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out thus upon no trail, never trust me when I open again.
Page. Let's obey his humour a little further : come, gentlemen,
[Exeunt. Mrs. Page. Trust me, he beat him most pitifully.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, by th' mafs, that he did not; he beat him moft un
pitifully, methought. Mrs. Page. I'll have the cudgel hallow'd and hung o'er the altar; it hath done meritorious service,
Mrs. Ford. What think you? may we, with the. warrant of woman-hood, and the witness of a good conscience, pursue him with any further revenge ?
Mrs. Page. The spirit of wantonnefs is, sure, fcar'd out of him ; if the devil have him not in fee-fimple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.
Mrs. Ford. Shall we tell our husbands how we have served him ?
Mrs. Page. Yes, by all means ; if it be but to scrape the figures out of your husband's brain. 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 sham'd; and, methinks, there would be no period to the jest, should he not be publickly sham'd.
Mrs. Page. Come to the forge with it, then shape it: I would not have things cool.
[Exeunt. SCENE changes to the Garter-Inn,
Enter Hoft and Bardolph. Bard. IR, the German desires to have three of your
horses; the Duke himself will be to-morrow at Court, and they are going to meet him.
Hoft. What Duke should that be, comes so secretly? I hear not of him in the Court: let me speak with the gentlemen ; they speak English? either of indolence, or ignorance. The two first Folio's have it rightly, trayle; which is a hunting term, and corresponds with cry out, and open. Our Author uses the word again twice in his Hamlet.
Or else this brain of mine hunts not the trayle of policy, & C.
Bard. Sir, I'll call them to you.
Hoft. They shall have my horses, but I'll make theme pay, l’ll fawce them. They have had my house a week at cominand; I have turn'd away my other guefts; (22) they must compt off ; I'll fawce them,
[Exeunt, SCENE changes to Ford's House. Enter Page, Ford, Mistress Page, Mistress Ford, and
IS one of the best discretions of a o'man,
as ever I did look upon.
Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.
I rather will suspect the fun with cold,
Page. 'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.
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? fy, fy, he'll never come.
Eva. You say, he hath been thrown into the river; and has been grievously peaten; as an old o'man;. methinks, there should be terrors in him, that he
(22) they must come off.]. This can never be our Poet's, or bis Hoft's, meaning: to come off, is in other terms, to go fcot-free; but these Gormans had taken up the Hoft's house, and he was resolv'd to make them pay for it. We must certainly, therefore, read, they must compt off : i. e. they must pay off the accompt, org as we now say, down witb their pence,
Thould not come; methinks, his flesh is punish'd, he fiall have no desires.
Page. So think I too.
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 ragged horns; And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle; And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain In a most 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
Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device, (23)
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 :
(23) Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device, That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us. Page. Well; let it not be doubted, but be'll come.
And in this shape when you have brought him thitber,] Thus this paflage has been transmitted down to us, from the time of the first edition by the Players: But what was this shape, 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 suspicious, the defect in this point must be owing to some wise retrenchment. The two intermediate lines, which I have restor’d from the old Quarto, are abfolutely necessary, and clear op the matter.
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 fhe, and I, are newly met, Let them from forth a faw-pit rush at once With some diffused song: upon their fight, We two, in great amazedness, will fly; Then let them all encircle him about, And fairy-like to pinch the unclean Knight; And ask him why, that hour of fairy revel, 'In their so sacred paths he dares to tread In shape profane?
Mrs. Ford. And 'till he tell the truth,
Mrs. Page. The truth being known,
Ford. The children must
Eva. I will teach the children their behaviours; and I will be like a jack-anapes also, to burn the Knight with my taper.
Pord. This will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards.
Mrs.Page. My Nan shall be the Queen of all the Fairies; Finely attired in a robe of white.
Page. That silk will I go buy, and in that tire (24) Shall Mr. Slender steal
Nan away, And marry her at Eaton. Go, send to Falstaff traight.
(24) That filk will I go buy, and in that time Sball Mr. Slender fleal, &c.] What! muft Slender steal Mrs. Anne while her father goes to buy the filk she was to be dress'd in? This was no part of the scheme. Her garb was to be the signal for Slender to know her by. The alteration of a single letter gives us the Poet's reading. Tireis as common with our Poet, and other Writers of his age, as attire; to signify, dress. And my emendation is clearly justified, by what Fenton afterwards tells the Hoft.
Her father means the shall be all in white,
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.
Eva. Let us about it, it is admirable pleasures, and ferry honeft knaveries [Exe. Page, Ford and Evans.
Mrs. Page. Go, Mrs. Ford,
[Exit Mrs. Ford.
[Exit. SCENE, changes to the Garter-Inn.
Enter Hoft and simple.
thick-skin ; speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, soap.
Simp. Marry, Sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falsaff, from Mr. Slender.
Hoft. There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his ftanding-bed and truckle-bed ; 'tis 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 ftay, Sir, 'till the come down ; I come to speak with her, indeed.
.(25) Send quickly to Sir John, to know his mind.] The whole fet of printed copies downwards have funk our m llenger bere into an adverb. Dame Quickly is the person intended to be sent to Sir John; and accordingly when we next find her with him, she tells him, she comes from the two parties; via. Mss. Ford and Mrs. Page.