A line-by-line translation

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 1, Scene 4

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Enter MISTRESS QUICKLY, SIMPLE, and RUGBY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

What, John 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 any body in the house, here will be an old abusing of God's patience and the king's English.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Hey there, John Rugby! Please, go to the window and see if you can see my master, Master Doctor Caius, coming. If he comes and finds anyone in the house, I'm telling you, you'll hear him getting very angry and speaking very bad English.

RUGBY

I'll go watch.

RUGBY

I'll go keep a lookout for him.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Go; and we'll have a posset for't soon at night, infaith, at the latter end of a sea-coal fire.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Go on. We'll have a nice hot drink later this evening, I promise, when the fire is almost burnt out.

Exit RUGBY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Rugby is as honest, hard-working, and kind a person as any servant could work alongside, and I bet he won't tell on us or make any trouble. The worst thing about him is that he has a habit of praying. He's a bit foolish like that, but everybody has some flaw—enough about that. Did you say your name was Peter Simple? 

SIMPLE

Ay, for fault of a better.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

And Master Slender's your master?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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SIMPLE

Ay, forsooth.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Does he not wear a great round beard, like aglover's paring-knife?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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SIMPLE

No, forsooth: he hath but a little wee face, with alittle yellow beard, a Cain-coloured beard.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

A softly-sprighted man, is he not?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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SIMPLE

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.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

How say you? O, I should remember him: does he nothold up his head, as it were, and strut in his gait?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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SIMPLE

Yes, indeed, does he.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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—

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Re-enter RUGBY

RUGBY

Out, alas! here comes my master.

RUGBY

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

We shall all be shent. Run in here, good young man;go into this closet: he will not stay long.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Shuts SIMPLE in the closet

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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. [Singing] And down, down, adown-a, & c.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Lorem ips
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Enter DOCTOR CAIUS

DOCTOR CAIUS

Vat is you sing? I do not like des toys. Pray you, go and vetch me in my closet un boitier vert, a box, a green-a box: do intend vat I speak? a green-a box.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Fe, fe, fe, fe! ma foi, il fait fort chaud. Jem'en vais a la cour—la grande affaire.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Is it this, sir?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Oui; mette le au mon pocket: depeche, quickly. Vereis dat knave Rugby?

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

What, John Rugby! John!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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RUGBY

Here, sir!

RUGBY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

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

DOCTOR CAIUS

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RUGBY

'Tis ready, sir, here in the porch.

RUGBY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

By my trot, I tarry too long. Od's me! Qu'ai-j'oublie! dere is some simples in my closet, dat I vill not for the varld I shall leave behind.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Ay me, he'll find the young man here, and be mad!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

O diable, diable! vat is in my closet? Villain! larron!

DOCTOR CAIUS

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Pulling SIMPLE out

DOCTOR CAIUS

Rugby, my rapier!

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Good master, be content.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Wherefore shall I be content-a?

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

The young man is an honest man.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

What shall de honest man do in my closet? dere isno honest man dat shall come in my closet.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Vell.

DOCTOR CAIUS

Lorem

SIMPLE

Ay, forsooth; to desire her to—

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Peace, I pray you.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Peace-a your tongue. Speak-a your tale.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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SIMPLE

To desire this honest gentlewoman, your maid, tospeak a good word to Mistress Anne Page for mymaster in the way of marriage.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

This is all, indeed, la! but I'll ne'er put myfinger in the fire, and need not.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Sir Hugh send-a you? Rugby, baille me some paper.Tarry you a little-a while.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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Writes

MISTRESS QUICKLY

[Aside to SIMPLE] I am glad he is so quiet: if he had been thoroughly moved, you should have heard him so loud and so melancholy. But notwithstanding, man, I'll do you 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,—

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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SIMPLE

[Aside to MISTRESS QUICKLY] 'Tis a great charge tocome under one body's hand.

SIMPLE

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

[Aside to SIMPLE] Are you avised 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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Lorem ipsum

DOCTOR CAIUS

You jack'nape, give-a this letter to Sir Hugh; by gar, it is a shallenge: I will cut his troat in dee park; and I will 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 will cut all his two stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to throw at his dog:

DOCTOR CAIUS

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Exit SIMPLE

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Alas, he speaks but for his friend.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

It is no matter-a ver 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 Jarteer to measure our weapon. By gar, I will myself have Anne Page.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well. Wemust give folks leave to prate: what, the goodyear!

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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DOCTOR CAIUS

Rugby, come to the court with me. By gar, if I have not Anne Page, I shall turn your head out of my door. Follow my heels, Rugby.

DOCTOR CAIUS

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Exeunt DOCTOR CAIUS and RUGBY

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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FENTON

[Within] Who's within there? ho!

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Who's there, I trow! Come near the house, I pray you.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Enter FENTON

FENTON

How now, good woman? how dost thou?

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

The better that it pleases your good worship to ask.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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FENTON

What news? how does pretty Mistress Anne?

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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FENTON

Shall I do any good, thinkest thou? shall I not lose mysuit?

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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FENTON

Yes, marry, have I; what of that?

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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FENTON

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.

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

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.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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FENTON

Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.

FENTON

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MISTRESS QUICKLY

Farewell to your worship.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Exit FENTON

MISTRESS QUICKLY

Truly, an honest gentleman: but Anne loves him not;for I know Anne's mind as well as another does. Outupon't! what have I forgot?

MISTRESS QUICKLY

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Exit

The merry wives of windsor
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Maria devlin
About the Translator: Maria Devlin

Maria Devlin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University, where she specialized in Renaissance drama. She has worked as a bibliographical and editorial assistant for The Norton Anthology of English Literature and for The Norton Shakespeare. She is currently working with Stephen Greenblatt to design online courses on Shakespeare, including the modules "Hamlet's Ghost" and "Shylock's Bond" offered through HarvardX. She is writing a book on Renaissance comedy.

Maria Devlin wishes to credit the following sources, which she consulted extensively in composing her translations and annotations:

William Shakespeare. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Eds. Gary Taylor et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

William Shakespeare. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2016.