A line-by-line translation

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 4, Scene 4

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Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, MISTRESS FORD, and SIR HUGH EVANS

SIR HUGH EVANS

'Tis one of the best discretions of a 'oman as everI did look upon.

SIR HUGH EVANS

This is one of the cleverest plots that I've ever known a woman to come up with.

PAGE

And did he send you both these letters at an instant?

PAGE

And he sent you both those letters at the same time?

MISTRESS PAGE

Within a quarter of an hour.

MISTRESS PAGE

Within fifteen minutes of each other. 

FORD

Pardon me, wife. Henceforth do what thou wilt; I rather will suspect the sun with cold Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honour stand In him that was of late an heretic, As firm as faith.

FORD

Forgive me, wife. From now on, do what you like. I'll sooner suspect that the sun is cold than suspect that you are unfaithful. I used to distrust you, but now I trust you completely.

PAGE

'Tis well, 'tis well; no more: Be not as extreme in submission As in offence. But let our plot go forward: let our wives Yet once again, to make us public sport, Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow, Where we may take him and disgrace him for it.

PAGE

That's enough, that's enough, no more. Don't go overboard in asking forgiveness from your wife the same way you went overboard in offending her. But let's put our plan into action. For a good joke in front of the whole town, let's have our wives make another appointment to meet with this old fat man, so we can catch him and disgrace him.

FORD

There is no better way than that they spoke of.

FORD

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PAGE

How? to send him word they'll meet him in the parkat midnight? Fie, fie! he'll never come.

PAGE

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SIR HUGH EVANS

You say he has been thrown in the rivers and has been grievously peaten as an old 'oman: methinks there should be terrors in him that he should not come; methinks his flesh is punished, he shall have no desires.

SIR HUGH EVANS

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PAGE

So think I too.

PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Devise but how you'll use him when he comes,And let us two devise to bring him thither.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

There is an old tale goes that Herne the hunter, Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest, Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight, Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns; And there he blasts the tree and takes the cattle And makes milch-kine yield blood and shakes a chain In a most hideous and dreadful manner: You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know The superstitious idle-headed eld Received and did deliver to our age This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.

MISTRESS PAGE

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PAGE

Why, yet there want not many that do fearIn deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak:But what of this?

PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

Marry, this is our device;That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us.

MISTRESS FORD

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PAGE

Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come:And in this shape when you have brought him thither,What shall be done with him? what is your plot?

PAGE

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MISTRESS PAGE

That likewise have we thought upon, and thus: Nan Page my daughter and my little son And three or four more of their growth we'll dress Like urchins, ouphes and fairies, green and white, With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads, And rattles in their hands: upon a sudden, As Falstaff, she and I, are newly met, Let them from forth a sawpit rush at once With some diffused song: upon their sight, We two in great amazedness will fly: Then let them all encircle him about And, fairy-like, to-pinch the unclean knight, And ask him why, that hour of fairy revel, In their so sacred paths he dares to tread In shape profane.

MISTRESS PAGE

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MISTRESS FORD

And till he tell the truth,Let the supposed fairies pinch him soundAnd burn him with their tapers.

MISTRESS FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

The truth being known,We'll all present ourselves, dis-horn the spirit,And mock him home to Windsor.

MISTRESS PAGE

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FORD

The children mustBe practised well to this, or they'll ne'er do't.

FORD

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SIR HUGH EVANS

I will teach the children their behaviors; and Iwill be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn theknight with my taber.

SIR HUGH EVANS

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FORD

That will be excellent. I'll go and buy them vizards.

FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

My Nan shall be the queen of all the fairies,Finely attired in a robe of white.

MISTRESS PAGE

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PAGE

That silk will I go buy.

PAGE

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Aside

PAGE

And in that timeShall Master Slender steal my Nan awayAnd marry her at Eton. Go send to Falstaff straight.

PAGE

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FORD

Nay I'll to him again in name of BrookHe'll tell me all his purpose: sure, he'll come.

FORD

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MISTRESS PAGE

Fear not you that. Go get us propertiesAnd tricking for our fairies.

MISTRESS PAGE

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SIR HUGH EVANS

Let us about it: it is admirable pleasures and feryhonest knaveries.

SIR HUGH EVANS

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Exeunt PAGE, FORD, and SIR HUGH EVANS

MISTRESS PAGE

Go, Mistress Ford,Send quickly to Sir John, to know his mind.

MISTRESS PAGE

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Exit MISTRESS FORD

MISTRESS PAGE

I'll to the doctor: he hath my good will, And none but he, to marry with Nan Page. That Slender, though well landed, is an idiot; And he my husband best of all affects. The doctor is well money'd, and his friends Potent at court: he, none but he, shall have her, Though twenty thousand worthier come to crave her.

MISTRESS PAGE

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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.