Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mrs. Page. Yes, by all means; if it be but to scrape the figures out of your husband's brains. If they can find in their hearts, the poor unvirtuous fat knight shall be any further afflicted, we two will still be the ministers.

Mrs. Ford. I'll warrant, they'll have him publickly shamed : and, methinks, there would be no period * to the jest, should he not be publickly shamed.

Mrs. Page. Come, to the forge with it then, shape it: I would not have things cool. [Exeunt,

SCENE III.

A Room in the Garter Inn.

Enter Host and BARDOLPH,

BARD. Sir, the Germans desire to have three of your horses: the duke himself will be to-morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.

Host. What duke should that be, comes fo fecretly? I hear not of him in the court: Let me speak with the gentlemen; they speak English?

Bard. Ay, sir ; I'll call them to you."

Host. They shall have my horses; but I'll make them pay, I'll sauce them: they have had my houses

4

-no period-] Shakspeare seems, by no period, to mean, *o proper catastrophe. Of this Hanmer was so well persuaded, that he thinks it necessary to read—no right period. STEEVENS.

Our author often uses period, for end or conclufion. So, in King Richard III:

0, let me make the period to my curse.” MALONE.

I'll call them to you.] Old Copy—I'll call him. Corrected in the third folio. MALONE.

5

a week at command; I have turn'd away my other guests: they must come off;" I'll sauce them: Come.

[Exeunt.

6

[ocr errors]

p. 2:

pay my debts?"

- they must come off;] To come off, is, to pay. In this sense it is used by Maflinger in The Unnatural Combat, A& IV. sc. ii. where a wench, demanding money of the father to keep his baftard, says: Will you come off, for?Again, in Decker's If this be not a good Play the Devil is in it, 1612:

Do not your gallants come off roundly then ?" Again, in Heywood's If you know not me you know Nobody, 1633,

and then if he will not come off, carry him to the compter.” Again, in A Trick to catch the Old One, 1608 :

- Hark in thine ear :-will he come off think'st thou, and Again, in The Return from Parnassus, 1606:

“ It is his meaning I should come off.". Again, in The Widow, by Ben Jonson, Fletcher, and Middleton, 1542 : I am forty dollars better for that: an 'twould come off quicker, 'twere nere a whit the worse for me.” Again, in A merye Fift of a Man called Howleglas, bl. 1. no date : “ Therefore come of lightly, and geve me my mony.” STEEVENS.

They must come off, (says mine hoft,) I'll sauce them.” This passage has exercised the criticks. It is altered by Dr. Warburton; but there is no corruption, and Mr. Steevens has rightly interpreted it. The quotation, however, from Mafinger, which is referred to likewise by Mr. Edwards in his Canons of Criticism, scarcely satisfied Mr. Heath, and still less Mr. Capell, who gives us, • They must not come off.” It is strange that any one, conversant in old language, should hesitate at this phrase. Take another quotation or two, that the difficulty may be effectually removed for the future. In John Heywood's play of The Four P's, the pedlar says:

If you be willing to buy,
“ Lay down money, come off quickly."
In The Widow, by Jonson, Fletcher, and Middleton," if he
will come off roundly, he'll set him free too.” And again, in
Fennor's Comptor's Commonwealth : except I would come off
roundly, I should be bar'd of that priviledge," &c. FARMER.
The phrase is used by Chaucer, Friar's Tale, 338. edit. Urry:

is Come off, and let me riden haftily,
“ Give me twelve pence; I may no longer tarie.”

TYRWHITT,

[ocr errors]

SC EN E IV.

A Roorn in Ford's House.

Enter Page, FORD, Mrs. Page, Mrs. FORD, and

Sir Hugh EVANS.

Eva. 'Tis one of the pest discretions of a 'oman as ever I did look upon.

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

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

wilt;
I rather will suspect the fun with cold,
Than thee with wantonness: now doth thy honour

stand, In him that was of late an heretick, As firm as faith.

Page. 'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.

7 I rather will fufpeft the fun with coid,] Thus the modern editions. The old ones read—with gold, which may mean, I rather will suspect the fun can be a thief, or be corrupted by a bribe, than thy honour can be betrayed to wantonness. “Mr. Rowe filently made the change, which succeeding editors have as filently adopted. A thought of a similar kind occurs in Henry IV, P. I:

« Shall the blessed Sun of heaven prove a micher ?" I have not, however, displaced Mr. Rowe's emendation; as 3 zeal to preserve old readings, without distinction, may sometimes prove as injurious to our author's reputation, as a defíre to introduce new ones, without attention to the quaintness of phraseology then in use. STEEVENS.

So, in Westward for Smelts, a pamphlet which Shakspeare certainly had read : “ I answere in the behalfe of one, who is as frue from disloyaltie, as is the funne from darkness, or the fire from COLD." A husband is speaking of his wife. Malone.

1

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.

Ev A. You say, he has been thrown in 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 flesh 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 midnight, Walk round about an oak, with great ragg’d horns; And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle ;

8 and takes the carile;] To take, in Shakspeare, signifies to feize or strike with a disease, to blaft. So, in Lear:

Strike her young bones, Ye taking airs, with lameness." JOHNSON. So, in Markham's Treatise of Horses, 1595, chap. 8: “ Of a horse that is taken. A horse that is bereft of his feeling, mooving or styrring, is said to be taken, and in footh so he is, in that he is arrested by so villainous a disease; yet fome farriors, not well understanding the ground of the disease, confter the word token, to

[ocr errors]

And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes à

chain In a most hideous and dreadful manner: You have 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 ?

Mrs. FORD. Marry, this is our device; That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us, Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on his head.:

PAGE. Well, let it not be doubted but he'll come, And in this thape: When you have brought him

thither, What shall be done with him ? what is your plot? Mrs. Page. That likewise have we thought upon,

and thus :

9

our

be striken by some planet or evil spirit, which is false," &c. Thus our poet :

No planets strike, no fairy takes." TOLLET. idle-headed eld—] Eld seems to be used here, for what poet

calls in Macbeththe olden time. It is employed in Meejare for Measure, to express age and decrepitude :

doth beg the alms Of palsied eld.Steevens. I rather imagine it is used here for old persons. MALONE.

2 Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on bis head.] This line, which is not in the folio, was properly restored from the old quarto by Mr. Theobald. He at the same time introduced another « We'll send him word to meet us in the field,"_which is clearly unnecessary, and indeed improper; for the word field relates to two preceding lines of the quarto, which have not been introduced:

Now, for that Falstaff has been so deceiv'd,
" As that he dares not meet us in the house,
We'll send him word to meet us in the field..

MALONE,

« PreviousContinue »