Before PAGE'S house
Enter MISTRESS PAGE, with a letter
What! have I scap'd love-letters in the holiday-time
of my beauty, and am I now a subject for them? Let
'Ask me no reason why I love you; for though Love use
Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor.
You are not young, no more am I; go to, then, there's
sympathy. You are merry, so am I; ha! ha! then there's
more sympathy. You love sack, and so do I; would you
desire better sympathy? Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page
at the least, if the love of soldier can suffice-that I love
thee. I will not say, Pity me: 'tis not a soldier-like phrase;
but I say, Love me. By me,
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might,
For thee to fight,
What a Herod of Jewry is this! O wicked, wicked world!
One that is well-nigh worn to pieces with age to show
himself a young gallant! What an unweighed behaviour
hath this Flemish drunkard pick'd-with the devil's name!
-out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner
assay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company!
What should I say to him? I was then frugal of my mirth.
Heaven forgive me! Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament
for the putting down of men. How shall I be
reveng'd on him? for reveng'd I will be, as sure as his guts
are made of puddings.
Enter MISTRESS FORD
Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your
And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look
Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to show to
Faith, but you do, in my mind.
Well, I do, then; yet, I say, I could show you to
the contrary. O Mistress Page, give me some counsel.
What's the matter, woman?
O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect,
I could come to such honour!
Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour. What
is it? Dispense with trifles; what is it?
If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment
or so, I could be knighted.
What? Thou liest. Sir Alice Ford! These knights
will hack; and so thou shouldst not alter the article of thy
We burn daylight. Here, read, read; perceive
how I might be knighted. I shall think the worse of fat
men as long as I have an eye to make difference of men's
liking. And yet he would not swear; prais'd women's
modesty, and gave such orderly and well-behaved reproof
to all uncomeliness that I would have sworn his disposition
would have gone to the truth of his words; but they do no
more adhere and keep place together than the Hundredth
Psalm to the tune of 'Greensleeves.' What tempest, I trow,
threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly,
ashore at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him? I
think the best way were to entertain him with hope, till
the wicked fire of lust have melted him in his own grease.
Did you ever hear the like?
Letter for letter, but that the name of Page and
Ford differs. To thy great comfort in this mystery of ill
opinions, here's the twin-brother of thy letter; but let thine
inherit first, for, I protest, mine never shall. I warrant he
hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space for
different names-sure, more!-and these are of the second
edition. He will print them, out of doubt; for he cares not
what he puts into the press when he would put us two. I
had rather be a giantess and lie under Mount Pelion. Well,
I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste
Why, this is the very same; the very hand, the
very words. What doth he think of us?
Nay, I know not; it makes me almost ready to
wrangle with mine own honesty. I'll entertain myself like
one that I am not acquainted withal; for, sure, unless he
know some strain in me that I know not myself, he would
never have boarded me in this fury.
'Boarding' call you it? I'll be sure to keep him
So will I; if he come under my hatches, I'll never
to sea again. Let's be reveng'd on him; let's appoint him a
meeting, give him a show of comfort in his suit, and lead
him on with a fine-baited delay, till he hath pawn'd his
horses to mine host of the Garter.
Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against
him that may not sully the chariness of our honesty. O
that my husband saw this letter! It would give eternal food
to his jealousy.
Why, look where he comes; and my good man
too; he's as far from jealousy as I am from giving him
cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance.
You are the happier woman.
Let's consult together against this greasy knight.
Enter FORD with PISTOL, and PAGE with Nym
Well, I hope it be not so.
Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs.
Sir John affects thy wife.
Why, sir, my wife is not young.
He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,
Both young and old, one with another, Ford;
He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.
Love my wife!
With liver burning hot. Prevent, or go thou,
Like Sir Actaeon he, with Ringwood at thy heels.
O, odious is the name!
What name, sir?
The horn, I say. Farewell.
Take heed, have open eye, for thieves do foot by night;
Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo birds do sing.
Away, Sir Corporal Nym.
Believe it, Page; he speaks sense.
[Aside] I will be patient; I will find out this.
[To PAGE] And this is true; I like not the humour of
lying. He hath wronged me in some humours; I should
have borne the humour'd letter to her; but I have a sword,
and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife;
there's the short and the long.
My name is Corporal Nym; I speak, and I avouch;
'Tis true. My name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your wife.
Adieu! I love not the humour of bread and cheese; and
there's the humour of it. Adieu.
'The humour of it,' quoth 'a! Here's a fellow frights
English out of his wits.
I will seek out Falstaff.
I never heard such a drawling, affecting rogue.
If I do find it-well.
I will not believe such a Cataian though the priest o'
th' town commended him for a true man.
'Twas a good sensible fellow. Well.
MISTRESS PAGE and MISTRESS FORD come forward
How now, Meg!
Whither go you, George? Hark you.
How now, sweet Frank, why art thou melancholy?
I melancholy! I am not melancholy. Get you home;
Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now.
Will you go, Mistress Page?
Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY
Have with you. You'll come to dinner, George?
[Aside to MRS. FORD] Look who comes yonder; she shall
be our messenger to this paltry knight.
[Aside to MRS. PAGE] Trust me, I thought on
her; she'll fit it.
You are come to see my daughter Anne?
Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does good Mistress Anne?
Go in with us and see; we have an hour's talk
Exeunt MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and MISTRESS QUICKLY
How now, Master Ford!
You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
Yes; and you heard what the other told me?
Do you think there is truth in them?
Hang 'em, slaves! I do not think the knight would offer it;
but these that accuse him in his intent towards our
wives are a yoke of his discarded men; very rogues, now
they be out of service.
Were they his men?
Marry, were they.
I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at the
Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend this voyage
toward my wife, I would turn her loose to him; and what
he gets more of her than sharp words, let it lie on my head.
I do not misdoubt my wife; but I would be loath to
turn them together. A man may be too confident. I would
have nothing lie on my head. I cannot be thus satisfied.
Look where my ranting host of the Garter comes.
There is either liquor in his pate or money in his purse
when he looks so merrily. How now, mine host!
How now, bully rook! Thou'rt a gentleman. [To
SHALLOW following] Cavaleiro Justice, I say.
I follow, mine host, I follow. Good even and
twenty, good Master Page! Master Page, will you go with
us? We have sport in hand.
Tell him, Cavaleiro Justice; tell him, bully rook.
Sir, there is a fray to be fought between Sir Hugh
the Welsh priest and Caius the French doctor.
Good mine host o' th' Garter, a word with you.
What say'st thou, my bully rook?
[They go aside]
[To PAGE] Will you go with us to behold it? My
merry host hath had the measuring of their weapons; and,
I think, hath appointed them contrary places; for, believe
me, I hear the parson is no jester. Hark, I will tell you
what our sport shall be.
[They converse apart]
Hast thou no suit against my knight, my guest-cavaleiro.
None, I protest; but I'll give you a pottle of burnt
sack to give me recourse to him, and tell him my name is
Brook-only for a jest.
My hand, bully; thou shalt have egress and regress-
said I well?-and thy name shall be Brook. It is a merry
knight. Will you go, Mynheers?
Have with you, mine host.
I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill in his
Tut, sir, I could have told you more. In these
times you stand on distance, your passes, stoccadoes, and
I know not what. 'Tis the heart, Master Page; 'tis here,
'tis here. I have seen the time with my long sword I would
have made you four tall fellows skip like rats.
Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?
Have with you. I had rather hear them scold than
Exeunt all but FORD
Though Page be a secure fool, and stands so firmly on
his wife's frailty, yet I cannot put off my opinion so
easily. She was in his company at Page's house, and what
they made there I know not. Well, I will look further into
't, and I have a disguise to sound Falstaff. If I find her
honest, I lose not my labour; if she be otherwise, 'tis labour