The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare

The Merry Wives of Windsor

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

Description

Shakespeare’s only thoroughly English comedy, created an archetypal literary figure in the shape of the devious, irrepressible John Falstaff. This edition celebrates the play as a joyous exploration of language, but also places elements of its plot firmly in a continental, specifically Italian, tradition of romantic comedy.


93 pages, with a reading time of ~3.0 hours (23,499 words), and first published in 1597. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

SCENE I

Windsor. Before PAGE’s house.

[Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS]

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 ‘Coram.’

SHALLOW

Ay, cousin Slender, and ‘Custalourum.

SLENDER

Ay, and ‘Rato-lorum’ too; and a gentleman born, master parson; who writes himself ‘Armigero,’ in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, ‘Armigero.’

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.

SHALLOW

It is an old coat.

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.

SHALLOW

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

SLENDER

I may quarter, coz.

SHALLOW

You may, by marrying.

SIR HUGH EVANS

It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.

SHALLOW

Not a whit.

SIR HUGH 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.

SHALLOW

The council shall bear it; it is a riot.

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 riot; take your vizaments in that.

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 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.

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 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?

SIR HUGH EVANS

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

SLENDER

I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.

SIR HUGH EVANS

Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is goot gifts.

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 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?

[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 matters grow to your likings.

PAGE

I am glad to see your worships well. I thank you for my venison, Master Shallow.

SHALLOW

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.

SHALLOW

Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do.

PAGE

I am glad to see you, good Master Slender.

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.

SHALLOW

That he will not. ‘Tis your fault, ‘tis your fault; ‘tis a good dog.

PAGE

A cur, sir.

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?

PAGE

Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good office between you.

SIR HUGH EVANS

It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak.

SHALLOW

He hath wronged me, Master Page.

PAGE

Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.

SHALLOW