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The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 5, Scene 5

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Enter FALSTAFF disguised as Herne

FALSTAFF

The Windsor bell hath struck twelve; the minute draws on. Now, the hot-blooded gods assist me! Remember, Jove, thou wast a bull for thy Europa; love set on thy horns. O powerful love! that, in some respects, makes a beast a man, in some other, a man a beast. You were also, Jupiter, a swan for the love of Leda. O omnipotent Love! how near the god drew to the complexion of a goose! A fault done first in the form of a beast. O Jove, a beastly fault! And then another fault in the semblance of a fowl; think on 't, Jove; a foul fault! When gods have hot backs, what shall poor men do? For me, I am here a Windsor stag; and the fattest, I think, i' the forest. Send me a cool rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow? Who comes here? my doe?

FALSTAFF

The Windsor bell has tolled midnight; it's almost time. Now, may the lustful gods help me! Remember, Jove, how you turned yourself into a bull to pursue Europa; you acquired horns because of love. Oh, powerful love! In some ways, it makes a beast into a man, and in some ways, it makes a man into a beast. Jove, you also turned yourself into a swan because you loved Leda. Oh, all-powerful Love! How close Jove came to looking like a goose! He first committed the fault when he had transformed himself into a beast. Oh Jove, what a beastly fault! And then he committed the same fault again when he had transformed himself into a fowl: think about it, Jove, a foul fault! If the gods themselves are full of sexual desire, what can poor humans do? As for me, I'm here in Windsor disguised as a stag, and I think I must be the fattest one in the forest. Let me have a cool time for mating, Jove, or who can blame me if I sweat away all my fat? Who comes here? my doe

Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE

MISTRESS FORD

Sir John! art thou there, my deer? my male deer?

MISTRESS FORD

Sir John! Are you there, my deer? My male deer?

FALSTAFF

My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Green Sleeves, hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here.

FALSTAFF

My doe with the short black tail! Let the sky rain potatoes, let it thunder so it sounds like the song "Green Sleeves," let it hail sweetmeats and snow candied roots, let there be storms of sexual arousal, I'll take shelter [Clasping MISTRESS FORD] here.

MISTRESS FORD

Mistress Page is come with me, sweetheart.

MISTRESS FORD

Mistress Page is here with me, sweetheart.

FALSTAFF

Divide me like a bribe buck, each a haunch: I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk, and my horns I bequeath your husbands. Am I a woodman, ha? Speak I like Herne the hunter? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience; he makes restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

FALSTAFF

Cut me into pieces like a stolen buck, and each person can take a leg. I'll keep my sides for myself, I'll use my shoulders to defend myself, and I'll give my horns to your husbands. Do I look like a hunter, ha? Do I talk like Herne the hunter? Why, now, Cupid must have a conscience; he's finally making up for the trouble he's caused. Since I'm a genuine wood-spirit, I welcome you to the woods!

Noise within

MISTRESS PAGE

Alas, what noise?

MISTRESS PAGE

Oh no, what was that noise?

MISTRESS FORD

Heaven forgive our sins

MISTRESS FORD

Heaven forgive us for what we've done wrong.

FALSTAFF

What should this be?

FALSTAFF

What could this be?

MISTRESS PAGE

Away, away!

MISTRESS PAGE

Let's go, let's go!

They run off

FALSTAFF

I think the devil will not have me damned, lest the oil that's in me should set hell on fire; he would never else cross me thus.

FALSTAFF

I think the devil won't let me damn myself by sinning, in case the fat on my body caused hell to catch fire. Otherwise, he'd never interfere with my plans so much. 

Enter SIR HUGH EVANS, disguised as before; PISTOL, as Hobgoblin; MISTRESS QUICKLY, ANNE PAGE, and others, as Fairies, with tapers

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Fairies, black, grey, green, and white, You moonshine revellers and shades of night, You orphan heirs of fixed destiny, Attend your office and your quality. Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Fairies, dressed in black, grey, green, and white, you moonlight dancers and spirits of night, you orphans controlled by destiny, attend to your tasks and your jobs. Crier Hobgoblin, sound the call of the fairies. 

PISTOL

Elves, list your names; silence, you airy toys. Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap: Where fires thou find'st unraked and hearths unswept, There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry: Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery.

PISTOL

Elves, listen for your names. Be quiet, you little things.  Cricket, leap to the fireplaces of Windsor: wherever you find unraked fires or unswept hearths, pinch the maids there until they are blue as blueberries. Our radiant queen hates lazy maids and neglect.

FALSTAFF

They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die:I'll wink and couch: no man their works must eye.

FALSTAFF

These are fairies—whoever speaks to them dies. I'll close my eyes and lie down and hide. No human must look at them.

Lies down upon his face

SIR HUGH EVANS

Where's Bede? Go you, and where you find a maid That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said, Raise up the organs of her fantasy; Sleep she as sound as careless infancy: But those as sleep and think not on their sins, Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides and shins.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Where's Bede? [A boy steps forward] Go, and when you find a maid who says her prayers three times before she goes to bed. Stimulate her imagination so that she sleeps as soundly as an innocent baby. But when you find maids that go to sleep without praying and reflecting on their sins, pinch them on their arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

About, about; Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out: Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room: That it may stand till the perpetual doom, In state as wholesome as in state 'tis fit, Worthy the owner, and the owner it. The several chairs of order look you scour With juice of balm and every precious flower: Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest, With loyal blazon, evermore be blest! And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing, Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring: The expressure that it bears, green let it be, More fertile-fresh than all the field to see; And 'Honi soit qui mal y pense' write In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue and white; Let sapphire, pearl and rich embroidery, Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee: Fairies use flowers for their charactery. Away; disperse: but till 'tis one o'clock, Our dance of custom round about the oak Of Herne the hunter, let us not forget.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Get to work, get to work. Elves, go through Windsor Castle, inside and outside. Sprinkle good luck, elves, in every royal room so that the castle will stand until the end of time in a condition that is fitting for the dignity of the place, so it will be worthy of the owner, and the owner will be worthy of it. Clean the various ceremonial pews in Windsor Chapel with ointment and cleansing flowers. Let each lovely seat, coat of arms, each crest, and all the banners of loyalty be forever blessed! And, meadow-fairies, be sure to sing each night, in a ring resembling the Garter's circle. Create a green image more fresh and fertile than the field itself. And write "Let evil things happen to the person who thinks evil things," using emerald tufts and purple, blue, and white flowers. Let there be a garter made of sapphire, pearl, and detailed embroidery buckled below the knee of each worthy, loyal knight. Fairies use flowers to write their messages. Go away, scatter—but don't forget that at one o'clock, we'll do our usual dance  around the oak of Herne the hunter.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Pray you, lock hand in hand; yourselves in order set And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be, To guide our measure round about the tree. But, stay; I smell a man of middle-earth.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Please, take hands, line up in order, and we'll use twenty glow-worms for our lanterns to guide our dances around the tree. But wait, I smell a mortal man. 

FALSTAFF

Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest hetransform me to a piece of cheese!

FALSTAFF

God protect me from that Welsh fairy so he doesn't turn me into a piece of cheese!

PISTOL

Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.

PISTOL

You disgusting worm, you were destined for evil things since you were born. 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

With trial-fire touch me his finger-end: If he be chaste, the flame will back descend And turn him to no pain; but if he start, It is the flesh of a corrupted heart.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Touch his finger with fire as a test. If he's chaste, the flame will recede and it won't hurt him. But if he jumps, it means he is sinful.

PISTOL

A trial, come.

PISTOL

Test him, come on.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Come, will this wood take fire?

SIR HUGH EVANS

Let's see, will his finger catch fire?

They burn him with their tapers

FALSTAFF

Oh, Oh, Oh!

FALSTAFF

Oh, oh, oh! 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire! About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme; And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time. [SONG] Fie on sinful fantasy! Fie on lust and luxury! Lust is but a bloody fire, Kindled with unchaste desire, Fed in heart, whose flames aspire As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher. Pinch him, fairies, mutually; Pinch him for his villany; Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about, Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

He's corrupt, corrupt, and he has sinful desires!  Surround him, fairies. Sing a scornful song, and as you dance, pinch him in time with the music.
[Singing]
Down with sinful ideas!
Down with lust and indulgence! 
Lust is nothing better than a consuming passion,
Fueled by unchaste desire,
That begins in the heart and that increases
More and more as thoughts stimulate it. 
Pinch him, fairies, everyone;
Pinch him for his evil deeds;
Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him around,
Until the candles and starlight and moonlight are gone.

During this song they pinch FALSTAFF. DOCTOR CAIUS comes one way, and steals away a boy in green; SLENDER another way, and takes off a boy in white; and FENTON comes and steals away ANNE PAGE. A noise of hunting is heard within. All the Fairies run away. FALSTAFF pulls off his buck's head, and rises

Enter PAGE, FORD, MISTRESS PAGE, and MISTRESS FORD

PAGE

Nay, do not fly; I think we have watch'd you nowWill none but Herne the hunter serve your turn?

PAGE

No, don't try to escape. I think we've caught you in the act now. Is being Herne the hunter the only thing that will satisfy you? 

MISTRESS PAGE

I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives? See you these, husband? do not these fair yokes Become the forest better than the town?

MISTRESS PAGE

Please, come on, let's not keep the joke going any longer. So, good Sir John, what do you think of the Windsor wives now? Do you see these horns, husband? Don't these handsome horns belong more in the forest than in the town? 

FORD

Now, sir, who's a cuckold now? Master Brook, Falstaff's a knave, a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, Master Brook: and, Master Brook, he hath enjoyed nothing of Ford's but his buck-basket, his cudgel, and twenty pounds of money, which must be paid to Master Brook; his horses are arrested for it, Master Brook.

FORD

Now, sir, who's a cuckold now? Master Brook, Falstaff's a scoundrel, a cuckolded scoundrel. Here are his horns, Master Brook. And, Master Brook, Falstaff hasn't gotten anything that belongs to Ford except Ford's laundry basket, stick, and twenty pounds in cash, which needs to be paid back to Master Brook; his horses have been seized as security for the money, Master Brook. 

MISTRESS FORD

Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never take you for my love again; but I will always count you my deer.

MISTRESS FORD

Sir John, we've had bad luck. We were never able to arrange a meeting. I'll never have you as my lover again, but I'll always think of you as my deer.

FALSTAFF

I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass.

FALSTAFF

I begin to see that you've made an ass out of me. 

FORD

Ay, and an ox too: both the proofs are extant.

FORD

Yes, and an ox too: we can see proof of both of those things. 

FALSTAFF

And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought they were not fairies: and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprise of my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into a received belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now how wit may be made a Jack-a-Lent, when 'tis upon ill employment!

FALSTAFF

And these aren't fairies? I thought three or four times that they might not be fairies. And yet my sense of guilt, and the bewilderment of my senses, turned a foolish idea into a firm belief that they were actually fairies, in spite of all rhyme and reason. See how even a smart man can be made into laughingstock when he sets his mind to bad actions! 

SIR HUGH EVANS

Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave yourdesires, and fairies will not pinse you.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Sir John Falstaff, serve God and abandon your sexual desires, and then the fairies won't pinch you.

FORD

Well said, fairy Hugh.

FORD

Well said, fairy Hugh.

SIR HUGH EVANS

And leave your jealousies too, I pray you.

SIR HUGH EVANS

And I ask you to stop being jealous.

FORD

I will never mistrust my wife again till thou artable to woo her in good English.

FORD

I will never doubt my wife again until you're able to woo her in correct English.

FALSTAFF

Have I laid my brain in the sun and dried it, that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'erreaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too? shall I have a coxcomb of frize? 'Tis time I were choked with a piece of toasted cheese.

FALSTAFF

Have I ruined my brain so that I can't even thwart plots as overblown as this one? Have I been fooled by a Welsh goat? Will I wear a woolen fool's cap? I ought to choke on a piece of toasted cheese.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all putter.

SIR HUGH EVANS

This isn't the way to be better. Your belly is all butter.

FALSTAFF

'Seese' and 'putter'! have I lived to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is enough to be the decay of lust and late-walking through the realm.

FALSTAFF

"This" and "butter!" To think that I should live to be mocked by someone who speaks such terrible English! This is enough to put an end to all lust and late-night sexual encounters throughout the country.

MISTRESS PAGE

Why Sir John, do you think, though we would have thevirtue out of our hearts by the head and shouldersand have given ourselves without scruple to hell,that ever the devil could have made you our delight?

MISTRESS PAGE

Why Sir John, even if we were willing to completely ruin our virtue and damn ourselves without a second thought, did you think that even the devil could have made us choose you as our lover? 

FORD

What, a hodge-pudding? a bag of flax?

FORD

What, a giant sausage? A bag of flax?

MISTRESS PAGE

A puffed man?

MISTRESS PAGE

A fat, vain man?

PAGE

Old, cold, withered and of intolerable entrails?

PAGE

Old, cold, wrinkled, and with gross guts?

FORD

And one that is as slanderous as Satan?

FORD

And who lies like the devil?

PAGE

And as poor as Job?

PAGE

And who is as poor as Job?

FORD

And as wicked as his wife?

FORD

And who is as wicked as his wife?

SIR HUGH EVANS

And given to fornications, and to taverns and sackand wine and metheglins, and to drinkings andswearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles?

SIR HUGH EVANS

And who enjoys illicit sex, and taverns, and wine, and drinking and swearing and glaring, and raving and fighting, and petty fights and chattering?

FALSTAFF

Well, I am your theme: you have the start of me; I am dejected; I am not able to answer the Welsh flannel; ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me: use me as you will.

FALSTAFF

Well, I'm your object of mockery. You have an advantage over me. I'm defeated, I can't offer any comebacks to this Welshman's taunts. I've been unbelievably foolish. Say whatever you like about me. 

FORD

Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one Master Brook, that you have cozened of money, to whom you should have been a pander: over and above that you have suffered, I think to repay that money will be a biting affliction.

FORD

Well, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to a certain Master Brook, whom you've cheated out of money and for whom you were going to arrange a sexual affair. Beyond what you've already suffered, I think it will be a great hardship to you to repay that money. 

PAGE

Yet be cheerful, knight: thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house; where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that now laughs at thee: tell her Master Slender hath married her daughter.

PAGE

Still, be cheerful, knight. You'll have a hot restorative drink at my house tonight, and when we get there, you can laugh at my wife, who's laughing at you right now. You can tell her that Master Slender has married her daughter.

MISTRESS PAGE

[Aside] Doctors doubt that: if Anne Page be mydaughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius' wife.

MISTRESS PAGE

[To herself] Wise men wouldn't be so sure about that. As sure as Anne Page is my daughter, she's Doctor Caius's wife by now. 

Enter SLENDER

SLENDER

Whoa ho! ho, father Page!

SLENDER

Hello there! Hey, father Page!

PAGE

Son, how now! how now, son! have you dispatched?

PAGE

Son, how are you? How are you, son? Have you settled everything?

SLENDER

Dispatched! I'll make the best in Gloucestershireknow on't; would I were hanged, la, else.

SLENDER

Settled! I'll let the highest-ranking person in Gloucester know about it. I'd rather be hanged than keep quiet. 

PAGE

Of what, son?

PAGE

Know about what, son? 

SLENDER

I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page, and she's a great lubberly boy. If it had not been i' the church, I would have swinged him, or he should have swinged me. If I did not think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir!—and 'tis a postmaster's boy.

SLENDER

I went over to Eton to marry Mistress Anne Page, and she turned out to be a big clumsy boy. If we hadn't been in the church, I would have hit him, or he would have hit me. I was sure that it was Anne Page! And it turned out to be a stableboy. 

PAGE

Upon my life, then, you took the wrong.

PAGE

I swear on my life, then, you took the wrong person.

SLENDER

What need you tell me that? I think so, when I took a boy for a girl. If I had been married to him, for all he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.

SLENDER

Do you really need to tell me that? I think I did take the wrong person when I mistook a boy for a girl. If I had gotten married to him, I wouldn't have slept with him, even though he was wearing women's clothing. 

PAGE

Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you howyou should know my daughter by her garments?

PAGE

Why, this is because of your own foolishness. Didn't I tell you how to recognize my daughter by her clothes?

SLENDER

I went to her in white, and cried 'mum,' and she cried 'budget,' as Anne and I had appointed; and yet it was not Anne, but a postmaster's boy.

SLENDER

I went up to the person in white, and said "mum," and she said "budget," just like Anne and I had arranged to do. And still, it wasn't Anne, it was a stableboy. 

MISTRESS PAGE

Good George, be not angry: I knew of your purpose; turned my daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the doctor at the deanery, and there married.

MISTRESS PAGE

Good George, don't be angry. I knew about your plan. I dressed my daughter in green, and, in fact, she's with the doctor at the deanery now, and will marry him there.

Enter DOCTOR CAIUS

DOCTOR CAIUS

Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened: I ha' married un garcon, a boy; un paysan, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page: by gar, I am cozened.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Where is Mistress Page? By God, I've been cheated. I've married a boy, a boy. A peasant, by God, a boy. It's not Anne Page. By God, I'm cheated. 

MISTRESS PAGE

Why, did you take her in green?

MISTRESS PAGE

Why, didn't you take the person wearing green?

DOCTOR CAIUS

Ay, by gar, and 'tis a boy: by gar, I'll raise all Windsor.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Yes, by God, and it was a boy. By God, I'll make enough noise to wake up all of Windsor.

Exit

FORD

This is strange. Who hath got the right Anne?

FORD

This is strange. Who got the right Anne?

PAGE

My heart misgives me: here comes Master Fenton.

PAGE

I'm worried. Here comes Master Fenton.

Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE

PAGE

How now, Master Fenton!

PAGE

Hello there, Master Fenton!

ANNE PAGE

Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon!

ANNE PAGE

Forgive me, good father! My good mother, forgive me!

PAGE

Now, mistress, how chance you went not with Master Slender?

PAGE

Now, young lady, how did it happen that you didn't go with Master Slender?

MISTRESS PAGE

Why went you not with master doctor, maid?

MISTRESS PAGE

Why didn't you go with Master Doctor, young lady?

FENTON

You do amaze her: hear the truth of it. You would have married her most shamefully, Where there was no proportion held in love. The truth is, she and I, long since contracted, Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us. The offence is holy that she hath committed; And this deceit loses the name of craft, Of disobedience, or unduteous title, Since therein she doth evitate and shun A thousand irreligious cursed hours, Which forced marriage would have brought upon her.

FENTON

You're confusing her. Listen to what really happened. You would have forced her, in the most shameful way, into a marriage where there was no equality of love between the partners. The truth is that she and I, who have been engaged a long time, are now joined together so firmly that nothing can separate us. The sin she committed is a holy one. And our deception doesn't count as an evil plot, as disobedience, or as lack of dutifulness, since by deceiving you, she avoided the thousand godless, cursed hours that a forced marriage would have resulted in.

FORD

Stand not amazed; here is no remedy:In love the heavens themselves do guide the state;Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.

FORD

Don't be bewildered; there's nothing you can do about it. When it comes to love, heaven is in charge of what happens. You can use money to get land, but accident and chance determine who gets a wife. 

FALSTAFF

I am glad, though you have ta'en a special stand tostrike at me, that your arrow hath glanced.

FALSTAFF

You were trying to single me out to make fun of me, and I'm glad that you can't do that now. 

PAGE

Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy!What cannot be eschew'd must be embraced.

PAGE

Well, what can we do? Fenton, may God give you joy! If we can't avoid something, we must embrace it. 

FALSTAFF

When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chased.

FALSTAFF

When people go out hunting at night, you can't control what happens. 

MISTRESS PAGE

Well, I will muse no further. Master Fenton, Heaven give you many, many merry days! Good husband, let us every one go home, And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire; Sir John and all.

MISTRESS PAGE

Well, I won't complain any further. Master Fenton, may God give you many, many happy days! Good husband, let's all go home and laugh about these jokes around a big fire, Sir John and everyone.

FORD

Let it be so. Sir John,To Master Brook you yet shall hold your wordFor he tonight shall lie with Mistress Ford.

FORD

Let's do that. Sir John, you'll end up keeping the promise that you made to Master Brook, because tonight he will, in fact, sleep with Mistress Ford.

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.