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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene IV.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

A Room in DOCTOR CAIUS’S House


Quick.What, John Rugby!—

Enter RUGBY.

I pray thee, go to the casement, and see if you can see my master, Master Doctor Caius, coming: if he do, i’ faith, and find anybody in the house, here will be an old abusing of God’s patience and the king’s English.

Rug.I’ll go watch.

Quick.Go; and we’ll have a posset for ’t soon at night, in faith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire.[Exit RUGBY.]An honest, willing, kind fellow, as ever servant shall come in house withal; and, I warrant you, no tell-tale, nor no breed-bate: his worst fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way, but nobody but has his fault; but let that pass. Peter Simple you say your name is?

Sim.Ay, for fault of a better.

Quick.And Master Slender’s your master?

Sim.Ay, forsooth.

Quick.Does he not wear a great round beard like a glover’s paring-knife?

Sim.No, forsooth: he hath but a little wheyface, with a little yellow beard—a cane-coloured beard.

Quick.A softly-sprighted man, is he not?

Sim.Ay, forsooth; but he is as tall a man of his hands as any is between this and his head: he hath fought with a warrener.

Quick.How say you?—O! I should remember him: does he not hold up his head, as it were, and strut in his gait?

Sim.Yes, indeed, does he.

Quick.Well, heaven send Anne Page no worse fortune! Tell Master Parson Evans I will do what I can for your master: Anne is a good girl, and I wish—

Re-enter RUGBY.

Rug.Out, alas! here comes my master.

Quick.We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man; go into this closet.[Shuts SIMPLE in the closet.]He will not stay long. What, John Rugby! John, what, John, I say! Go, John, go inquire for my master; I doubt he be not well, that he comes not home.[Exit RUGBY.][Sings.]

  • ‘And down, down, adown-a,’ &c.

    Caius.Vat is you sing? I do not like dese toys. Pray you, go and vetch me in my closet une boitine verde; a box, a green-a box: do intend vat I speak? a green-a box.

    Quick.Ay, forsooth; I’ll fetch it you.[Aside.]I am glad he went not in himself: if he had found the young man, he would have been horn-mad.

    Caius.Fe, fe, fe, fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Je m’en vais à la cour,—la grande affaire.

    Quick.Is it this, sir?

    Caius.Oui; mettez le au mon pocket; dépêchez, quickly.—Vere is dat knave Rugby?

    Quick.What, John Rugby! John!

    Re-enter RUGBY.

    Rug.Here, sir.

    Caius.You are John Rugby, and you are Jack Rugby: come, take-a your rapier, and come after my heel to de court.

    Rug.’Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.

    Caius.By my trot, I tarry too long.—Od’s me! Qu’ay j’oublié? dere is some simples in my closet, dat I will not for de varld I shall leave behind.

    Quick.[Aside.]Ay me! he’ll find the young man there, and be mad.

    Caius.O diable! diable! vat is in my closet?—Villain! larron![Pulling SIMPLE out.]Rugby, my rapier!

    Quick.Good master, be content.

    Caius.Verefore shall I be content-a?

    Quick.The young man is an honest man.

    Caius.Vat shall de honest man do in my closet? dere is no honest man dat shall come in my closet.

    Quick.I beseech you, be not so phlegmatic. Hear the truth of it: he came of an errand to me from Parson Hugh.


    Sim.Ay, forsooth, to desire her to—

    Quick.Peace, I pray you.

    Caius.Peace-a your tongue!—Speak-a your tale.

    Sim.To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, to speak a good word to Mistress Anne Page for my master in the way of marriage.

    Quick.This is all, indeed, la! but I’ll ne’er put my finger in the fire, and need not.

    Caius.Sir Hugh send-a you?—Rugby, baillez me some paper: tarry you a little-a while.[Writes.

    Quick.I am glad he is so quiet: if he had been throughly moved, you should have heard him so loud, and so melancholy. But, notwithstanding, man, I’ll do your master what good I can; and the very yea and the no is, the French doctor, my master,—I may call him my master, look you, for I keep his house; and I wash, wring, brew, bake, scour, dress meat and drink, make the beds, and do all myself,—

    Sim.’Tis a great charge to come under one body’s hand.

    Quick.Are you avis’d o’ that? you shall find it a great charge: and to be up early and down late; but notwithstanding,—to tell you in your ear,—I would have no words of it,—my master himself is in love with Mistress Anne Page: but notwithstanding that, I know Anne’s mind, that’s neither here nor there.

    Caius.You jack’nape, give-a dis letter to Sir Hugh; by gar, it is a challenge: I vill cut his troat in de Park; and I vill teach a scurvy jack-a-nape priest to meddle or make. You may be gone; it is not good you tarry here: by gar, I vill cut all his two stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to trow at his dog.[Exit SIMPLE.

    Quick.Alas! he speaks but for his friend.

    Caius.It is no matter-a for dat:—do not you tell-a me dat I shall have Anne Page for myself? By gar, I vill kill de Jack priest; and I have appointed mine host of de Jartiere to measure our weapon. By gar, I vill myself have Anne Page.

    Quick.Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. We must give folks leave to prate: what, the good-jer!

    Caius.Rugby, come to the court vit me. By gar, if I have not Anne Page, I shall turn your head out of my door. Follow my heels, Rugby.[Exeunt CAIUS and RUGBY.

    Quick.You shall have An fool’s-head of your own. No, I know Anne’s mind for that: never a woman in Windsor knows more of Anne’s mind than I do; nor can do more than I do with her, I thank heaven.

    Fent.[Within.]Who’s within there? ho!

    Quick.Who’s there, I trow? Come near the house, I pray you.

    Enter FENTON.

    Fent.How now, good woman! how dost thou?

    Quick.The better, that it pleases your good worship to ask.

    Fent.What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?

    Quick.In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, and gentle; and one that is your friend, I can tell you that by the way; I praise heaven for it.

    Fent.Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? Shall I not lose my suit?

    Quick.Troth, sir, all is in his hands above; but notwithstanding, Master Fenton, I’ll be sworn on a book, she loves you. Have not your worship a wart above your eye?

    Fent.Yes, marry have I; what of that?

    Quick.Well, thereby hangs a tale. Good faith, it is such another Nan; but, I detest, an honest maid as ever broke bread: we had an hour’s talk of that wart. I shall never laugh but in that maid’s company;—but, indeed, she is given too much to allicholy and musing. But for you—well, go to.

    Fent.Well, I shall see her to-day. Hold, there’s money for thee; let me have thy voice in my behalf: if thou seest her before me, commend me.

    Quick.Will I? i’ faith, that we will: and I will tell your worship more of the wart the next time we have confidence; and of other wooers.

    Fent.Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.

    Quick.Farewell to your worship.—[Exit FENTON.]Truly, an honest gentleman: but Anne loves him not; for I know Anne’s mind as well as another does. Out upon ’t! what have I forgot?[Exit.