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Fal. What say you, Scarlet and John?

Bard. Why, sir, for my part, I say the gen- 180 tleman 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, cashiered; and so conclusions passed the careires.

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 190 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 and MISTRESS PAGE, following.

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. Page. Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome. Come, we have a hot venison pasty to dinner:

185. fap, drunk ; a word found only here.

186. cashiered (probably a cant usage), relieved of his cash.

186. so conclusions passed the


careires, so in the end he reeled (like a horse curveting). The whole sentence is intentionally obscure, and is hence taken by Slender for Latin.

come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.

[Exeunt all except Shal., Slen., and Evans. Slen. I had rather than forty shillings I had my Book of Songs and Sonnets here.


How now, Simple! where have you been? I must wait on myself, must I? You have not the Book 210 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.

208. Book of Songs and Sonnets, perhaps alluding specially to the Songs and Sonnets of the Earl of Surrey and others (1557).

210. Book of Riddles, a popular collection, of which many editions appeared during the reign.



213. a fortnight afore Michaelmas. The blunder is doubtless intended. Theobald unnecessarily proposed Martle


223. motions, proposals.
228. country, district.

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 250 your request, cousin, in any reason.

Shal. Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz what I do is to pleasure you, coz.

love the maid?

Can you

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 contempt: but if you say, 'Marry 260 her,' I will marry her; that I am freely dissolved, and dissolutely.

Evans. It is a fery discretion answer; save the fall is in the ort '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 hanged, la! Shal. Here comes fair Mistress Anne.

Re-enter ANNE Page.

Would I were young for your sake, Mistress 270 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: 290 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 bruised my shin th'

sword and dagger with

other day with playing at


297. master of fence, 'one who had taken his master's degree in that science.' There

master of fence; three

were three degrees, the master, the provost, and the scholar, the candidate qualifying for each

veneys for a dish of stewed prunes; and, by my troth, I cannot abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your dogs bark so? be there bears i' the town?

Anne. I think there are, sir; I heard them talked 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 310 you, the women have so cried and shrieked at it, that it passed: but women, indeed, cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough things.

Re-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.

by a public trial of his skill held in some open place. Tarlton and Greene were both passed


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298. veney, a hit, in fencing.


309. Sackerson, a celebrated bear kept for baiting at Paris Garden in Southwark.

312. passed, passed all mea


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