Act III - Act III, Scene 5
SCENE 5. A room in the Garter Inn.
[Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH.]
Bardolph, I say,--
Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in 't.
Have I lived to be carried in a basket, and to be thrown in the
Thames like a barrow of butcher's offal? Well, if I be served such
another trick, I'll have my brains ta'en out and buttered, and give
them to a dog for a new year's gift. The rogues slighted me into
the river with as little remorse as they would have drowned a blind
bitch's puppies, fifteen i' the litter; and you may know by my size
that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking; if the bottom were as
deep as hell I should down. I had been drowned but that the shore
was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor, for the water swells
a man; and what a thing should I have been when had been swelled!
I should have been a mountain of mummy.
[Re-enter BARDOLPH, with the sack.]
Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.
Come, let me pour in some sack to the Thames water; for my belly's
as cold as if I had swallowed snowballs for pills to cool the reins.
Call her in.
Come in, woman.
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY.]
By your leave. I cry you mercy. Give your worship good morrow.
Take away these chalices. Go, brew me a pottle of sack finely.
With eggs, sir?
Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.
Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.
Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown into the ford;
I have my belly full of ford.
Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault: she does so take
on with her men; they mistook their erection.
So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn your heart to
see it. Her husband goes this morning a-birding; she desires you
once more to come to her between eight and nine; I must carry her
word quickly. She'll make you amends, I warrant you.
Well, I will visit her. Tell her so; and bid her think what a man
is; let her consider his frailty, and then judge of my merit.
I will tell her.
Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?
Eight and nine, sir.
Well, be gone; I will not miss her.
Peace be with you, sir.
I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me word to stay within.
I like his money well. O! here he comes.
[Enter FORD disguised.]
Bless you, sir!
Now, Master Brook, you come to know what hath passed between me
and Ford's wife?
That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.
Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her house the hour
she appointed me.
And how sped you, sir?
Very ill-favouredly, Master Brook.
How so, sir? did she change her determination?
No. Master Brook; but the peaking cornuto her husband, Master Brook,
dwelling in a continual 'larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant
of our encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested, and, as
it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; and at his heels a
rabble of his companions, thither provoked and instigated by his
distemper, and, forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.
What! while you were there?
While I was there.
And did he search for you, and could not find you?
You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes in one Mistress
Page; gives intelligence of Ford's approach; and, in her invention
and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed me in with foul shirts and
smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy napkins, that, Master Brook,
there was the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever
And how long lay you there?
Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have suffered to bring
this woman to evil for your good. Being thus crammed in the basket,
a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their
mistress to carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datchet-lane;
they took me on their shoulders; met the jealous knave their
master in the door; who asked them once or twice what they had in
their basket. I quaked for fear lest the lunatic knave would have
searched it; but Fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his
hand. Well, on went he for a search, and away went I for foul
clothes. But mark the sequel, Master Brook: I suffered the pangs
of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright to be
detected with a jealous rotten bell-wether; next, to be compassed
like a good bilbo in the circumference of a peck, hilt to
point, heel to head; and then, to be stopped in, like a strong
distillation, with stinking clothes that fretted in their own
grease: think of that; a man of my kidney, think of that, that am
as subject to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution and
thaw: it was a miracle to 'scape suffocation. And in the height
of this bath, when I was more than half stewed in grease, like
a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing
hot, in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of that, hissing hot,
think of that, Master Brook!
In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that for my sake you have suffered
all this. My suit, then, is desperate; you'll undertake her no more.
Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, as I have been into
Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her husband is this morning
gone a-birding; I have received from her another embassy of
meeting; 'twixt eight and nine is the hour, Master Brook.
'Tis past eight already, sir.
Is it? I will then address me to my appointment. Come to me at
your convenient leisure, and you shall know how I speed, and the
conclusion shall be crowned with your enjoying her: adieu. You
shall have her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.
Hum! ha! Is this a vision? Is this a dream? Do I sleep? Master Ford,
awake; awake, Master Ford. There's a hole made in your best coat,
Master Ford. This 'tis to be married; this 'tis to have linen and
buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself what I am; I will now
take the lecher; he is at my house. He cannot scape me; 'tis
impossible he should; he cannot creep into a half-penny purse, nor
into a pepper box; but, lest the devil that guides him should aid
him, I will search impossible places. Though what I am I cannot
avoid, yet to be what I would not, shall not make me tame; if I
have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me; I'll be
— Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
In this scene, Falstaff has returned from being previously thrown out with the dirty laundry to avoid a compromising situation with Mrs. Ford. He complains about how humiliating being tossed in the river was, and how due to his enormous size and weight, he has an "alacrity in sinking." "Alacrity" means a kind of brisk readiness, so the joke is that he is so heavy that he would have sunk straight to hell if the river had been deep enough.