Enter Falstaff and Mistress Ford
Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my
sufferance. I see you are obsequious in your love, and I
profess requital to a hair's breadth, not only, Mistress
Ford, in the simple office of love, but in all the accoutrement,
complement, and ceremony of it. But are you sure
of your husband now?
He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.
What ho, gossip Ford. What ho!
Step into the chamber, Sir John.
Enter Mistress Page
How now, sweetheart; who's at home
Why, none but mine own people.
No, certainly. (Aside to her) Speak
Truly, I am so glad you have nobody
Why, woman, your husband is in his
old lines again. He so takes on yonder with my husband,
so rails against all married mankind, so curses all
Eve's daughters, of what complexion soever, and so
buffets himself on the forehead, crying ‘ Peer out, peer
out!’, that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed but
tameness, civility, and patience to this his distemper he
civilized conduct, courteous behaviour, good manners
is in now. I am glad the fat knight is not here.
Why, does he talk of him?
Of none but him, and swears he was
carried out, the last time he searched for him, in a
basket; protests to my husband he is now here, and hath
drawn him and the rest of their company from their
sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion. But
I am glad the knight is not here. Now he shall see his
How near is he, Mistress Page?
Hard by, at street end. He will be here
I am undone. The knight is here.
Why, then, you are utterly shamed, and
he's but a dead man. What a woman are you! Away
with him, away with him! Better shame than murder.
Which way should he go? How should
I bestow him? Shall I put him into the basket again?
No, I'll come no more i'th' basket. May I not
go out ere he come?
Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers
watch the door with pistols, that none shall issue out.
Otherwise you might slip away ere he came. But what
make you here?
What shall I do? I'll creep up into the
There they always use to discharge their
Creep into the kiln-hole.
Where is it?
He will seek there, on my word. Neither
press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an
abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes
to them by his note. There is no hiding you in the
I'll go out, then.
If you go out in your own semblance,
you die, Sir John. Unless you go out disguised –
How might we disguise him?
Alas the day, I know not. There is no
woman's gown big enough for him. Otherwise he might
put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief, and so escape.
Good hearts, devise something. Any extremity
rather than a mischief.
My maid's aunt, the fat woman of
Brainford, has a gown above.
On my word, it will serve him. She's as
big as he is; and there's her thrummed hat and her
muffler too. Run up, Sir John.
Go, go, sweet Sir John. Mistress Page
and I will look some linen for your head.
Quick, quick! We'll come dress you
straight. Put on the gown the while.
I would my husband would meet him
in this shape. He cannot abide the old woman of
Brainford. He swears she's a witch, forbade her my
house, and hath threatened to beat her.
Heaven guide him to thy husband's
cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards!
But is my husband coming?
Ay, in good sadness, is he, and talks of
the basket too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.
We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men
try (v.) 2
put to the test, test the goodness [of]
to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door with
it, as they did last time.
Nay, but he'll be here presently. Let's
go dress him like the witch of Brainford.
I'll first direct my men what they shall
do with the basket. Go up. I'll bring linen for him
Hang him, dishonest varlet! We cannot
misuse him enough.
We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
Wives may be merry, and yet honest too.
We do not act that often jest and laugh;
'Tis old but true: ‘ Still swine eats all the draff.&rsquo
Enter John and Robert
Go, sirs, take the basket again on your
shoulders. Your master is hard at door. If he bid you
set it down, obey him. Quickly, dispatch.
Come, come, take it up.
Pray heaven it be not full of knight again.
I hope not. I had as lief bear so much lead.
Enter Ford, Page, Shallow, Caius, and Evans
Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any
way then to unfool me again? Set down the basket,
make less of a fool, remove the name of fool from
villains. Somebody call my wife. Youth in a basket! O
you panderly rascals! There's a knot, a ging, a pack, a
conspiracy against me. Now shall the devil be shamed.
What, wife, I say! Come, come forth! Behold what
honest clothes you send forth to bleaching!
Why, this passes, Master Ford. You are not to go
loose any longer. You must be pinioned.
Why, this is lunatics. This is mad as a mad dog.
Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well, indeed.
So say I too, sir.
Enter Mistress Ford
Come hither, Mistress Ford. Mistress Ford, the honest
woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that
hath the jealous fool to her husband! I suspect without
cause, mistress, do I?
Heaven be my witness, you do, if you
suspect me in any dishonesty.
Well said, brazen-face. Hold it out. – Come forth,
He pulls clothes out of the basket
Are you not ashamed? Let the clothes
I shall find you anon.
'Tis unreasonable. Will you take up your wife's
clothes? Come away.
Empty the basket, I say.
Why, man, why?
Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed
out of my house yesterday in this basket. Why
may not he be there again? In my house I am sure he is.
My intelligence is true. My jealousy is reasonable.
Pluck me out all the linen.
If you find a man there, he shall die a
Here's no man.
By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford.
This wrongs you.
Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow the
imaginations of your own heart. This is jealousies.
Well, he's not here I seek for.
No, nor nowhere else but in your brain.
Help to search my house this one time. If I find
not what I seek, show no colour for my extremity. Let
me for ever be your table sport. Let them say of me, ‘ As
jealous as Ford, that searched a hollow walnut for his
wife's leman.’ Satisfy me once more. Once more search
Exeunt John and Robert with the basket
What ho, Mistress Page, come you and
the old woman down. My husband will come into the
Old woman? What old woman's that?
Why, it is my maid's aunt of Brainford.
A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not
forbid her my house? She comes of errands, does she?
We are simple men; we do not know what's brought to
pass under the profession of fortune-telling. She works
by charms, by spells, by th' figure; and such daubery as
this is beyond our element – we know nothing. Come
down, you witch, you hag, you. Come down, I say!
Nay, good sweet husband! – Good
gentlemen, let him not strike the old woman.
Enter Falstaff in woman's clothes, and Mistress
Come, Mother Prat, come, give me your
I'll prat her.
He beats Falstaff
rag (n.) 1
worthless wretch, good-for-nothing creature, beggar
Out of my door, you witch, you rag, you baggage, you
polecat, you ronyon! Out, out! I'll conjure you, I'll
Are you not ashamed? I think you have
killed the poor woman.
Nay, he will do it. – 'Tis a goodly credit
Hang her, witch!
By yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witch indeed.
I like not when a 'oman has a great peard. I spy a great
peard under his muffler.
Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow.
See but the issue of my jealousy. If I cry out thus upon
no trail, never trust me when I open again.
Let's obey his humour a little further. Come,
Exeunt Ford, Page, Shallow, Caius, and Evans
Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.
Nay, by th'mass, that he did not. He
beat him most unpitifully, methought.
I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung
o'er the altar. It hath done meritorious service.
What think you? May we, with the
warrant of womanhood and the witness of a good
conscience, pursue him with any further revenge?
The spirit of wantonness is sure scared
out of him. If the devil have him not in fee simple, with
fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of
fine (n.) 6
[legal] agreement to transfer land possession
recovery (n.) 2
[legal] procedure for transferring property into full ownership
waste, attempt us again.
Shall we tell our husbands how we have
Yes, by all means, if it be but to scrape
the figures out of your husband's brains. If they can
find in their hearts the poor unvirtuous fat knight shall
be any further afflicted, we two will still be the ministers.
I'll warrant they'll have him publicly
shamed, and methinks there would be no period to the
period (n.) 2
point of completion, fitting conclusion, consummation
jest, should he not be publicly shamed.
Come, to the forge with it, then. Shape
it. I would not have things cool.