A line-by-line translation

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 4, Scene 2

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Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS FORD

FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my sufferance. I see you are obsequious in your love, and I profess requital to a hair's breadth; not only, Mistress Ford, in the simple office of love, but in all the accoutrement, complement and ceremony of it. But are you sure of your husband now?

FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, your sorrow has made the memory of my sufferings disappear. I see that you are devoted to me, and I tell you, I feel exactly the same way. I don't just love you, I also offer you all the trappings, compliments, and gestures that demonstrate love. But are you sure that your husband's away?

MISTRESS FORD

He's a-birding, sweet Sir John.

MISTRESS FORD

He's hunting birds, sweet Sir John.

MISTRESS PAGE

[Within] What, ho, gossip Ford! what, ho!

MISTRESS PAGE

[Offstage] Hey there, my friend Ford! Hey there!

MISTRESS FORD

Step into the chamber, Sir John.

MISTRESS FORD

Go into the room, Sir John.

Exit FALSTAFF

Enter MISTRESS PAGE

MISTRESS PAGE

How now, sweetheart! who's at home besides yourself?

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Why, none but mine own people.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Indeed!

MISTRESS PAGE

Lorem i

MISTRESS FORD

No, certainly. [Aside to her] Speak louder.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Truly, I am so glad you have nobody here.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Why?

MISTRESS FORD

Lore

MISTRESS PAGE

Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again: he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind; so curses all Eve'sdaughters, of what complexion soever; and so buffetshimself on the forehead, crying, 'Peer out, peerout!' that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed buttameness, civility and patience, to this hisdistemper he is in now: I am glad the fat knight is nothere.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Why, does he talk of him?

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Of none but him; and swears he was carried out, the last time he searched for him, in a basket; protests to my husband he is now here, and hath drawn him and the rest of their company from their sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion: but I am glad the knight is not here; now he shall see his own foolery.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

How near is he, Mistress Page?

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Hard by; at street end; he will be here anon.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

I am undone! The knight is here.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Why then you are utterly shamed, and he's but a deadman. What a woman are you!—Away with him, awaywith him! better shame than murder.

MISTRESS PAGE

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FORD

Which way should be go? how should I bestow him?Shall I put him into the basket again?

MISTRESS FORD

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Re-enter FALSTAFF

FALSTAFF

No, I'll come no more i' the basket. May I not goout ere he come?

FALSTAFF

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MISTRESS PAGE

Alas, three of Master Ford's brothers watch the doorwith pistols, that none shall issue out; otherwiseyou might slip away ere he came. But what make you here?

MISTRESS PAGE

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FALSTAFF

What shall I do? I'll creep up into the chimney.

FALSTAFF

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MISTRESS FORD

There they always use to discharge theirbirding-pieces. Creep into the kiln-hole.

MISTRESS FORD

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FALSTAFF

Where is it?

FALSTAFF

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MISTRESS FORD

He will seek there, on my word. Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes to them by his note: there is no hiding you in thehouse.

MISTRESS FORD

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FALSTAFF

I'll go out then.

FALSTAFF

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MISTRESS PAGE

If you go out in your own semblance, you die, SirJohn. Unless you go out disguised—

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

How might we disguise him?

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Alas the day, I know not! There is no woman's gownbig enough for him otherwise he might put on a hat,a muffler and a kerchief, and so escape.

MISTRESS PAGE

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FALSTAFF

Good hearts, devise something: any extremity ratherthan a mischief.

FALSTAFF

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MISTRESS FORD

My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has agown above.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

On my word, it will serve him; she's as big as heis: and there's her thrummed hat and her mufflertoo. Run up, Sir John.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Go, go, sweet Sir John: Mistress Page and I willlook some linen for your head.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Quick, quick! we'll come dress you straight: puton the gown the while.

MISTRESS PAGE

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Exit FALSTAFF

MISTRESS FORD

I would my husband would meet him in this shape: he cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she's a witch; forbade her my house and hath threatened to beat her.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and thedevil guide his cudgel afterwards!

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

But is my husband coming?

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Ah, in good sadness, is he; and talks of the baskettoo, howsoever he hath had intelligence.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry thebasket again, to meet him at the door with it, asthey did last time.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Nay, but he'll be here presently: let's go dress himlike the witch of Brentford.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

I'll first direct my men what they shall do with thebasket. Go up; I'll bring linen for him straight.

MISTRESS FORD

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Exit

MISTRESS PAGE

Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough. We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do, Wives may be merry, and yet honest too: We do not act that often jest and laugh; 'Tis old, but true, Still swine eat all the draff.

MISTRESS PAGE

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Exit

Re-enter MISTRESS FORD with two Servants

MISTRESS FORD

Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders:your master is hard at door; if he bid you set itdown, obey him: quickly, dispatch.

MISTRESS FORD

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Exit

FIRST SERVANT

Come, come, take it up.

FIRST SERVANT

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SECOND SERVANT

Pray heaven it be not full of knight again.

SECOND SERVANT

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FIRST SERVANT

I hope not; I had as lief bear so much lead.

FIRST SERVANT

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Enter FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS

FORD

Ay, but if it prove true, Master Page, have you any way then to unfool me again? Set down the basket, villain! Somebody call my wife. Youth in a basket! O you panderly rascals! there's a knot, a ging, a pack, a conspiracy against me: now shall the devil be shamed. What, wife, I say! Come, come forth! Behold what honest clothes you send forth to bleaching!

FORD

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PAGE

Why, this passes, Master Ford; you are not to goloose any longer; you must be pinioned.

PAGE

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SIR HUGH EVANS

Why, this is lunatics! this is mad as a mad dog!

SIR HUGH EVANS

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SHALLOW

Indeed, Master Ford, this is not well, indeed.

SHALLOW

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FORD

So say I too, sir.

FORD

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Re-enter MISTRESS FORD

FORD

Come hither, Mistress Ford; Mistress Ford the honestwoman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, thathath the jealous fool to her husband! I suspectwithout cause, mistress, do I?

FORD

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MISTRESS FORD

Heaven be my witness you do, if you suspect me inany dishonesty.

MISTRESS FORD

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FORD

Well said, brazen-face! hold it out. Come forth, sirrah!

FORD

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Pulling clothes out of the basket

PAGE

This passes!

PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Are you not ashamed? let the clothes alone.

MISTRESS FORD

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FORD

I shall find you anon.

FORD

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SIR HUGH EVANS

'Tis unreasonable! Will you take up your wife'sclothes? Come away.

SIR HUGH EVANS

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FORD

Empty the basket, I say!

FORD

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MISTRESS FORD

Why, man, why?

MISTRESS FORD

Lorem ipsum do

FORD

Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed out of my house yesterday in this basket: why may not he be there again? In my house I am sure he is: my intelligence is true; my jealousy is reasonable. Pluck me out all the linen.

FORD

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MISTRESS FORD

If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.

MISTRESS FORD

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PAGE

Here's no man.

PAGE

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SHALLOW

By my fidelity, this is not well, Master Ford; thiswrongs you.

SHALLOW

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SIR HUGH EVANS

Master Ford, you must pray, and not follow theimaginations of your own heart: this is jealousies.

SIR HUGH EVANS

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FORD

Well, he's not here I seek for.

FORD

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PAGE

No, nor nowhere else but in your brain.

PAGE

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FORD

Help to search my house this one time. If I find not what I seek, show no colour for my extremity; let me for ever be your table-sport; let them say of me, 'As jealous as Ford, that searched a hollow walnut for his wife's leman.' Satisfy me once more; once more search with me.

FORD

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MISTRESS FORD

What, ho, Mistress Page! come you and the old womandown; my husband will come into the chamber.

MISTRESS FORD

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FORD

Old woman! what old woman's that?

FORD

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MISTRESS FORD

Nay, it is my maid's aunt of Brentford.

MISTRESS FORD

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FORD

A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not forbid her my house? She comes of errands, does she? We are simple men; we do not know what's brought to pass under the profession of fortune-telling. She works by charms, by spells, by the figure, and such daubery as this is, beyond our element we know nothing. Come down, you witch, you hag, you; come down, I say!

FORD

Lorem ipsumLoremLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore eLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ull

MISTRESS FORD

Nay, good, sweet husband! Good gentlemen, let himnot strike the old woman.

MISTRESS FORD

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Re-enter FALSTAFF in woman's clothes, and MISTRESS PAGE

MISTRESS PAGE

Come, Mother Prat; come, give me your hand.

MISTRESS PAGE

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FORD

I'll prat her.

FORD

LoremLoreLorem

Beating him

FORD

Out of my door, you witch, you hag, you baggage, youpolecat, you runyon! out, out! I'll conjure you,I'll fortune-tell you.

FORD

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Exit FALSTAFF

MISTRESS PAGE

Are you not ashamed? I think you have killed thepoor woman.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Nay, he will do it. 'Tis a goodly credit for you.

MISTRESS FORD

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Lorem ips
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FORD

Hang her, witch!

FORD

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SIR HUGH EVANS

By the yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witchindeed: I like not when a 'oman has a great peard;I spy a great peard under his muffler.

SIR HUGH EVANS

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FORD

Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow;see but the issue of my jealousy: if I cry out thusupon no trail, never trust me when I open again.

FORD

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PAGE

Let's obey his humour a little further: come,gentlemen.

PAGE

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Exeunt FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, DOCTOR CAIUS, and SIR HUGH EVANS

MISTRESS PAGE

Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Nay, by the mass, that he did not; he beat him mostunpitifully, methought.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

I'll have the cudgel hallowed and hung o'er thealtar; it hath done meritorious service.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

What think you? may we, with the warrant ofwomanhood and the witness of a good conscience,pursue him with any further revenge?

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

The spirit of wantonness is, sure, scared out of him: if the devil have him not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him?

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape the figures out of your husband's brains. If they can find in their hearts the poor unvirtuous fat knight shall be any further afflicted, we two will still be the ministers.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

I'll warrant they'll have him publicly shamed: andmethinks there would be no period to the jest,should he not be publicly shamed.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Come, to the forge with it then; shape it: I wouldnot have things cool.

MISTRESS PAGE

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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.