Enter Mistress Page, with a letter
What, have I 'scaped love-letters in the
holiday time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for
them? Let me see.
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 picked – 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
exhibit (v.) 1
submit for inspection, produce for consideration, propose
bill in the parliament for the putting down of men. How
shall I be revenged on him? For revenged I will be, as
sure as his guts are made of puddings.
Enter Mistress Ford
Mistress Page! Trust me, I was going to
And, trust me, I was coming to you.
You look very ill.
Nay, I'll ne'er believe that. I have to
show to the contrary.
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
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
[unclear meaning] be promiscuous, go whoring
article of thy gentry.
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;
praised 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?
(comparing the two letters)
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
She gives her letter to Mistress Ford
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 above deck.
So will I. If he come under my hatches,
I'll never to sea again. Let's be revenged 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
set of delaying tactics, procrastination
hath pawned 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
You are the happier woman.
Let's consult together against this greasy
knight. Come hither.
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.
I will be patient. I will find out this.
And this is true. I like not the humour of
lying. He hath wronged me in some humours. I should
have borne the humoured 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
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.
They speak aside
How now, sweet Frank, why art thou
I melancholy? I am not melancholy. Get you home,
Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy
head now. Will you go, Mistress Page?
Have with you. – You'll come to dinner,
Enter Mistress Quickly
(Aside to Mistress Ford) Look who comes yonder. She
shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.
(aside to Mistress 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 with you.
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
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
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.
He turns and calls
Cavaliero justice, I say!
[ballad catch phrase, used as an intensifer] and many more
See Topics: Numbers
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, cavaliero 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 sayest thou, my bully rook?
They go aside
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 go aside
Hast thou no suit against my knight, my guest
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, Ameers?
[jocular address] emir [hereditary Arab ruler]
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
Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?
Have with you. I had rather hear them scold than
Exeunt Host, Shallow, and Page
Though Page be a secure fool and stands so firmly
on his wife's frailty, yet I cannot put off my opinion so
frailty (n.) 1
moral weakness, shortcoming, liability to give in to temptation
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 well bestowed.