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Sir John FALSTAFF.
two Gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
Followers of Falstaff.
Servants to Page, Ford, foc.
SCENE. Windsor, and the Parts adjacent.
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
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 ratolorum 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, have 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.
1 Sir was a title formerly applied to priests and curates generally. Dominus, being the academical title of a Bachelor (bas chevalier) of Arts, was usually rendered by Sir in English; and, as most clerical persons had taken that degree, it became usual to style them Sir.
2 A corruption of Custos Rotulorum.
Shal. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.
Slen. I may quarter, coz?
Eva. Yes, pe’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 compromises 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 3 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 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.
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.
1 It seems that the latter part of this speech should be given to Sir Hugh. Shallow has just before said the coat is an old one; and now, that it is the luce, the fresh fish.” No, replies the parson, it cannot be old and fresh too—“the salt fish is an old coat.” Shakspeare is supposed to allude to the arms of Sir Thomas Lucy, who is said to have prosecuted him for a misdemeanor in his youth, and whom he now ridiculed under the character of Justice Shallow.
2 The Court of Star-chamber is meant. 3 Advisement.
Shal. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pounds?
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 good 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 [knocks] for master Page. What, hoa ! Got pless your house here!
Enter PAGE. Page. 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 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 wished your venison better; it was ill killed :—How doth good mistress Page ?—and I love 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 Cotsale.
Page. It could not be judged, sir.
1 The Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire, famous for their fine turf, and therefore excellent for coursing.
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. 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, 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?
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, 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, Bar
1 Worts was the ancient term for all the cabbage kind. 2 A common name for cheats and sharpers in the time of Elizabeth. “ By a metaphor taken from those that rob warrens and conie grounds."Minshew's Dict.