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Before Page's house.
Enter Mistress Page with a letter.

Mistress Page.
HAT, have l'fcap'd love-letters in the holy-day-time

of my beauty, and am I now a subject for 'them? let


me see:

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Ask me no reason why I love you; for though love use reason for his precisan, he admits him not for his counsellor : you are not young, no more am I; go to then, there's sympathy: you are merry, Yo 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 a soldier can suffice, that I love thee. I will not say, pity me, 'tis not a soldier-like phrase; but I say, love me :

By me, thine own true knight, by day or night,

any kind of light, with all his might,
For thee to fight.

John Falstaff. What a Herod of Jury is this! O wicked, wicked world! one that is well-nigh worn to pieces with age, to show himself a young gallant! what unweigh'd behaviour hath this Flemis drunkard pick’d, i'th devil's name, out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner affay me? why, he hath not been thrice in my company: what should I say to him? I was then frugal of my mirth; heav'n forgive me! why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of mum": how shall I be reveng'd

* A fattening liquor much in ufe among the Flemings, as me had calld him a Flemish drunkard few lines before: and it is to be observ'd that about the time when this play was written there were on foot several bills in parliament for restraining the use of strong liquors, suppreling the multitude of maltalters, and the great brewing of strong beer, and regulating inns, taverns, and alehouses.


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very ill.


on him? for reveng’d I will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.


Enter mistress Ford.
Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your house.
Mrs. Page. And, trust me, I was coming to you ; you look

Mrs. Ford. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that: I have to show to the contrary.

Mrs. Page. 'Faith, you do, in my mind.

Mrs. Ford. Well, I do then; yet, I say, I could show you the contrary: o mistress Page, give me some counsel.

Mrs. Page. What's the matter, woman?

Mrs. Ford. O woman! if it were not for one trilling respect, I could come to fuch honour.

Mrs. Page. Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour : what is it? dispense with trifles; what is it?

Mrs. Ford. If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment, or so, I could be knighted.

Mrs. Page. What, thou lieft! fir Alice Ford! these knights will hack, and so thou should'st not alter the article of thy gentry.

Mrs. Ford. We burn day-light; 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; prais'd 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 Green Sleeves. What tempeft, I trow, threw this whale, with fo many tun of oil in his belly, a 'shore at Windsor ? how shall I be reveng'd 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?


Mrs. Page. 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 ; nay, 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 lye under mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty lascivious turtles, ere one chaste man.

Mrs. Ford. Why, this is the very fame, the very hand, the very words; what doth he think of us?

Mrs. Page. 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 knew some ftain in me, that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.

Mrs. Ford. Boarding, call it you? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.

Mrs. Page. So will I; if he come under my hatches, I'll never to sea again. Let's be reveng’d on him; let's appoint him a meeting, give him a show of comfort in his fuit, and lead him on with a fine baited delay, 'till he hath pawn’d his horses to mine host of the garter.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against him that may not fully the chariness of our honesty: 0, that my hufband saw this letter! it would give eternal food to his jealousy.

Mrs. Page. 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 unmeasurable distance.

Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman.

Mrs. Page. Let's consult together against this greafy knight. Come hither.

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Vol. 1.



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Enter Ford with Pistol, Page with Nym.
Ford. Well, I hope, it be not so.

Pist. Hope is a cur-tail-dog in some affairs.
Sir John affects thy wife.

Ford. Why, fir, my wife is not young.

Pist. He wooes both high and low, both rich and poor,
Both young and old, one with another, Ford;
He loves thy gally-mawfry, Ford, perpend.

Ford. Love my wife?

Pift. With liver burning hot: prevent, or go thou, like fir Acteon, with Ring-wood at thy heels - 0, odious is the name !

Ford. What name, fir?

Pift. The horn, I say: farewel.
Take heed, have open eye; for thieves do foot by night.
Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo-birds do sing.
Away, fir corporal Nym
Believe it, Page, he speaks sense.

Ford. I will be patient; I will find out this.

Nym. And this is true: I like not the humour of ly-) ing; he hath wrong’d me in some humours: I should have born the humour'd letter to her; but I have a sword,

Speaking and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife; there's the short and the long. My name is corporal

to Page. 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 : adieu.

[Exit Nym. Page. The humour of it, quoth’a? here's a fellow frights humour out of its wits.

Ford. I will seek out Falstaff
Page. I never heard such a drawling, affected rogue.
Ford. If I do find it well!

Page. I will not believe such a Cataian, though the priest o'th'
town commended him for a true man.
Ford. 'Twas a good sensible fellow : well!


[Exit Pistol.

Page. How now, Meg? [Page and Ford meeting their wives.
Mrs. Pag. Whither go you, George? hark you.
Mrs. Ford. How now, sweet Frank, why art thou melancholy?
Ford. I melancholy! I am not melancholy. Get you home, go.

Mrs. Ford. Faith, thou hast come crotchets in thy head now.
Will you go, mistress Page ?

Mrs. Page. Have with you. You'll come to dinner, George? Look, who comes yonder ; she shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.

Enter mistress Quickly.
Mrs. Ford. Trust me, I thought on her; she'll fit it.
Mrs. Page. You are come to see my daughter Anne ?
Quic. Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does good mistress Anne?

Mrs. Page. Go in with us, and see; we have an hour's talk with you.

[Ex. Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Mrs. Quic.

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Page. How now, master Ford ?
Ford. You heard what this knave told me, did


not? Page. Yes; and


heard what the other told me? Ford. Do you think there is truth in them?

Page. Hang 'em, Naves! I do not think the knight would offer it; and these that accuse him in his intent towards our wives are a yoak of his discarded men, very rogues now they be out of service.

Ford. Were they his men?
Page. Marry, were they.

Ford. I like it never the better for that. Does he lye at the garter ?

Page. Ay, marry, does he. If he should intend his voyage oward my wife, I would turn her loose to him; and what he gets more of her than sharp words, let it lye on my head.

Ford. I do not misdoubt my wife; but I would be loath to

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