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The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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Enter FALSTAFF, Host, BARDOLPH, NYM, PISTOL, and ROBIN

FALSTAFF

Mine host of the Garter!

FALSTAFF

My host of the Garter Inn!

HOST

What says my bully-rook? speak scholarly and wisely.

HOST

What do you have to say for yourself, you fine fellow? Speak wisely and like a scholar.

FALSTAFF

Truly, mine host, I must turn away some of myfollowers.

FALSTAFF

Well, my host, I have to let some of my followers go.

HOST

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

HOST

Dismiss them, you handsome Hercules, dismiss them. Let them go their own way, trot, trot.

FALSTAFF

I sit at ten pounds a week.

FALSTAFF

I spend ten pounds a week in rent. 

HOST

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

HOST

You live like an emperor, a Caesar, a kaiser, and a vizier. I'll hire Bardolph. He'll tend the bar, he'll serve the drinks. Does that sound good, handsome Hercules?

FALSTAFF

Do so, good mine host.

FALSTAFF

Do that, good host.

HOST

I have spoke; let him follow.

HOST

I've said I'll do it. Let him work for me.

To BARDOLPH

HOST

Let me see thee froth and lime: I am at a word; follow.

HOST

Be sure to cheat customers by leaving a large head of foam on the beer, and sweeten bad wine to disguise the taste. I mean what I say—follow me.

Exit

FALSTAFF

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.

FALSTAFF

Bardolph, follow him. Being a bartender is a good occupation. An old cloak makes a good new jacket, and a wrinkled old servant will make a good new bartender. Go, good-bye. 

BARDOLPH

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

BARDOLPH

It's an occupation I've always wanted to have. I'll do well. 

PISTOL

O base Hungarian wight! wilt thou the spigot wield?

PISTOL

Oh, you lowlife beggar! Will you really serve drinks? 

Exit BARDOLPH

NYM

He was gotten in drink: is not the humour conceited?

NYM

His parents conceived him when they were drunk—isn't that some good irony? 

FALSTAFF

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.

FALSTAFF

I'm glad I got rid of of that red-faced, bad-tempered man. He made it too obvious when he was stealing things; as a thief, he was like a bad singer, he didn't act at the right moment. 

NYM

The good humour is to steal at a minute's rest.

NYM

The trick is to be able to steal quickly, at a moment's notice.

PISTOL

'Convey,' the wise it call. 'Steal!' foh! a ficofor the phrase!

PISTOL

Educated people call stealing "conveying." "Steal!" Ha! I don't care for that word at all!

FALSTAFF

Well, sirs, I am almost out at heels.

FALSTAFF

Well, boys, I'm almost bankrupt. 

PISTOL

Why, then, let kibes ensue.

PISTOL

Well, then, we'll have to have sore heels.

FALSTAFF

There is no remedy; I must cony-catch; I must shift.

FALSTAFF

I can't do anything about it. I have to cheat people, I have to use my wits to get by. 

PISTOL

Young ravens must have food.

PISTOL

We have to eat somehow.

FALSTAFF

Which of you know Ford of this town?

FALSTAFF

Does anyone know Ford, who lives in this town? 

PISTOL

I ken the wight: he is of substance good.

PISTOL

I know the man. He has a lot of money.

FALSTAFF

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

FALSTAFF

My good friends, I'll tell you what I'm about. 

PISTOL

Two yards, and more.

PISTOL

Six feet, and more.

FALSTAFF

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 Englished rightly, is, 'I am Sir John Falstaff's.'

FALSTAFF

No jokes now, Pistol! In fact, my waist is six feet around, but right now I'm not going to overindulge, I'm going to be thrifty. In short, I plan to seduce Ford's wife. I believe she would take me up on my offer. When she speaks, when she gestures, she seems like she's inviting me to approach her. I can interpret the meaning of her friendly actions, and the meaning of her behavior, if you translate it into English, is, "I want Sir John Falstaff as my lover."

PISTOL

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

PISTOL

He's studied her desires and decided that they aren't honest.

NYM

The anchor is deep: will that humour pass?

NYM

That's a difficult plan. Will you be able to pull it off?

FALSTAFF

Now, the report goes she has all the rule of herhusband's purse: he hath a legion of angels.

FALSTAFF

Now, everyone says that she has control of her husband's money. He has many gold coins. 

PISTOL

As many devils entertain; and 'To her, boy,' say I.

PISTOL

You should employ the same number of devils to help you—and I say, "Chase her."

NYM

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

NYM

I see this plan taking shape. It's a good plan; go get that money. 

FALSTAFF

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 oeillades; sometimes the beam of her view gilded my foot, sometimes my portly belly.

FALSTAFF

I've written a letter to her, and I've written another letter to Page's wife, who also looked at me just now with lots of attention. She looked over my whole body with an expression of desire. Sometimes her gaze fell on my foot, sometimes on my plump belly. 

PISTOL

Then did the sun on dunghill shine.

PISTOL

Then the sun shone on a pile of manure.

NYM

I thank thee for that humour.

NYM

Thanks for that joke. 

FALSTAFF

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 cheater 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.

FALSTAFF

Oh, she looked over my body with such a greedy look, that her hot desire seemed to burn me up like the sun shining through a piece of glass! Here's another letter that I wrote to her. She also has control over her husband's money; she's like a region in Guiana, full of gold and wealth. I will be like a treasury officer to them, and they will be like bank accounts to me. They will be sources of wealth to me, and I will get money from both of them. Go take this letter to Mistress Page, and you take this letter to Mistress Ford. We will do well, boys, we will make money.

PISTOL

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

PISTOL

Will I help Sir John arrange affairs with these women and still carry a sword like a soldier? Then, the devil wins!

NYM

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

NYM

I won't behave dishonorably. Here, take the foolish letter. I will keep acting respectably. 

FALSTAFF

[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 the age, French thrift, you rogues; myself and skirted page.

FALSTAFF

[To ROBIN] Hang on, servant, take these letters and keep them safe. Go to these women like my boat going to wealthy lands.

[To PISTOL and NYM]
Scoundrels, get going, go on! Disappear like hailstones, go. Walk heavily, plod away on foot. Look for a new place to stay, get going! I'll learn the tricks you need to get by these days. I'll save money the way the French do, you scoundrels. I'll only take care of myself and one well-dressed servant. 

Exeunt FALSTAFF and ROBIN

PISTOL

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!

PISTOL

I hope vultures eat your guts! False dice and loaded dice make good profits, and trick both rich and poor people. I'll still have sixpence in my purse when you have nothing, you lowlife slavish Turk!

NYM

I have operations which be humours of revenge.

NYM

I have a plan to get revenge on him.

PISTOL

Wilt thou revenge?

PISTOL

Will you take revenge? 

NYM

By welkin and her star!

NYM

By the sky and the star, I swear I will! 

PISTOL

With wit or steel?

PISTOL

With a clever plan, or by fighting him?

NYM

With both the humours, I:I will discuss the humour of this love to Page.

NYM

I'll use both! I'll go and tell Page about Falstaff's plan to seduce his wife. 

PISTOL

And I to Ford shall eke unfold How Falstaff, varlet vile, His dove will prove, his gold will hold, And his soft couch defile.

PISTOL

And I'll tell Ford how Falstaff, that disgusting liar, plans to seduce his wife, steal his gold, and contaminate his bed.

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.

NYM

My anger won't cool down. I'll make Page so mad that he'll want to poison Falstaff, I'll make him jealous. This rebellion of mine against Falstaff is dangerous for him: that's the mood I'm in. 

PISTOL

Thou art the Mars of malecontents: I second thee; troopon.

PISTOL

You are the bravest rebel. I'll follow your lead, go on. 

Exeunt

The merry wives of windsor
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Maria devlin
About the Translator: Maria Devlin

Maria Devlin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University, where she specialized in Renaissance drama. She has worked as a bibliographical and editorial assistant for The Norton Anthology of English Literature and for The Norton Shakespeare. She is currently working with Stephen Greenblatt to design online courses on Shakespeare, including the modules "Hamlet's Ghost" and "Shylock's Bond" offered through HarvardX. She is writing a book on Renaissance comedy.

Maria Devlin wishes to credit the following sources, which she consulted extensively in composing her translations and annotations:

William Shakespeare. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Eds. Gary Taylor et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

William Shakespeare. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2016.