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quires not much of either wit or judgment: its success must be derived almost wholly from the player, but its power in a skilful mouth, even he that despises it, is unable to resist.
The conduct of this drama is deficient; the action begins and ends often before the conclusion, and the different parts might change places without inconvenience ; but its general power, that power by which all works of genius shall finally be tried, is such, that perhaps it never yet had reader or spectator, who did not think it too soon at an end. JOHNSON.
Two Gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
Servants to PAGE, Ford, &c.
MERRY WIVES of WINDSOR.
ACT I. SCENE 1.
Before Page's House in Windsor. Enter Justice Shal
LOW, SLENDER, and Sir Hugh EVANS.
Skallow, Sir Hugh, persuade me not : I will make a Starchamber 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 custalorum.
Slen. Ay, and ratalorum too"; and a gentleman born, master parson ; who writes himself armigero; in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, armi-, gero.
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 côme 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.
Shal. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.
Slen. I may quarter, coz.
Eva. 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 compromises between you.
34 Shal. The council shall hear it; it is a riot.
Eva. It is not meet the council hear of 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.
41 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.
48 Eva. It is that very person for all the 'orld, as just as you will desire ; and seven hundred pounds of monies, 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 pounds?
Eva. Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.
60 Slen. 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, hoal Got pless your house here!
Page. Who's there?
Eva. Here is Got's plessing, and your friend, and justice Shallow: and here is 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.
79 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.
Slen. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I
90 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 good office between you,