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The Merry Wives of Windsor Scenes

Scene 5

Another part of Windsor Park.

(Falstaff; Mistress Margaret Page; Mistress Ford; Evans; Pistol; Mistress Quickly; Doctor Caius; Slender; Fenton; Page; Ford; Children of Windsor; Boy; Postmaster’s Boy; Anne Page)


The disguised Falstaff compares himself to Jupiter and all the transformations he made in the name of love. Both Mistress Ford and Mistress Page arrive, and he urges them to divide him up when they suddenly hear a sound of horns. The women fly in pretended fear. Falstaff is confused, and then terrified as he suddenly finds himself surrounded by fairies. When they find him, they begin to pinch him and burn him with their candles while preaching against lechery. During this Caius exits with a fairy dressed in green and Slender with a fairy dressed in white, while Fenton and Anne sneak off together. The horns sound again and the “fairies” run off. Falstaff finds himself faced with the two wives and their husbands, who mock him. Falstaff claims he realized that those weren’t actual fairies. They point out all his flaws to him, which in the end he can’t help but take good-naturedly. Page invites him to come have a drink and laugh at his wife, since he’s managed to play a trick on her himself — getting Anne married to Slender. But Slender comes in protesting that he’s just been almost married to a boy. Mistress Page explains that it’s her fault and that she set this up so that Anne could marry Caius, but Caius enters to complain that he has been married to a boy. There is momentary confusion, until Fenton and Anne enter together, and beg forgiveness. Since they are married, her parents make the best of it. Mistress Page suggests that they all go home and have a good laugh over the events of the past few days, Sir John included. (151 lines)

Enter Falstaff with a buck’s head upon him.


The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute draws on. Now the hot-bloodied gods assist me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy Europa, love set on thy horns. O powerful love, that in some respects makes a beast a man; in some other, a man a beast. You were also, Jupiter, a swan for the love of Leda. O omnipotent love, how near the god drew to the complexion of a goose! A fault done first in the form of a beast (O Jove, a beastly fault!) and then another fault in the semblance of a fowl—think on’t, Jove, a foul fault! When gods have hot backs, what shall poor men do? For me, I am here a Windsor stag, and the fattest, I think, i’ th’ forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here? My doe?

Enter Mistress Page, Mistress Ford.


Sir John? Art thou there, my deer? My male deer?


My doe with the black scut? Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of “Green-sleeves,” hail kissing-comfits, and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.

Embracing her.


Mistress Page is come with me, sweet heart.


Divide me like a brib’d-buck, each a haunch. I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk—and my horns I bequeath your husbands. Am I a woodman, ha? Speak I like Herne the hunter? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience, he makes restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

There is a noise of horns.


Alas, what noise?


Heaven forgive our sins!


What should this be?


Away, away!

The two women run away.


I think the devil will not have me damn’d, lest the oil that’s in me should set hell on fire; he would never else cross me thus.

Enter Evans like a satyr, Anne Page and Boys dressed like fairies, Pistol as Hobgoblin, Mistress Quickly like the Queen of Fairies.

They sing a song about him and afterward speak.


Fairies, black, grey, green, and white,

You moonshine revelers, and shades of night,

You orphan heirs of fixed destiny,

Attend your office and your quality.

Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy Oyes.


Elves, list your names; silence, you aery toys!

Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap;

Where fires thou find’st unrak’d and hearths unswept,

There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry;

Our radiant Queen hates sluts and sluttery.


They are fairies, he that speaks to them shall die.

I’ll wink and couch; no man their works must eye.

Lies down upon his face.


Where’s Bede? Go you, and where you find a maid

That ere she sleep has thrice her prayers said,

Raise up the organs of her fantasy,

Sleep she as sound as careless infancy;

But those as sleep and think not on their sins,

Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins.


About, about;

Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out.

Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room,

That it may stand till the perpetual doom

In state as wholesome as in state ’tis fit,

Worthy the owner, and the owner it.

The several chairs of order look you scour

With juice of balm and every precious flow’r;

Each fair installment, coat, and sev’ral crest,

With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!

And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,

Like to the Garter’s compass, in a ring.

Th’ expressure that it bears, green let it be,

More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;

And “Honi soit qui mal y pense” write

In em’rald tuffs, flow’rs purple, blue, and white,

Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,

Buckled below fair knighthood’s bending knee:

Fairies use flow’rs for their charactery.

Away, disperse! But till ’tis one a’ clock,

Our dance of custom, round about the oak

Of Herne the hunter, let us not forget.


Pray you lock hand in hand; yourselves in order set;

And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,

To guide our measure round about the tree.

But stay, I smell a man of middle-earth.


Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he transform me to a piece of cheese!


Vild worm, thou wast o’erlook’d even in thy birth.


With trial-fire touch me his finger-end.

If he be chaste, the flame will back descend

And turn him to no pain; but if he start,

It is the flesh of a corrupted heart.


A trial, come.


Come, will this wood take fire?

They put the tapers to his fingers, and he starts.


O, O, O!


Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!

About him, fairies, sing a scornful rhyme,

And as you trip, still pinch him to your time.

The Song

Fie on sinful fantasy!

Fie on lust and luxury!

Lust is but a bloody fire,

Kindled with unchaste desire,

Fed in heart, whose flames aspire,

As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher.

Pinch him, fairies, mutually!

Pinch him for his villainy!

Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about,

Till candles, and starlight, and moonshine be out.

Here they pinch him and sing about him. And the Doctor Caius comes one way, and steals away a boy in green; and Slender another way; he takes a boy in white; and Fenton steals Mistress Anne Page. And a noise of hunting is made within; and all the fairies run away. Falstaff pulls off his buck’s head, and rises up.

Enter Page, Ford, Mistress Page, and Mistress Ford.


Nay, do not fly, I think we have watch’d you now.

Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn?


I pray you come, hold up the jest no higher.

Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives?

See you these, husband? Do not these fair yokes

Become the forest better than the town?


Now, sir, who’s a cuckold now? Master Brook, Falstaff’s a knave, a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, Master Brook; and, Master Brook, he hath enjoy’d nothing of Ford’s but his buck-basket his cudgel, and twenty pounds of money, which must be paid to Master Brook. His horses are arrested for it, Master Brook.


Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never take you for my love again, but I will always count you my deer.


I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass.


Ay, and an ox too; both the proofs are extant.


And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought they were not fairies, and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into a receiv’d belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now how wit may be made a Jack-a-Lent, when ’tis upon ill employment!


Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires, and fairies will not pinse you.


Well said, fairy Hugh.


And leave you your jealousies too, I pray you.


I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able to woo her in good English.


Have I laid my brain in the sun and dried it, that it wants matter to prevent so gross o’erreaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too? Shall I have a coxcomb of frieze? ’Tis time I were chok’d with a piece of toasted cheese.


Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all putter.


“Seese” and “putter”! Have I liv’d to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is enough to be the decay of lust and late-walking through the realm.


Why, Sir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and shoulders, and have given ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our delight?


What, a hodge-pudding? A bag of flax?


A puff’d man?


Old, cold, wither’d, and of intolerable entrails?


And one that is as slanderous as Satan?


And as poor as Job?


And as wicked as his wife?


And given to fornications, and to taverns, and sack, and wine, and metheglins, and to drinkings and swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles?


Well, I am your theme. You have the start of me, I am dejected. I am not able to answer the Welsh flannel; ignorance itself is a plummet o’er me. Use me as you will.


Marry, sir, we’ll bring you to Windsor, to one Master Brook that you have cozen’d of money, to whom you should have been a pander. Over and above that you have suffer’d, I think to repay that money will be a biting affliction.


Yet be cheerful, knight. Thou shalt eat a posset tonight at my house, where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that now laughs at thee. Tell her Master Slender hath married her daughter.



Doctors doubt that. If Anne Page be my daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius’ wife.

Enter Slender.


Whoa ho, ho! Father Page!


Son? How now? How now, son? Have you dispatch’d?


Dispatch’d? I’ll make the best in Gloucestershire know on’t. Would I were hang’d la, else!


Of what, son?


I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page, and she’s a great lubberly boy. If it had not been i’ th’ church, I would have swing’d him, or he should have swing’d me. If I did not think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir!—and ’tis a postmaster’s boy.


Upon my life then, you took the wrong.


When need you tell me that? I think so, when I took a boy for a girl. If I had been married to him (for all he was in woman’s apparel) I would not have had him.


Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you how you should know my daughter by her garments?


I went to her in white and cried “mum,” and she cried “budget,” as Anne and I had appointed, and yet it was not Anne, but a postmaster’s boy.


Good George, be not angry. I knew of your purpose; turn’d my daughter into green; and indeed she is now with the Doctor at the dean’ry, and there married.

Enter Caius.


Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozen’d. I ha’ married oon garsoon, a boy; oon pesant, by gar. A boy! It is not Anne Page. By gar, I am cozen’d.


Why? Did you take her in green?


Ay, be-gar, and ’tis a boy. Be-gar, I’ll raise all Windsor.



This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?


My heart misgives me. Here comes Master Fenton.

Enter Fenton and Anne Page.

How now, Master Fenton?


Pardon, good father! Good my mother, pardon!


Now, mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender?


Why went you not with Master Doctor, maid?


You do amaze her. Hear the truth of it.

You would have married her most shamefully,

Where there was no proportion held in love.

The truth is, she and I (long since contracted)

Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us.

Th’ offense is holy that she hath committed,

And this deceit loses the name of craft,

Of disobedience, or unduteous title,

Since therein she doth evitate and shun

A thousand irreligious cursed hours

Which forced marriage would have brought upon her.


Stand not amaz’d; here is no remedy.

In love, the heavens themselves do guide the state;

Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.


I am glad, though you have ta’en a special stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanc’d.


Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy!

What cannot be eschew’d must be embrac’d.


When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas’d.


Well, I will muse no further. Master Fenton,

Heaven give you many, many merry days!

Good husband, let us every one go home,

And laugh this sport o’er by a country fire—

Sir John and all.


Let it be so. Sir John,

To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word,

For he tonight shall lie with Mistress Ford.



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