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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act IV, Scene 5

A room in the Garter Inn.


[Enter Host and SIMPLE]

  • Host. What wouldst thou have, boor? what: thick-skin? 2295
    speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.
  • Simple. Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff
    from Master Slender.
  • Host. There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his
    standing-bed and truckle-bed; 'tis painted about 2300
    with the story of the Prodigal, fresh and new. Go
    knock and call; hell speak like an Anthropophaginian
    unto thee: knock, I say.
  • Simple. There's an old woman, a fat woman, gone up into his
    chamber: I'll be so bold as stay, sir, till she come 2305
    down; I come to speak with her, indeed.
  • Host. Ha! a fat woman! the knight may be robbed: I'll
    call. Bully knight! bully Sir John! speak from
    thy lungs military: art thou there? it is thine
    host, thine Ephesian, calls. 2310
  • Host. Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of
    thy fat woman. Let her descend, bully, let her
    descend; my chambers are honourable: fie! privacy?
    fie! 2315


  • Falstaff. There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with
    me; but she's gone.
  • Simple. Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of
    Brentford? 2320
  • Falstaff. Ay, marry, was it, mussel-shell: what would you with her?
  • Simple. My master, sir, Master Slender, sent to her, seeing
    her go through the streets, to know, sir, whether
    one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain, had the
    chain or no. 2325
  • Falstaff. I spake with the old woman about it.
  • Simple. And what says she, I pray, sir?
  • Falstaff. Marry, she says that the very same man that
    beguiled Master Slender of his chain cozened him of
    it. 2330
  • Simple. I would I could have spoken with the woman herself;
    I had other things to have spoken with her too from
  • Host. Ay, come; quick. 2335
  • Simple. I may not conceal them, sir.
  • Host. Conceal them, or thou diest.
  • Simple. Why, sir, they were nothing but about Mistress Anne
    Page; to know if it were my master's fortune to
    have her or no. 2340
  • Falstaff. To have her, or no. Go; say the woman told me so.
  • Simple. May I be bold to say so, sir?
  • Falstaff. Ay, sir; like who more bold. 2345
  • Simple. I thank your worship: I shall make my master glad
    with these tidings.


  • Host. Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, Sir John. Was
    there a wise woman with thee? 2350
  • Falstaff. Ay, that there was, mine host; one that hath taught
    me more wit than ever I learned before in my life;
    and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for
    my learning.


  • Bardolph. Out, alas, sir! cozenage, mere cozenage!
  • Host. Where be my horses? speak well of them, varletto.
  • Bardolph. Run away with the cozeners; for so soon as I came
    beyond Eton, they threw me off from behind one of
    them, in a slough of mire; and set spurs and away, 2360
    like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.
  • Host. They are gone but to meet the duke, villain: do not
    say they be fled; Germans are honest men.


  • Host. What is the matter, sir?
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Have a care of your entertainments: there is a
    friend of mine come to town tells me there is three
    cozen-germans that has cozened all the hosts of
    Readins, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and 2370
    money. I tell you for good will, look you: you
    are wise and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks, and
    'tis not convenient you should be cozened. Fare you well.



  • Host. Here, master doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.
  • Doctor Caius. I cannot tell vat is dat: but it is tell-a me dat
    you make grand preparation for a duke de Jamany: by
    my trot, dere is no duke dat the court is know to 2380
    come. I tell you for good vill: adieu.


  • Host. Hue and cry, villain, go! Assist me, knight. I am
    undone! Fly, run, hue and cry, villain! I am undone!

[Exeunt Host and BARDOLPH]

  • Falstaff. I would all the world might be cozened; for I have
    been cozened and beaten too. If it should come to
    the ear of the court, how I have been transformed
    and how my transformation hath been washed and
    cudgelled, they would melt me out of my fat drop by 2390
    drop and liquor fishermen's boots with me; I warrant
    they would whip me with their fine wits till I were
    as crest-fallen as a dried pear. I never prospered
    since I forswore myself at primero. Well, if my
    wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent. 2395
    Now, whence come you?
  • Falstaff. The devil take one party and his dam the other! and
    so they shall be both bestowed. I have suffered more 2400
    for their sakes, more than the villanous inconstancy
    of man's disposition is able to bear.
  • Hostess Quickly. And have not they suffered? Yes, I warrant;
    speciously one of them; Mistress Ford, good heart,
    is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a 2405
    white spot about her.
  • Falstaff. What tellest thou me of black and blue? I was
    beaten myself into all the colours of the rainbow;
    and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of
    Brentford: but that my admirable dexterity of wit, 2410
    my counterfeiting the action of an old woman,
    delivered me, the knave constable had set me i' the
    stocks, i' the common stocks, for a witch.
  • Hostess Quickly. Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber: you
    shall hear how things go; and, I warrant, to your 2415
    content. Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good
    hearts, what ado here is to bring you together!
    Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that
    you are so crossed.