The Merry Wives of Windsor


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Mistress Page, with a letter
scape, 'scape (v.) escape, avoid See Topics: Frequency count


MISTRESS PAGE

What, have I 'scaped love-letters in the

holiday time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for
holiday time (n.) best time, prime

them? Let me see.

(She reads)

Ask me no reason why I love you, for though Love use

Reason for his precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor.
precisian (n.) strict adviser, spiritual mentor

You are not young, no more am I. Go to, then,

there's sympathy. You are merry, so am I. Ha, ha, then
sympathy (n.) 1 accord, agreement, harmony

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,

John Falstaff

What a Herod of Jewry is this! O, wicked wicked world!
Herod of Jewry out-and-out villain

One that is well-nigh worn to pieces with age to show

himself a young gallant! What an unweighed behaviour
gallant (n.) 1 fine gentleman, man of fashion See Topics: Address forms
unweighed (adj.) hasty, thoughtless, ill-judged

hath this Flemish drunkard picked – with the devil's

name! – out of my conversation, that he dares in this
conversation (n.) 1 way of life, behaviour, manners, conduct

manner assay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my
assay (v.) 4 make advances to, accost, address proposals to

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
putting down (n.) suppression, restraint, repression

shall I be revenged on him? For revenged I will be, as

sure as his guts are made of puddings.
pudding (n.) 2 stuffing

Enter Mistress Ford
trust me believe me See Topics: Discourse markers


MISTRESS FORD

Mistress Page! Trust me, I was going to

your house.


MISTRESS PAGE

And, trust me, I was coming to you.

You look very ill.
ill (adj.) 5 annoyed, cross, vexed


MISTRESS FORD

Nay, I'll ne'er believe that. I have to

show to the contrary.


MISTRESS PAGE

Faith, but you do, in my mind.


MISTRESS FORD

Well, I do then. Yet I say I could show

you to the contrary. O Mistress Page, give me some

counsel.


MISTRESS PAGE

What's the matter, woman?


MISTRESS FORD

O woman, if it were not for one trifling

respect, I could come to such honour.
come to (v.) achieve, attain, arrive at
honour (n.) 3 noble rank, position of dignity, title of renown
respect (n.) 1 consideration, factor, circumstance


MISTRESS PAGE

Hang the trifle, woman, take the honour.

What is it? Dispense with trifles. What is it?
dispense with (v.) 2 have done with, do away with, forgo


MISTRESS FORD

If I would but go to hell for an eternal

moment or so, I could be knighted.


MISTRESS PAGE

What? Thou liest! Sir Alice Ford! These

knights will hack, and so thou shouldst not alter the
hack (v.) [unclear meaning] be promiscuous, go whoring

article of thy gentry.
article (n.) 4 character, nature, designation
gentry (n.) 2 social rank, breeding, level in society


MISTRESS FORD

We burn daylight. Here, read, read.
burn (v.) 4 waste, fritter away

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;
difference (n.) 7 distinction, discrimination, contrast [between]
liking (n.) 3 bodily shape, good condition

praised women's modesty; and gave such orderly and

well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness that I would
uncomeliness (n.) unseemly behaviour, improper conduct

have sworn his disposition would have gone to the
disposition (n.) 2 natural temperament, normal state of mind
go to (v.) 1 accord with, correspond to, match

truth of his words. But they do no more adhere and keep
adhere (v.) 1 agree, suit, fit the circumstances

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?
tun (n.) 1 barrel, large cask

How shall I be revenged on him? I think the best way

were to entertain him with hope till the wicked fire of
entertain (v.) 8 occupy, engage, fill up

lust have melted him in his own grease. Did you ever

hear the like?


MISTRESS PAGE

(comparing the two letters)

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
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count

twin-brother of thy letter. But let thine inherit first, for
inherit (v.) 1 receive, obtain, come into possession [of]

I protest mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand

of these letters, writ with blank space for different names
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

– sure, more, – and these are of the second edition. He

will print them, out of doubt; for he cares not what he
doubt, out of without doubt, unquestionably, indubitably

puts into the press, when he would put us two. I had

rather be a giantess and lie under Mount Pelion. Well,
giantess (n.) she-giant

I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste
turtle (n.) turtle-dove, lover

man.

She gives her letter to Mistress Ford


MISTRESS FORD

Why, this is the very same: the very

hand, the very words. What doth he think of us?


MISTRESS PAGE

Nay, I know not. It makes me almost

ready to wrangle with mine own honesty. I'll entertain
entertain (v.) 6 consider, treat, think of
honesty (n.) 1 virtue, chastity
wrangle (v.) dispute, contest, argue over

myself like one that I am not acquainted withal; for, sure,

unless he know some strain in me that I know not
strain (n.) 1 quality, character, disposition

myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.
board (v.) 1 accost, address, approach, tackle
fury (n.) 2 impetuous way, fierce passion


MISTRESS FORD

‘ Boarding ’ call you it? I'll be sure to

keep him above deck.


MISTRESS PAGE

So will I. If he come under my hatches,
hatch (n.) 3 (plural) movable deck planks

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
comfort (n.) 1 encouragement, support, hope

his suit, and lead him on with a fine-baited delay till he
delay (n.) set of delaying tactics, procrastination
fine-baited (adj.) full of attractive temptations, enticingly baited
suit (n.) 2 wooing, courtship

hath pawned his horses to mine host of the Garter.


MISTRESS FORD

Nay, I will consent to act any villainy
villainy (n.) 2 shaming practice, discrediting activity

against him that may not sully the chariness of our
chariness (n.) careful preservation, strict uprightness

honesty. O that my husband saw this letter! It would
honesty (n.) 2 honour, integrity, uprightness

give eternal food to his jealousy.


MISTRESS PAGE

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.


MISTRESS FORD

You are the happier woman.


MISTRESS PAGE

Let's consult together against this greasy

knight. Come hither.

They retire

Enter Ford with Pistol, and Page with Nym


FORD

Well, I hope it be not so.


PISTOL

Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs.
curtal (adj.) with a docked tail; common, household

Sir John affects thy wife.
affect (v.) 2 love, like, be fond of


FORD

Why, sir, my wife is not young.


PISTOL

He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,

Both young and old, one with another, Ford.

He loves the gallimaufry. Ford, perpend.
gallimaufry (n.) complete mixture, whole assembly, every sort
perpend (v.) consider, ponder, reflect


FORD

Love my wife?


PISTOL

With liver burning hot. Prevent. Or go thou
prevent (v.) 2 take steps to thwart, avoid by prompt action

Like Sir Actaeon he, with Ringwood at thy heels.

O, odious is the name!


FORD

What name, sir?


PISTOL

The horn, I say. Farewell.

Take heed, have open eye, for thieves do foot by night.
foot (v.) 1 pace, walk about

Take heed, ere summer comes or cuckoo-birds do sing.

Away, Sir Corporal Nym!

Believe it, Page; he speaks sense.

Exit


FORD

(aside)
find out (v.) 3 inquire into, follow up

I will be patient. I will find out this.


NYM

(to Page)
humour (n.) 3 style, method, way, fashion

And this is true. I like not the humour of

lying. He hath wronged me in some humours. I should
humour (n.) 3 style, method, way, fashion

have borne the humoured letter to her, but I have a
humoured (adj.) expressing a particular disposition; lying, treacherous

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
avouch (v.) 1 declare, assert, affirm

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.
humour (n.) 3 style, method, way, fashion

Exit


PAGE

‘ The humour of it,’ quoth'a! Here's a fellow frights
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count
quoth (v.) said See Topics: Frequency count
quoth a, quotha (int.) did he say?, indeed!

English out of his wits.


FORD

(aside)

I will seek out Falstaff.


PAGE

(aside)
affecting (adj.) affected, full of mannerism

I never heard such a drawling, affecting

rogue.


FORD

(aside)

If I do find it – well.


PAGE

(aside)
Cataian, Cathayan (n.) [from Cathay = China] scoundrel, rogue, villain

I will not believe such a Cataian, though the

priest o'th'town commended him for a true man.
commend (v.) 4 praise, admire, extol
true (adj.) 4 honest, upright, law-abiding


FORD

(aside)

'Twas a good sensible fellow – well.

Mistress Page and Mistress Ford come forward


PAGE

How now, Meg?


MISTRESS PAGE

Whither go you, George? Hark you.

They speak aside


MISTRESS FORD

How now, sweet Frank, why art thou

melancholy?


FORD

I melancholy? I am not melancholy. Get you home,

go.


MISTRESS FORD

Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy
crotchet (n.) strange notion, perverse idea, whimsical fancy

head now. Will you go, Mistress Page?


MISTRESS PAGE

Have with you. – You'll come to dinner,
have with you I'll join you, I'll be with you See Topics: Farewells

George?

Enter Mistress Quickly

(Aside to Mistress Ford) Look who comes yonder. She

shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.


MISTRESS FORD

(aside to Mistress Page) Trust me, I

thought on her. She'll fit it.
fit (v.) 1 suit, befit, be suitable [for]


MISTRESS PAGE

You are come to see my daughter Anne?


MISTRESS QUICKLY

Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count

good Mistress Anne?


MISTRESS PAGE

Go in with us and see. We have an

hour's talk with you.

Exeunt Mistress Page, Mistress Ford,

and Mistress Quickly


PAGE

How now, Master Ford?


FORD

You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


PAGE

Yes, and you heard what the other told me?


FORD

Do you think there is truth in them?


PAGE

Hang 'em, slaves! I do not think the knight would

offer it. But these that accuse him in his intent towards
intent (n.) intention, purpose, aim See Topics: Frequency count
offer (v.) 1 attempt, start, try, make a move

our wives are a yoke of his discarded men – very rogues,
yoke (n.) 2 pair, couple, brace

now they be out of service.


FORD

Were they his men?


PAGE

Marry, were they.


FORD

I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at the
lie (v.) 1 live, dwell, reside, lodge

Garter?


PAGE

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.


FORD

I do not misdoubt my wife, but I would be loath
misdoubt (v.) 1 distrust, suspect, have misgivings about

to turn them together. A man may be too confident. I
confident (adj.) 2 trusting, complacent, self-assured

would have nothing lie on my head. I cannot be thus

satisfied.

Enter Host
ranting (adj.) boisterous, jovial, noisily convivial


PAGE

Look where my ranting host of the Garter comes.

There is either liquor in his pate or money in his purse
pate (n.) head, skull See Topics: Frequency count

when he looks so merrily. – How now, mine host?


HOST

How now, bully rook? Thou'rt a gentleman.
bully rook (n.) merry comrade, good mate, old rogue

He turns and calls
cavaliero (adj.) gallant, valiant, honourable

Cavaliero justice, I say!

Enter Shallow
twenty, and [ballad catch phrase, used as an intensifer] and many more See Topics: Numbers


SHALLOW

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.
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count


HOST

Tell him, cavaliero justice; tell him, bully rook.


SHALLOW

Sir, there is a fray to be fought between Sir

Hugh the Welsh priest and Caius the French doctor.


FORD

Good mine host o'th' Garter, a word with you.


HOST

What sayest thou, my bully rook?

They go aside


SHALLOW

(to Page)

Will you go with us to behold it?

My merry host hath had the measuring of their weapons,
measuring (n.) task of checking measurement

and, I think, hath appointed them contrary places; for,
appoint (v.) 2 grant, provide, assign
contrary (adj.) 2 different, at a distance apart

believe me, I hear the parson is no jester. Hark, I will

tell you what our sport shall be.
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

They go aside


HOST

Hast thou no suit against my knight, my guest

cavaliero?
cavaliero (adj.) gallant, valiant, honourable


FORD

None, I protest. But I'll give you a pottle of burnt
burnt (adj.) mulled, heated
pottle, pottle-pot (n.) drinking vessel containing two quarts
protest (v.) 2 declare, say, swear

sack to give me recourse to him and tell him my name is
recourse (n.) 1 opportunity of going, means of access

Brook – only for a jest.


HOST

My hand, bully. Thou shalt have egress and
egress and regress [legal] right of leaving and return, freedom to come and go

regress. – Said I well? – And thy name shall be Brook.

It is a merry knight. Will you go, Ameers?
ameer (n.) [jocular address] emir [hereditary Arab ruler]
mynheer (n.) [Dutch] gentleman


SHALLOW

Have with you, mine host.


PAGE

I have heard the Frenchman hath good skill in his

rapier.


SHALLOW

Tut, sir, I could have told you more. In these

times you stand on distance, your passes, stoccadoes,
distance (n.) 1 [fencing] regulation space to be kept between contestants
pass (n.) 2 bout, exchange, round [in fencing]
stand on (v.) 1 insist on, demand, call for
stoccado, stoccata (n.) [fencing] thrust, lunge

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
tall (adj.) 1 brave, valiant, bold

rats.


HOST

Here, boys, here, here! Shall we wag?
wag (v.) 1 go off, depart, go on one's way


PAGE

Have with you. I had rather hear them scold than

fight.

Exeunt Host, Shallow, and Page


FORD

Though Page be a secure fool and stands so firmly
secure (adj.) 2 over-confident, unsuspecting, too self-confident
stand (v.) 5 make a stand, be resolute [on a point]

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
make (v.) 2 do, perform, carry out

into't, and I have a disguise to sound Falstaff. If I find
sound (v.) 2 find out, ascertain, sound out

her honest, I lose not my labour. If she be otherwise,
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous
lose (v.) 2 waste, throw away, give unprofitably

'tis labour well bestowed.

Exit

 
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