William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in the complete original text.
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The Merry Wives of Windsor

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Act I. Scene I.

Act I. Scene I.—Windsor. Before PAGE'S House.

Enter JUSTICE SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR
HUGH EVANS.

Shal. 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.
Slen. In the county of Gloster, justice of
peace, and coram.
Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and cust-alorum.
Slen. Ay, and rato-lorum too; and a gentle-
man born. Master Parson; who writes himself
armigero, in any bill, warrant, quittance, or
obligation,—armigero.
Shal. Ay, that I do; and have done any time
these three hundred years.
Slen. 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.
Shal. It is an old coat.
Eva. The dozen white louses do become an
old coat well; it agrees well, passant; it is a
familiar beast to man, and signifies love.
Shal. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish
is an old coat.
Slen. I may quarter, coz?
Shal. You may, by marrying.
Eva. It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
Shal. Not a whit.
Eva. Yes, py'r lady; if he has a quarter of
your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself,
in my simple conjectures; but that is all one.
If Sir John Falstaff have committed disparage-
ments unto you, I am of the Church, and will be
glad to do my benevolence to make atonements
and compremises between you.
Shal. The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.
Eva. 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 riot; take your vizaments in that.
Shal. Ha! o' my life, if I were young again,
the sword should end it.
Eva. It is petter that friends is the sword,
and end it; and there is also another device in
my prain, which, peradventure, prings good dis-
cretions with it. There is Anne Page, which is
daughter to Master Thomas Page, which is pretty
virginity.
Slen. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown
hair, and speaks small like a woman.
Eva. 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 old. It were a goot motion if
we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a
marriage between Master Abraham and Mistress
Anne Page.
Shal. Did her grandsire leave her seven hun-
dred pound?
Eva. Ay, and her father is make her a petter
penny.
Shal. I know the young gentlewoman; she
has good gifts.
Eva. Seven hundred pounds and possibilities
is goot gifts.
Shal. Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is
Falstaff there?
Eva. 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 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!
Page. [Within.] Who's there?
Eva. Here is Got's plessing, and your friend,
and Justice Shallow; and here young Master
Slender, that peradventures shall tell you an-
other tale, if matters grow to your likings.

Enter PAGE.
Page. I am glad to see your worships well.
I thank you for my venison, Master Shallow.
Shal. Master 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.
Page. Sir, I thank you.
Shal. Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.
Page. I am glad to see you, good Master
Slender.
Slen. How does your fallow greyhound, sir?
I heard say he was outrun on Cotsall.
Page. It could not be judged, sir.
Slen. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.
Shal. That he will not: 'tis your fault, 'tis
your fault. 'Tis a good dog.
Page. A cur, sir.
Shal. 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?
Page. Sir, he is within; and I would I could
do a good office between you.
Eva. It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.
Shal. He hath wronged me. Master Page.
Page. Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.
Shal. If it be confessed, it is not redressed:
is not that so, Master Page? He hath wronged
me; indeed, he hath;—at a word, he hath,—be-
lieve me: Robert Shallow, esquire, saith, he is
wronged.
Page. Here comes Sir John.

Enter SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, BARDOLPH, NYM,
and
PISTOL.
Fal. Now, Master Shallow, you'll complain
of me to the king?
Shal. Knight, you have beaten my men, killed
my deer, and broke open my lodge.
Fal. But not kissed your keeper's daughter?
Shal. Tut, a pin! this shall be answered.
Fal. I will answer it straight: I have done
all this. That is now answered.
Shal. The Council shall know this.
Fal. 'Twere better for you if it were known
in counsel: you'll be laughed at.
Eva. Pauca verba, Sir John; goot worts.
Fal. Good worts! good cabbage. Slender, I
broke your head: what matter have you against
me?
Slen. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head
against you; and against your cony-catching
rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. They car-
ried me to the tavern, and made me drunk, and
afterwards picked my pocket
Bard. You Banbury cheese!
Slen. Ay, it is no matter.
Pist. How now, Mephistophilus!
Slen. Ay, it is no matter.
Nym. Slice, I say! pauca, pauca; slice! that's
my humour.
Slen. Where's Simple, my man? can you tell,
cousin?
Eva. Peace, I pray you. Now let us under-
stand: there is three umpires in this matter, as
I understand; that is—Master Page, fidelicet,
Master Page; and there is myself, fidelicet, my-
self; and the three party is, lastly and finally,
mine host of the Garter.
Page. We three, to hear it and end it between
them.
Eva. Fery 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.
Fal. Pistol!
Pist. He hears with ears.
Eva. The tevil and his tam! what phrase is
this, 'He hears with ear?' Why, it is affectations.
Fal. Pistol, did you pick Master Slender's
purse?
Slen. 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 shovel-boards, that cost me two
shilling and two pence a-piece of Yead Miller, by
these gloves.
Fal. Is this true. Pistol?
Eva. No; it is false, if it is a pick-purse.
Pist. Ha, 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.
Slen. By these gloves, then, 'twas he.
Nym. Be 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.
Slen. 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 altoge-
ther an ass.
Fal. What say you, Scarlet and John?
Bard. Why,sir, for my part, I say, the gentle-
man had drunk himself out of his five sentences.
Eva. It is his 'five senses;' fie, what the igno-
rance is!
Bard. And being tap, sir, was, as they say,
cashier'd; and so conclusions pass'd the careires.
Slen. 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 the fear of God, and not with drunken
knaves.
Eva. So Got udge me, that is a virtuous mind.
Fal. You hear all these matters denied, gen-
tlemen; you hear it.

Enter ANNE PAGE, with Wine; MISTRESS FORD
and MISTRESS PAGE.
Page. Nay, daughter, carry the wine in; we'll
drink within. [Exit ANNE PAGE.
Slen. O heaven! this is Mistress Anne Page.
Page. How now. Mistress Ford!
Fal. Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very
well met; by your leave, good mistress.
[Kissing 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.
[Exeunt all but SHALLOW, SLENDER,
and EVANS.
Slen. 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 on myself, must I? You have not the
Book of Riddles about you, have you?
Sim. Book of Riddles! why, did you not lend
it to Alice Shortcake upon All-Hallowmas last, a
fortnight afore Michaelmas?
Shal. Come, coz; come, coz; we stay for you.
A word with you, coz; marry, this, coz: there is,
as 'twere a tender, a kind offender, made afar off
by Sir Hugh here: do you understand me?
Slen. Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable: if
it be so, I shall do that that is reason.
Shal. Nay, but understand me.
Slen. So I do, sir.
Eva. Give ear to his motions. Master Slender:
I will description the matter to you, if you pe
capacity of it.
Slen. 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.
Eva. But that is not the question; the ques-
tion is concerning your marriage.
Shal. Ay, there's the point, sir.
Eva. Marry, is it, the very point of it; to
Mistress Anne Page.
Slen. Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon
any reasonable demands.
Eva. But can you affection the 'oman? Let
us command to 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?
Shal. Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love
her?
Slen. I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become
one that would do reason.
Eva. Nay, Got's lords and his ladies! you must
speak possitable,.ifyou can carry her your desires
towards her.
Shal. That you must. Will you, upon good
dowry, marry her?
Slen. I will do a greater thing than that, upon
your request, cousin, in any reason.
Shal. Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet
coz: what I do, is to pleasure you, coz. Can you
love the maid?
Slen. 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 ac-
quaintance, when we are married and have more
occasion to know one another: I hope, upon
familiarity will grow more contempt: but if you
say, 'Marry her,' I will marry her; that I am
freely dissolved, and dissolutely.
Eva. It is a fery discretion answer; save, the
faul is in the ort 'dissolutely:' the ort is, ac-
cording to our meaning, 'resolutely.' His mean-
ing is goot.
Shal. Ay, I think my cousin meant well.
Slen. Ay, or else I would I might be
hanged, la!
Shal. Here comes fair Mistress Anne.

Re-enter ANNE PAGE.
Would I were young for your sake. Mistress
Anne.
Anne. The dinner is on the table; my father
desires your worships' company.
Shal. I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne.
Eva. Od's plessed will! I will not be absence
at the grace.
[Exeunt SHALLOW and EVANS.
Anne. Will't please your worship to come
in, sir?
Slen. No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I
am very well.
Anne. The dinner attends you, sir.
Slen. I am not a-hungry, I thank you for-
sooth. Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go
wait upon my cousin Shallow. [Exit SIMPLE.] A
justice of peace sometime 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 live like a poor gentleman
born.
Anne. I may not go in without your worship:
they will not sit till you come.
Slen. I' faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you
as much as though I did.
Anne. I pray you, sir, walk in.
Slen. 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 abide the smell of hot meat
since. Why do your dogs bark so? be there
bears i' the town?
Anne. I think there are, sir; I heard them
talked of.
Slen. I 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. Ay, indeed, sir.
Slen. 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 cried and shrieked at
it, that it passed: but women, indeed, cannot
abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough
things.

Re-enter PAGE.
Page. Come, gentle Master Slender, come;
we stay for you.
Slen. I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.
Page. By cock and pie, you shall not choose,
sir! come, come.
Slen. Nay, pray you, lead the way.
Page. Come on, sir.
Slen. Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
Anne. Not I, sir; pray you, keep on.
Slen. Truly, I will not go first: truly, la! I
will not do you that wrong.
Anne. I pray you, sir.
Slen. I'll rather be unmannerly than trouble-
some. You do yourself wrong, indeed, la!
[Exeunt.
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