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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene III.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

A Room in the Garter Inn.


Fal.Mine host of the Garter!

Host.What says my bully-rook? Speak scholarly and wisely.

Fal.Truly, mine host, I must turn away some of my followers.

Host.Discard, bully Hercules; cashier: let them wag; trot, trot.

Fal.I sit at ten pounds a week.

Host.Thou’rt an emperor, Cæsar, Keisar, and Pheezar. I will entertain Bardolph; he shall draw, he shall tap: said I well, bully Hector?

Fal.Do so, good mine host.

Host.I have spoke; let him follow.[To BARD.]Let me see thee froth and lime: I am at a word; follow.[Exit.

Fal.Bardolph, follow him. A tapster is a good trade: an old cloak makes a new jerkin; a withered serving-man, a fresh tapster. Go; adieu.

Bard.It is a life that I have desired. I will thrive.

Pist.O base Hungarian wight! wilt thou the spigot wield?[Exit BARD.

Nym.He was gotten in drink; is not the humour conceited?

Fal.I am glad I am so acquit of this tinderbox; his thefts were too open; his filching was like an unskilful singer; he kept not time.

Nym.The good humour is to steal at a minim’s rest.

Pist.‘Convey,’ the wise it call. ‘Steal!’ foh! a fico for the phrase!

Fal.Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels.

Pist.Why, then, let kibes ensue.

Fal.There is no remedy; I must conycatch, I must shift.

Pist.Young ravens must have food.

Fal.Which of you know Ford of this town?

Pist.I ken the wight: he is of substance good.

Fal.My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about.

Pist.Two yards, and more.

Fal.No quips now, Pistol! Indeed, I am in the waist two yards about; but I am now about no waste; I am about thrift. Briefly, I do mean to make love to Ford’s wife: I spy entertainment in her; she discourses, she carves, she gives the leer of invitation: I can construe the action of her familiar style; and the hardest voice of her behaviour, to be Englished rightly, is, ‘I am Sir John Falstaff’s.’

Pist.He hath studied her well, and translated her well, out of honesty into English.

Nym.The anchor is deep: will that humour pass?

Fal.Now, the report goes she has all the rule of her husband’s purse; he hath a legion of angels.

Pist.As many devils entertain, and ‘To her, boy,’ say I.

Nym.The humour rises; it is good: humour me the angels.

Fal.I have writ me here a letter to her; and here another to Page’s wife, who even now gave me good eyes too, examined my parts with most judicious œilliades: sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes my portly belly.

Pist.Then did the sun on dunghill shine.

Nym.I thank thee for that humour.

Fal.O! she did so course o’er my exteriors with such a greedy intention, that the appetite of her eye did seem to scorch me up like a burning-glass. Here’s another letter to her: she bears the purse too; she is a region in Guiana, all gold and bounty. I will be ’cheator to them both, and they shall be exchequers to me: they shall be my East and West Indies, and I will trade to them both. Go bear thou this letter to Mistress Page; and thou this to Mistress Ford. We will thrive, lads, we will thrive.

Pist.Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become, And by my side wear steel? then, Lucifer take all!

Nym.I will run no base humour: here, take the humour-letter. I will keep the haviour of reputation.

Fal.[To ROBIN.]Hold, sirrah, bear you these letters tightly:

Sail like my pinnace to these golden shores.

Rogues, hence! avaunt! vanish like hailstones, go;

Trudge, plod away o’ the hoof; seek shelter, pack!

Falstaff will learn the humour of this age,

French thrift, you rogues: myself and skirted page.[Exeunt FALSTAFF and ROBIN.

Pist.Let vultures gripe thy guts! for gourd and fullam holds,

And high and low beguile the rich and poor.

Tester I’ll have in pouch when thou shalt lack,

Base Phrygian Turk!

Nym.I have operations in my head, which be humours of revenge.

Pist.Wilt thou revenge?

Nym.By welkin and her star!

Pist.With wit or steel?

Nym.With both the humours, I:

I will discuss the humour of this love to Page.


  • And I to Ford shall eke unfold
  • How Falstaff, varlet vile,
  • His dove will prove, his gold will hold,
  • And his soft couch defile.
  • Nym.My humour shall not cool: I will incense Page to deal with poison; I will possess him with yellowness, for the revolt of mine is dangerous: that is my true humour.

    Pist.Thou art the Mars of malcontents: I second thee; troop on.[Exeunt.