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to the contrary:
hould I say to him !--- I was then frugal of my mirth: S heaven forgive me! - Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parlia. ment for the putting down of men. How shall I be revenged on him? for revenged I will be, as fùre as his guts are made of puddings.
Enter Mistress FORD.
You look very iil.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to show
contrary: O, mistress Page, give me some counsel !
Mrs. Ford. O woman, if it were not for one trilling re. spect, I could come to such honour !
Mrs. Page. Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour : What is it difpenfe with trifles;-what is it?
Mrs. Sir John Smythe in Certain Discourses, &c. 4to. 1590, says, that the habit of drinking to excess was introduced into England from the Low Countries « by some of our such men of warre within these very few years : whereof it is come to passe that now-a-dayes there are very fewe feastes where our faid men of warre are present, but that they do invite and procure all the companie, of what calling foever they be, to carowsing and quaffing; and, because they will not be denied their challenges, they, with many
new conges, ceremonies, and reverences, drinke to the health and prosperitie of princes; to the health of counsellors, and unto the health of their greatest friends both at home and abroad : in which exer. cise they never cease till they be dead drụnke, or, as the Flemings fay, Doot dronken." He adds, " And this aforesaid deteftable vice hath within these lixe or seven yeares taken wonderful roote amongest our English Na. tion, that in cimes past was wont to be of all other nations of Christen. dome one of the foberelt.” REED.
s By breaking this speech into exclamations, the text may stand ; but I once thought it must be read, If I was not eben frugal of my mii ib, &c.
JOHNSON. 6 The expression, putting down, is a common phrase of our municipadi law. MALONE.
The putting down of men, ay only signify tbe bumiliation of them, the bringing ibem to fhamea STGEVENS.
Mrs. Ford. If I would but go to hell for an eternal inos ment, or so, I could be knighted,
Mrs. Page, What? -thou liest! Sir Alice Ford !. These knights will hack; and so thou shouldīt. not alter the article of thy gentry:?
Mrs. Ford. We burn day-light: 8_here, read, read ; perceive how I might be knighted. I shall think the worse of fat men, as long as I have an eye to make difference of men's liking:9 And yet he would not swear; prais'd women's
modefty : ? The punishment of a recreant, or undeserving knight, was to back off his spurs: the meaning therefore is; it is not worth the while of a gentle. woman to be made a knight, for we'll degrade all these knights in a little time, by the usual form of backing off their spurs, and thou, if thou art knighted, shalt be hacked with the rest. JOHNSON.
Sir T. Hanmer says, to back, means to turn hackney, or prostitute. I suppose he means -Tbese knights will degrade themselves, forbat pe will acquire no honour by being connected with them.
It is not, however, impossible that Shakspeare meant by- these krig bts will back-these knights will soon become backney'd characters. -So many knights were made about the time this play was amplified (for the passage is neither in the copy 1602, nor 1619) that such a stroke of Satire might not have been unjustly thrown in. STEEVENS.
These knights will back (that is, become cheap or vulgar,) and there. fore she advises her friend not to fully her gentry by becoming one.
The whole of this discourse about knighthood is added since the first edition of this play [in 1602]; and therefore I suspect this is an oblique reflection on the prodigality of James I. in bestowing these honours, and erecting in 1611 a new order of knighthood, called Baronets; which few of the ancient gentry would condescend to accept. "See another stroke at them in Orbello, A& III. sc. iv. BLACKSTONE.
Sir W. Blackstone supposes that the order of Baronets (created in 1611) was likewise alluded to
But it appears to me highly probable that our author amplified the play before us at an earlier period. See An Attempt to ascertain ibe order of Sbakspeare's plays, Article, Merry Wives of Windfor.
Between the time of King James's arrival at Berwick in April 1603, and the ad of May, he made two hundred and thirty-seven knights; and in the July following between three and four hundred. It is probable that the play before us was enlarged in that or the subsequent year, when this Itroke of satire must have been highly relished by the audience.
MALONE. 8.i. e. we have more proof than we want. STIIVINS.
I think, the meaning rather is, we are wasting time in idle talk, when we ought to read the letter ; resembling those who waste candles by burn. ing them in the day-time. MALONE.
9 i. e, 'men's condition of body. Thus in the Book of fobi " Their young ones are in good hiking," STEEVIN 5.*
modefty: and gave fuch orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomelinels, that I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words : but they do no more adhere, and keep place together, than the hundredth psalm to the tune of Green Fleeves. What tempest, I trow, ihrew this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore at Windfor? How shall I be revenged on him? I think, the best way were to entertain him with hope, till the wicked fire of lust have melted him in his own grease. Did you ever hear the like? : Mrs. Page. Letter for letter ; but that the name of Page and Ford differs !--To thy great comfort in this mystery of ill opinions, here's the twin brother of thy letter but let thine inherit first; for, I proteft, mine never shall. I warrant, he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank fpace for different names, (sure more,) and these are of the second edition : He will print them out of doubt ; for he cares not what he puts into the press, 3 when he would put
I had rather be a giantess, and lie under mount Pelion.4 Well, I will find you twenty lafcivious turtles, ere: one chaste man.
Mrs. Ford. Why, this is the very fame; the very hand, the very words: What doth he think of us ?
Mrs. Page. Nay, I know not : It makes me almost ready to wrangle with mine own honesty.. I'll entertain myself like one that I am not acquainted withal ; for, sure, unless he knew fome ftrain in me, that I know not myself, he would. never have boarded me in this fury.
Mrs. Ford. Boarding, call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck. K 6
Mrs. 2 This song was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in September 1580 : “ Licensed unto Richard Jones, a newe northerne dittye of the lady Green Sleeves.” The ballad seems to have been very. popular. STIEVENS. 3 Press is used ambiguousy, for a press to prints, and a press to squeeze.
JOHNSON * Mr. Warton judiciously observes, that in consequence of English versions from Greek and Roman authors, an inundation of classical pe.. dantry very soon infected our poetry, and that perpetual allusions to ancient fable were introduced, as in the present instance, without the least regard to propriety; for Mrs. Page was not intended, in any degrees to be a learned or an affected lady. STLEVENS,
Mrs. Page. So will I; if he come under my hatches, I'It never to sea again. Let's be revenged on him : let's appoint him a meeting ; give him a show of comfort in his suit ; and lead him on with a fine-baited detay, till he hath pawn'd. his horses to mine Hoft of the Garter.
- Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will confent to act any villainy against him, that may not fully the chariness of our honesty. O, that my husband faw this létter ! 6 it would give eternal food to his jealousy.
Mrs. Page. Why, look, where he comes; and my good man too: he's as far from jealousy, as I am from giving hini cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance. 1. Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman. - Mrs. Page. Let's consult together against this greasy knight: Come hither.
[they retire, Enter FORD, PISTOL, PAGE, and Nym. Ford. Well, I hope, it be not fo. Pift: Hope is a curtail dog? in some affairs : Sir John affects thy wife.
Ford. Why, fir, my wife is not young.
Pif. He wooes both high and low, both rich and poor, Both young and old, one with another, Ford; He loves thy gally-mawfry ;8 Ford, perpend. Ford. Love
wife? Pift. With liver burning hot : 2 Prevent, or go thou,
Like twt i. e. the caution which ought to attend on it. STEEVENS.
6 Surely Mrs. Ford does not wish to excite the jealousy of which the complains. I think we fould read-0, if my huiband, &c.
STEEVENS. ? That is, a dog that miffes his.game. The tail is counted neceffary to the agility, of a greyhound.. JOHNSON. That is, a dog of small value ;- what we now call a cur. MALONE.
-gally-marfry;] i. e. A medley. STEEVINS. 9 This is perhaps a ridicule on a pompous word too-often used in the old play of Cambyses :
« My fapient words I lay perpend." Shakspeare has put the same word into the mouth of Polonius.
STLEVENS. Pifol again uses it in K. Henry V.; fo does the Clown in Twelftb Night: I do not believe therefore that any ridicule was here aimed at Preston, the author of Cambyses. MALONI. The hver was anciently supposed to be the inspirer of amorous paffions.
Like Sir A&tæon he, with Ring-wood at thy heels :-
. The hom, I say : Farewel.
Ford. I will be patient; I will find out this.
Ford. I will seek out Falstaff.
Away, for corporal.
4 Nym, to gain credit, says, that he is above the mean office of carrying