes and vlouting-stogs, and 'tis not convenient you should be
cozened. Fare you well.

[Exit.]

[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS.]

CAIUS.
Vere is mine host de Jarteer?

HOST.
Here, Master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.

CAIUS.
I cannot tell vat is dat; but it is tell-a me dat you make grand
preparation for a Duke de Jamany. By my trot, dere is no duke that
the court is know to come; I tell you for good will: Adieu.

[Exit.]

HOST.
Hue and cry, villain, go! Assist me, knight; I am undone. Fly,
run, hue and cry, villain; I am undone!

[Exeunt HOST and BARDOLPH.]

FALSTAFF.
I would all the world might be cozened, for I have been cozened and
beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court how I have
been transformed, and how my transformation hath been washed and
cudgelled, 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 fine wits till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear.
I never prospered since I forswore myself at primero. Well, if my
wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.

[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]

Now! whence come you?

QUICKLY.
From 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 bear.

QUICKLY.
And have not they suffered? Yes, I warrant; speciously one of them;
Mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you
cannot see a white spot about her.

FALSTAFF.
What tellest thou me of black and blue? I was beaten myself into
all the colours of the rainbow; and was like to be apprehended for
the witch of Brainford. But that my admirable dexterity of wit,
my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, delivered me, the
knave constable had set me i' the stocks, i' the common stocks,
for a witch.

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 somewhat. 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.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 6. Another room in the Garter Inn.

[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
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,
Who, mutually, hath answered my affection,
So far forth as herself might be her chooser,
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
That neither, singly, can be manifested
Without the show of both; wherein fat Falstaff
Hath a great scare: the image of the jest
I'll show you here at large. Hark, good mine host:
To-night 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
Away with Slender, and with him at Eton
Immediately to marry; she hath consented:
Now, sir,
Her mother, even strong against that match
And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed
That he shall likewise shuffle her away,
While other sports are tasking of their minds;
And at the deanery, 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:
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,--
For they must all be mask'd and vizarded--
That quaint in green she shall be loose enrob'd,
With ribands pendent, flaring 'bout her head;
And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe,
To pinch her by the hand: and, on that token,
The maid hath given consent to go with him.

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,
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;
Besides, I'll make a present recompense.

[Exeunt.]

ACT V.

SCENE 1. A room in the Garter Inn.

[Enter 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. Away!

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.

[Exit MRS. QUICKLY.]

[Enter FORD.]

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.
Went you not to her yesterday, sir, as 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 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, Master Brook, I fear not Goliath with a weaver's beam,
because I know also life is a shuttle. I am in 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 to-night I will be revenged, and I will deliver his
wife into your hand. Follow. Strange things in hand, Master Brook!
Follow.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 2. Windsor Park.

[Enter PAGE, SHALLOW, and SLENDER.]

PAGE.
Come, come; we'll couch i' the castle-ditch till we see the light
of our fairies. Remember, son Slender, my daughter.

SLENDER.
Ay, forsooth; I have spoke with her, and we have a nay-word 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 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.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 3. The street in Windsor.

[Enter MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and DOCTOR CAIUS.]

MRS. PAGE.
Master Doctor, my daughter is in green; when you see your time,
take her by the hand, away with her to the deanery, and dispatch
it quickly. Go before into the Park; we two must go together.

CAIUS.
I know vat I have to do; adieu.

MRS. PAGE.
Fare you well, sir. [Exit CAIUS.] My husband will not rejoice so
much at the abuse of Falstaff as he will chafe at the doctor's
marrying my daughter; but 'tis no matter; better a little chiding
than a great deal of heart break.

MRS. FORD.
Where is Nan now, and her troop of fairies, and the Welsh devil,
Hugh?

MRS. PAGE.
They are all couched in a pit hard by 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.

MRS. FORD.
That cannot choose but amaze him.

MRS. PAGE.
If he be not amazed, he will be mocked; if he be amazed, he will
every way be mocked.

MRS. FORD.
We'll betray him finely.

MRS. PAGE.
Against such lewdsters and their lechery,
Those that betray them do no treachery.

MRS. FORD.
The hour draws on: to the oak, to the oak!

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 4. Windsor Park

[Enter SIR HUGH EVANS, disguised, with others as Fairies.]

EVANS.
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.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE 5. Another part of the Park.

[Enter FALSTAFF disguised as HERNE with a buck's head on.]

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! 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 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' the forest.
Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow?
Who comes here? my doe?

[Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.]

MRS. FORD.
Sir John! Art thou there, my deer? my male deer?

FALSTAFF.
My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes; let it
thunder to the tune of 'Greensleeves'; hail kissing-comfits and
snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will
shelter me here.

[Embracing her.]

MRS. FORD.
Mistress Page is come with me, sweetheart.

FALSTAFF.
Divide me like a brib'd 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 Herne
the hunter? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience; he makes
restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

[Noise within.]

MRS. PAGE.
Alas! what noise?

MRS. FORD.
Heaven forgive our sins!

FALSTAFF.
What should this be?

MRS. FORD.
Away, away!

MRS. PAGE.
Away, away!

[They 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 SIR HUGH EVANS like a Satyr, PISTOL as a Hobgoblin, ANNE
PAGE as the the Fairy Queen, attended by her Brothers and Others,
as fairies, with waxen tapers on their heads.]

ANNE.
Fairies, black, grey, green, and white,
You moonshine revellers, and shades of night,
You orphan heirs of fixed destiny,
Attend your office and your quality.
Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.

PISTOL.
Elves, list your names: silence, you airy toys!
Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap:
Where fires thou find'st unrak'd, and hearths unswept,
There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry:
Our radiant Queen hates sluts and sluttery.

FALSTAFF.
They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die:
I'll wink and couch: no man their works must eye.

[Lies down upon his face.]

EVANS.
Where's Bede? Go you, and where you find a maid
That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said,
Rein 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.

ANNE.
About, about!
Search Windsor castle, elves, within and out:
Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room,
That it may stand till the perpetual doom,
In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit,
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 instalment, coat, and several crest,
With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!
And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring:
The 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
In emerald 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,
Our dance of custom round about the oak
Of Herne the hunter let us not forget.

EVANS.
Pray you, lock hand in hand; yourselves in order set;
And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,
To guide our measure round about the tree.
But, stay; I smell a man of middle-earth.

FALSTAFF.
Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he transform me
to a piece of cheese!

PISTOL.
Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.

ANNE.
With trial-fire touch me his finger-end:
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.

PISTOL.
A trial! come.

EVANS.
Come, will this wood take fire?

[They burn him with their tapers.]

FALSTAFF.
Oh, oh, oh!

ANNE.
Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!
About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme;
And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.

SONG.

Fie on sinful fantasy!
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.
Pinch him, fairies, mutually;
Pinch him for his villany;
Pinch him and burn him and turn him about,
Till candles and star-light and moonshine be out.

[During this song the Fairies pinch FALSTAFF. DOCTOR CAIUS comes
one way, and steals away a fairy in green; SLENDER another way,
and takes off a fairy in white; and FENTON comes, and steals away
ANNE PAGE. A noise of hunting is heard within. All the fairies
run away. FALSTAFF pulls off his buck's head, and rises.]

[Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD. They lay hold on
FALSTAFF.]

PAGE.
Nay, do not fly; I think we have watch'd you now:
Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn?

MRS. PAGE.
I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher.
Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives?
See you these, husband? do not these fair yokes
Become the forest better than the town?

FORD.
Now, 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 pounds of money, which must be paid to
Master Brook; his horses are arrested for it, Master Brook.

MRS. FORD.
Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never
take you for my love 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 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 ill employment!

EVANS.
Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires, and fairies
will not pinse you.

FORD.
Well said, fairy Hugh.

EVANS.
And leave you your jealousies too, I pray 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'er-reaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welsh
goat too? Shall I have a cox-comb of frieze? 'Tis time I were
choked with a piece of toasted cheese.

EVANS.
Seese is not good to give putter: your belly is all putter.

FALSTAFF.
'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.

MRS. PAGE.
Why, Sir John, do you think, though we 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?

MRS. PAGE.
A 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?

EVANS.
And 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 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, 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.

MRS. FORD.
Nay, husband, let that go to make amends;
Forget that sum, so we'll all be friends.

FORD.
Well, here's my hand: all is forgiven at last.

PAGE.
Yet be cheerful, knight; thou shalt eat a posset tonight at my
house; where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that now
laughs at thee. Tell her, Master Slender hath married her daughter.

MRS. PAGE.
[Aside] Doctors doubt that; if Anne Page be my daughter, she is,
by this, Doctor Caius' wife.

[Enter SLENDER.]

SLENDER.
Whoa, 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.
Of 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' the church, I would
have swinged him, or he should have swinged me. If I did not
think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir! and 'tis
a postmaster'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, 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.
I 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
postmaster's boy.

EVANS.
Jeshu! Master Slender, cannot you see put marry poys?

PAGE.
O I am vexed at heart: what shall I do?

MRS. PAGE.
Good George, be not angry: I knew of your purpose; turned my
daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the doctor at
the deanery, and there married.

[Enter DOCTOR CAIUS.]

CAIUS.
Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened; I ha' married un
garcon, a boy; un paysan, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page;
by gar, I am cozened.

MRS. PAGE.
Why, did you take her in green?

CAIUS.
Ay, by gar, and 'tis a boy: by gar, I'll raise all Windsor.

[Exit.]

FORD.
This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?

PAGE.
My heart misgives me; here comes Master Fenton.

[Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE.]

How now, Master Fenton!

ANNE.
Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon!

PAGE.
Now, Mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender?

MRS. 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.
The truth is, she and I, long since contracted,
Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.
The offence is holy that she hath committed,
And this deceit loses the name of craft,
Of disobedience, or unduteous title,
Since therein she doth evitate and shun
A thousand irreligious cursed hours,
Which forced marriage would have brought upon her.

FORD.
Stand not amaz'd: here is no remedy:
In love, the heavens themselves do guide the state:
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!
What cannot be eschew'd must be embrac'd.

FALSTAFF.
When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas'd.

MRS. PAGE.
Well, I will muse no further. Master Fenton,
Heaven give you many, many merry days!
Good husband, let us every one go home,
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, to-night, shall lie with Mistress Ford.

[Exeunt.]

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