The Merry Wives of Windsor


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans
persuade (v.) 1 urge, entreat, beseech


SHALLOW

Sir Hugh, persuade me not. I will make

a Star-Chamber matter of it. If he were twenty Sir
Star-chamber (n.) supreme court of justice

John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow,
abuse (v.) 2 misuse, maltreat, treat badly, wrong

Esquire.


SLENDER

In the county of Gloucester, justice of peace and

Coram.
Coram (n.) malapropism for ‘quorum’ [part of a legal formula for installing the number of justices needed to constitute a bench]


SHALLOW

Ay, cousin Slender, and Custalorum.


SLENDER

Ay, and Ratolorum too. And a gentleman born,
Ratolorum (n.) malapropism for ‘rotulorum’ [= of the rolls]

master parson, who writes himself Armigero – in any
armigero (n.) esquire [entitled to bear heraldic arms]
write (v.) 3 sign, designate, call

bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, Armigero.
bill (n.) 6 bill of exchange, money order
obligation (n.) bond, agreement, legal document
quittance (n.) 3 document certifying a release from debt, receipt of discharge


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.
coat (n.) 1 coat-of-arms
give (v.) 7 display, show, bear arms of
luce (n.) [heraldry] pike [type of fish]


SHALLOW

It is an old coat.


EVANS

The dozen white louses do become an old coat well.
become (v.) 3 put a good front on, give a pleasing appearance to

It agrees well, passant. It is a familiar beast to man, and
familiar (adj.) 2 close to a family, domestic
passant (adj.) [heraldry] walking, with three paws on the ground and one raised

signifies love.


SHALLOW

The luce is the fresh fish. The salt fish is an
salt (adj.) 1 salt-water, sea

old coat.


SLENDER

I may quarter, coz?
quarter (v.) 1 add a coat-of-arms to a [quarter of] a shield


SHALLOW

You may, by marrying.


EVANS

It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.


SHALLOW

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
skirt (n.) 1 one of four pieces of cloth forming the lower part of a long coat

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 compromises between you.
atonement (n.) reconciliation, appeasement, harmony
compromise (n.) settlement, solution, amicable arrangement


SHALLOW

The Council shall hear it. It is a riot.


EVANS

It is not meet the Council hear a riot. There is no
meet (adj.) 1 fit, suitable, right, proper See Topics: Frequency count

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.
vizament (n.) malapropism for ‘advisement’ [consideration]


SHALLOW

Ha! O'my life, if I were young again, the

sword should end it.


EVANS

It is petter that friends is the swort, and end it.
swort (n.) pronunciation of ‘sword’ or ‘sort’ [= outcome] See Topics: Welsh

And there is also another device in my prain, which

peradventure prings goot discretions with it. There is
peradventure (adv.) perhaps, maybe, very likely See Topics: Frequency count

Anne Page, which is daughter to Master George Page,

which is pretty virginity.


SLENDER

Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and

speaks small like a woman?
small (adj.) 3 high-pitched, fluting, thin


EVANS

It is that fery person for all the 'orld, as just as you
just (adv.) 1 exactly, precisely

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
pribbles and prabbles vain chatter and silly quarrelling

a marriage between Master Abraham and Mistress Anne

Page.


SHALLOW

Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred
grandsire (n.) 1 grandfather See Topics: Family

pound?


EVANS

Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.
make (v.) 9 give, provide


SHALLOW

I know the young gentlewoman. She has good
gentlewoman (n.) woman of good breeding, well-born lady See Topics: Address forms

gifts.
gift (n.) 1 quality, accomplishment, talent


EVANS

Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is goot
possibility (n.) 2 (plural) financial prospects

gifts.


SHALLOW

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
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

true. The knight Sir John is there. And I beseech you be

ruled by your well-willers. I will peat the door for
well-willer (n.) well-wisher, one who offers good will

Master Page. (He knocks) What, ho! Got pless your

house here!


PAGE

(within)

Who's there?


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
peradventure (adv.) perhaps, maybe, very likely See Topics: Frequency count

to your likings.

Enter Page


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
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count

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
fallow (adj.) 2 fawn-coloured, pale brown

say he was outrun on Cotsall.


PAGE

It could not be judged, sir.
judge (v.) 2 establish, determine, decide upon


SLENDER

You'll not confess. You'll not confess.


SHALLOW

That he will not. 'Tis your fault, 'tis your
fault (n.) 2 mistake, error, blunder

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.
office (n.) 5 service, sympathy, kindness


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.
sort (n.) 3 way, manner


SHALLOW

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. Believe me – Robert Shallow,
word, at a 1 in a word, once and for all, in short See Topics: Discourse markers

Esquire, saith he is wronged.


PAGE

Here comes Sir John.

Enter Sir John Falstaff, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol


FALSTAFF

Now, Master Shallow, you'll complain of me

to the King?


SHALLOW

Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my

deer, and broke open my lodge.


FALSTAFF

But not kissed your keeper's daughter?


SHALLOW

Tut, a pin! This shall be answered.
answer (v.) 3 satisfy, discharge, requite
pin (n.) 1 trifle, triviality, insignificant amount


FALSTAFF

I will answer it straight. I have done all this.
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

That is now answered.


SHALLOW

The Council shall know this.


FALSTAFF

'Twere better for you if it were known in

counsel. You'll be laughed at.
counsel (n.) 5 secrecy, confidence, privacy


EVANS

Pauca verba, Sir John, goot worts.
pauca... few words See Topics: Latin


FALSTAFF

Good worts? Good cabbage! – Slender, I
wort (n.) 2 [pun on Evans' pronunciation of ‘word’] cabbage

broke your head. What matter have you against me?
break (v.) 8 crack, split, beat
matter (n.) 5 reason, cause, ground


SLENDER

Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against
matter (n.) 7 pus, discharge, fluid [from a wound]

you, and against your cony-catching rascals, Bardolph,
cogging (adj.) deceiving, cheating, double-crossing
cony-catching (adj.) cheating, swindling

Nym, and Pistol. They carried me to the tavern, and
carry (v.) 6 take, lead, conduct

made me drunk, and afterward picked my pocket.
afterward (adv.) afterwards


BARDOLPH

You Banbury cheese!


SLENDER

Ay, it is no matter.


PISTOL

How now, Mephostophilus?


SLENDER

Ay, it is no matter.


NYM

Slice, I say. Pauca, pauca. Slice! That's my humour.
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count


SLENDER

Where's Simple, my man? Can you tell,

cousin?


EVANS

Peace, I pray you. Now let us understand. There is
understand (v.) 2 come to an understanding, arrive at agreement

three umpires in this matter, as I understand – that is,
umpire (n.) arbitrator, mediator, adjudicator

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 notebook,
brief (n.) 1 summary, short account

and we will afterwards 'ork upon the cause with as great

discreetly as we can.


FALSTAFF

Pistol!


PISTOL

He hears with ears.


EVANS

The tevil and his tam! What phrase is this, ‘He

hears with ear'? Why, it is affectations.


FALSTAFF

Pistol, did you pick Master Slender's purse?


SLENDER

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
mill-sixpence (n.) sixpence made in a coin-making mill

shovel-boards, that cost me two shillings and twopence
shovel-board (n.) wide coin used as a counter in the game of shovel-board

apiece of Yed Miller, by these gloves.


FALSTAFF

Is this true, Pistol?


EVANS

No, it is false, if it is a pickpurse.
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count
pickpurse, pick-purse (n.) pickpocket, purse-stealer


PISTOL

Ha, thou mountain-foreigner! – Sir John and master mine,

I combat challenge of this latten bilbo.
bilbo (n.) sword [from Bilbao, noted for its flexibility] See Topics: Weapons
combat (n.) duel, trial by duel
latten (adj.) made of thin brass, tin-plate

Word of denial in thy labras here!

Word of denial! Froth and scum, thou liest!


SLENDER

(pointing to Nym)

By these gloves, then 'twas he.


NYM

Be advised, sir, and pass good humours. I will say
advise, avise (v.) 2 warn, counsel, caution
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count
pass (v.) 12 experience, feel

‘ Marry trap with you,’ if you run the nuthook's humour
humour (n.) 3 style, method, way, fashion
nuthook, nut-hook (n.) constable, beadle, officer
run (v.) 1 pass, spread, bring, cause to flow

on me. That is the very note of it.
note (n.) 3 characteristic, trait, distinctive feature


SLENDER

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.


FALSTAFF

What say you, Scarlet and John?


BARDOLPH

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!


BARDOLPH

And being fap, sir, was, as they say, cashiered.
cashier (v.) 1 rob, fleece, relieve of money

And so conclusions passed the careers.
career (n.) 2 racecourse, horse-racing track
conclusion (n.) 1 outcome, upshot, final result
pass (v.) 1 surpass, go beyond, outdo


SLENDER

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.
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count


EVANS

So Got 'udge me, that is a virtuous mind.
mind (n.) 2 intention, purpose, intent


FALSTAFF

You hear all these matters denied, gentlemen.

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


SLENDER

O heaven! This is Mistress Anne Page.


PAGE

How now, Mistress Ford?


FALSTAFF

Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very well

met. By your leave, good mistress.

He kisses 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 except Slender


SLENDER

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?


SIMPLE

Book of Riddles? Why, did you not lend it to

Alice Shortcake upon Allhallowmas last, a fortnight

afore Michaelmas?

Enter Shallow and Evans


SHALLOW

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
afar off (adv.) indirectly, in a roundabout way
tender (n.) 2 proposal of marriage, offer of betrothal

here. Do you understand me?


SLENDER

Ay, sir, you shall find me reasonable. If it be
reasonable (adj.) 2 moderate, not excessive, fair-minded

so, I shall do that that is reason.
reason (n.) 7 reasonable treatment, justified course of action


SHALLOW

Nay, but understand me.


SLENDER

So I do, sir.


EVANS

Give ear to his motions. Master Slender, I will
motion (n.) 6 proposal, proposition, suggestion, offer

description the matter to you, if you be capacity of it.


SLENDER

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.
country (n.) district, region, quarter
simple though I stand here as sure as I stand here; or: though who am I to say so


EVANS

But that is not the question. The question is

concerning your marriage.


SHALLOW

Ay, there's the point, sir.


EVANS

Marry, is it, the very point of it – to Mistress Anne

Page.


SLENDER

Why, if it be so, I will marry her upon any

reasonable demands.
demand (n.) 2 condition, request, claim


EVANS

But can you affection the 'oman? Let us command
affection (v.) have affection for, love

to know that of your mouth, or of your lips – for divers
divers (adj.) different, various, several

philosophers hold that the lips is parcel of the mouth.
parcel (n.) 1 part, piece, portion, bit

Therefore, precisely, can you carry your good will to
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination

the maid?


SHALLOW

Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?


SLENDER

I hope, sir, I will do as it shall become one that
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count

would do reason.
reason (n.) 7 reasonable treatment, justified course of action


EVANS

Nay, Got's lords and his ladies! You must speak

possitable, if you can carry her your desires towards
carry (v.) 6 take, lead, conduct
possitable (adj.) version of ‘positively’

her.


SHALLOW

That you must. Will you, upon good dowry,

marry her?


SLENDER

I will do a greater thing than that, upon your

request, cousin, in any reason.


SHALLOW

Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz –
conceive (v.) 1 understand, comprehend, follow

what I do is to pleasure you, coz. Can you love the maid?
pleasure (v.) please, gratify, give pleasure to


SLENDER

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
decrease (v.) malapropism for ‘increase’

married and have more occasion to know one another.

I hope upon familiarity will grow more content. But if
content (n.) 2 contentment, peace of mind

you say ‘ Marry her,’ I will marry her – that I am freely

dissolved, and dissolutely.
dissolutely (adv.) malapropism for ‘resolutely’
dissolved (adj.) 2 malapropism for ‘resolved’


EVANS

It is a fery discretion answer, save the fall is in the
fall (n.) 2 mistake, fault, lapse

'ord ‘ dissolutely.’ The 'ort is, according to our meaning,

‘ resolutely.’ His meaning is good.


SHALLOW

Ay, I think my cousin meant well.


SLENDER

Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la!

Enter Anne Page


SHALLOW

Here comes fair Mistress Anne. Would I

were young for your sake, Mistress Anne!


ANNE

The dinner is on the table. My father desires your

worships' company.


SHALLOW

I will wait on him, fair Mistress Anne.
wait on / upon (v.) 1 accompany, attend


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?


SLENDER

No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily. I am very
forsooth (adv.) in truth, certainly, truly, indeed See Topics: Frequency count

well.


ANNE

The dinner attends you, sir.
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count


SLENDER

I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth.

(To Simple) 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
beholding (adj.) beholden, obliged, indebted
sometime (adv.) 2 sometimes, now and then

friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy yet,

till my mother be dead. But what though? Yet I live
what though what of it, never mind See Topics: Discourse markers

like a poor gentleman born.


ANNE

I may not go in without your worship – they will

not sit till you come.


SLENDER

I'faith, I'll eat nothing. I thank you as much as

though I did.


ANNE

I pray you, sir, walk in.
walk in (v.) come in, enter


SLENDER

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
fence (n.) 1 fencing ability, skill at swordplay
veney (n.) [fencing] bout, turn

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 talked of.


SLENDER

I love the sport well, but I shall as soon quarrel
quarrel at (v.) object to; or: start quarrelling at
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

at it as any man in England. You are afraid if you see the

bear loose, are you not?


ANNE

Ay, indeed, sir.


SLENDER

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
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

and shrieked at it, that it passed. But women, indeed,
pass (v.) 1 surpass, go beyond, outdo

cannot abide 'em – they are very ill-favoured rough
ill-favoured (adj.) ugly, unattractive, unsightly

things.

Enter Page
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind


PAGE

Come, gentle Master Slender, come. We stay for

you.


SLENDER

I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.


PAGE

By cock and pie, you shall not choose, sir! Come,

come.


SLENDER

Nay, pray you lead the way.


PAGE

Come on, sir.


SLENDER

Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.


ANNE

Not I, sir. Pray you, keep on.
keep on (v.) go ahead, go on, carry on


SLENDER

Truly, I will not go first, truly, la! I will not do

you that wrong.


ANNE

I pray you, sir.


SLENDER

I'll rather be unmannerly than troublesome.

You do yourself wrong, indeed, la!

Exeunt

 
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