Document: All > Shakespeare > Comedies > Merry Wives of Windsor > Act III, scene V
[Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH]
FALSTAFF: Bardolph, I say,--
BARDOLPH: Here, sir.
FALSTAFF: Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't.
Have I lived to be carried in a basket, like a
barrow of butcher's offal, and to be thrown in the
Thames? Well, if I be served such another trick,
I'll have my brains ta'en out and buttered, and give
them to a dog for a new-year's gift. The rogues
slighted me into the river with as little remorse as
they would have drowned a blind bitch's puppies,
fifteen i' the litter: and you may know by my size
that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking; if the
bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had
been drowned, but that the shore was shelvy and
shallow,--a death that I abhor; for the water swells
a man; and what a thing should I have been when I
had been swelled! I should have been a mountain of mummy.
[Re-enter BARDOLPH with sack]
BARDOLPH: Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.
FALSTAFF: Let me pour in some sack to the Thames water; for my
belly's as cold as if I had swallowed snowballs for
pills to cool the reins. Call her in.
BARDOLPH: Come in, woman!
[Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY]
MISTRESS QUICKLY: By your leave; I cry you mercy: give your worship
FALSTAFF: Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle of
BARDOLPH: With eggs, sir?
FALSTAFF: Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.
MISTRESS QUICKLY: Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.
FALSTAFF: Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was thrown
into the ford; I have my belly full of ford.
MISTRESS QUICKLY: Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault:
she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
FALSTAFF: So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
MISTRESS QUICKLY: Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn
your heart to see it. Her husband goes this morning
a-birding; she desires you once more to come to her
between eight and nine: I must carry her word
quickly: she'll make you amends, I warrant you.
FALSTAFF: Well, I will visit her: tell her so; and bid her
think what a man is: let her consider his frailty,
and then judge of my merit.
MISTRESS QUICKLY: I will tell her.
FALSTAFF: Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?
MISTRESS QUICKLY: Eight and nine, sir.
FALSTAFF: Well, be gone: I will not miss her.
MISTRESS QUICKLY: Peace be with you, sir.
FALSTAFF: I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me word
to stay within: I like his money well. O, here he comes.
FORD: Bless you, sir!
FALSTAFF: Now, master Brook, you come to know what hath passed
between me and Ford's wife?
FORD: That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.
FALSTAFF: Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her
house the hour she appointed me.
FORD: And sped you, sir?
FALSTAFF: Very ill-favoredly, Master Brook.
FORD: How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
FALSTAFF: No, Master Brook; but the peaking Cornuto her
husband, Master Brook, dwelling in a continual
'larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our
encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested,
and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy;
and at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither
provoked and instigated by his distemper, and,
forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.
FORD: What, while you were there?
FALSTAFF: While I was there.
FORD: And did he search for you, and could not find you?
FALSTAFF: You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes
in one Mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford's
approach; and, in her invention and Ford's wife's
distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.
FORD: A buck-basket!
FALSTAFF: By the Lord, a buck-basket! rammed me in with foul
shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, greasy
napkins; that, Master Brook, there was the rankest
compound of villanous smell that ever offended nostril.
FORD: And how long lay you there?
FALSTAFF: Nay, you shall hear, Master Brook, what I have
suffered to bring this woman to evil for your good.
Being thus crammed in the basket, a couple of Ford's
knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their
mistress to carry me in the name of foul clothes to
Datchet-lane: they took me on their shoulders; met
the jealous knave their master in the door, who
asked them once or twice what they had in their
basket: I quaked for fear, lest the lunatic knave
would have searched it; but fate, ordaining he
should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well: on went he
for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But
mark the sequel, Master Brook: I suffered the pangs
of three several deaths; first, an intolerable
fright, to be detected with a jealous rotten
bell-wether; next, to be compassed, like a good
bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to
point, heel to head; and then, to be stopped in,
like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes
that fretted in their own grease: think of that,--a
man of my kidney,--think of that,--that am as subject
to heat as butter; a man of continual dissolution
and thaw: it was a miracle to scape suffocation.
And in the height of this bath, when I was more than
half stewed in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be
thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing hot,
in that surge, like a horse-shoe; think of
that,--hissing hot,--think of that, Master Brook.
FORD: In good sadness, I am sorry that for my sake you
have sufferd all this. My suit then is desperate;
you'll undertake her no more?
FALSTAFF: Master Brook, I will be thrown into Etna, as I have
been into Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her
husband is this morning gone a-birding: I have
received from her another embassy of meeting; 'twixt
eight and nine is the hour, Master Brook.
FORD: 'Tis past eight already, sir.
FALSTAFF: Is it? I will then address me to my appointment.
Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you shall
know how I speed; and the conclusion shall be
crowned with your enjoying her. Adieu. You shall
have her, Master Brook; Master Brook, you shall
FORD: Hum! ha! is this a vision? is this a dream? do I
sleep? Master Ford awake! awake, Master Ford!
there's a hole made in your best coat, Master Ford.
This 'tis to be married! this 'tis to have linen
and buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself
what I am: I will now take the lecher; he is at my
house; he cannot 'scape me; 'tis impossible he
should; he cannot creep into a halfpenny purse,
nor into a pepper-box: but, lest the devil that
guides him should aid him, I will search
impossible places. Though what I am I cannot avoid,
yet to be what I would not shall not make me tame:
if I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go
with me: I'll be horn-mad.
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR