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never get an eye-wink of her.- -I had myself twenty angels given me this morning; but I defy all angels in any fuch fort as they fay, but in the way of honefty.- And, I warrant you, they could never get her fo much as fip on a cup with the proudeft of them all. And yet there has been earls, nay, which is more, penfioners; but, I warrant you, all is one with her.
Fal. But what fays fhe to me? be brief, my good The Mercury.
Quic. Marry, fhe hath receiv'd your letter, for the which the thanks you a thousand times; and fhe gives you to notify, that her husband will be abfence from his houfe between ten and eleven.
Fal. Ten and eleven.
Quic. Ay, forfooth: and then you may come and fee the picture, fhe fays, that you wot of-Master Ford, her husband, will be from home. Alas! the fweet woman leads an ill life with him, he's a very jealoufy man; fhe leads a very frampold life with him, good heart.
Fal. Ten and eleven: woman, commend me to her, I will not fail her.
Quic. Why, you fay well. But I have another meffenger to your Worship. Mistress Page has her hearty commendations to you too; and let me tell you in your ear, he's as fartuous a civil modeft wife, and one (I tell you) that will not mifs you morning nor evening prayer, as any is in Windfor, whoe'er be the other; and fhe bade me tell your Worship, that her husband is feldom from home, but, the hopes, there will come a time never knew a woman fo doat upon a man; furely, I think you have charms, la; yes, in truth.
Fal. Not I, I affure thee; fetting the attraction of my good parts afide, I have no other charms.
Quic. Blefling on your heart for't!
Fal. But I pray thee, tell me this; has Ford's wife, and Page's wife, acquainted each other how they love me?
Quic. That were a jeft indeed; they have not fo little grace, I hope; that were a trick, indeed!
but Miftrefs Page would defire you to fend her your little page, of all loves her husband has a marvellous infection to the little page; and, truly, Mafter Page is an honeft man. Never a wife in Windfor leads a better life than fhe does; do what fhe will, fay what fhe will, take all, pay all, go to bed when the lift, rife when the lift, all is as fhe will; and truly the deferves it; for if there be a kind woman in Windfor, truly fhe is one. You muft fend her your page; no remedy.
Fal. Why, I will.
Quic. Nay, but do fo then; and, look you, he may come and go between you both, and in any cafe have a nay-word, that you may know one another's mind and the boy never need to underftand any thing; for 'tis not good that children fhould know any wickedness: old folks, you know, have difcretion, as they fay, and know the world.
Fal. Fare thee well; commend me to them both: there's my purfe, I am yet thy debtor.Boy, go along with this woman.-This news diftracts me! [Exeunt Quickly and Robin. Pift. This pink is one of Cupid's carriers : Clap on more fails; purfue; up with your fights; Give fire; fhe is my prize, or ocean whelm them [Exit Pistol. Fal. Say'ft thou fo, old Jack? go thy waysI'll make more of thy old body than I have done -will they yet look after thee? Wilt thou, after the expence of fo much money, be now a gainer? Good body, I thank thee; let them fay 'tis grofsly done; fo it be fairly done, no matter.
Bard. Sir John, there's one Mafter Brook below would fain fpeak with you, and be acquainted with you; and hath fent your Worfhip a morning's draught of fack.
Fal. Brook, is his name?
Fal. Call him in; [Exit Bardolph.] fuch Brooks are welcome to me, that o'erflow with fuch liquor. Ah! ah! Miftrefs Ford and Miftrefs Page, have I encompass'd you? go to, via!
Re-enter Bardolph, with Ford disguised.
Ford. Blefs you, Sir.
Fal. And you, Sir; would you fpeak with me? Ford. I make bold to prefs with fo little prepaFation upon you.
Fal. You're welcome; what's your will? give us leave, drawer. Exit Bardolph. Ford. Sir, I am a gentleman that have spent much; my name is Brook.
Fal. Good Mafter Brook, I defire more acquaintance of you.
Ford. Good Sir John, I fue for yours; not to charge you, for I must let you understand I think myfelf in better plight for a lender than you are, the which hath fomething embolden'd me to this unfeafond intrufion; for they fay, if money go before, all ways do ly open.
Fal. Money is a good foldier, Şir, and will on. Ford. Troth, and I have a bag of money here troubles me; if you will help me to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for eafing me of the carriage.
Fal. Sir, I know not how I may deserve to be your porter.
Ford. I will tell you, Sir, if you will give me the hearing.
Fal Speak, good Mafter Brook, I fhall be glad to be your fervant.
Ford. Sir, I hear you are a fcholar; (I will be brief with you); and you have been a man long known to me, though I had never fo good means,
as defire, to make myself acquainted with you: I fhali difcover a thing to you, wherein I muft very much lay open mine own imperfections; but, good Sir John, as you have one eye upon my follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the regifter of your own, that I may pafs with a reproof VOL. III.
the eafier; fith you yourself know how easy it is to be fuch an offender.
Fal. Very well, Sir; proceed.
Ford. There is a gentlewoman in this town, her hufband's name is Ford.
Fal. Well, Sir.
Ford. I have long lov'd her; and, I proteft to you, beftow'd much on her; follow'd her with a doating obfervance; engrofs'd opportunities to meet her; fee'd every flight occafion that could but niggardly give me fight of her; not only bought many presents to give her, but have given largely to many, to know what he would have given: briefly. I have purfued her, as love hath purfued me, which hath been on the wing of all occafions. But whatsoever I have merited, either in my mind or in my means, meed, I am fure, I have received none, unless experience be a jewel; that I have purchas'd at an infinite rate, and that hath taught me to fay this;
Love like a fhadow flies, when fubftance love purfues;
Purfuing that that flies, and flying what purfues."
Fal. Have you receiv'd no promise of satisfaction at her hands?
Fal. Have you importun'd her to fuch a purpose? Ford. Never.
Fal. Of what quality was your love then?
Ford. Like a fair houfe built upon another man's ground; fo that I have loft my edifice, by miftaking the place where I have erected it.
Fal. To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?
Ford. When I have told you that, I have told you all. Some fay, that though the appear honest to me, yet in other places fhe enlargeth her mirth fo far, that there is fhrewd conftruction made of her. Now, Sir John, here is the heart of my purpofe you are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admirable difcourfe, of great admittance, autaen
tic in your place and perfon, generally allow'd for your many war-like, court-like, and learned preparations.
Fal. O Sir!
Ford. Believe it, for you know it: there is money, spend it, fpend it; fpend more, fpend all I have; only give nie fo much of your time in exchange of it, as to lay an amiable fiege to the honefty of this Ford's wife; ufe your art of wooing, win her to confent to you; if any man may, you may as foon as any.
Fal. Would it apply well to the vehemence of your affection, that I fhould win what you would enjoy? methinks you prefcribe to yourself very prepofterously.
Ford. O, understand my drift; fhe dwells fo fecurely on the excellency of her honour, that the tolly of my foul dares not prefent itfelf; fhe is too bright to be look'd against. Now, could I come to her with any detection in my hand, iny defires had inftance and argument to commend themselves; I could drive her then from the ward of her purity, her reputation, her marriage-vow, and a thoufand other her defences, which now are too ftrongly embattel'd against me. What fay you to't, Sir John?
Fal. Mafter Brook, I will firft make bold with your money; next, give me your hand; and laft, as I am a gentleman, you fhall, if you will, enjoy Ford's wife.
Ford. O good Sir!
Fal. Matter Brook, I say you fhall.
Ford. Want no money, Sir John, you shall want
Fal. Want no Miftrefs Ford, Mafter Brook, you fhall want none. I fhall be with her, I may tell you, by her own appointment. Even as you came in to me, her affiftant, or go-between, parted from me; I fay I fhall be with her between ten and eleven; for at that time the jealous rascally knave, her husband, will be forth. Come you to me at night, you shall know how I speed.