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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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ACT I SCENE I Windsor. Before PAGE'S house. 
SHALLOWSir 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.
SLENDERIn the county of Gloucester, justice of peace and
SHALLOWAy, cousin Slender, and 'Custalourum.
SLENDERAy, and 'Rato-lorum' too; and a gentleman born,
master parson; who writes himself 'Armigero,' in any
bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, 'Armigero.'
SHALLOWAy, that I do; and have done any time these three10
hundred years.
SLENDERAll 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.
SHALLOWIt is an old coat.15
SIR HUGH EVANSThe dozen white louses do become an old coat well;
it agrees well, passant; it is a familiar beast to
man, and signifies love.
SHALLOWThe luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.
SLENDERI may quarter, coz.20
SHALLOWYou may, by marrying.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
SHALLOWNot a whit.
SIR HUGH EVANSYes, py'r lady; if he has a quarter of your coat,
there is but three skirts for yourself, in my25
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
between you.30
SHALLOWThe council shall bear it; it is a riot.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt 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
riot; take your vizaments in that.35
SHALLOWHa! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword
should end it.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt is petter that friends is the sword, and end it:
and there is also another device in my prain, which
peradventure prings goot discretions with it: there40
is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master Thomas
Page, which is pretty virginity.
SLENDERMistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks
small like a woman.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt is that fery person for all the orld, as just as45
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
old: it were a goot motion if we leave our pribbles50
and prabbles, and desire a marriage between Master
Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.
SLENDERDid her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?
SIR HUGH EVANSAy, and her father is make her a petter penny.
SLENDERI know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.55
SIR HUGH EVANSSeven hundred pounds and possibilities is goot gifts.
SHALLOWWell, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff there?
SIR HUGH EVANSShall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I do
despise one that is false, or as I despise one that
is not true. The knight, Sir John, is there; and, I60
beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will
peat the door for Master Page.
What, hoa! Got pless your house here!
PAGE[Within] Who's there?
[Enter PAGE]
SIR HUGH EVANSHere is Got's plessing, and your friend, and Justice65
Shallow; and here young Master Slender, that
peradventures shall tell you another tale, if
matters grow to your likings.
PAGEI am glad to see your worships well.
I thank you for my venison, Master Shallow.70
SHALLOWMaster Page, I am glad to see you: much good do it
your good heart! I wished your venison better; it
was ill killed. How doth good Mistress Page?--and I
thank you always with my heart, la! with my heart.
PAGESir, I thank you.75
SHALLOWSir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.
PAGEI am glad to see you, good Master Slender.
SLENDERHow does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say he
was outrun on Cotsall.
PAGEIt could not be judged, sir.80
SLENDERYou'll not confess, you'll not confess.
SHALLOWThat he will not. 'Tis your fault, 'tis your fault;
'tis a good dog.
PAGEA cur, sir.
SHALLOWSir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog: can there be85
more said? he is good and fair. Is Sir John
Falstaff here?
PAGESir, he is within; and I would I could do a good
office between you.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.90
SHALLOWHe hath wronged me, Master Page.
PAGESir, he doth in some sort confess it.
SHALLOWIf 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: Robert95
Shallow, esquire, saith, he is wronged.
PAGEHere comes Sir John.
FALSTAFFNow, Master Shallow, you'll complain of me to the king?
SHALLOWKnight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and
broke open my lodge.100
FALSTAFFBut not kissed your keeper's daughter?
SHALLOWTut, a pin! this shall be answered.
FALSTAFFI will answer it straight; I have done all this.
That is now answered.
SHALLOWThe council shall know this.105
FALSTAFF'Twere better for you if it were known in counsel:
you'll be laughed at.
SIR HUGH EVANSPauca verba, Sir John; goot worts.
FALSTAFFGood worts! good cabbage. Slender, I broke your
head: what matter have you against me?110
SLENDERMarry, sir, I have matter in my head against you;
and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph,
Nym, and Pistol.
BARDOLPHYou Banbury cheese!
SLENDERAy, it is no matter.115
PISTOLHow now, Mephostophilus!
SLENDERAy, it is no matter.
NYMSlice, I say! pauca, pauca: slice! that's my humour.
SLENDERWhere's Simple, my man? Can you tell, cousin?
SIR HUGH EVANSPeace, I pray you. Now let us understand. There is120
three umpires in this matter, as I understand; that
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.
PAGEWe three, to hear it and end it between them.125
SIR HUGH EVANSFery goot: I will make a prief of it in my note-
book; and we will afterwards ork upon the cause with
as great discreetly as we can.
PISTOLHe hears with ears.130
SIR HUGH EVANSThe tevil and his tam! what phrase is this, 'He
hears with ear'? why, it is affectations.
FALSTAFFPistol, did you pick Master Slender's purse?
SLENDERAy, by these gloves, did he, or I would I might
never come in mine own great chamber again else, of135
seven groats in mill-sixpences, and two Edward
shovel-boards, that cost me two shilling and two
pence apiece of Yead Miller, by these gloves.
FALSTAFFIs this true, Pistol?
SIR HUGH EVANSNo; it is false, if it is a pick-purse.140
PISTOLHa, thou mountain-foreigner! Sir John and Master mine,
I combat challenge of this latten bilbo.
Word of denial in thy labras here!
Word of denial: froth and scum, thou liest!
SLENDERBy these gloves, then, 'twas he.145
NYMBe avised, sir, and pass good humours: I will say
'marry trap' with you, if you run the nuthook's
humour on me; that is the very note of it.
SLENDERBy this hat, then, he in the red face had it; for
though I cannot remember what I did when you made me150
drunk, yet I am not altogether an ass.
FALSTAFFWhat say you, Scarlet and John?
BARDOLPHWhy, sir, for my part I say the gentleman had drunk
himself out of his five sentences.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt is his five senses: fie, what the ignorance is!155
BARDOLPHAnd being fap, sir, was, as they say, cashiered; and
so conclusions passed the careires.
SLENDERAy, 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:160
if I be drunk, I'll be drunk with those that have
the fear of God, and not with drunken knaves.
SIR HUGH EVANSSo Got udge me, that is a virtuous mind.
FALSTAFFYou hear all these matters denied, gentlemen; you hear it.
[ Enter ANNE PAGE, with wine; MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE, following ]
PAGENay, daughter, carry the wine in; we'll drink within.165
SLENDERO heaven! this is Mistress Anne Page.
PAGEHow now, Mistress Ford!
FALSTAFFMistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well met:
by your leave, good mistress.
[Kisses her]
PAGEWife, bid these gentlemen welcome. Come, we have a170
hot venison pasty to dinner: come, gentlemen, I hope
we shall drink down all unkindness.
[Exeunt all except SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS]
SLENDERI 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 wait175
on myself, must I? You have not the Book of Riddles
about you, have you?
SIMPLEBook of Riddles! why, did you not lend it to Alice
Shortcake upon All-hallowmas last, a fortnight
afore Michaelmas?180
SHALLOWCome, 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?
SLENDERAy, sir, you shall find me reasonable; if it be so,185
I shall do that that is reason.
SHALLOWNay, but understand me.
SLENDERSo I do, sir.
SIR HUGH EVANSGive ear to his motions, Master Slender: I will
description the matter to you, if you be capacity of it.190
SLENDERNay, 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 EVANSBut that is not the question: the question is
concerning your marriage.195
SHALLOWAy, there's the point, sir.
SIR HUGH EVANSMarry, is it; the very point of it; to Mistress Anne Page.
SLENDERWhy, if it be so, I will marry her upon any
reasonable demands.
SIR HUGH EVANSBut can you affection the 'oman? Let us command to200
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?
SHALLOWCousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?205
SLENDERI hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one that
would do reason.
SIR HUGH EVANSNay, Got's lords and his ladies! you must speak
possitable, if you can carry her your desires
towards her.210
SHALLOWThat you must. Will you, upon good dowry, marry her?
SLENDERI will do a greater thing than that, upon your
request, cousin, in any reason.
SHALLOWNay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz: what I do
is to pleasure you, coz. Can you love the maid?215
SLENDERI 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:220
but if you say, 'Marry her,' I will marry her; that
I am freely dissolved, and dissolutely.
SIR HUGH EVANSIt 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.225
SHALLOWAy, I think my cousin meant well.
SLENDERAy, or else I would I might be hanged, la!
SHALLOWHere comes fair Mistress Anne.
[Re-enter ANNE PAGE]
Would I were young for your sake, Mistress Anne!
ANNE PAGEThe dinner is on the table; my father desires your230
worships' company.
SHALLOWI will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne.
SIR HUGH EVANSOd's plessed will! I will not be absence at the grace.
ANNE PAGEWill't please your worship to come in, sir?
SLENDERNo, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I am very well.235
ANNE PAGEThe dinner attends you, sir.
SLENDERI am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go,
sirrah, for all you are my man, go wait upon my
cousin Shallow.
A justice of peace sometimes may be beholding to his240
friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy
yet, till my mother be dead: but what though? Yet I
live like a poor gentleman born.
ANNE PAGEI may not go in without your worship: they will not
sit till you come.245
SLENDERI' faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you as much as
though I did.
ANNE PAGEI pray you, sir, walk in.
SLENDERI had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised
my shin th' other day with playing at sword and250
dagger with a master of fence; three veneys for a
dish of stewed prunes; and, by my troth, I cannot
abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your
dogs bark so? be there bears i' the town?
ANNE PAGEI think there are, sir; I heard them talked of.255
SLENDERI love the sport well but I shall as soon quarrel at
it as any man in England. You are afraid, if you see
the bear loose, are you not?
ANNE PAGEAy, indeed, sir.
SLENDERThat's meat and drink to me, now. I have seen260
Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken him by
the chain; but, I warrant you, the women have so
cried and shrieked at it, that it passed: but women,
indeed, cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favored
rough things.265
[Re-enter PAGE]
PAGECome, gentle Master Slender, come; we stay for you.
SLENDERI'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
PAGEBy cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! come, come.
SLENDERNay, pray you, lead the way.
PAGECome on, sir.270
SLENDERMistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
ANNE PAGENot I, sir; pray you, keep on.
SLENDERI'll rather be unmannerly than troublesome.
You do yourself wrong, indeed, la!

Next: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 1, Scene 2


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