Page images

Yet once again, to make us public sport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him, and disgrace him for it.
Ford. There is no better way than that they spoke of.
Page. How! to send him word they'll meet him in
the park at midnight! fie, fie; he'll never come.

Eva. You say, he has been thrown in the rivers; and has been grievously peaten, as an old 'oman: methinks, there should be terrors in him, that he should not come; methinks, his flesh is punish'd, he shall have no desires.

Page. So think I too.

[comes, Mrs. Ford. Devise but how you'll use him when he And let us two devise to bring him thither. [hunter, Mrs. Page. There is an old tale goes, that Herne the Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest, Doth all the winter time, at still midnight, Walk round about an oak, with great regg'd horns; And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle; And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain In a most hideous and dreadful manner :

You have heard of such a spirit; and well you know, The superstitious idle-headed eld

Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,

This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.

Page. Why, yet there want not many, that do fear In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak: But what of this?

Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device;

That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us,

Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on his head.
Page. Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come,
And in this shape: When you have brought him thither,
What shall be done with him? what is your plot? [thus:
Mrs. Page. That likewise have we thought upon, and
Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,

And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphes, and fairies, green and white,
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their hands; upon a sudden,
As Falstaff, she, and I, are newly met,
Let them from forth a saw-pit rush at once
With some diffused song; upon their sight,
We two in great amazedness will fly :
Then let them all encircle him about,
And, fairy-like, to-pinch the unclean knight;
And ask him, why that hour of fairy revel,


In their so sacred paths he dares to tread,
In shape prophane?

Mrs. Ford. And till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him sound,
And burn him with their tapers.

Mrs. Page. The truth being known,

We'll all present ourselves; dis-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.

Ford. The children must

Be practis'd well to this, or they'll ne'er do't.

Eva. I will teach the children their behaviours; and I will be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my taber."

Ford. That will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards. Mrs. Page. My Nan shall be the queen of all the Finely attired in a robe of white.

[fairies, Page. That silk will I go buy-and in that time Shall master Slender steal my Nan away, [Aside. And marry her at Eton.Go, send to Falstaff straight. Ford. Nay, I'll to him again in name of Brook: He'll tell me all his purpose: Sure, he'll come.

Mrs. Page. Fear not you that: Go, get us properties, And tricking for our fairies.

Eva. Let us about it: It is admirable pleasures, and fery honest knaveries. [Exeunt Page, Ford, and Evans. Mrs. Page. Go, mistress Ford,

Send Quickly to sir John, to know his mind.

[Exit Mrs. Ford. I'll to the doctor; he hath my good will, And none but he, to marry with Nan Page. That Slender, though well landed, is an ideot : And he my husband best of all affects: The doctor is well money'd, and his friends Potent at court; he, none but he, shall have her, Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her. [Exit.

SCENE V. A Room in the Garter Inn.

Enter HOST and SIMPLE.

Host. What wouldst thou have, boor? what, thickskin? speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap. Sim. Marry, sir, I come to speak with sir John Falstaff from master Slender.

Host. There's his chamber, his honse, his castle, his standing-bed, and truckle-bed; 'tis painted about with the story of the prodigal, fresh and new: Go, knock and call; he'll speak like an Anthropophaginian unto thee: Knock, I say.

[ocr errors]

Sim. There's an old woman, a fat woman, gone np into his chamber; I'll be so bold as stay, sir, till she come 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.

Fal. [Above.] How now, mine host?

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!


Fal. There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with me; but she's gone.

Sim. Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of Brentford?

Fal. Ay, marry was it, muscle-shell; What would you with her?

Sim. My master, sir, my master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go thorough the streets, to know, sir, whether one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain, had the chain, or no.

Fal. I spake with the old woman about it.
Sim. And what says she, I pray, sir?

Fal. Marry, she says, that the very same man, that beguiled master Slender of his chain, cozen'd him of it. Sim. I would, I could have spoken with the woman herself; I had other things to have spoken with her too, from him.

Fal. What are they? let us know.
Host. Ay, come; quick.

Sim. I may not conceal them, sir.

Fal. Conceal them, or thou diest.

Sim. Why, sir, they were nothing but about mistress Anne Page; to know, if it were my master's fortune to have her, or no.

Fal. 'Tis, 'tis his fortune.

Sim. What, sir?

Fal. To have her, or no: Go; say, the woman told me so.

Sim. May I be so bold to say so, sir?

Fal. Ay, sir Tike; who more bold?

Sim. I thank your worship: I shall make my mas

ter glad with these tidings.

[Exit Simple

Host. Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, sir John Was there a wise woman with thee?

Fal. Ay, that there was, mine host; one, that bath taught me more wit than ever I learn'd before in my life and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning.


Bard. Out, alas, sir! cozenage! meer cozenage! Host. Where be my horses? speak well of them, varletto.

Bard. 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, 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. Enter Sir HUGH EVANS.

Eva. Where is mine host?

Host. What is the matter, sir?

Eva. Have a care of your entertainments: there is a friend of mine come to town, tells me, there is three couzin germans, that has cozen'd all the hosts of Readings, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you for good will, look you: you are wise, and full of gibes and vlouting-stogs; and 'tis not conve nient you should be cozen'd: Fare you well. [Exit.

Enter CAIUS.

Caius. Vere is mine host de Jarterre ?

Host. Here, master doctor, in perplexity, and doubtful dilemma.

Caius. I cannot tell vat is dat: But it is tell-a me, dat you make grand preparation for a duke de Jarmany: by my trot, dere is no duke dat the court is know to come: I tell you for good vill: adien. [Exit. Host. Hue and cry, villain, ge-assist me, knight: I am undone :-fly, run, hue and cry, villain! I am undone ! [Exeunt Host and Bardolph. Fal. I would, all the world might be cozen'd; for I have been cozen'd, and beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court, how I have been transform'd, and how my transformation hath been wash'd and cudgel'd, they would melt me out of my fat, drop by drop, and liquor fishermens' 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 prosper'd since I forswore myself at Primero. Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.

Enter Mrs. QUICKLY.

Now! whence come you?

Quick. From the two parties, forsooth.

Fal. The devil take one party, and his dam the other, and so they shall be both bestow'd! I have suffei'd more for their sakes, more, than the villanous inconstancy of man's disposition is able to bear.

Quick. And have not they suffer'd? Yes, I warrant; speciously one of them; mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white spot about her.

Fal. What tell'st 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, my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, deliver'd me, the knave constable had set me i'the stocks, i'the common stocks, for a witch.

Quick. Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber: you shall hear how things go; and I warrant, to your 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 80 cross'd.

Fal. Come up into my chamber.


SCENE VI. Another Room in the Garter Inn.

Enter FENTON and HOST. Host. Master Fenton, talk not to me; my mind is heavy, I will give over all.

Fent. Yet hear me speak: Assist me in my purpose, And as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee

A hundred pound in gold, more than your loss. Host. I will hear you, master Fenton; and I will, at the least, keep your counsel.

Fent. From time to time I have acquainted you With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page; Who, mutually, hath answer'd my affection (So far forth as herself might be her chooser,) Even to my wish I have a letter from her Of such contents as you will wonder at; The mirth whereof so larded with my matter, That neither, singly, can be manifested, Without the show of both ;-wherein fat Falstaff Hath a great scene: the image of the jest [Showing the le I'll show you here at large. Hark, good mine he

« PreviousContinue »