THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR by William Shakespeare
1. ACT I. SCENE I.
Here comes fair Mistress Anne. Would I were young for your sake, Mistress Anne!
The dinner is on the table; my father desires your worships' company
I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne!
Od's plessed will! I will not be absence at the grace.
Will't please your worship to come in, sir?
No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I am very well.
The dinner attends you, sir.
I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go wait upon my cousin Shallow.A justice of peace sometime may be beholding to his friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy yet, till my mother be dead. But what though? Yet I live like a poor gentleman born.
I may not go in without your worship: they will not sit till you come.
I' faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you as much as though I did.
I pray you, sir, walk in.
I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised my shin th' other day with playing at sword and dagger with a master of fence; three veneys for a dish of stewed prunes--and, by my troth, I cannot abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your dogs bark so? Be there bears i' the town?
I think there are, sir; I heard them talked of.
I love the sport well; but I shall as soon quarrel at it as any man in England. You are afraid, if you see the bear loose, are you not?
Ay, indeed, sir.
That's meat and drink to me now. I have seen Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken him by the chain; but I warrant you, the women have so cried and shrieked at it that it passed; but women, indeed, cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough things.
Come, gentle Master Slender, come; we stay for you.
I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! come, come.
Nay, pray you lead the way.
Come on, sir.
Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
Not I, sir; pray you keep on.
Truly, I will not go first; truly, la! I will not do you that wrong.
I pray you, sir.
I'll rather be unmannerly than troublesome. You do yourself wrong indeed, la!
2. SCENE 2.
Go your ways, and ask of Doctor Caius' house which is the way; and there dwells one Mistress Quickly, which is in the manner of his nurse, or his dry nurse, or his cook, or his laundry, his washer, and his wringer.
Nay, it is petter yet. Give her this letter; for it is a 'oman that altogether's acquaintance with Mistress Anne Page; and the letter is to desire and require her to solicit your master's desires to Mistress Anne Page. I pray you be gone: I will make an end of my dinner; there's pippins and cheese to come.
3. SCENE 3.A room in the Garter Inn.
Mine host of the Garter!
What says my bully rook? Speak scholarly and wisely.
Truly, mine host, I must turn away some of my followers.
Discard, bully Hercules; cashier; let them wag; trot, trot.
I sit at ten pounds a week.
Thou'rt an emperor, Caesar, Keiser, and Pheazar. I will entertain Bardolph; he shall draw, he shall tap; said I well, bully Hector?
4. ACT II SCENE 2.
What a damned Epicurean rascal is this! My heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent to him; the hour is fixed; the match is made. Would any man have thought this? See the hell of having a false woman! My bed shall be abused, my coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at; and I shall not only receive this villanous wrong, but stand under the adoption of abominable terms, and by him that does me this wrong. Terms! names! Amaimon sounds well; Lucifer, well; Barbason, well; yet they are devils' additions, the names of fiends. But Cuckold! Wittol!--Cuckold! the devil himself hath not such a name. Page is an ass, a secure ass; he will trust his wife; he will not be jealous; I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle, or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife with herself; then she plots, then she ruminates, then she devises; and what they think in their hearts they may effect, they will break their hearts but they will effect. God be praised for my jealousy! Eleven o'clock the hour. I will prevent this, detect my wife, be revenged on Falstaff, and laugh at Page. I will about it; better three hours too soon than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! cuckold! cuckold! cuckold!
5. ACT III SCENE 5
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.
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.
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. How now!
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.
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 offended nostril.
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 horn-mad.