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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

The Merry Wives of Windsor Scenes


Scene 1

Windsor. A street in front of Page’s house.

(Justice Shallow; Slender; Sir Hugh Evans; Page; Falstaff; Bardolph; Nym; Pistol; Anne Page; Mistress Ford; Mistress Margaret Page; Simple)


Sir Robert Shallow, Justice of the Peace is raging against Falstaff to Sir Hugh Evans, his nephew Slender supporting him. Evans tries to calm him down, but to no avail. They also discuss Anne Page and what a good match she would be for Slender. Her father George Page comes in, and they exchange compliments. Falstaff and his followers arrive, and while they admit to poaching Shallow’s deer, they deny other charges. Page invites them all to dinner to make them all friends again. Slender hangs back, feeling worried about eating at the same table as Anne when he has not prepared any compliments for her. Anne comes out to ask him in, and he makes a fool of himself, managing only to talk of fighting and bear-baiting. Page comes out and bullies him into joining them at dinner. ( line)

Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, 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 Gloucester, Justice of Peace and Coram.

SHAL.

Ay, cousin Slender, and Custa-lorum.

SLEN.

Ay, and Rato-lorum too; and a gentleman 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.

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.

SHAL.

The luce is the fresh fish, the salt fish is an old coat.

SLEN.

I may quarter, coz.

SHAL.

You may, by marrying.

EVANS.

It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.

SHAL.

Not a whit.

EVANS.

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 disparagements 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.

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 riot. Take your vizaments in that.

SHAL.

Ha! O’ my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.

EVANS.

It 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: there is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master George Page, which is pretty virginity.

SLEN.

Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.

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 old. It were a goot motion if we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between Master Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.

SLEN.

Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?

EVANS.

Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.

SLEN.

I know the young gentlewoman, she has good gifts.

EVANS.

Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is goot gifts.

SHAL.

Well, let us see honest Master Page. Is Falstaff there?

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 is not true. The knight Sir John is there, and I beseech you be rul’d by your well-willers. I will peat the door for Master Page.

Knocks.

What ho! Got pless your house here!

PAGE.

Within.

Who’s there?

Enter Page.

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 matters grow to your likings.

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 wish’d your venison better, it was ill kill’d. 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 judg’d, 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.

EVANS.

It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.

SHAL.

He hath wrong’d me, Master Page.

PAGE.

Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.

SHAL.

If it be confess’d, it is not redress’d. Is not that so, Master Page? He hath wrong’d me, indeed he hath, at a word he hath. Believe me, Robert Shallow, esquire, saith he is wrong’d.

PAGE.

Here comes Sir John.

Enter Sir John Falstaff, Bardolph, Nym, Pistol.

FAL.

Now, Master Shallow, you’ll complain of me to the King?

SHAL.

Knight, you have beaten my men, kill’d my deer, and broke open my lodge.

FAL.

But not kiss’d your keeper’s daughter?

SHAL.

Tut, a pin! This shall be answer’d.

FAL.

I will answer it straight: I have done all this. That is now answer’d.

SHAL.

The Council shall know this.

FAL.

’Twere better for you if it were known in counsel. You’ll be laugh’d at.

EVANS.

Pauca verba; Sir John, good 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 carried me to the tavern and made me drunk, and afterward pick’d my pocket.

BARD.

You Banbury cheese!

SLEN.

Ay, it is no matter.

PIST.

How now, Mephostophilus?

SLEN.

Ay, it is no matter.

NYM.

Slice, I say! Pauca, pauca. Slice, that’s my humor.

SLEN.

Where’s Simple, my man? Can you tell, cousin?

EVANS.

Peace, I pray you. Now let us understand. There is 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.

PAGE.

We three to hear it and end it between them.

EVANS.

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.

EVANS.

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?

EVANS.

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 avis’d, sir, and pass good humors. I will say “marry trap” with you, if you run the nuthook’s humor 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 altogether an ass.

FAL.

What say you, Scarlet and John?

BARD.

Why, sir, for my part, I say the gentleman had drunk himself out of his five sentences.

EVANS.

It is his five senses. Fie, what the ignorance is!

BARD.

And being fap, sir, was (as they say) cashier’d; and so conclusions pass’d the careers.

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.

EVANS.

So Got udge me, that is a virtuous mind.

FAL.

You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen; you hear it.

Enter Anne Page with wine, Mistress Ford, 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.

Kisses her.FAL.MRS. FORD.

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 except 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 of tender, 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.

EVANS.

Give ear to his motions: Master Slender, I will description the matter to you, if you be 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.

EVANS.

But that is not the question: the question is concerning your marriage.

SHAL.

Ay, there’s the point, sir.

EVANS.

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.

EVANS.

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.

EVANS.

Nay, Got’s lords and his ladies, you must speak possitable, if you 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 acquaintance, when we are married and have more occasion to know one another. I hope, upon familiarity will grow more content. But if you say, “Marry her,” I will marry her; that I am freely dissolv’d, and dissolutely.

EVANS.

It is a fery discretion answer, save the fall is in the ord “dissolutely.” The ort is (according to our meaning) “resolutely.” His meaning is good.

SHAL.

Ay—I think my cousin meant well.

SLEN.

Ay, or else I would I might be hang’d, la!

SHAL.

Here comes fair Mistress Anne.

Enter Anne Page.ANNE.

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.

EVANS.

’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, forsooth. 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 bruis’d my shin th’ other day with playing at sword and dagger with a master of fence (three veneys for a dish of stew’d prunes) and by my troth, I cannot abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your dogs bark so? Be there bears i’ th’ town?

ANNE.

I think there are, sir, I heard them talk’d 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 shriek’d at it, that it pass’d. But women, indeed, cannot abide ’em, they are very ill-favor’d rough things.

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 troublesome. You do yourself wrong indeed la!

Exeunt.

 
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