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with mistress Anne Page: but notwithstanding that, -I know Anne's mind,-that's neither here nor there.
Caius. You jack'nape; give-a dis letter to Sir Hugh; by gar, it is a shallenge: I vill cut his troat in de park; and I vill 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 vill cut all his two stones; by gar, he shall not have a stone to trow at his dog. [Exit SIMPLE. Quick. Alas, he speaks but for his friend. Caius. It is no matter-a for 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 Jarterre to measure our weapon:-by gar, I vill myself have Anne Page.
Quick. Sir, the maid loves you, and all shall be well: we must give folks leave to prate: What, the good-jer!1
Caius. Rugby, come to the court vid me ;-By gar, if I have not Anne Page, I shall turn your head out of my door :-Follow my heels, Rugby.
[Exeunt CAIUS and RUGBY. Quick. You shall have An fools-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. Fent. [Within.] Who's within there, ho?
Quick. Who's there, I trow? Come near the house, I pray you.
Fent. How now, good woman: how dost thou ? Quick. The better, that it pleases your good worship to ask.
Fent. What news? how does pretty mistress Anne? Quick. In truth, sir, and she is pretty, and honest, and gentle; and one that is your friend, I can tell you that by the way; I praise heaven for it.
1 She means to say goujere. See Vol. VII. p. 121. note 1.
Fent. Shall I do any good, thinkest thou?
not lose my suit?
Quick. 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?
Fent. Yes, marry, have I; what of that?
Quick. 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 allicholly and musing: But for you-Well, go to.
Fent. 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
Quick. 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.
Fent. Well, farewell; I am in great haste now.
[Exit. Quick. Farewell to your worship.-Truly, an honest gentleman; but Anne loves him not; for I know Anne's mind as well as another does: Out upon't! what have I forgot? [Exit.
SCENE I. Before PAGE's House.
Enter MISTRESS PAGE, with a letter.
Mrs. Page. What! have I 'scaped love-letters in the holy-day time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for them? Let me see:
1 She means, I protest.
Ask me no reason why I love you; for though love use reason for his precisian,' he admits him not for his counsellor: You are not young, no more am I; go to then, there's sympathy: you are merry, so am I; Ha! ha! then there's more sympathy: you love sack, and so do I; would you desire better sympathy? Let it suffice thee, mistress Page, (at the least, if the love of a soldier can suffice,) that I love thee. I will not say, pity me; 'tis not a soldier-like phrase; but I say, love me. By me,
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
What a Herod of Jewry is this!-O wicked, wicked world!-one that is well nigh worn to pieces with age, to show himself a young gallant! What an unweighed behavior hath this Flemish drunkard picked (with the devil's name) out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner assay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company!-What should I say to him?—I was then frugal of my mirth :-heaven forgive me !-Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of fat men. How shall I be revenged on him? for revenged I will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
Enter MISTRESS FORD.
Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page! trust me, I was going to your house.
Mrs. Page. And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look very ill.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to show to the contrary.
1 The meaning of this passage is at present obscure. Dr. Johnson conjectured, with much probability, that Shakspeare wrote Physician, which would render the sense obvious.
Mrs. Page. 'Faith, but you do, in my mind.
Mrs. Ford. Well, I do then; yet, I say, I could show you to the contrary: O, mistress Page, give me some counsel!
Mrs. Page. What's the matter, woman?
Mrs. Ford. O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to such honor!
Mrs. Page. Hang the trifle, woman; take the honor: What is it?-dispense with trifles;-what is it?
Mrs. Ford. If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment, or so, I could be knighted.
Mrs. Page. What?-thou liest!-Sir Alice Ford! -These knights will hack; and so thou should'st not alter the article of thy gentry.
Mrs. Ford. We burn day-light: 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: And yet he would not swear; praised woman's modesty: and gave such orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness, 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 sleeves. What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tons of oil in his belly, ashore at Windsor? 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
1 To hack was the appropriate term for chopping off the spurs of a knight when he was to be degraded. The meaning therefore appears to be "These knights will degrade you for an unqualified pretender.” Another explanation has been offered-supposing this to be a covert reflection upon the prodigal distribution of the honor of knighthood by King James:-"These knights will soon become so hackneyed that your nonor will not be increased by becoming one."
2 A proverb applicable to superfluous actions in general.
letter: but let thine inherit first; for, I protest, mine never shall. I warrant he hath a thousand of these letters, writ with blank space 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, when he would put us two. I had rather be a giantess, and lie under mount Pelion. Well, I will find you twenty lascivious turtles, ere one chaste man.
Mrs. Ford. Why, this is the very same; 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 know some strain in me, that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in his fury.
Mrs. Ford. Boarding, call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.
Mrs. Page. So will So will I; if he come under my hatches, I'll 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 delay, till he hath pawned his horses to mine host of the Garter.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act any villany against him, that may not sully the chariness of our honesty. O, that my husband saw this letter! 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 him cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance.
Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman.
Mrs. Page. Let's consult together against this greasy knight: Come hither. [They retire.