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Enter FALSTAFF. FAL. There was, mine host, an old fat woman even now with me; but she's gone.

Simp. Pray you, sir, was't not the wise woman of Brentford ? 8

Fal.Ay, marry was it, muscle-shell;" What would

you with her?

Simp. My master, sir, my master Slender, sent to her, seeing her go thorough the streets, to know, sir, whether one Nym, sir, that beguiled him of a chain, had the chain, or no.

FAL. I spake with the old woman about it.
Simp. And what says she, I pray, fir?

FAL. Marry, she says, that the very same man, that beguiled master Slender of his chain, cozen'd him of it.

Simp. I would, I could have spoken with the woman herself; I had other things to have spoken with her too, from him.

FAL. What are they? let us know.
Host. Ay, come; quick.
Simp. I may not conceal them, fir.
FAL. Conceal them, or thou diest.”

- wife woman of Brentford?; In our author's time female dealers in palmistry and fortune-telling were usually denominated wise women. So the person from whom Heywood's play of The Wife Woman of Hogsden, 1638, takes its title, is employed in answering many such questions as are the objects of Simple's enquiry. REED.

This appellation occurs also in our Version of the Bible : “ Her wise ladies answered her, yea lhe returned answer to herself." Judges v. 29. Steevens.

9 --- mufcle-fbell;] He calls poor Simple muscle-bell, because he stands with his mouth open. JOHNSON. 3 Simp. I may not conceal them, fir.

Fal. Conceal them, or thou dieft.] In both these instances, Dr. Farmer thinks we should read reveal. STEEVENS.



Simp. Why, fir, they were nothing but about mistress Anne Page; to know, if it were my master's fortune to have her, or no.

FAL. 'Tis, 'tis his fortune.
SIMP. What, fir?

Fal. To have her,—or no: Go; say, the woman told me so.

SIMP. May I be so bold to say so, sir?
FAL. Ay, fir Tike; who more bold ? 3

SIMP. I thank your worship: I shall make my master glad with these tidings. [Exit SIMPLE.

Host. Thou art clerkly,4 thou art clerkly, fir John: Was there a wise woman with thee?

Fal. Ay, that there was, mine hoft; one, that hath taught me more wit than ever I learn'd before

life: and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning.

in my


Simp. I may, &c.] In the old copy this speech is given to Falftaff. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. I mention this error, because it justifies other similar corrections that have been made. Malone.

3 Ay, fir Tike; who more bold?] In the first edition, it stands :

“ I Tike, who more bolde.” And should plainly be read here, Ay, fir Tike, &c. FARMER. The folio reads-Ay, fir, like, &c. Malone.

-clerkly,] i. e. fcholar-like. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II. sc. i:

-'tis very clerkly done." Steevens. 5- I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning. ] He alludes to the beating which he had just received. The same play on words occurs in Cymbeline, Act V: “ - sorry you have paid too much, and sorry that you are paid too much.

STEEVENS. To pay, in our author's time, often fignified to beat. So, in King Henry IV. P. I." - seven of the eleven I paid." MALONs.


Bard. Out, alas, fir! cozenage ! meer cozenage!

Host. Where be my horses ? speak well of them, varletto.

BARD. Run away with the cozeners: for so soon as I came beyond Eton, they threw me off, from behind one of them, in a slough of mire; and set spurs, and away, like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.

Host. They are gone but to meet the duke, villain : do not say, they be fled ; Germans are honeft men.

Enter Sir Hugh EVANS.

Eva. Where is mine hoft?
Host. What is the matter, sir?

Eva. Have a care of your entertainments: there is a friend of mine come to town, tells me, there is three couzin germans, that has cozen'd all the hosts of Readings, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you for good-will, look you: you are wise, and full of gibes and vlouting-stogs ; and 'tis not convenient

you should be cozen'd: Fare you well.


Enter Caius.

CAIUS. Vere is mine Hoft de Farterre.

Host. Here, master doctor, in perplexity, and doubtful dilemma.

6 - like three German devils, three Doctor Faustuses.) Foba Fauft, commonly called Doctor Fauftus, was a German. Steevens.

Marlowe's Play on this subject had fufficiently familiarized Bar. dolph's fimile to our author's audience. SteeVENS.

Caius, I cannot tell vat is dat : But it is tell-a me, dat you make grand preparation for a duke de Jarmany: by my trot, dere is no duke, dat the court is know to come: I tell you for good vill : adieu.

[Exit. Host. Hue and cry,villain, go :-afsift me, knight; I am undone :-fly, run, hue and cry, villain ! I am undone!

[Exeunt Hoft and BARDOLPH, FAL. I would, all the world might be cozen'd; for I have been cozen'd, and beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court, how I have been transform'd, and how my transformation hath been wash'd and cudgeld, they would melt me out of my fat, drop by drop, and liquor fishermen's boots with me; I warrant, they would whip me with their fine wits, till I were as crest-fallen as a dried pear. I never prosper'd fince I foreswore myself at Primero.? Well, if my wind were but

crest-fallen as a dried pear.] To ascertain the propriety of this fimilitude, it may be observed that pears, when they are dried, become flat, and lose the erect and oblong form that, in their natural ftate, diftinguifhes them from apples. STEVENS,

7 - Primero.] A game at cards. JOHNSON.

Primero was in Shakspeare's time the fashionable game. In the Earl of Northumberland's letters about the powder plot, Jofc. Percy was playing at Primero on Sunday, when his uncle, the con{pirator, called on him

at Essex House. This game is again mentioned in our author's Henry VIII. PERCY.

Primero and Primavista, two games of cards. Primum et primum vifum, that is, first, and forft feene, becaufe he that can fhow such an order of cardes, wins the game." See Minsheu's Dict, 1617.

REED. In the Sydney Papers, Vol. II. p. 83, is the following account of an altercation that happened between our poet's generous patron, and one Willoughby, at this game: “ The quarrel of my lord Southampton to Ambrose Willoughby grew upon this: That he, with Sir Walter Rawley and Mr. Parker, being at Primero in the presence-chamber, the queen was gone to bed ; and he being there, as squire of the body, desired him to give over. Soon after he

long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.

Enter Mrs. QUICKLY. Now! whence come you?

Quick. From the two parties, forsooth.

Fal. The devil take one party, and his dam the other, and so they shall be both bestow'd! I have suffer'd more for their fakes, more, than the villainous inconstancy of man's disposition is able to bear.

Quick. And have not they suffer’d? Yes, I warrant; speciously one of them; mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white spot about her.

FAL. What tell'st thou me of black and blue? I was beaten myself into all the colours of the rainbow; and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of Brentford; but that my admirable dexterity of wit, my counterfeiting the action of an old woman, deliver'd me, the knave constable had

spoke to them againe, that if they would not leave, he would call in the guard to pull down the bord; which Sir Walter Rawley seeing, put up his money, and went his wayes; but my lord Southampton took exceptions at hym, and told hym, he would remember yt: and so finding hym between the Tennis-Court wall and the garden, strooke him; and Willoughby pulld of some of his lockes." This happened in the beginning of 1598. MALONE.

The manner of playing at this game may be seen in an Epigram quoted in Dadsley's Collection of old Plays, Vol. V. p. 168, edit. 1780. See also Vol. X. p. 368, and Vol. XII. p. 396. REED.

to say my prayers,] These words were restored from the carly quarto by Mr. Pope. They were probably omitted in the folio on account of the Stat. 3 Jac. I. ch. 21. Malone.

action of an old woman,) What! was it any dexterity of wit in Sir John Falftaff to counterfeit the action of an old woman, in order to escape being apprehended for a witch? Surely, one would imagine, this was the readiest means to bring him into such a scrape : for none but old women have ever been fuspected of be.


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