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The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 3, Scene 5

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Enter FALSTAFF and BARDOLPH

FALSTAFF

Bardolph, I say,—

FALSTAFF

Bardolph, I say—

BARDOLPH

Here, sir.

BARDOLPH

I'm here, sir.

FALSTAFF

Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't.

FALSTAFF

Go get me a quart of wine, and put a piece of hot toast in it.

Exit BARDOLPH

FALSTAFF

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.

FALSTAFF

Is it possible that I could be carried in a basket like a wheelbarrow of animal entrails from the butcher, and be thrown into the Thames? Well, if anyone tries to play another trick like that on me again, I'll take out my foolish brains and butter them and give them to the dog as a New-Year's present. The scoundrels dumped me into the river as carelessly as they would drown a blind dog's puppies, fifteen at once. And you can tell from how big I am that I sink quickly—no matter how deep the bottom is, I will sink down to it. I would have been drowned, except that the river bed had a gentle slope and was shallow. I hate death by drowning because water makes a person swell up. What would I have looked like if I had swelled up! I would have been a huge corpse. 

Re-enter BARDOLPH with sack

BARDOLPH

Here's Mistress Quickly, sir, to speak with you.

BARDOLPH

Mistress Quickly is here, sir, to speak with you. 

FALSTAFF

L et 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.

FALSTAFF

Let me swallow some wine along with all the river water I swallowed, because my stomach is as cold as if I had swallowed snowballs to cool my kidneys off. Tell her to come in. 

BARDOLPH

Come in, woman!

BARDOLPH

Come in, woman!

Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

By your leave; I cry you mercy: give your worshipgood morrow.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

With your permission, please pardon me. I hope you're doing well. 

FALSTAFF

Take away these chalices. Go brew me a pottle ofsack finely.

FALSTAFF

[To BARDOLPH] Take away these small glasses. Go prepare me a half-gallon of wine so it will taste good.

BARDOLPH

With eggs, sir?

BARDOLPH

With eggs in it, sir?

FALSTAFF

Simple of itself; I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage.

FALSTAFF

No, just pure wine. I don't want any chicken-offspring in my drink. 

Exit BARDOLPH

FALSTAFF

How now!

FALSTAFF

What's the news?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Marry, sir, I come to your worship from Mistress Ford.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Please, sir, I came here from Mistress Ford.

FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford! I have had ford enough; I was throwninto the ford; I have my belly full of ford.

FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford! I've had enough of ford. I was thrown into the ford, my stomach is 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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

It's a shame! good sir, it wasn't her fault. She has scolded her servants, they misunderstood her erection

FALSTAFF

So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.

FALSTAFF

I misunderstood mine too, believing in 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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Well, sir, she's so sorry about it that it would break your heart if you saw her. Her husband is out hunting birds this morning, and she wants you to come see her again between eight and nine o'clock. I have to give her your answer quickly. She'll make it up to you, I'm sure. 

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.

FALSTAFF

Well, I'll visit her. Tell her that; and tell her to reflect on men's nature. Let her think about how easily damaged men are, and then she can judge what kind of man I am. 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I will tell her.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I'll tell her. 

FALSTAFF

Do so. Between nine and ten, sayest thou?

FALSTAFF

Do that. Between nine and ten, you said?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Eight and nine, sir.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Between eight and nine, sir.

FALSTAFF

Well, be gone: I will not miss her.

FALSTAFF

Well, get going. I won't miss the appointment. 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Peace be with you, sir.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I wish you a good day, sir.

Exit

FALSTAFF

I marvel I hear not of Master Brook; he sent me wordto stay within: I like his money well. O, here he comes.

FALSTAFF

I'm surprised I haven't heard heard from Master Brook. He told me to wait for him here—I like getting money from him. Oh, here he comes. 

Enter FORD

FORD

Bless you, sir!

FORD

God bless you, sir!

FALSTAFF

Now, master Brook, you come to know what hath passedbetween me and Ford's wife?

FALSTAFF

Now, Master Brook, do you know what happened with me and Ford's wife? 

FORD

That, indeed, Sir John, is my business.

FORD

That, in fact, Sir John, is what I came to talk to you about. 

FALSTAFF

Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at herhouse the hour she appointed me.

FALSTAFF

Master Brook, I won't lie to you. I was at her house at the time she told me to meet her. 

FORD

And sped you, sir?

FORD

And did you succeed, sir? 

FALSTAFF

Very ill-favoredly, Master Brook.

FALSTAFF

Things went very badly, Master Brook. 

FORD

How so, sir? Did she change her determination?

FORD

Why's that, sir? Did she change her mind? 

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.

FALSTAFF

No, Master Brook, but that sneaking cuckold her husband, Master Brook, who is always alarmed by jealousy, came in just as we were about to consummate our affair. After we had hugged, kissed, declared our love, and, so to speak, gone through all the preliminaries, he came with a crowd of friends behind him, who were compelled by his deranged temper to come along and search the house for his wife's lover. 

FORD

What, while you were there?

FORD

What do you mean, while you were there? 

FALSTAFF

While I was there.

FALSTAFF

While I was there. 

FORD

And did he search for you, and could not find you?

FORD

And he looked for you and he couldn't 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.

FALSTAFF

I'll tell you about it. As luck would have it, Mistress Page came in. She told us that Ford was coming, and she came up with the idea, which Mistress Ford agreed to because she was so distraught, to carry me away in a laundry basket. 

FORD

A buck-basket!

FORD

A laundry 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.

FALSTAFF

By God, a laundry basket! They crammed me in with dirty shirts and undergarments, dirty stockings, greasy napkins. That, Master Brook, was the most disgusting mix of revolting smells that ever hurt anyone's nose. 

FORD

And how long lay you there?

FORD

And how long did you lie in the basket? 

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.

FALSTAFF

No, I'll tell you, Master Brook, what I suffered so that I could corrupt this woman and help you out. When I was jammed into the basket, Mistress Ford called a couple of Ford's scoundrels, his servants, to carry me to Datchet-Lane and say that they were carrying a basket of dirty clothes. They laid the basket on their shoulders and ran into the jealous scoundrel their master at the door, who asked them once or twice what they had in their basket. I was shaking with fear, worrying that the insane scoundrel would search the basket, but Fate apparently decided that he was meant to be a cuckold and stopped him. Well, he went on with the search, and I went away disguised as dirty clothes. But listen to what happened next, Master Brook. I suffered the pains of three different kinds of death. First, I was unbearably frightened, worried that I would be discovered by a jealous rotten eunuch; next, in the container, I was bent over double like a sword, with my top touching my bottom and my heels touching my head; and then, I was stuffed like a cork in a wine bottle in with stinking clothes that were rotting in their own sweat. Think about that—a man in my bodily condition—think of that—a man who is as sensitive to heat as butter, a man who is constantly melting and sweating. It was a miracle that I didn't suffocate. And when this sweat bath was at its worst, when I was half-cooked in sweat like a Dutch dish, I was thrown into the Thames. Just as I was glowing hot, I was cooled off in the river like a horse-shoe. Think about that—hissing hot—think about 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?

FORD

In all seriousness, I'm sorry that you suffered all this for my sake. My goal of sleeping with Mistress Ford looks like it will very difficult to accomplish. You won't try to seduce her again?

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.

FALSTAFF

Master Brook, I would rather be thrown into a volcano like I was thrown into the river, than leave things in this state. Her husband is out hunting this morning. She sent me another message to meet her. The appointment is between eight and nine, Master Brook.

FORD

'Tis past eight already, sir.

FORD

It's after 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 cuckold Ford.

FALSTAFF

Is it? I'll go to my appointment then. Come see me when it's convenient for you, and you'll hear how things went; and in the end you'll get to enjoy her. Good-bye. You'll have her, Master Brook, you'll make Ford a cuckold. 

Exit

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.

FORD

Hm! Ha! Is this just my imagination? Am I dreaming? Am I asleep! Master Ford, wake up! Wake up, Master Ford! Your reputation is ruined, Master Ford. This is what it's like to be married! This is what you get for having clothes and laundry baskets! Well, I'll let everyone know what's going on. I'll catch the lustful man. He's at my house, he can't escape me, it would be impossible. He can't squeeze into a tiny coin-purse or into a box of pepper—but, in case the devil that directs him also helps him, I'll search places where it would be impossible for him to hide. Although I can't avoid being a cuckold, the fact that I am a cuckold won't make me calmly accept being one. If I have horns that drive me crazy, I'll do just what the proverb says: I'll go horn-mad.

Exit

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.