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' th' forest. Send me a cool
rut-time, Jove, or who can blame me to piss my tallow?
Who comes here? my doe?
Sir John! Art thou there, my deer, my male deer.
My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain
potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of Greensleeves, hail
kissing-comfits, and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest
of provocation, I will shelter me here.
Mistress Page is come with me, sweetheart.
Divide me like a brib'd 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!
I think the devil will not have me damn'd, lest the
oil that's in me should set hell on fire; he would never else
cross me thus.
Enter SIR HUGH EVANS like a satyr, ANNE PAGE as a fairy, and OTHERS as the Fairy Queen, fairies, and Hobgoblin; all with tapers
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.
Elves, list your names; silence, you airy toys.
Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap;
Where fires thou find'st unrak'd, and hearths unswept,
There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry;
Our radiant Queen hates sluts and sluttery.
They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die.
I'll wink and couch; no man their works must eye.
Where's Pede? 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.
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 sev'ral crest,
With loyal blazon, evermore be blest!
And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring;
Th' 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 em'rald tufts, flow'rs purple, blue and white;
Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee.
Fairies use flow'rs 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.
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.
Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he
transform me to a piece of cheese!
Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.
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.
Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire!
About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme;
And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.
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 villainy;
Pinch him and burn him and turn him about,
Till candles and star-light and moonshine be out.
During this song they pinch FALSTAFF. DOCTOR
CAIUS comes one way, and steals away a fairy in
green; SLENDER another way, and takes off a fairy in
white; and FENTON 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, MISTRESS FORD, and SIR HUGH EVANS
Nay, do not fly; I think we have watch'd you now.
Will none but Herne the Hunter serve your turn?
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?
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.
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.
I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass.
Ay, and an ox too; both the proofs are extant.
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 receiv'd 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.
Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires,
and fairies will not pinse you.
And leave you your jealousies too, I pray you.
I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able
to woo her in good English.
Have I laid my brain in the sun, and dried it, that
it wants matter to prevent so gross, o'er-reaching as this?
Am I ridden with a Welsh goat too? Shall I have a cox-comb
of frieze? 'Tis time I were chok'd with a piece of
Seese is not good to give putter; your belly is all
'Seese' and 'putter'! Have I liv'd 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.
Why, Sir John, do you think, though we would
have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and
shoulders, and have given ourselves without scruple to hell,
that ever the devil could have made you our delight?
And given to fornications, and to taverns, and sack,
and wine, and metheglins, and to drinkings, and swearings,
and starings, pribbles and prabbles?
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.
Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one Master
Brook, that you have cozen'd of money, to whom you
should have been a pander. Over and above that you have
suffer'd, I think to repay that money will be a biting
Yet be cheerful, knight; thou shalt eat a posset
tonight 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.
MRS. PAGE [Aside] Doctors doubt that; if Anne Page be
my daughter, she is, by this, Doctor Caius' wife.
I came yonder at Eton to marry Mistress Anne
Page, and she's a great lubberly boy. If it had not been i'
th' church, I would have swing'd him, or he should have
swing'd me. If I did not think it had been Anne Page,
would I might never stir!-and 'tis a postmaster's boy.
Now, Mistress, how chance you went not with Master
Why went you not with Master Doctor, maid?
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.
Th' 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.
Stand not amaz'd; here is no remedy.
In love, the heavens themselves do guide the state;
Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.
I am glad, though you have ta'en a special stand
to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanc'd.
Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy!
What cannot be eschew'd must be embrac'd.
When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas'd.
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.
Let it be so. Sir John,
To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word;
For he, to-night, shall lie with Mistress Ford.