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The Merry Wives of Windsor
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Navigate this workThe Merry Wives of Windsor
Act 2, scene 2
Falstaff receives Mistress Ford’s invitation to visit; he then accepts “Brook’s” money in exchange for his promise to compromise Mistress Ford’s reputation. Ford plans to trap Falstaff with Mistress Ford.Enter ⌜Sir John⌝ Falstaff ⌜and⌝ Pistol.
FALSTAFF 0835 I will not lend thee a penny.
PISTOL 0836 Why then, the world’s mine oyster, which I
0837 with sword will open.
FALSTAFF 0838 Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you
0839 5 should lay my countenance to pawn. I have grated
0840 upon my good friends for three reprieves for you
0841 and your coach-fellow Nym, or else you had
0842 looked through the grate like a gemini of baboons.
0843 I am damned in hell for swearing to gentlemen my
0844 10 friends you were good soldiers and tall fellows.
0845 And when Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her
0846 fan, I took ’t upon mine honor thou hadst it not.
PISTOL 0847 Didst not thou share? Hadst thou not fifteen
FALSTAFF 0849 15Reason, you rogue, reason. Think’st thou I’ll
0850 endanger my soul gratis? At a word, hang no more
0851 about me. I am no gibbet for you. Go—a short
0852 knife and a throng—to your manor of Pickt-hatch,
0853 go. You’ll not bear a letter for me, you rogue? You
0854 20 stand upon your honor? Why, thou unconfinable
p. 630855 baseness, it is as much as I can do to keep the
0856 terms of my honor precise. Ay, ay, I myself sometimes,
0857 leaving the fear of ⌜God⌝ on the left hand
0858 and hiding mine honor in my necessity, am fain to
0859 25 shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch; and yet you, rogue,
0860 will ensconce your rags, your cat-a-mountain
0861 looks, your red-lattice phrases, and your bold beating
0862 oaths under the shelter of your honor! You will
0863 not do it? You?
PISTOL 0864 30I do relent. What would thou more of man?
ROBIN 0865 Sir, here’s a woman would speak with you.
FALSTAFF 0866 Let her approach.
Enter ⌜Mistress⌝ Quickly.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0867 Give your Worship good morrow.
FALSTAFF 0868 Good morrow, goodwife.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0869 35Not so, an ’t please your Worship.
FALSTAFF 0870 Good maid, then.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0871 I’ll be sworn—as my mother was,
0872 the first hour I was born.
FALSTAFF 0873 I do believe the swearer. What with me?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0874 40Shall I vouchsafe your Worship a
0875 word or two?
FALSTAFF 0876 Two thousand, fair woman, and I’ll vouchsafe
0877 thee the hearing.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0878 There is one Mistress Ford, sir—I
0879 45 pray, come a little nearer this ways. I myself dwell
0880 with Master Doctor Caius.
FALSTAFF 0881 Well, on. “Mistress Ford,” you say—
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0882 Your Worship says very true. I pray
0883 your Worship, come a little nearer this ways.
FALSTAFF 0884 50I warrant thee, nobody hears. Mine own
0885 people, mine own people.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0886 Are they so? ⌜God⌝ bless them and
0887 make them His servants!
p. 65FALSTAFF 0888 Well, “Mistress Ford”—what of her?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0889 55Why, sir, she’s a good creature.
0890 Lord, Lord, your Worship’s a wanton! Well, heaven
0891 forgive you and all of us, I pray!
FALSTAFF 0892 “Mistress Ford”—come, “Mistress Ford”—
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0893 Marry, this is the short and the long
0894 60 of it: you have brought her into such a canaries as
0895 ’tis wonderful. The best courtier of them all, when
0896 the court lay at Windsor, could never have brought
0897 her to such a canary. Yet there has been knights,
0898 and lords, and gentlemen, with their coaches, I
0899 65 warrant you, coach after coach, letter after letter,
0900 gift after gift, smelling so sweetly—all musk—and
0901 so rushling, I warrant you, in silk and gold, and in
0902 such alligant terms, and in such wine and sugar of
0903 the best and the fairest, that would have won any
0904 70 woman’s heart; and, I warrant you, they could
0905 never get an eye-wink of her. I had myself twenty
0906 angels given me this morning, but I defy all angels
0907 in any such sort, as they say, but in the way of
0908 honesty. And, I warrant you, they could never get
0909 75 her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of
0910 them all. And yet there has been earls—nay, which
0911 is more, pensioners—but, I warrant you, all is one
0912 with her.
FALSTAFF 0913 But what says she to me? Be brief, my good
0914 80 she-Mercury.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0915 Marry, she hath received your letter,
0916 for the which she thanks you a thousand times,
0917 and she gives you to notify that her husband will
0918 be absence from his house between ten and eleven.
FALSTAFF 0919 85Ten and eleven?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0920 Ay, forsooth; and then you may come
0921 and see the picture, she says, that you wot of. Master
0922 Ford, her husband, will be from home. Alas, the
0923 sweet woman leads an ill life with him. He’s a very
p. 670924 90 jealousy man. She leads a very frampold life with
0925 him, good heart.
FALSTAFF 0926 Ten and eleven. Woman, commend me to
0927 her. I will not fail her.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0928 Why, you say well. But I have another
0929 95 messenger to your Worship. Mistress Page
0930 hath her hearty commendations to you too; and,
0931 let me tell you in your ear, she’s as fartuous a civil
0932 modest wife, and one, I tell you, that will not miss
0933 you morning nor evening prayer, as any is in Windsor,
0934 100 whoe’er be the other. And she bade me tell
0935 your Worship that her husband is seldom from
0936 home, but she hopes there will come a time. I
0937 never knew a woman so dote upon a man. Surely, I
0938 think you have charms, la! Yes, in truth.
FALSTAFF 0939 105Not I, I assure thee. Setting the attraction of
0940 my good parts aside, I have no other charms.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0941 Blessing on your heart for ’t!
FALSTAFF 0942 But I pray thee, tell me this: has Ford’s wife
0943 and Page’s wife acquainted each other how they
0944 110 love me?
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0945 That were a jest indeed! They have
0946 not so little grace, I hope. That were a trick indeed!
0947 But Mistress Page would desire you to send her
0948 your little page, of all loves. Her husband has a
0949 115 marvelous infection to the little page; and, truly,
0950 Master Page is an honest man. Never a wife in
0951 Windsor leads a better life than she does. Do what
0952 she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to
0953 bed when she list, rise when she list—all is as she
0954 120 will. And, truly, she deserves it, for if there be a
0955 kind woman in Windsor, she is one. You must send
0956 her your page, no remedy.
FALSTAFF 0957 Why, I will.
MISTRESS QUICKLY 0958 Nay, but do so then, and, look you,
0959 125 he may come and go between you both. And in any
p. 690960 case have a nayword, that you may know one another’s
0961 mind, and the boy never need to understand
0962 anything; for ’tis not good that children
0963 should know any wickedness. Old folks, you know,
0964 130 have discretion, as they say, and know the world.
FALSTAFF 0965 Fare thee well. Commend me to them both.
0966 There’s my purse. ⌜(He gives her money.)⌝ I am yet
0967 thy debtor.—Boy, go along with this woman. ⌜(Mistress
Quickly and Robin exit.)⌝ 0968 This news distracts
0969 135 me.
0970 This punk is one of Cupid’s carriers.
0971 Clap on more sails, pursue; up with your fights;
0972 Give fire! She is my prize, or ocean whelm them all!
FALSTAFF 0973 Sayst thou so, old Jack? Go thy ways. I’ll
0974 140 make more of thy old body than I have done. Will
0975 they yet look after thee? Wilt thou, after the expense
0976 of so much money, be now a gainer? Good
0977 body, I thank thee. Let them say ’tis grossly done;
0978 so it be fairly done, no matter.
⌜Enter Bardolph with wine.⌝
BARDOLPH 0979 145Sir John, there’s one Master ⌜Brook⌝ below
0980 would fain speak with you and be acquainted with
0981 you, and hath sent your Worship a morning’s
0982 draught of sack.⌜(He hands Falstaff the wine.)⌝
FALSTAFF 0983 ⌜Brook⌝ is his name?
BARDOLPH 0984 150Ay, sir.
FALSTAFF 0985 Call him in. Such ⌜Brooks⌝ are welcome to
0986 me that o’erflows such liquor.⌜(Bardolph exits.)⌝
0987 Ah ha, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, have I encompassed
0988 you? Go to. Via!
Enter ⌜Bardolph with⌝ Ford ⌜disguised as Brook.⌝
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 0989 155⌜God⌝ bless you, sir.
FALSTAFF 0990 And you, sir. Would you speak with me?
p. 71FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 0991 I make bold to press with so little
0992 preparation upon you.
FALSTAFF 0993 You’re welcome. What’s your will?—Give us
0994 160 leave, drawer.⌜Bardolph exits.⌝
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 0995 Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent
0996 much. My name is ⌜Brook.⌝
FALSTAFF 0997 Good Master ⌜Brook,⌝ I desire more acquaintance
0998 of you.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 0999 165Good Sir John, I sue for yours—not
1000 to charge you, for I must let you understand I
1001 think myself in better plight for a lender than you
1002 are, the which hath something emboldened me to
1003 this unseasoned intrusion; for they say, if money
1004 170 go before, all ways do lie open.
FALSTAFF 1005 Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1006 Troth, and I have a bag of money
1007 here troubles me. ⌜He sets it down.⌝ If you will help
1008 to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for easing me
1009 175 of the carriage.
FALSTAFF 1010 Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1012 I will tell you, sir, if you will give me
1013 the hearing.
FALSTAFF 1014 180Speak, good Master ⌜Brook.⌝ I shall be glad
1015 to be your servant.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1016 Sir, I hear you are a scholar—I will
1017 be brief with you—and you have been a man long
1018 known to me, though I had never so good means
1019 185 as desire to make myself acquainted with you. I
1020 shall discover a thing to you wherein I must very
1021 much lay open mine own imperfection. But, good
1022 Sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as
1023 you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register
1024 190 of your own, that I may pass with a reproof
1025 the easier, sith you yourself know how easy it is to
1026 be such an offender.
p. 73FALSTAFF 1027 Very well, sir. Proceed.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1028 There is a gentlewoman in this
1029 195 town—her husband’s name is Ford.
FALSTAFF 1030 Well, sir.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1031 I have long loved her and, I protest
1032 to you, bestowed much on her, followed her with
1033 a doting observance, engrossed opportunities to
1034 200 meet her, fee’d every slight occasion that could but
1035 niggardly give me sight of her, not only bought
1036 many presents to give her, but have given largely to
1037 many to know what she would have given. Briefly,
1038 I have pursued her as love hath pursued me, which
1039 205 hath been on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever
1040 I have merited, either in my mind or in my
1041 means, meed I am sure I have received none, unless
1042 experience be a jewel. That I have purchased
1043 at an infinite rate, and that hath taught me to say
1044 210 this:
1045 “Love like a shadow flies when substance love
1047 Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.”
FALSTAFF 1048 Have you received no promise of satisfaction
1049 215 at her hands?
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1050 Never.
FALSTAFF 1051 Have you importuned her to such a
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1053 Never.
FALSTAFF 1054 220Of what quality was your love, then?
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1055 Like a fair house built on another
1056 man’s ground, so that I have lost my edifice by
1057 mistaking the place where I erected it.
FALSTAFF 1058 To what purpose have you unfolded this to
1059 225 me?
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1060 When I have told you that, I have
1061 told you all. Some say that though she appear honest
1062 to me, yet in other places she enlargeth her
1063 mirth so far that there is shrewd construction
p. 751064 230 made of her. Now, Sir John, here is the heart of my
1065 purpose: you are a gentleman of excellent breeding,
1066 admirable discourse, of great admittance,
1067 authentic in your place and person, generally
1068 allowed for your many warlike, courtlike, and
1069 235 learned preparations.
FALSTAFF 1070 O, sir!
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1071 Believe it, for you know it. There is
1072 money. ⌜(He points to the bag.)⌝ Spend it, spend
1073 it, spend more; spend all I have. Only give me so
1074 240 much of your time in exchange of it as to lay an
1075 amiable siege to the honesty of this Ford’s wife.
1076 Use your art of wooing; win her to consent to you.
1077 If any man may, you may as soon as any.
FALSTAFF 1078 Would it apply well to the vehemency of
1079 245 your affection that I should win what you would
1080 enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself very
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1082 O, understand my drift. She dwells
1083 so securely on the excellency of her honor that the
1084 250 folly of my soul dares not present itself; she is too
1085 bright to be looked against. Now, could I come to
1086 her with any detection in my hand, my desires had
1087 instance and argument to commend themselves. I
1088 could drive her then from the ward of her purity,
1089 255 her reputation, her marriage vow, and a thousand
1090 other her defenses, which now are too too strongly
1091 embattled against me. What say you to ’t, Sir
FALSTAFF, ⌜taking the bag⌝ 1093 Master ⌜Brook,⌝ I will first
1094 260 make bold with your money; next, give me your
1095 hand; and, last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if
1096 you will, enjoy Ford’s wife.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1097 O, good sir!
FALSTAFF 1098 I say you shall.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1099 265Want no money, Sir John; you shall
1100 want none.
p. 77FALSTAFF 1101 Want no Mistress Ford, Master ⌜Brook;⌝ you
1102 shall want none. I shall be with her, I may tell you,
1103 by her own appointment. Even as you came in to
1104 270 me, her assistant or go-between parted from me. I
1105 say I shall be with her between ten and eleven, for
1106 at that time the jealous, rascally knave her husband
1107 will be forth. Come you to me at night. You
1108 shall know how I speed.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1109 275I am blessed in your acquaintance.
1110 Do you know Ford, sir?
FALSTAFF 1111 Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know
1112 him not. Yet I wrong him to call him poor. They
1113 say the jealous wittolly knave hath masses of
1114 280 money, for the which his wife seems to me well-favored.
1115 I will use her as the key of the cuckoldly
1116 rogue’s coffer, and there’s my harvest home.
FORD, ⌜as Brook⌝ 1117 I would you knew Ford, sir, that you
1118 might avoid him if you saw him.
FALSTAFF 1119 285Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue! I
1120 will stare him out of his wits. I will awe him with
1121 my cudgel; it shall hang like a meteor o’er the
1122 cuckold’s horns. Master ⌜Brook,⌝ thou shalt know I
1123 will predominate over the peasant, and thou shalt
1124 290 lie with his wife. Come to me soon at night. Ford’s
1125 a knave, and I will aggravate his style. Thou, Master
1126 ⌜Brook,⌝ shalt know him for knave and cuckold.
1127 Come to me soon at night.⌜Falstaff exits.⌝
FORD 1128 What a damned epicurean rascal is this! My
1129 295 heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says
1130 this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent
1131 to him, the hour is fixed, the match is made.
1132 Would any man have thought this? See the hell of
1133 having a false woman: my bed shall be abused, my
1134 300 coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at. And
1135 I shall not only receive this villainous wrong but
1136 stand under the adoption of abominable terms,
p. 791137 and by him that does me this wrong. Terms,
1138 names! “Amaimon” sounds well, “Lucifer” well,
1139 305 “Barbason” well; yet they are devils’ additions, the
1140 names of fiends. But “Cuckold,” “Wittoll,” “Cuckold”!
1141 The devil himself hath not such a name. Page
1142 is an ass, a secure ass. He will trust his wife, he will
1143 not be jealous. I will rather trust a Fleming with
1144 310 my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my
1145 cheese, an Irishman with my aquavitae bottle, or
1146 a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife
1147 with herself. Then she plots, then she ruminates,
1148 then she devises; and what they think in their
1149 315 hearts they may effect, they will break their hearts
1150 but they will effect. ⌜God⌝ be praised for my jealousy!
1151 Eleven o’clock the hour. I will prevent this,
1152 detect my wife, be revenged on Falstaff, and laugh
1153 at Page. I will about it. Better three hours too soon
1154 320 than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! Cuckold, cuckold,