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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act V, Scene 5

Another part of the Park.


[Enter FALSTAFF disguised as Herne]

  • Falstaff. The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute 2560
    draws on. Now, the hot-blooded gods assist me!
    Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy Europa; love
    set on thy horns. O powerful love! that, in some
    respects, makes a beast a man, in some other, a man
    a beast. You were also, Jupiter, a swan for the love 2565
    of Leda. O omnipotent Love! how near the god drew
    to the complexion of a goose! A fault done first in
    the form of a beast. O Jove, a beastly fault! And
    then another fault in the semblance of a fowl; think
    on 't, Jove; a foul fault! When gods have hot 2570
    backs, what shall poor men do? For me, I am here a
    Windsor stag; and the fattest, I think, i' the
    forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can
    blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here? my
    doe? 2575


  • Falstaff. My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain
    potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green
    Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let 2580
    there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.
  • Falstaff. Divide me like a bribe buck, each a haunch: I will
    keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow
    of this walk, and my horns I bequeath your husbands. 2585
    Am I a woodman, ha? Speak I like Herne the hunter?
    Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience; he makes
    restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

[Noise within]

[They run off]

  • Falstaff. I think the devil will not have me damned, lest the 2595
    oil that's in me should set hell on fire; he would
    never else cross me thus.
    [Enter SIR HUGH EVANS, disguised as before; PISTOL,]
    as Hobgoblin; MISTRESS QUICKLY, ANNE PAGE, and
    others, as Fairies, with tapers] 2600
  • Hostess Quickly. Fairies, black, grey, green, and white,
    You moonshine revellers and shades of night,
    You orphan heirs of fixed destiny,
    Attend your office and your quality.
    Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes. 2605
  • Pistol. Elves, list your names; silence, you airy toys.
    Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap:
    Where fires thou find'st unraked and hearths unswept,
    There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry:
    Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery. 2610
  • Falstaff. They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die:
    I'll wink and couch: no man their works must eye.

[Lies down upon his face]

  • Sir Hugh Evans. Where's Bede? Go you, and where you find a maid
    That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said, 2615
    Raise up the organs of her fantasy;
    Sleep she as sound as careless infancy:
    But those as sleep and think not on their sins,
    Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides and shins.
  • Hostess Quickly. About, about; 2620
    Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out:
    Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room:. That it may stand till the perpetual doom,
    In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit,
    Worthy the owner, and the owner it.
    The several chairs of order look you scour 2625
    With juice of balm and every precious flower:
    Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest,
    With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!
    And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
    Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring: 2630
    The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
    More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;
    And 'Honi soit qui mal y pense' write
    In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue and white;
    Let sapphire, pearl and rich embroidery, 2635
    Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee:
    Fairies use flowers for their charactery.
    Away; disperse: but till 'tis one o'clock,
    Our dance of custom round about the oak
    Of Herne the hunter, let us not forget. 2640
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Pray you, lock hand in hand; yourselves in order set
    And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,
    To guide our measure round about the tree.
    But, stay; I smell a man of middle-earth.
  • Falstaff. Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he 2645
    transform me to a piece of cheese!
  • Pistol. Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.
  • Hostess Quickly. With trial-fire touch me his finger-end:
    If he be chaste, the flame will back descend
    And turn him to no pain; but if he start, 2650
    It is the flesh of a corrupted heart.

[They burn him with their tapers]

  • Hostess Quickly. Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!
    About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme;
    And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.
    Fie on sinful fantasy! 2660
    Fie on lust and luxury!
    Lust is but a bloody fire,
    Kindled with unchaste desire,
    Fed in heart, whose flames aspire
    As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher. 2665
    Pinch him, fairies, mutually;
    Pinch him for his villany;
    Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about,
    Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out.
    [During this song they pinch FALSTAFF. DOCTOR CAIUS] 2670
    comes one way, and steals away a boy in green;
    SLENDER another way, and takes off a boy in white;
    and FENTON comes and steals away ANN PAGE.
    A noise of hunting is heard within. All the
    Fairies run away. FALSTAFF pulls off his buck's 2675
    head, and rises]


  • Page. Nay, do not fly; I think we have watch'd you now
    Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn?
  • Mistress Page. I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher 2680
    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 2685
    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. 2690
  • Mistress 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.
  • Falstaff. I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass.
  • Ford. Ay, and an ox too: both the proofs are extant. 2695
  • Falstaff. 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 2700
    rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now
    how wit may be made a Jack-a-Lent, when 'tis upon
    ill employment!
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your
    desires, and fairies will not pinse you. 2705
  • Ford. Well said, fairy Hugh.
  • Ford. I will never mistrust my wife again till thou art
    able to woo her in good English.
  • Falstaff. Have I laid my brain in the sun and dried it, that 2710
    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.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all putter. 2715
  • Falstaff. '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.
  • Mistress Page. Why Sir John, do you think, though we would have the 2720
    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?
  • 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?
  • Sir Hugh Evans. And given to fornications, and to taverns and sack 2730
    and wine and metheglins, and to drinkings and
    swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles?
  • Falstaff. 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 2735
    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 2740
    will be a biting affliction.
  • 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. 2745
  • Mistress Page. [Aside] Doctors doubt that: if Anne Page be my
    daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius' wife.


  • Slender. Whoa ho! ho, father Page!
  • Page. Son, how now! how now, son! have you dispatched? 2750
  • Slender. Dispatched! I'll make the best in Gloucestershire
    know on't; would I were hanged, la, else.
  • Page. Of what, son?
  • Slender. I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page,
    and she's a great lubberly boy. If it had not been 2755
    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. 2760
  • Slender. 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
  • Page. Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you how 2765
    you should know my daughter by her garments?
  • Slender. 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.
  • Mistress Page. Good George, be not angry: I knew of your purpose; 2770
    turned my daughter into green; and, indeed, she is
    now with the doctor at the deanery, and there married.


  • Doctor Caius. Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened: I ha'
    married un garcon, a boy; un paysan, by gar, a boy; 2775
    it is not Anne Page: by gar, I am cozened.
  • Doctor Caius. Ay, by gar, and 'tis a boy: by gar, I'll raise all Windsor.


  • Ford. This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne? 2780
  • Page. My heart misgives me: here comes Master Fenton.
    [Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE]
    How now, Master Fenton!
  • Anne Page. Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon!
  • Page. Now, mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender? 2785
  • Fenton. 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, 2790
    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 2795
    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. 2800
  • Falstaff. 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.
  • Falstaff. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chased. 2805
  • Mistress 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. 2810
  • Ford. Let it be so. Sir John,
    To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word
    For he tonight shall lie with Mistress Ford.