A room in the Garter Inn.
(Falstaff; Host; Bardolph; Nym; Pistol; Robin)
Falstaff admits that he’s running out of money and can’t afford to keep all his followers on any longer. He dismisses Bardolph from his service and the Host takes him on as tapster. To make money, he sees no remedy but to engage in some fraud or other, and he tells Nym and Pistol how much Mistress Ford and Mistress Page admired him at dinner. Since they are in charge of their household finances, he decides to seduce them to get his hands on the money. He asks Nym and Pistol to carry a letter to each, but they refuse. He turns them off in anger, keeping only Robin the page, to whom he gives the letters. Nym and Pistol decide to revenge themselves on the fat knight by informing on him. (59 lines)
Enter Falstaff, Host, Bardolph, Nym, Pistol, Robin, Falstaff’s page.
Mine host of the Garter!
What says my bully-rook? Speak scholarly and wisely.
Truly, mine host, I must turn away some of my followers.
Discard, bully Hercules, cashier; let them wag; trot, trot.
I sit at ten pounds a week.
Thou’rt an emperor—Caesar, Keiser, and Pheazar. I will entertain Bardolph; he shall draw, he shall tap. Said I well, bully Hector?
Do so, good mine host.
I have spoke; let him follow.
Let me see thee froth and lime. I am at a word; follow.
Bardolph, follow him. A tapster is a good trade. An old cloak makes a new jerkin; a wither’d servingman a fresh tapster. Go, adieu.
It is a life that I have desir’d. I will thrive.
O base Hungarian wight! Wilt thou the spigot wield?
He was gotten in drink. Is not the humor conceited?
I am glad I am so acquit of this tinderbox; his thefts were too open; his filching was like an unskillful singer, he kept not time.
The good humor is to steal at a minute’s rest.
“Convey,” the wise it call. “Steal”? Foh! A fico for the phrase!
Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels.
Why then let kibes ensue.
There is no remedy; I must cony-catch, I must shift.
Young ravens must have food.
Which of you know Ford of this town?
I ken the wight; he is of substance good.
My honest lads, I will tell you what I am about.
Two yards, and more.
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 behavior (to be English’d rightly) is, “I am Sir John Falstaff’s.”
He hath studied her well, and translated her will, out of honesty into English.
The anchor is deep. Will that humor pass?
Now, the report goes she has all the rule of her husband’s purse. He hath a legend of angels.
As many devils entertain; and “To her, boy,” say I.
The humor rises; it is good. Humor me the angels.
I have writ me here a letter to her; and here another to Page’s wife, who even now gave me good eyes too, examin’d my parts with most judicious iliads; sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes my portly belly.
Then did the sun on dunghill shine.
I thank thee for that humor.
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 cheaters 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.
Shall I Sir Pandarus of Troy become,
And by my side wear steel? Then Lucifer take all!
I will run no base humor. Here, take the humor-letter; I will keep the havior of reputation.
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 i’ th’ hoof! Seek shelter, pack!
Falstaff will learn the humor of the age,
French thrift, you rogues—myself and skirted page.
Exeunt Falstaff and Robin.
Let vultures gripe thy guts! For gourd and fullam holds,
And high and low beguiles the rich and poor.
Tester I’ll have in pouch when thou shalt lack,
Base Phrygian Turk!
I have operations in my head which be humors of revenge.
Wilt thou revenge?
By welkin and her star!
With wit or steel?
With both the humors, I.
I will discuss the humor 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.
My humor shall not cool. I will incense Page to deal with poison; I will possess him with yallowness, for the revolt of mine is dangerous—that is my true humor.
Thou art the Mars of malecontents. I second thee; troop on.