A line-by-line translation

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 4, Scene 5

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Enter Host and SIMPLE

HOST

What wouldst thou have, boor? what: thick-skin?speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.

HOST

What do you want, you buffoon? What is it, you stupid man? Speak, breathe, talk. Be brief, short, quick, snappy. 

SIMPLE

Marry, sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstafffrom Master Slender.

SIMPLE

Well, sir, I have a message for Sir John Falstaff from Master Slender.

HOST

There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing-bed and truckle-bed; 'tis painted about with the story of the Prodigal, fresh and new. Go knock and call; hell speak like an Anthropophaginian unto thee: knock, I say.

HOST

There's his bedroom, his house, his castle, his full-size bed and his camp bed. It's freshly painted with the story of the Prodigal Son. Go knock on the door and call him. He'll talk to you like a cannibal. Knock, I'm telling you. 

SIMPLE

There's an old woman, a fat woman, gone up into his chamber: I'll be so bold as stay, sir, till she come down; I come to speak with her, indeed.

SIMPLE

There's an old woman, a fat woman, who just went into his room. I'll invite myself to stay, if I may, until she comes downstairs. I'd like to speak with her, in fact. 

HOST

Ha! a fat woman! the knight may be robbed: I'll call. Bully knight! bully Sir John! speak from thy lungs military: art thou there? it is thine host, thine Ephesian, calls.

HOST

Ha! A fat woman! The knight might get robbed. I'll call him. My fine knight! My bold Sir John! Speak with your soldier's lungs: are you there? It's your host, your drinking companion, calling you. 

FALSTAFF

[Above] How now, mine host!

FALSTAFF

[Upstairs] How are you, my host? 

HOST

Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman. Let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honourable: fie! privacy? fie!

HOST

There's a vagabond gypsy here waiting for the fat woman to come downstairs. Let her come down, my fine fellow, let her come down. I keep a respectable inn—shame on your secret intrigues!

Enter FALSTAFF

FALSTAFF

There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now withme; but she's gone.

FALSTAFF

There was an old fat woman with me just now, my host, but she's gone. 

SIMPLE

Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman ofBrentford?

SIMPLE

Please, sir, was it the wise woman of Brentford?

FALSTAFF

Ay, marry, was it, mussel-shell: what would you with her?

FALSTAFF

Yes, in fact, it was, you empty-headed young man. What did you want with her? 

SIMPLE

My master, sir, Master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go through the streets, to know, sir, whether one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain, had the chain or no.

SIMPLE

My master, sir, Master Slender, saw her going through the streets and he wanted to ask her whether a man named Nym, who stole a chain from him, has the chain or not.

FALSTAFF

I spake with the old woman about it.

FALSTAFF

I talked to the old woman about that. 

SIMPLE

And what says she, I pray, sir?

SIMPLE

And what did she say, sir?

FALSTAFF

Marry, she says that the very same man thatbeguiled Master Slender of his chain cozened him ofit.

FALSTAFF

Well, she says the same man that stole Master Slender's chain also cheated him out of it. 

SIMPLE

I would I could have spoken with the woman herself;I had other things to have spoken with her too fromhim.

SIMPLE

I wish I could have spoken with the woman myself. There were other things I would have liked to ask her. 

FALSTAFF

What are they? let us know.

FALSTAFF

Like what? Tell me.

HOST

Ay, come; quick.

HOST

Yes, come on, quickly. 

SIMPLE

I may not conceal them, sir.

SIMPLE

I'm not allowed to conceal them, sir.

HOST

Conceal them, or thou diest.

HOST

Conceal them, or die.

SIMPLE

Why, sir, they were nothing but about Mistress AnnePage; to know if it were my master's fortune tohave her or no.

SIMPLE

Well, sir, it wasn't about anything except Mistress Anne Page. I wanted to ask if my master will end up marrying her or not. 

FALSTAFF

'Tis, 'tis his fortune.

FALSTAFF

Yes, yes, he will.

SIMPLE

What, sir?

SIMPLE

He will what, sir?

FALSTAFF

To have her, or no. Go; say the woman told me so.

FALSTAFF

He will either marry her or not. Go, tell him the woman told me so. 

SIMPLE

May I be bold to say so, sir?

SIMPLE

May I be so bold as to tell him that, sir?

FALSTAFF

Ay, sir; like who more bold.

FALSTAFF

Yes, sir. No one could be bolder than you.

SIMPLE

I thank your worship: I shall make my master gladwith these tidings.

SIMPLE

Thank you, sir. I'll make my master happy with this good news. 

Exit

HOST

Thou art clerkly, thou art clerkly, Sir John. Wasthere a wise woman with thee?

HOST

You are wise, you are wise, Sir John. Was there a witch with you? 

FALSTAFF

Ay, that there was, mine host; one that hath taught me more wit than ever I learned before in my life; and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning.

FALSTAFF

Yes, there was, my host. She taught me more than I had ever learned before in my life, and I didn't pay anything for this knowledge either, but instead I got a reward for learning. 

Enter BARDOLPH

BARDOLPH

Out, alas, sir! cozenage, mere cozenage!

BARDOLPH

Oh no, sir! Cheating, flat-out cheating! 

HOST

Where be my horses? speak well of them, varletto.

HOST

Where are my horses? Tell me some good news about them, you scoundrel. 

BARDOLPH

Run away with the cozeners; for so soon as I came beyond Eton, they threw me off from behind one of them, in a slough of mire; and set spurs and away, like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.

BARDOLPH

They ran away with the cheaters. As soon as I passed Eton, they threw me off the horse into a swamp of mud, and they spurred the horses to ride away like three German devils, like three Doctor Faustuses.

HOST

They are gone but to meet the duke, villain: do notsay they be fled; Germans are honest men.

HOST

They've only gone to meet the duke, scoundrel, don't say they fled. Germans are honest people.

Enter SIR HUGH EVANS

SIR HUGH EVANS

Where is mine host?

SIR HUGH EVANS

Where is the host?

HOST

What is the matter, sir?

HOST

What's the matter, sir? 

SIR HUGH EVANS

Have a care of your entertainments: there is a friend of mine come to town tells me there is three cozen-germans that has cozened all the hosts of Readins, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you for good will, look you: you are wise and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks, and 'tis not convenient you should be cozened. Fare you well.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Be careful about your guests. A friend of mine who just arrived in town told me about three cheating Germans who have cheated all the hosts out of horses and money, in Readins, Maidenhead, and Colebrook. I'm looking out for you, you know. You're smart and full of fun and jokes, and it isn't right for you to be cheated. Take care. 

Exit

Enter DOCTOR CAIUS

DOCTOR CAIUS

Vere is mine host de Jarteer?

DOCTOR CAIUS

Where is the host of the Garter?

HOST

Here, master doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.

HOST

Here, Master Doctor, confused and in a messy situation. 

DOCTOR CAIUS

I cannot tell vat is dat: but it is tell-a me dat you make grand preparation for a duke de Jamany: by my trot, dere is no duke dat the court is know to come. I tell you for good vill: adieu.

DOCTOR CAIUS

I'm not sure what you mean by that, but someone told me that you were making big preparations to welcome a German duke. I know for a fact that the court isn't expecting any duke. I'm telling you this to help you out. Goodbye.

Exit

HOST

Hue and cry, villain, go! Assist me, knight. I amundone! Fly, run, hue and cry, villain! I am undone!

HOST

Raise the alarm, scoundrel, go! Help me, knight, I'm ruined! Run, run, raise the alarm, scoundrel! I'm ruined! 

Exeunt Host and BARDOLPH

FALSTAFF

I would all the world might be cozened; for I have been cozened and beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court, how I have been transformed and how my transformation hath been washed and cudgelled, they would melt me out of my fat drop by drop and liquor fishermen's boots with me; I warrant they would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear. I never prospered since I forswore myself at primero. Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.

FALSTAFF

I wish everyone would be tricked, since I've been tricked and beaten up also. If anyone at court heard how I disguised myself twice, and how I was dunked in the river and beaten with a stick while I was disguised, they would laugh at me until my fat melted out of me like boot-grease. I bet they would make fun of me with their wonderful wit until I shriveled up like a dried pear. I've never done well in life since I started cheating at cards. Well, if I had enough breath to pray, I would apologize to God for the bad things I've done.

Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY

FALSTAFF

Now, whence come you?

FALSTAFF

Now, where did you come from?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

From the two parties, forsooth.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

From the two women, in fact. 

FALSTAFF

The devil take one party and his dam the other! and so they shall be both bestowed. I have suffered more for their sakes, more than the villanous inconstancy of man's disposition is able to bear.

FALSTAFF

Let them both go to hell! And then they'll both get what they deserve. I've suffered more because of them than a man's unstable nature is able to put up with.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

And have not they suffered? Yes, I warrant;speciously one of them; Mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white spot about her.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

And haven't they suffered too? Yes, I bet they have, speciously one of them. Mistress Ford, that dear woman, was beaten black and blue so that you can't see a spot of white skin on her. 

FALSTAFF

What tellest thou me of black and blue? I was beaten myself into all the colours of the rainbow; and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of Brentford: but that my admirable dexterity of wit, my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, delivered me, the knave constable had set me i' the stocks, i' the common stocks, for a witch.

FALSTAFF

Why are you talking to me about black and blue? I was beaten until I was all the colors of the rainbow, and I was almost arrested for being the witch of Brentford. If it hadn't been for my admirably quick wit, and my ability to imitate the behavior of an old woman, the rascally policeman would have put me in the stocks, the public stocks, for being a witch.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber: you shall hear how things go; and, I warrant, to your content. Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good hearts, what ado here is to bring you together! Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, that you are so crossed.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Sir, let me talk to you in your room. I'll tell you how things are going, and I bet you'll like what you hear. Here's a letter that will explain things. My dears, it's so much trouble to get you together! I'm sure that one of you must be a great sinner, since God keeps punishing you.

FALSTAFF

Come up into my chamber.

FALSTAFF

Come up to my room.

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.