The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act I, Scene 1

Windsor. Before PAGE’s house.

       
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[Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS]

  • Robert Shallow. Sir Hugh, persuade me not; I will make a Star-
    chamber matter of it: if he were twenty Sir John
    Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, esquire.
  • Slender. In the county of Gloucester, justice of peace and 5
    'Coram.'
  • Slender. Ay, and 'Rato-lorum' too; and a gentleman born,
    master parson; who writes himself 'Armigero,' in any
    bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, 'Armigero.' 10
  • Robert Shallow. Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three
    hundred years.
  • Slender. All his successors gone before him hath done't; and
    all his ancestors that come after him may: they may
    give the dozen white luces in their coat. 15
  • Sir Hugh Evans. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well;
    it agrees well, passant; it is a familiar beast to
    man, and signifies love.
  • Robert Shallow. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat. 20
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Yes, py'r lady; if he has a quarter of your coat, 25
    there is but three skirts for yourself, in my
    simple conjectures: but that is all one. If Sir
    John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto
    you, I am of the church, and will be glad to do my
    benevolence to make atonements and compremises 30
    between you.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. It is not meet the council hear a riot; there is no
    fear of Got in a riot: the council, look you, shall
    desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear a 35
    riot; take your vizaments in that.
  • Robert Shallow. Ha! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword
    should end it.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. It is petter that friends is the sword, and end it:
    and there is also another device in my prain, which 40
    peradventure prings goot discretions with it: there
    is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master Thomas
    Page, which is pretty virginity.
  • Slender. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks
    small like a woman. 45
  • Sir Hugh Evans. It is that fery person for all the orld, as just as
    you will desire; and seven hundred pounds of moneys,
    and gold and silver, is her grandsire upon his
    death's-bed—Got deliver to a joyful resurrections!
    —give, when she is able to overtake seventeen years 50
    old: it were a goot motion if we leave our pribbles
    and prabbles, and desire a marriage between Master
    Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.
  • Slender. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?
  • Slender. I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is goot gifts.
  • Robert Shallow. Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff there?
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I do
    despise one that is false, or as I despise one that 60
    is not true. The knight, Sir John, is there; and, I
    beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will
    peat the door for Master Page.
    [Knocks]
    What, hoa! Got pless your house here! 65
  • Page. [Within] Who's there?

[Enter PAGE]

  • Sir Hugh Evans. Here is Got's plessing, and your friend, and Justice
    Shallow; and here young Master Slender, that
    peradventures shall tell you another tale, if 70
    matters grow to your likings.
  • Page. I am glad to see your worships well.
    I thank you for my venison, Master Shallow.
  • Robert Shallow. Master Page, I am glad to see you: much good do it
    your good heart! I wished your venison better; it 75
    was ill killed. How doth good Mistress Page?—and I
    thank you always with my heart, la! with my heart.
  • Page. Sir, I thank you.
  • Page. I am glad to see you, good Master Slender. 80
  • Slender. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say he
    was outrun on Cotsall.
  • Page. It could not be judged, sir.
  • Slender. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.
  • Robert Shallow. That he will not. 'Tis your fault, 'tis your fault; 85
    'tis a good dog.
  • Robert Shallow. Sir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog: can there be
    more said? he is good and fair. Is Sir John
    Falstaff here? 90
  • Page. Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good
    office between you.
  • Page. Sir, he doth in some sort confess it. 95
  • Robert Shallow. If it be confessed, it is not redress'd: is not that
    so, Master Page? He hath wronged me; indeed he
    hath, at a word, he hath, believe me: Robert
    Shallow, esquire, saith, he is wronged.
  • Page. Here comes Sir John. 100

[Enter FALSTAFF, BARDOLPH, NYM, and PISTOL]

  • Falstaff. Now, Master Shallow, you'll complain of me to the king?
  • Robert Shallow. Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and
    broke open my lodge.
  • Falstaff. But not kissed your keeper's daughter? 105
  • Falstaff. I will answer it straight; I have done all this.
    That is now answered.
  • Falstaff. 'Twere better for you if it were known in counsel: 110
    you'll be laughed at.
  • Falstaff. Good worts! good cabbage. Slender, I broke your
    head: what matter have you against me?
  • Slender. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against you; 115
    and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph,
    Nym, and Pistol.
  • Pistol. How now, Mephostophilus! 120
  • Nym. Slice, I say! pauca, pauca: slice! that's my humour.
  • Slender. Where's Simple, my man? Can you tell, cousin?
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Peace, I pray you. Now let us understand. There is
    three umpires in this matter, as I understand; that 125
    is, Master Page, fidelicet Master Page; and there is
    myself, fidelicet myself; and the three party is,
    lastly and finally, mine host of the Garter.
  • Page. We three, to hear it and end it between them.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Fery goot: I will make a prief of it in my note- 130
    book; and we will afterwards ork upon the cause with
    as great discreetly as we can.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this, 'He 135
    hears with ear'? why, it is affectations.
  • Falstaff. Pistol, did you pick Master Slender's purse?
  • Slender. Ay, by these gloves, did he, or I would I might
    never come in mine own great chamber again else, of
    seven groats in mill-sixpences, and two Edward 140
    shovel-boards, that cost me two shilling and two
    pence apiece of Yead Miller, by these gloves.
  • Pistol. Ha, thou mountain-foreigner! Sir John and Master mine, 145
    I combat challenge of this latten bilbo.
    Word of denial in thy labras here!
    Word of denial: froth and scum, thou liest!
  • Slender. By these gloves, then, 'twas he.
  • Nym. Be avised, sir, and pass good humours: I will say 150
    'marry trap' with you, if you run the nuthook's
    humour on me; that is the very note of it.
  • Slender. By this hat, then, he in the red face had it; for
    though I cannot remember what I did when you made me
    drunk, yet I am not altogether an ass. 155
  • Falstaff. What say you, Scarlet and John?
  • Bardolph. Why, sir, for my part I say the gentleman had drunk
    himself out of his five sentences.
  • Bardolph. And being fap, sir, was, as they say, cashiered; and 160
    so conclusions passed the careires.
  • Slender. Ay, you spake in Latin then too; but 'tis no
    matter: I'll ne'er be drunk whilst I live again,
    but in honest, civil, godly company, for this trick:
    if I be drunk, I'll be drunk with those that have 165
    the fear of God, and not with drunken knaves.
  • Falstaff. You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen; you hear it.
    [Enter ANNE PAGE, with wine; MISTRESS FORD]
    and MISTRESS PAGE, following] 170
  • Page. Nay, daughter, carry the wine in; we'll drink within.

[Exit ANNE PAGE]

  • Slender. O heaven! this is Mistress Anne Page.
  • Page. How now, Mistress Ford!
  • Falstaff. Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well met: 175
    by your leave, good mistress.

[Kisses her]

  • Page. Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome. Come, we have a
    hot venison pasty to dinner: come, gentlemen, I hope
    we shall drink down all unkindness. 180

[Exeunt all except SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS]

  • Slender. I had rather than forty shillings I had my Book of
    Songs and Sonnets here.
    [Enter SIMPLE]
    How now, Simple! where have you been? I must wait 185
    on myself, must I? You have not the Book of Riddles
    about you, have you?
  • Simple. Book of Riddles! why, did you not lend it to Alice
    Shortcake upon All-hallowmas last, a fortnight
    afore Michaelmas? 190
  • Robert Shallow. Come, coz; come, coz; we stay for you. A word with
    you, coz; marry, this, coz: there is, as 'twere, a
    tender, a kind of tender, made afar off by Sir Hugh
    here. Do you understand me?
  • Slender. Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable; if it be so, 195
    I shall do that that is reason.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Give ear to his motions, Master Slender: I will
    description the matter to you, if you be capacity of it. 200
  • Slender. Nay, I will do as my cousin Shallow says: I pray
    you, pardon me; he's a justice of peace in his
    country, simple though I stand here.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. But that is not the question: the question is
    concerning your marriage. 205
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Marry, is it; the very point of it; to Mistress Anne Page.
  • Slender. Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon any
    reasonable demands.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. But can you affection the 'oman? Let us command to 210
    know that of your mouth or of your lips; for divers
    philosophers hold that the lips is parcel of the
    mouth. Therefore, precisely, can you carry your
    good will to the maid?
  • Slender. I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one that
    would do reason.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Nay, Got's lords and his ladies! you must speak
    possitable, if you can carry her your desires
    towards her. 220
  • Slender. I will do a greater thing than that, upon your
    request, cousin, in any reason.
  • Robert Shallow. Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz: what I do
    is to pleasure you, coz. Can you love the maid? 225
  • Slender. I will marry her, sir, at your request: but if there
    be no great love in the beginning, yet heaven may
    decrease it upon better acquaintance, when we are
    married and have more occasion to know one another;
    I hope, upon familiarity will grow more contempt: 230
    but if you say, 'Marry her,' I will marry her; that
    I am freely dissolved, and dissolutely.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. It is a fery discretion answer; save the fall is in
    the ort 'dissolutely:' the ort is, according to our
    meaning, 'resolutely:' his meaning is good. 235
  • Slender. Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la!
  • Robert Shallow. Here comes fair Mistress Anne.
    [Re-enter ANNE PAGE]
    Would I were young for your sake, Mistress Anne! 240
  • Anne Page. The dinner is on the table; my father desires your
    worships' company.
  • Sir Hugh Evans. Od's plessed will! I will not be absence at the grace.

[Exeunt SHALLOW and SIR HUGH EVANS]

  • Anne Page. Will't please your worship to come in, sir?
  • Slender. No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I am very well.
  • Slender. I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go,
    sirrah, for all you are my man, go wait upon my 250
    cousin Shallow.
    [Exit SIMPLE]
    A justice of peace sometimes may be beholding to his
    friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy
    yet, till my mother be dead: but what though? Yet I 255
    live like a poor gentleman born.
  • Anne Page. I may not go in without your worship: they will not
    sit till you come.
  • Slender. I' faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you as much as
    though I did. 260
  • Slender. I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised
    my shin th' other day with playing at sword and
    dagger with a master of fence; three veneys for a
    dish of stewed prunes; and, by my troth, I cannot 265
    abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your
    dogs bark so? be there bears i' the town?
  • Anne Page. I think there are, sir; I heard them talked of.
  • Slender. I love the sport well but I shall as soon quarrel at
    it as any man in England. You are afraid, if you see 270
    the bear loose, are you not?
  • Slender. That's meat and drink to me, now. I have seen
    Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken him by
    the chain; but, I warrant you, the women have so 275
    cried and shrieked at it, that it passed: but women,
    indeed, cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favored
    rough things.

[Re-enter PAGE]

  • Page. Come, gentle Master Slender, come; we stay for you. 280
  • Slender. I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
  • Page. By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! come, come.
  • Slender. Nay, pray you, lead the way.
  • Page. Come on, sir.
  • Slender. Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first. 285
  • Slender. I'll rather be unmannerly than troublesome.
    You do yourself wrong, indeed, la!

[Exeunt]

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