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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Scene Study (Male-Male)

FORD.

Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent much. My name is Brook.

FAL.

Good Master Brook, I desire more acquaintance of you.

FORD.

Good Sir John, I sue for yours—not to charge you, for I must let you understand I think myself in better plight for a lender than you are; the which hath something embold’ned me to this unseason’d intrusion; for they say, if money go before, all ways do lie open.

FAL.

Money is a good soldier, sir, and will on.

FORD.

Troth, and I have a bag of money here troubles me. If you will help to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for easing me of the carriage.

FAL.

Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your porter.

FORD.

I will tell you, sir, if you will give me the hearing.

FAL.

Speak, good Master Brook, I shall be glad to be your servant.

FORD.

Sir, I hear you are a scholar (I will be brief with you), and you have been a man long known to me, though I had never so good means as desire to make myself acquainted with you. I shall discover a thing to you, wherein I must very much lay open mine own imperfection; but, good Sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register of your own, that I may pass with a reproof the easier, sith you yourself know how easy it is to be such an offender.

FAL.

Very well, sir, proceed.

FORD.

There is a gentlewoman in this town, her husband’s name is Ford.

FAL.

Well, sir.

FORD.

I have long lov’d her, and I protest to you, bestow’d much on her; follow’d her with a doting observance; engross’d opportunities to meet her; fee’d every slight occasion that could but niggardly give me sight of her; not only bought many presents to give her, but have given largely to many to know what she would have given; briefly, I have pursu’d her as love hath pursu’d me, which hath been on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited, either in my mind or in my means, meed I am sure I have receiv’d none, unless experience be a jewel—that I have purchas’d at an infinite rate, and that hath taught me to say this:

“Love like a shadow flies when substance love pursues,

Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.”

FAL.

Have you receiv’d no promise of satisfaction at her hands?

FORD.

Never.

FAL.

Have you importun’d her to such a purpose?

FORD.

Never.

FAL.

Of what quality was your love then?

FORD.

Like a fair house built on another man’s ground, so that I have lost my edifice by mistaking the place where I erected it.

FAL.

To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?

FORD.

When I have told you that, I have told you all. Some say that, though she appear honest to me, yet in other places she enlargeth her mirth so far that there is shrewd construction made of her. Now, Sir John, here is the heart of my purpose: you are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admirable discourse, of great admittance, authentic in your place and person, generally allow’d for your many war-like, court-like, and learned preparations.

FAL.

O sir!

FORD.

Believe it, for you know it. There is money, spend it, spend it; spend more; spend all I have; only give me so much of your time in exchange of it, as to lay an amiable siege to the honesty of this Ford’s wife. Use your art of wooing; win her to consent to you; if any man may, you may as soon as any.

FAL.

Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I should win what you would enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself very preposterously.

FORD.

O, understand my drift. She dwells so securely on the excellency of her honor, that the folly of my soul dares not present itself; she is too bright to be look’d against. Now, could I come to her with any detection in my hand, my desires had instance and argument to commend themselves. I could drive her then from the ward of her purity, her reputation, her marriage vow, and a thousand other her defenses, which now are too too strongly embattled against me. What say you to’t, Sir John?

FAL.

Master Brook, I will first make bold with your money; next, give me your hand; and last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, and you will, enjoy Ford’s wife.

FORD.

O good sir!

FAL.

I say you shall.

FORD.

Want no money, Sir John, you shall want none.

FAL.

Want no Mistress Ford, Master Brook, you shall want none. I shall be with her (I may tell you) by her own appointment; even as you came in to me, her assistant or go-between parted from me. I say I shall be with her between ten and eleven; for at that time the jealous rascally knave her husband will be forth. Come you to me at night, you shall know how I speed.

FORD.

I am blest in your acquaintance. Do you know Ford, sir?

FAL.

Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave, I know him not. Yet I wrong him to call him poor. They say the jealous wittolly knave hath masses of money, for the which his wife seems to me well-favor’d. I will use her as the key of the cuckoldly rogue’s coffer, and there’s my harvest-home.

FORD.

I would you knew Ford, sir, that you might avoid him if you saw him.

FAL.

Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue! I will stare him out of his wits; I will awe him with my cudgel; it shall hang like a meteor o’er the cuckold’s horns. Master Brook, thou shalt know I will predominate over the peasant, and thou shalt lie with his wife. Come to me soon at night. Ford’s a knave, and I will aggravate his style; thou, Master Brook, shalt know him for knave, and cuckold. Come to me soon at night.

Exit.

FORD.

What a damn’d Epicurean rascal is this! My heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent to him, the hour is fix’d, the match is made. Would any man have thought this? See the hell of having a false woman! My bed shall be abus’d, my coffers ransack’d, my reputation gnawn at, and I shall not only receive this villainous wrong, but stand under the adoption of abominable terms, and by him that does me this wrong. Terms! names! Amaimon sounds well; Lucifer, well; Barbason, well; yet they are devils’ additions, the names of fiends; but Cuckold! Wittol!—Cuckold! the devil himself hath not such a name. Page is an ass, a secure ass; he will trust his wife, he will not be jealous. I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle, or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife with herself. Then she plots, then she ruminates, then she devises; and what they think in their hearts they may effect, they will break their hearts but they will effect. God be prais’d for my jealousy! Eleven o’ clock the hour. I will prevent this, detect my wife, be reveng’d on Falstaff, and laugh at Page. I will about it; better three hours too soon than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! cuckold, cuckold, cuckold!

 

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