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Changes to Ford's house. Enter Page, Ford, Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Evans.

Eva. 'Tis one of the best discretions of a 'omans, as ever I did look upon.

Page. And did he send you both these letters at an inftant ?

Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.
Ford. Pardon me, wife. Henceforth do what thou

wilt ; 6 I rather will suspect the sun with cold, Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honour stand, In him that was of late an heretick, As firm as faith.

To come off, signifies in our author, sometimes to be uttered with spirit and volubility. In this place it seems to mean what is in our time expressed by to come down, to pay liberally and teadily. These accidental and colloquial senses are the disgrace of language, and the plague of commentators. JOHNSON.

To come off, is to pay. In this sense used by Massinger, in The Unnatural Combat, act 4. sc. 2- where a wench, demanding money of the father to keep his battard, says-Will you come off, Sir? STEEVENS. The phrase is used by Chaucer, Friar's Tale, 338. edit. Urry.

Come off, and let me riden haftily,

Give me twelve pence; I may no longer tarie.” T.T. 6 I rather will suspect the fun with cold, ] Thus the modern editions.---The old ones read with gold, which may mean, I rather will fufpect the sun can be corrupted by a bribe, than thy honour be betrayed to wantonness. Mr. Rowe filently made the change, which succeeding editors have as filently adopted. Surely Shakespeare would rather have faid Aufpect the fun of cold if he had designed what is implied by the alteracion. A thought of a similar kind occurs in Hon. IV. Part I.

“ Shall the blessed sun of heaven

“ Prove a micher?" I have not, however, displaced Mr. Rowe's emendation, as a zeal to preserve old readings without distinction may sometimes prove as injurious to the author's reputation, as a desire to introduce new ones, without attention to the quaintness of phraseology then in use. STBEVENS.


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Page. 'Tis well, 'tis well ; no more.
Be not as extreme in submission, as in offence,
But let our plot go forward : let our wives
Yet once again, to make us publick sport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him, and disgrace him for it.

Ford. There is no better way than that they spoke of.

Page. How! to send him word they'll meet him in the park at midnight! fie, fie, he'll never come.

Eva. You say, he hath been thrown into the rivers ; and has been grievously peaten, as an old ’oman : methinks, there should be terrors in him, that he should not come; methinks, his felh is punish’d, he shall have no desires,

Page. So think I too.
Mrs. Ford. Devise but how you'll use him, when

he comes,
And let us two devise to bring him thither.
Mrs. Page. There is an old tale goes,

that Herne
the hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest,
Doth all the winter-time at still of midnight
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns ;
And there he blasts the tree, 7 and takes the cattle ;
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a moit hideous and dreadful manner :
You've heard of such a spirit; and well you know,
The superstitious idle-headed Eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth.

Page. Why, yet there want not many, that do fear
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak:
But what of this ?

1 and takes the cattle, To take, in Shakespeare, fignifies to seize or strike with a disease, to blast. So in Hamlet :

No planet takes."
So in Lear :

-Strike her young bones,
Ye taking airs, with lameness.” JOHNSON.


8 Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device;That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us. We'll send him word to meet us in the field, Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on his head.

Page. Well, let it not be doubted, but he'll come, And in this shape; when you have brought him thither, What shall be done with him ? what is your plot ? Mrs. Page. That likewise we have thought upon,

and thus : Nan Page (my daughter) and my little son, And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress Like urchins, ouphes, and fairies, green and white, With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads, And rattles in their hands; upon a sudden, As Falstaff, she, and I, are newly met, Let them from forth a faw-pit rush at once 9 With some diffused song: upon their sight, We two, in great amazedness, will fly: Then let them all encircle hin about, * And, fairy-like too, pinch the unclean knight;


: Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device ;

That Falstaff at that oak small meet with us. Page. Well, let it not be doubted, but he'll

And in this fape; when you have brought him thither,] Thus this passage has been transmitted down to us, from the time of the first edition by the players : but what was this thape, in which Falstaff was to be appointed to meet? For the women have not said one word to ascertain it. This makes it more than fufpicious, the defect in this point must be owing to some wise retrenchment. The two intermediate lines, which I have restored from the old quarto, are absolutely necessary, and clear ap the matter. THEOBALD.

With some difujed song :--) A diffused fong signifies a fong that itrikes out into wild fentiments beyond the bounds of nature, such as those whose subject is fairy land. WARB.

By diffused fong Shakespeare may mean fuch fongs as mad people fing: Edgar in K. Lear, when he has determined to affume the appearance of a travelling lunatic, declares his resolucion to diffuje bis speech, i.e. to give it the turn peculiar to madness.

STEEVENS. And, fairy-like, to pinch the unclean knight ;] The grammar requires us to ad, And, fairy-like Too, pinch the unckan knight. WARB.

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And ask him, why, that hour of fairy revel,
In their so facred paths he dares to tread
In shape prophane ?

Mrs. Ford. And, 'till he tell the truth,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him round,
And burn him with their tapers.

Mrs. Page. The truth being known,
We'll all present ourselves ; dif-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.

Ford. The children must
Be practis'd well to this, or they'll ne'er do't.

Evå. I will teach the children their behaviours; and I will be like a jack-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my taber.

Ford. This will be excellent. I'll go buy thein vizards.

Mrs. Page. My Nan shall be the queen of ail the fairies; finely attired in a robe of white.

Page. - That silk will I go buy ;-and in that time Shall master Slender steal my Nan away, [ Afide. And marry her at Eaton.

-Go, send to Falstaff straight. Ford. Nay, I'll to him again in the name of Brook : he'll tell me all his purpose. Sure, he'll come.

Mrs. Page. Fear not you that : go get us properties And tricking for our fairies.

This should perhaps be written to-pinch, as one word. This use of 10 in composition with verbs, is very common in Gower and Chaucer, but must have been rather antiquated in the time of Shakespeare. See Gower De Confeffione Amantis, B. 4. fol. 7.

* All to-tore is myn araie.' And Chaucer, Reeve's Tale, 1169.

mouth and nose to-broke." The construction will otherwise be very hard. T. T.

2 That silk will I go buy ;-and in ihar time) Mr. Theobald referring that time to the time of buying the filk, alters it to tire. But there is no need of any change: that time evidently relating to the time of the mask with which Falstaff was to be entertained, and which makes the whole subject of this dialogue. Therefore the common reading is right. WARB. VOL. I.



Eva. Let us about it, it is admirable pleasures, and fery honest knaveries. [Ex. Page, Ford, and Evans.

Mrs. Page. Go, mistress Ford,
Send Quickly to Sir John to know his mind.

[Exit Mrs. Ford.
I'll to the doctor; he hath my good will,
And none but he, to marry with Nan Page,
That Slender, though well landed, is an ideot ;
And he my husband best of all affects :
The doctor is well-mony'd, and his friends
Potent at court; he, none but he shall have her,
Though twenty thousand worthier came to crave her.

(Exit. S CE N E V. Changes to the Gerter inn.

Enter Hoft and simple. Hoft. What would'st thou have, boor? what, thickskin ? speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.

Simp. Marry, Sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff, from master Slender.

Hoft. There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his 3 standing-bed, and truckle-bed ; ʼtis painted about with the story of the prodigal, fresh and new : go, knock and call; he'll speak like an Anthropophaginian unto thee: knock, I say.

Simp. There's an old woman, a fat woman gone up into his chamber; I'll be so bold as stay, Sir, 'till the come down : I come to speak with her, indeed.

3-fanding-bed, and truckle-bed ;-) The usual furniture of chanibers in that time was a standing bed, under which was a trochle, truckle, or running bed. In the ftanding-bed lay the malter, and in the truckle-bed the servant. Su in Hall's Account of a Servile I'urur:

" He licth in the iruckle-bed,
“ While his young mailer licth o'er his head." JOHNS.


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