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Author: William Shakespeare
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The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folio 1, 1623)

Merry Wiues of Windsor.
1Actus primus, Scena prima.
Enter Iustice Shallow, Slender, Sir Hugh Euans, Master
Page, Falstoffe, Bardolph, Nym, Pistoll, Anne Page,
Mistresse Ford, Mistresse Page, Simple.
SIr Hugh, perswade me not: I will make a Star-
Chamber matter of it, if hee were twenty Sir
Iohn Falstoffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow
10Slen. In the County of Glocester, Iustice of Peace and (Coram.
Shal. I (Cosen Slender) and Cust-alorum.
Slen. I, and Rato lorum too; and a Gentleman borne
(Master Parson) who writes himselfe Armigero, in any
Bill, Warrant, Quittance, or Obligation, Armigero.
15Shal. I that I doe, and haue done any time these three
hundred yeeres.
Slen. All his successors (gone before him) hath don't:
and all his Ancestors (that come after him) may: they
may giue the dozen white Luces in their Coate.
20Shal. It is an olde Coate.
Euans. The dozen white Lowses doe become an old
Coat well: it agrees well passant: It is a familiar beast to
man, and signifies Loue.
Shal. The Luse is the fresh-fish, the salt-fish, is an old
Slen. I may quarter (Coz).
Shal. You may, by marrying.
Euans. It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
Shal. Not a whit.
30Euan. Yes per-lady: if he ha's a quarter of your coat,
there is but three Skirts for your selfe, in my simple con-
iectures; but that is all one: if Sir Iohn Falstaffe haue
committed disparagements vnto you, I am of the Church
and will be glad to do my beneuolence, to make attone-
35ments and compremises betweene you.
Shal. The Councell shall heare it, it is a Riot.
Euan. It is not meet the Councell heare a Riot: there
is no feare of Got in a Riot: The Councell (looke you)
shall desire to heare the feare of Got, and not to heare a
40Riot: take your viza-ments in that.
Shal. Ha; o'my life, if I were yong againe, the sword
should end it.
Euans. It is petter that friends is the sword, and end
it: and there is also another deuice in my praine, which
45peraduenture prings goot discretions with it. There is
Anne Page, which is daughter to Master Thomas Page,
which is pretty virginity.
Slen. Mistris Anne Page? she has browne haire, and
speakes small like a woman.
50Euans. It is that ferry person for all the orld, as iust as
you will desire, and seuen hundred pounds of Moneyes,
and Gold, and Siluer, is her Grand-sire vpon his deaths-
bed, (Got deliuer to a ioyfull resurrections) giue, when
she is able to ouertake seuenteene yeeres old. It were a
55goot motion, if we leaue our pribbles and prabbles, and
desire a marriage betweene Master Abraham, and Mistris
Anne Page.
Slen. Did her Grand-sire leaue her seauen hundred
60Euan. I, and her father is make her a petter penny.
Slen. I know the young Gentlewoman, she has good
Euan. Seuen hundred pounds, and possibilities, is
goot gifts.
65Shal. Wel, let vs see honest Mr Page: is Falstaffe there?
Euan. Shall I tell you a lye? I doe despise a lyer, as I
doe despise one that is false, or as I despise one that is not
true: the Knight Sir Iohn is there, and I beseech you be
ruled by your well-willers: I will peat the doore for Mr.
70Page. What hoa? Got-plesse your house heere.
Mr. Page. Who's there?
Euan. Here is go't's plessing and your friend, and Iu-
stice Shallow, and heere yong Master Slender: that perad-
uentures shall tell you another tale, if matters grow to
75your likings.
Mr. Page. I am glad to see your Worships well: I
thanke you for my Venison Master Shallow.
Shal. Master Page, I am glad to see you: much good
doe it your good heart: I wish'd your Venison better, it
80was ill killd: how doth good Mistresse Page? and I thank
you alwaies with my heart, la: with my heart.
M. Page. Sir, I thanke you.
Shal. Sir, I thanke you: by yea, and no I doe.
M. Pa. I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.
85Slen. How do's your fallow Greyhound, Sir, I heard
say he was out-run on Cotsall.
M. Pa. It could not be iudg'd, Sir.
Slen. You'll not confesse: you'll not confesse.
Shal. That he will not, 'tis your fault, 'tis your fault:
90'tis a good dogge.
M. Pa. A Cur, Sir.
Shal. Sir: hee's a good dog, and a faire dog, can there
be more said? he is good, and faire. Is Sir Iohn Falstaffe
95M. Pa. Sir, hee is within: and I would I could doe a
good office betweene you.
Euan. It is spoke as a Christians ought to speake.
Shal. He hath wrong'd me (Master Page.)
M. Pa. Sir, he doth in some sort confesse it.
100Shal. If it be confessed, it is not redressed; is not that
so (M. Page?) he hath wrong'd me, indeed he hath, at a
word he hath: beleeue me, Robert Shallow Esquire, saith
he is wronged.
Ma. Pa. Here comes Sir Iohn.
105Fal. Now, Master Shallow, you'll complaine of me to
the King?
Shal. Knight, you haue beaten my men, kill'd my
deere, and broke open my Lodge.
Fal. But not kiss'd your Keepers daughter?
110Shal. Tut, a pin: this shall be answer'd.
Fal. I will answere it strait, I haue done all this:
That is now answer'd.
Shal. The Councell shall know this.
Fal. 'Twere better for you if it were known in coun-
115cell: you'll be laugh'd at.
Eu. Pauca verba; (Sir Iohn) good worts.
Fal. Good worts? good Cabidge; Slender, I broke
your head: what matter haue you against me?
Slen. Marry sir, I haue matter in my head against you,
120and against your cony-catching Rascalls, Bardolf, Nym,
and Pistoll.
Bar. You Banbery Cheese.
Slen. I, it is no matter.
Pist. How now, Mephostophilus?
125Slen. I, it is no matter.
Nym. Slice, I say; pauca, pauca: Slice, that's my humor.
Slen. Where's Simple my man? can you tell, Cosen?
Eua. Peace, I pray you: now let vs vnderstand: there
is three Vmpires in this matter, as I vnderstand; that is,
130Master Page (fidelicet Master Page,) & there is my selfe,
(fidelicet my selfe) and the three party is (lastly, and fi-
nally) mine Host of the Gater.
Ma. Pa. We three to hear it, & end it between them.
Euan. Ferry goo't, I will make a priefe of it in my
135note-booke, and we wil afterwards orke vpon the cause,
with as great discreetly as we can.
Fal. Pistoll.
Pist. He heares with eares.
Euan. The Teuill and his Tam: what phrase is this?
140he heares with eare? why, it is affectations.
Fal. Pistoll, did you picke M. Slenders purse?
Slen. I, by these gloues did hee, or I would I might
neuer come in mine owne great chamber againe else, of
seauen groates in mill-sixpences, and two Edward Sho-
145uelboords, that cost me two shilling and two pence a
peece of Yead Miller: by these gloues.
Fal. Is this true, Pistoll?
Euan. No, it is false, if it is a picke-purse.
Pist. Ha, thou mountaine Forreyner: Sir Iohn, and
150Master mine, I combat challenge of this Latine Bilboe:
word of deniall in thy labras here; word of denial; froth,
and scum thou liest.
Slen. By these gloues, then 'twas he.
Nym. Be auis'd sir, and passe good humours: I will
155say marry trap with you, if you runne the nut-hooks hu-
mor 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 drunke, yet I am not altogether an asse.
160Fal. What say you Scarlet, and Iohn?
Bar. Why sir, (for my part) I say the Gentleman had
drunke himselfe out of his fiue sentences.
Eu. It is his fiue sences: fie, what the ignorance is.
Bar. And being fap, sir, was (as they say) casheerd: and
165so conclusions past the Car-eires.
Slen. I, you spake in Latten then to: but 'tis no mat-
ter; Ile nere be drunk whilst I liue againe, but in honest,
ciuill, godly company for this tricke: if I be drunke, Ile
be drunke with those that haue the feare of God, and not
170with drunken knaues.
Euan. So got-udge me, that is a vertuous minde.
Fal. You heare all these matters deni'd, Gentlemen;
you heare it.
Mr. Page. Nay daughter, carry the wine in, wee'll
175drinke within.
Slen. Oh heauen: This is Mistresse Anne Page.
Mr. Page. How now Mistris Ford?
Fal. Mistris Ford, by my troth you are very wel met:
by your leaue good Mistris.
180Mr. Page. Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome: come,
we haue a hot Venison pasty to dinner; Come gentle-
men, I hope we shall drinke downe all vnkindnesse.
Slen. I had rather then forty shillings I had my booke
of Songs and Sonnets heere: How now Simple, where
185haue you beene? I must wait on my selfe, must I? you
haue not the booke of Riddles about you, haue you?
Sim. Booke of Riddles? why did you not lend it to
Alice Short-cake vpon Alhallowmas last, a fortnight a-
fore Michaelmas.
190Shal. Come Coz, come Coz, we stay for you: a word
with you Coz: marry this, Coz: there is as 'twere a ten-
der, a kinde of tender, made a farre-off by Sir Hugh here:
doe you vnderstand me?
Slen. I Sir, you shall finde me reasonable; if it be so,
195I shall doe that that is reason.
Shal. Nay, but vnderstand me.
Slen. So I doe Sir.
Euan. Giue eare to his motions; (Mr. Slender) I will
description the matter to you, if you be capacity of it.
200Slen. Nay, I will doe as my Cozen Shallow saies: I
pray you pardon me, he's a Iustice of Peace in his Coun-
trie, simple though I stand here.
Euan. But that is not the question: the question is
concerning your marriage.
205Shal. I, there's the point Sir.
Eu. Marry is it: the very point of it, to Mi. An Page.
Slen. Why if it be so; I will marry her vpon any rea-
sonable demands.
Eu. But can you affection the 'o-man, let vs command
210to know that of your mouth, or of your lips: for diuers
Philosophers hold, that the lips is parcell of the mouth:
therfore precisely, cā you carry your good wil to ye maid?
Sh. Cosen Abraham Slender, can you loue her?
Slen. I hope sir, I will do as it shall become one that
215would doe reason.
Eu. Nay, got's Lords, and his Ladies, you must speake
possitable, if you can carry-her your desires towards her.
Shal. That you must:
Will you, (vpon good dowry) marry her?
220Slen. I will doe a greater thing then that, vpon your
request (Cosen) in any reason.
Shal. Nay conceiue me, conceiue mee, (sweet Coz):
what I doe is to pleasure you (Coz:) can you loue the
225Slen. I will marry her (Sir) at your request; but if
there bee no great loue in the beginning, yet Heauen
may decrease it vpon better acquaintance, when wee
are married, and haue more occasion to know one ano-
ther: I hope vpon familiarity will grow more content:
230but if you say mary-her, I will mary-her, that I am freely
dissolued, and dissolutely.
Eu. It is a fery discetion-answere; saue the fall is in
the 'ord, dissolutely: the ort is (according to our mea-
ning) resolutely: his meaning is good.
235Sh. I: I thinke my Cosen meant well.
Sl. I, or else I would I might be hang'd (la.)
Sh. Here comes faire Mistris Anne; would I were
yong for your sake, Mistris Anne.
An. The dinner is on the Table, my Father desires
240your worships company.
Sh. I will wait on him, (faire Mistris Anne.)
Eu. Od's plessed-wil: I wil not be absēce at the grace.
An. Wil't please your worship to come in, Sir?
Sl. No, I thank you forsooth, hartely; I am very well.
245An. The dinner attends you, Sir.
Sl. I am not a-hungry, I thanke you, forsooth: goe,
Sirha, for all you are my man, goe wait vpon my Cosen
Shallow: a Iustice of peace sometime may be beholding
to his friend, for a Man; I keepe but three Men, and a
250Boy yet, till my Mother be dead: but what though, yet
I liue like a poore Gentleman borne.
An. I may not goe in without your worship: they
will not sit till you come.
Sl. I'faith, ile eate nothing: I thanke you as much as
255though I did.
An. I pray you Sir walke in.
Sl. I had rather walke here (I thanke you) I bruiz'd
my shin th'other day, with playing at Sword and Dag-
ger with a Master of Fence (three veneys for a dish of
260stew'd Prunes) and by my troth, I cannot abide the smell
of hot meate since. Why doe your dogs barke so? be
there Beares ith' Towne?
An. I thinke there are, Sir, I heard them talk'd of.
Sl. I loue the sport well, but I shall as soone quarrell
265at it, as any man in England: you are afraid if you see the
Beare loose, are you not?
An. I indeede Sir.
Sl. That's meate and drinke to me now: I haue seene
Sackerson loose, twenty times, and haue taken him by the
270Chaine: but (I warrant you) the women haue so cride
and shrekt at it, that it past: But women indeede, cannot
abide 'em, they are very ill-fauour'd rough things.
Ma. Pa. Come, gentle M. Slender, come; we stay for you.
Sl. Ile eate nothing, I thanke you Sir.
275Ma. Pa. By cocke and pie, you shall not choose, Sir:
come, come.
Sl. Nay, pray you lead the way.
Ma. Pa. Come on, Sir.
Sl. Mistris Anne: your selfe shall goe first.
280An. Not I Sir, pray you keepe on.
Sl. Truely I will not goe first: truely-la: I will not
doe you that wrong.
An. I pray you Sir.
Sl. Ile rather be vnmannerly, then troublesome: you
285doe your selfe wrong indeede-la. Exeunt.