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ACT THE SECOND.
Before Page's House. Enter Mistress Page, with a Letter. Mrs. Page. What! have I 'scaped love-letters in the holy-day time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for them? Let me see!
[Reads. Ask me no reason why I love you ; for though love use reason for his precisiano, he admits him not for his counsellor: You are not young, no more am I; go to then, there's sympathy : you are merry, so am 1; 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,
John FalstAFF. O wicked, wicked world ! one that is well nigh worn to pieces with age, to show himself a young gallant ! What unweighed behaviour hath this Flemish drunkard picked out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner assay me? Why, he hath not been thřice in my company ;
What should I say to him? — I was then frugal of my mirth. — Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of men.
How shall I be revenged on him ? for revenged I will be.
6 Most probably Shakspeare wrote physician.
to your house.
Enter Mrs. Ford. Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page, trust me, I was going
Mrs. Page. And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look
ill. Mrs. Ford. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that ; I have to show to the contrary.
Mrs. Page. 'Faith, but you do, in my mind.
Mrs. Ford. Well, I do then; yet, I say, I could show
you to the contrary : 0, mistress Page, give me some counsel!
Mrs. Page. What's the matter, woman?
Mrs. Ford. O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to such 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, I could
be knighted. Mrs. Page. What? — Sir Alice Ford !
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 ; praised 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 tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in him, ashore at Windsor? How shall I be revenged on him ? I think, the best way were to entertain him with hope till the wicked fire have melted him.—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, (sure more,) and these are of the second edition : He will print them out of doubt.
Mrs. Ford. Why, this is the very same; 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 know some stain in me, that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury. Let's be revenged on him: let's appoint him a meeting ; give him a show of comfort in his suit : and lead him on with a finebaited delay, till be hath pawn'd his horses to mine Host of the Garter. Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act any
vil lainy against him, that may not sully the chariness7 of our honesty. O, that my husband 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 greasy knight: Come hither.
Enter FORD, PISTOL, PAGE, and Nym.
Ford. Well, I hope, it be not so.
Pist. Hope is a curtail 8 dog, in some affairs :
7 Caution. : A dog that misses his game:
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 ?
Pist. With liver burning hot: Prevent, or go thou, Like sir Actæon he, with Ring-wood at thy heels : 0, odious is the name!
Ford. What name, sir ?
Pist. The horn, I say: Farewell. Take heed; have open eye; for thieves do foot by
night, Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo-birds do
sing. Away, sir corporal Nym. Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. [Exit Pistol.
Ford. I will be patient; I will find out this.
Nym. And this is true. [To PAGE.] I like not the humour of lying. He hath wronged me in some humours; I should have borne the humoured letter to her : but I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife; there's the short and the long. My name is corporal 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 ; and there's the humour of it. Adieu.
[Exit Nym. Page. The humour of it, quoth 'a! here's a fellow frights humour out of his wits.
Ford. I will seek out Falstaff.
Page. I never heard such a drawling, affecting rogue.
Ford. If I do find it, well.
Page. I will not believe such a Cataian,” tho' the priest o' the town commended him for a true man.
2 A medley
i Consider. ? A lying sharper.
Ford. 'Twas a good sensible fellow : Well.
you. Mrs. Ford. How now, sweet Frank ? why art thou melancholy?
Ford. I melancholy! I am not melancholy. Get you home, go. Mrs. Ford. Thou hast some crotchets in thy head
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.
[ Aside to Mrs. Ford.
Enter Mrs. Quickly.
Mrs. Ford. Trust me, I thought on her: she'll fit it.
Mrs. Page. You are come to see my daughter Anne ?
Quick. 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.
[Exeunt Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Mrs.
QUICKLY. Page. How now, master Ford ? Ford. You heard what this knave told me; did
Page. Yes; and you heard what the other told me? Ford. Do
think there is truth in them? Page. Hang 'em, slaves! I do not think the knight would offer it: but these that accuse him in his intent towards our wives, are a yoke of his discarded men ; very rogues, now they be out of service. Ford. Were they his men ? VOL. I.