Page images

SLENDER another way, and takes off a boy in white; and FENTON comes, and steals away Mrs. ANNE PAGE. A noise of hunting is heard within. All the Fairies run away. FALSTAFF pulls off his buck's head, and rises.

Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE and MISTRESS FORD. Page. Nay, do not fly; I think we have watch'd you


Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn?

Mrs. Page. I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher. Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives?

See you these, husband? do not these fair yokes Become the forest better than the town?

Ford. Now, sir, who's a cuckold now? Master Brook, Falstaff's a knave, a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, Master Brook: and, Master Brook, he hath enjoyed nothing of Ford's but his buck-basket, his cudgel, and twenty pounds of money, which must be paid to Master Brook; his horses are arrested for it, Master Brook.

Mrs. Ford. Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never take you for my love again; but I will always count you my deer.

Fal. I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass. Ford. Ay, and an ox too: both the proofs are extant. Fal. And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought they were not fairies and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into a received belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now how wit may be made a Jack-a-Lent, when 'tis upon ill employment!

Evans. Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires, and fairies will not pinse you.

Ford. Well said, fairy Hugh.


Evans. And leave your jealousies too, I pray you. Ford. I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able to woo her in good English.

Fal. Have I laid my brain in the sun and dried it, that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'erreaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too? shall I have a coxcomb of frize? "Tis time I were choked with a piece of toasted cheese.

Erans. Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all putter.


Fal. Seese" and "putter"! have I lived to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is

enough to be the decay of lust and late-walking through the realm.

Mrs. Page. Why, Sir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and shoulders and have given ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our delight? Ford. What, a hodge-pudding? a bag of flax?

Mrs. Page. A puffed man?

Page. Old, cold, withered and of intolerable entrails? Ford. And one that is as slanderous as Satan?

Page. And as poor as Job?

Ford. And as wicked as his wife?

Evans. And given to fornications, and to taverns and sack and wine and metheglins, and to drinkings and swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles?

Fal. Well, I am your theme: you have the start of me; I am dejected; I am not able to answer the Welsh flannel; ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me: use me as you will.

Ford. Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one Master Brook, that you have cozened of money, to whom you should have been a pander: over and above that you have suffered, I think to repay that money will be a biting



Page. Yet be cheerful, knight thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house; where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that now laughs at thee: tell her Master Slender hath married her daughter.

Mrs. Page. [Aside] Doctors doubt that if Anne Page be my daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius' wife.


Slen. Whoa, ho ho, father Page!

Page. Son, how now! how now, son! have you dispatched?

S'en. Dispatched! I'll make the best in Gloucestershire know on't; would I were hanged, la, else!

Page. Of what, son?

Slen. I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page, and she's a great lubberly boy. If it had not been i' the church, I would have swinged him, or he should have swinged me. If I did not think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir!-and 'tis a postmaster's boy.

Page. Upon my life, then, you took the wrong.


Slen. What need you tell me that? I think so, when I took a boy for a girl. If I had been married to him, for all he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.

Page. Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you how you should know my daughter by her garments?

Slen. I went to her in white and cried "mum," and she cried "budget," as Anne and I had appointed; and yet it was not Anne, but a postmaster's boy.

Mrs. Page. Good George, be not angry; I knew of your purpose; turned my daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the doctor at the deanery, and there married.

Enter CAIUS.

Caius. Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened. I ha' married un garçon, a boy; un paysan, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page: by gar, I am cozened.


Mrs. Page. Why, did you take her in green?

Caius. Ay, by gar, and 'tis a boy by gar, I'll raise all Windsor. [Exit. Ford. This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne? Page. My heart misgives me here comes Master Fenton. Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE.

How now, Master Fenton !

Anne. Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon! Page. Now, mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender? 281

Mrs. Page. Why went you not with master doctor, maid?
Fent. You do amaze her: hear the truth of it.
You would have married her most shamefully,
Where there was no proportion held in love.
The truth is, she and I, long since contracted,
Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.
The offence is holy that she hath committed;
And this deceit loses the name of craft,
Of disobedience, or unduteous title,

Since therein she doth evitate and shun
A thousand irreligious cursed hours,

Which forced marriage would have brought upon her.
Ford. Stand not amazed; here is no remedy:

In love the heavens themselves do guide the state;
Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.

Fal. I am glad, though you have ta'en a special stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanced.

Page. Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy!


What cannot be eschew'd must be embraced.


Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chased. Mrs. Page. Well, I will muse no further. Master Fenton, Heaven give you many, many merry days!

Good husband, let us every one go home,
And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
Sir John and all.


Let it be so. Sir John,

To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word;
For he to-night shall lie with Mistress Ford.


[blocks in formation]



SCENE 1. An apartment in the DUKE's palace.

Enter DUKE, ESCALUS, LORDS and Attendants. Duke. Escalus.

Escal. My lord.

Duke. Of government the properties to unfold,
Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse;
Since I am put to know that your own science
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
My strength can give you then no more remains,
+But that to your sufficiency

as your worth is able, And let them work. The nature of our people, Our city's institutions, and the terms

For common justice, you're as pregnant in
As art and practice hath enriched any

That we remember. There is our commission,
From which we would not have you warp.
I say, bid come before us Angelo.



Call hither,

[Exit an Attendant.

« PreviousContinue »