The Merry Wives of Windsor - Act 2, scene 1
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Act 2, scene 1
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford compare their love letters from Falstaff and plot revenge against him. Pistol and Nym tell Ford and Page of Falstaff’s designs on their wives, and Ford’s jealousy explodes. He arranges to disguise himself as a man called Brook and approach Falstaff. The Host and Shallow set off with Page to find Dr. Caius and Sir Hugh, who are being kept apart through the Host’s deliberate misdirections.Enter Mistress Page ⌜reading a letter.⌝
MISTRESS PAGE 0600 What, have ⌜I⌝ ’scaped love letters in
0601 the holiday time of my beauty, and am I now a
0602 subject for them? Let me see.
0603 Ask me no reason why I love you, for though Love
0604 5 use Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for
0605 his counselor. You are not young; no more am I. Go
0606 to, then, there’s sympathy. You are merry; so am I.
0607 Ha, ha, then, there’s more sympathy. You love sack,
0608 and so do I. Would you desire better sympathy? Let
0609 10 it suffice thee, Mistress Page—at the least, if the love
0610 of soldier can suffice—that I love thee. I will not say
0611 pity me—’tis not a soldier-like phrase—but I say love
0612 me. By me,
0613 Thine own true knight,
0614 15 By day or night,
0615 Or any kind of light,
0616 With all his might
0617 For thee to fight,
0618 John Falstaff.
0619 20 What a Herod of Jewry is this! O wicked, wicked
0620 world! One that is well-nigh worn to pieces with
0621 age, to show himself a young gallant! What an
0622 unweighed behavior hath this Flemish drunkard
0624 25 that he dares in this manner assay me?
0625 Why, he hath not been thrice in my company!
0626 What should I say to him? I was then frugal of my
0627 mirth. Heaven forgive me! Why, I’ll exhibit a bill
0628 in the Parliament for the putting down of men.
0629 30 How shall I be revenged on him? For revenged I
0630 will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
Enter Mistress Ford.
MISTRESS FORD 0631 Mistress Page! Trust me, I was going to
0632 your house.
MISTRESS PAGE 0633 And, trust me, I was coming to you.
0634 35 You look very ill.
MISTRESS FORD 0635 Nay, I’ll ne’er believe that. I have to
0636 show to the contrary.
MISTRESS PAGE 0637 Faith, but you do, in my mind.
MISTRESS FORD 0638 Well, I do, then. Yet I say I could show
0639 40 you to the contrary. O Mistress Page, give me some
MISTRESS PAGE 0641 What’s the matter, woman?
MISTRESS FORD 0642 O woman, if it were not for one trifling
0643 respect, I could come to such honor!
MISTRESS PAGE 0644 45Hang the trifle, woman; take the honor.
0645 What is it? Dispense with trifles. What is it?
MISTRESS FORD 0646 If I would but go to hell for an eternal
0647 moment or so, I could be knighted.
MISTRESS PAGE 0648 What, thou liest! Sir Alice Ford? These
0649 50 knights will hack, and so thou shouldst not alter
0650 the article of thy gentry.
MISTRESS FORD 0651 We burn daylight. Here, read, read. Perceive
0652 how I might be knighted. ⌜(She gives a paper
to Mistress Page, who reads it.)⌝ 0653 I shall think the
0654 55 worse of fat men as long as I have an eye to make
0655 difference of men’s liking. And yet he would not
0656 swear; ⌜praised⌝ women’s modesty; and gave such
0658 that I would have sworn his disposition
0659 60 would have gone to the truth of his words. But
0660 they do no more adhere and keep place together
0661 than the ⌜Hundredth Psalm⌝ to the tune of
0662 “Greensleeves.” What tempest, I trow, threw this
0663 whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore
0664 65 at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him? I
0665 think the best way were to entertain him with hope
0666 till the wicked fire of lust have melted him in his
0667 own grease. Did you ever hear the like?
MISTRESS PAGE 0668 Letter for letter, but that the name of
0669 70 Page and Ford differs! To thy great comfort in this
0670 mystery of ill opinions, here’s the twin brother of
0671 thy letter. ⌜(She gives a paper to Mistress Ford, who
reads it.)⌝ 0672 But let thine inherit first, for I protest
0673 mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of
0674 75 these letters writ with blank space for different
0675 names—sure, more—and these are of the second
0676 edition. He will print them, out of doubt; for he
0677 cares not what he puts into the press, when he
0678 would put us two. I had rather be a giantess and lie
0679 80 under Mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty
0680 lascivious turtles ere one chaste man.
MISTRESS FORD 0681 Why, this is the very same—the very
0682 hand, the very words. What doth he think of us?
MISTRESS PAGE 0683 Nay, I know not. It makes me almost
0684 85 ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. I’ll entertain
0685 myself like one that I am not acquainted
0686 withal; for, sure, unless he know some strain in
0687 me that I know not myself, he would never have
0688 boarded me in this fury.
MISTRESS FORD 0689 90“Boarding” call you it? I’ll be sure to
0690 keep him above deck.
MISTRESS PAGE 0691 So will I. If he come under my hatches,
0692 I’ll never to sea again. Let’s be revenged on him.
0693 Let’s appoint him a meeting, give him a show of
0695 delay till he hath pawned his horses to mine
0696 Host of the Garter.
MISTRESS FORD 0697 Nay, I will consent to act any villainy
0698 against him that may not sully the chariness of our
0699 100 honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! It
0700 would give eternal food to his jealousy.
MISTRESS PAGE 0701 Why, look where he comes, and my
0702 good man too. He’s as far from jealousy as I am
0703 from giving him cause, and that, I hope, is an
0704 105 unmeasurable distance.
MISTRESS FORD 0705 You are the happier woman.
MISTRESS PAGE 0706 Let’s consult together against this greasy
0707 knight. Come hither.⌜They talk aside.⌝
Enter Ford ⌜with⌝ Pistol, and Page ⌜with⌝ Nym.
FORD 0708 Well, I hope it be not so.
0709 110 Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs.
0710 Sir John affects thy wife.
FORD 0711 Why, sir, my wife is not young.
0712 He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,
0713 Both young and old, one with another, Ford.
0714 115 He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.
FORD 0715 Love my wife?
0716 With liver burning hot. Prevent,
0717 Or go thou like Sir Acteon, he,
0718 With Ringwood at thy heels.
0719 120 O, odious is the name!
FORD 0720 What name, sir?
PISTOL 0721 The horn, I say. Farewell.
0722 Take heed, have open eye, for thieves do foot by
0724 125 Take heed, ere summer comes or cuckoo birds do
0727 speaks sense.⌜He exits.⌝
FORD, ⌜aside⌝ 0728 I will be patient. I will find out this.
NYM, ⌜to Page⌝ 0729 130And this is true. I like not the humor of
0730 lying. He hath wronged me in some humors. I
0731 should have borne the humored letter to her; but I
0732 have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity.
0733 He loves your wife; there’s the short and the long.
0734 135 My name is Corporal Nym. I speak and I avouch.
0735 ’Tis true. My name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your
0736 wife. Adieu. I love not the humor of bread and
0737 cheese. Adieu.⌜He exits.⌝
PAGE, ⌜aside⌝ 0738 “The humor of it,” quoth he? Here’s a fellow
0739 140 frights English out of his wits.
FORD, ⌜aside⌝ 0740 I will seek out Falstaff.
PAGE, ⌜aside⌝ 0741 I never heard such a drawling, affecting
FORD, ⌜aside⌝ 0743 If I do find it—well.
PAGE, ⌜aside⌝ 0744 145I will not believe such a Cataian, though
0745 the priest o’ th’ town commended him for a true
FORD, ⌜aside⌝ 0747 ’Twas a good sensible fellow—well.
⌜Mistress Page and Mistress Ford come forward.⌝
PAGE, ⌜to Mistress Page⌝ 0748 How now, Meg?
MISTRESS PAGE 0749 150Whither go you, George? Hark you.
⌜They talk aside.⌝
MISTRESS FORD, ⌜to Ford⌝ 0750 How now, sweet Frank? Why
0751 art thou melancholy?
FORD 0752 I melancholy? I am not melancholy. Get you
0753 home. Go.
MISTRESS FORD 0754 155Faith, thou hast some crochets in thy
0755 head now.—Will you go, Mistress Page?
MISTRESS PAGE 0756 Have with you.—You’ll come to dinner,
0757 George? ⌜(Aside to Mistress Ford.)⌝ Look who
0758 comes yonder.
0759 160 She shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.
MISTRESS FORD 0760 Trust me, I thought on her. She’ll fit it.
MISTRESS PAGE, ⌜to Mistress Quickly⌝ 0761 You are come to
0762 see my daughter Anne?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0763 Ay, forsooth. And, I pray, how does
0764 165 good Mistress Anne?
MISTRESS PAGE 0765 Go in with us and see. We have an
0766 hour’s talk with you.
⌜Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and
Mistress Quickly exit.⌝
PAGE 0767 How now, Master Ford?
FORD 0768 You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
PAGE 0769 170Yes, and you heard what the other told me?
FORD 0770 Do you think there is truth in them?
PAGE 0771 Hang ’em, slaves! I do not think the knight
0772 would offer it. But these that accuse him in his intent
0773 towards our wives are a yoke of his discarded
0774 175 men, very rogues, now they be out of service.
FORD 0775 Were they his men?
PAGE 0776 Marry, were they.
FORD 0777 I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at
0778 the Garter?
PAGE 0779 180Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend this voyage
0780 toward my wife, I would turn her loose to him;
0781 and what he gets more of her than sharp words, let
0782 it lie on my head.
FORD 0783 I do not misdoubt my wife, but I would be loath
0784 185 to turn them together. A man may be too confident.
0785 I would have nothing lie on my head. I cannot
0786 be thus satisfied.
PAGE 0787 Look where my ranting Host of the Garter
0788 comes. There is either liquor in his pate or money
0789 190 in his purse when he looks so merrily.—How now,
0790 mine Host?
0792 Cavaleiro Justice, I say!
SHALLOW 0793 I follow, mine Host, I follow.—Good even
0794 195 and twenty, good Master Page. Master Page, will
0795 you go with us? We have sport in hand.
HOST 0796 Tell him, Cavaleiro Justice; tell him, bullyrook.
SHALLOW 0797 Sir, there is a fray to be fought between
0798 Sir Hugh the Welsh priest and Caius the French
0799 200 doctor.
FORD 0800 Good mine Host o’ th’ Garter, a word with you.
HOST 0801 What say’st thou, my bullyrook?
⌜The Host and Ford talk aside.⌝
SHALLOW, ⌜to Page⌝ 0802 Will you go with us to behold it?
0803 My merry Host hath had the measuring of their
0804 205 weapons and, I think, hath appointed them contrary
0805 places; for, believe me, I hear the parson is no
0806 jester. Hark, I will tell you what our sport shall be.
⌜Shallow and Page talk aside.⌝
HOST, ⌜to Ford⌝ 0807 Hast thou no suit against my knight,
0808 my guest cavalier?
⌜FORD⌝ 0809 210None, I protest. But I’ll give you a pottle of
0810 burnt sack to give me recourse to him, and tell him
0811 my name is ⌜Brook⌝—only for a jest.
HOST 0812 My hand, bully. Thou shalt have egress and
0813 regress—said I well?—and thy name shall be
0814 215 ⌜Brook.⌝ It is a merry knight. ⌜(To Shallow and
Page.)⌝ 0815 Will you go, ⌜ameers?⌝
SHALLOW 0816 Have with you, mine Host.
PAGE 0817 I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill
0818 in his rapier.
SHALLOW 0819 220Tut, sir, I could have told you more. In these
0820 times you stand on distance—your passes, stoccados,
0821 and I know not what. ’Tis the heart, Master
0822 Page; ’tis here, ’tis here. I have seen the time, with
0823 my long sword I would have made you four tall
0824 225 fellows skip like rats.
PAGE 0826 Have with you. I had rather hear them scold
0827 than fight.⌜Page, Host, and Shallow exit.⌝
FORD 0828 Though Page be a secure fool and stands so
0829 230 firmly on his wife’s frailty, yet I cannot put off my
0830 opinion so easily. She was in his company at Page’s
0831 house, and what they made there I know not. Well,
0832 I will look further into ’t, and I have a disguise to
0833 sound Falstaff. If I find her honest, I lose not my
0834 235 labor. If she be otherwise, ’tis labor well bestowed.