The Merry Wives of Windsor By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 2

FORD.
Troth, and I have a bag of money here troubles me; if you will
help to bear it, Sir John, take all, or half, for easing me of
the carriage.

FALSTAFF.
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.

FALSTAFF.
Speak, good Master Brook; I shall be glad to be your servant.

FORD.
Sir, I hear you are a scholar, — I will be brief with you, and
you have been a man long known to me, though I had never so good
means, as desire, to make myself acquainted with you. I shall
discover a thing to you, wherein I must very much lay open mine
own imperfection; but, good Sir John, as you have one eye upon my
follies, as you hear them unfolded, turn another into the register
of your own, that I may pass with a reproof the easier, sith you
yourself know how easy is it to be such an offender.

FALSTAFF.
Very well, sir; proceed.

FORD.
There is a gentlewoman in this town, her husband's name is Ford.

FALSTAFF.
Well, sir.

FORD.
I have long loved her, and, I protest to you, bestowed much on her;
followed her with a doting observance; engrossed opportunities to
meet her; fee'd every slight occasion that could but niggardly
give me sight of her; not only bought many presents to give her,
but have given largely to many to know what she would have given;
briefly, I have pursued her as love hath pursued me; which hath
been on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited,
either in my mind or in my means, meed, I am sure, I have received
none, unless experience be a jewel that I have purchased at an
infinite rate, and that hath taught me to say this,

Love like a shadow flies when substance love pursues;
Pursuing that that flies, and flying what pursues.

FALSTAFF.
Have you received no promise of satisfaction at her hands?

FORD.
Never.

FALSTAFF.
Have you importuned her to such a purpose?

FORD.
Never.

FALSTAFF.
Of what quality was your love, then?

FORD.
Like a fair house built on another man's ground; so that I have
lost my edifice by mistaking the place where I erected it.

FALSTAFF.
To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?

FORD.
When I have told you that, I have told you all. Some say that though
she appear honest to me, yet in other places she enlargeth her mirth
so far that there is shrewd construction made of her. Now, Sir John,
here is the heart of my purpose: you are a gentleman of excellent
breeding, admirable discourse, of great admittance, authentic in
your place and person, generally allowed for your many war-like,
court-like, and learned preparations.

FALSTAFF.
O, sir!

FORD.
Believe it, for you know it. There is money; spend it, spend it;
spend more; spend all I have; only give me so much of your time in
exchange of it as to lay an amiable siege to the honesty of this
Ford's wife: use your art of wooing, win her to consent to you;
if any man may, you may as soon as any.

FALSTAFF.
Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I
should win what you would enjoy? Methinks you prescribe to yourself
very preposterously.

FORD.
O, understand my drift. She dwells so securely on the excellency
of her honour that the folly of my soul dares not present itself;
she is too bright to be looked against. Now, could I come to her
with any detection in my hand, my desires had instance and argument
to commend themselves; I could drive her then from the ward of her
purity, her reputation, her marriage-vow, and a thousand other her
defences, which now are too too strongly embattled against me.
What say you to't, Sir John?

FALSTAFF.
Master Brook, I will first make bold with your money; next, give me
your hand; and last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if you will,
enjoy Ford's wife.

FORD.
O good sir!

FALSTAFF.
I say you shall.

FORD.
Want no money, Sir John; you shall want none.

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