Act II - Act II, Scene 1
SCENE 1. Before PAGE'S house
[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.
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 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 your house.
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 counsel.
What's the matter, woman?
O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to
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
What? thou liest. Sir Alice Ford! These knights will hack; and so
thou shouldst not alter the 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?
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 man.
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 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
You are the happier woman.
Let's consult together against this greasy knight. Come hither.
[Enter FORD, PISTOL, and PAGE and 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 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.
[Aside.] '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' the town
commended him for a true man.
'Twas a good sensible fellow: well.
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, go.
Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now. Will you go,
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.
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]
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'd 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 Garter?
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.
[Enter HOST and SHALLOW.]
How now, mine host!
How now, bully-rook! Thou'rt a gentleman. Cavaliero-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, 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' the 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-cavaliero?
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 rapier.
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 fight.
[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 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.