Page images
PDF
EPUB

should not come; methinks, his felh is punith'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 Windfor 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 moft 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
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak;
But what of this ?

Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device, (23)
That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us.
We'll send him word to meet us in the field,
Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on his head.

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 ibat oak soall meet with us.
Page. Well; let it not be doubted, but be'll come.

And is this shape when you bave brought bim tbither,] Thus this passage 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 defeet in this point must be owing to some wife retrenchment. The two intermediate lines, which I have restored from the old Quarto, are absolutely necessary, and clear up 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 Fastaff, she, and I, are newly met,
Let them

from forth a faw-pit rush at once
With some diffus’d 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,
Let the supposed fairies pinch him round,
And burn him with their tapers.

Mrs. Page. The truth being known,
We'll all present ourselves; dif-horn the spirit,
And mock him home to Windsor.

Ford. The children must
Be practis'd well to this, or they'll ne'er do't.

Ēve. I will teach the children their behaviours 3 and I will be like a jack-anapes also, to burn the Knight with my taper.

Ford. This will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards.

Mrs. Page. My Nan fhall be the Queen of all the Fairies; finely attired in a robe of white.

Page. That filk will I go buy, and in that tire (24) Shall Mr. Slender steal my Nan away,

[Aide. And marry her at Eaton.' Go, send to Falstaff straight.

(24) That filk will I go buy, and in that time

Sball Mr. Slender freal, &c.] What! muft Slender steal Mrs. Ann, while her father goes to buy the silk she was to be dress'd in? This was no part of the scheme. Her garb was to be the fignal for Slender to know her by. The alteration of a single letter gives us the Poet's reading. Tire is 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,
And in that dress, when Slender sees his time
To take her by the band, 6*6.

Ford.

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, Send Quickly to Sir John, to know his mind. (25)

[Exit. Mrs. Ford. I'll to the doctor; he hath my good will, And none but he to marry with Nan Page. That Slender, tho' well landed is an ideot; And he my husband best of all affects: The doctor is well mony'd, and his friends Potent at court; he, none but he shall have her; Tho' twenty thousand worthier came to crave her.

[Exit. SCENE changes to the Garter-Inn.

Enter Hoft and simple.
HAT would'st thou have, boor? what,

thick-skin; speak, breathe, discuss; brief, short, quick, snap.

Simp. Marry, Sir, I come to speak with Sir John Falstaff, from Mr. Slender.

Hox. There's his chamber, his house, his castle, his standing-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 fo bold as stay, Sir, 'till the come down; I come to speak with her, indeed.

Hop. W , ,

(25) Send quickly to Sir John, to know his mind.] The whole set of printed copies downwards have sunk our messenger here 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 ; viz. Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page,

Hoft.

Hoft. Ha! a fat-woman ? the Knight may be robb’d: I'll call. Bully-Knight! bully-Sir John ! speak from thy lungs military: art thou there? it is thine Hoft, thine Ephefian calls.

Falstaff, above. Fal. How now, mine Host?

Hoft. Here's a Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman : let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honourable. Fy, privacy? fy.

Enter Falstaff. Fal. There was, mine Hoft, an old fat woman even now with me, but she's gone.

Simp. Pray you, Sir, was't not the wise woman of Brainford ?

Fal. Ay, marry was it, mussel-shell, what would you with her!

Simp. My master, Sir, my master Slender sent to her, feeing her go thro' the street, to know, Sir, whether one Nym, Sir, that beguild 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 Sir ?

Fal. Marry, she says, that the very fame man, that beguil'd 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.
Hoft. Ay, come; quick.
Simp. I may not conceal them, Sir.
Fal. Conceal them, or thou dy'st.

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

Fal. 'Tis, 'tis his fortune. Simp. What, Sir ? Fal. To have her or no: go ; fay, the old woman told me so.

Simp. May I be so bold to say fo, Sir?
Fal. Ay, Sir; like who more bold.

Simp. I thank your worship : I shall make my master glad with these tidings.

[Exit Simple. Hoft. Thou art clarkly; thou art clarkly, Sir 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 in my life; and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning .

Enter Bardolph.
Bard. Out, alas, Sir, cozenage! mere cozenage,

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

Bard. Run away with the cozeners; for fo foon as I came beyond Eaton, 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.

Hoft. They are gone but to meet the Duke, villain ; do not say they be fed ; Germans are honest men.

Enter Evans. Eva. Where is mine Hoft ?? Hoft. What is the matter, Sir ?

Eva. Have a care of your entertainments; there is a friend o'mine come to town, tells me, there is three cozen-jermans that has cozen'd all the Hoft of Reading, of Maiden-bead, of cclebrook, of horses and money.. I tell you for good will, look you ; you are wife, and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks, and 'tis not convenient you should be cozen; fare you well. [Exit.

Enter Caius.
Caius. Ver is mine Hoft de Jarterre ?

Hoft. Here, master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.

Caius. I cannot tell what is dat; but it is tell-a-me, dat you make a grand preparation for a Duke de Jamany ; by my trot, der is no Duke, dat the court is know, to come: I tell you for good will ; adieu. [Exit.

. VOL. I.

Heft

« PreviousContinue »