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Hot. Hue and cry, villain, go ! affift me, Knight, I am undone; fly, run, hue and cry! Villain, I am undone!
[Exit. Fal. I would all the world might be cozen'd, for I have been cozen'd and beaten to. 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 fishermens boots with me. I warrant, they would whip me with their fine wits, 'till I were as crest-faln as a dry'd pear. I never prosper'd fince I foreswore myself at Primero. Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent. —
Enter Mistress Quickly. Now, whence come you?
Quic. From the two parties, forsooth.
Fál. The devil take one party, and his dam the other, and so they shall be both bestow'd. I have suffered more for their fakes, more than the villainous inconftancy of man's disposition is able to bear.
Quic. And have they not suffer'd ? yes, I warrant, speciously one of them; mistress Ford, good heart, is heaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white fpot about her.
Fal. What tell’ft 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 Brainford; but that my admirable dexterity of wit, counterfeiting the action (26) of a wood woman,
(26) Action of an old woman,] This reading is no great compliment to the fagacity of our former Editors, who could content themselves with words, without any regard to the reasoning. What! was it any dexterity of wit in Sir John Falstaff, to counterfeit the action of an old woman in order to escape being apprehended for a witch? Surely, one would imagine, this was the readieft means to bring him into such a scrape; for none but old women have ever been fufpected of being witches. The text must certainly be restor’d, as I have corrected it, a wood woman; i, e a crazy, frantick woman; one too wild, and filly, and unmeaning, to have either the malice, or mischievous subtlety of a witch in her. I have already explain'd, and prov'd the use of this term, in one of my notes on the Two Genulemen of Verona.
deliver'd me, the knave constable had set me i' th' stocks, î' th' common stocks for a witch.
Quic. Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber; you Thall hear how things go, and I warrant, to your
Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good hearts, what ado is here to bring you together? sure,
does not serve heav'n well, that you are so crofs'd. Fal. Come up into my chamber.
(Exeunt. Enter Fenton and Hoft. Hoft. Master Fenton, talk not to me, my mind is heavy, I will give over all.
Fent. Yet hear me speak; assist me in my purpose,
Hoft. I will hear you, master Fenton; and I will, at the least, keep your counsel.
Fent. From time to time I have acquainted you With the dear love I bear to fair Ann Page; Who, mutually, hath answer'd my affection, (So far forth as herfelf might be her chufer) Ev'n to my wish. I have a letter from her Of such contents, as you will wonder at; The mirth whereof's so larded with my matter, That neither singly can be manifested. Without the fhew of both. Fat Sir John Falstaff Hath a great scene; the image of the jeft l'11 dhew you here at large. Hark, good mine Host; To night at Herne's oak just 'twixt twelve and one, Muft my sweet Nan present the fairy Queen; The purpose why, is here ; in which disguise, While other jefts are something rank on foot, Her father hath commanded her to slip Away with Slender, and with him at Eaton Immediately to marry; she hath consented. Now, Sir, Her mother, ever strong against that match, And firm for Doctor Caius, hath appointed That he shall likewise shuffle her away, While other sports, are talking of their minds; O 2
And at the Deanry, where a priest attends,
Hoft. Which means she to deceiver father or mother?
Fent. Both, my good Hoft, to go along with me;
Hoft. Well, husband your device: I'll to the Vicar. Bring you the maid, you shall not lack a Priest.
Fent. So fall I evermore be bound to thee; Befide, I'll make a present recompence. [Exeunt.
Re-enter Falstaff and Mistress Quickly, Fal. Prythee, no more pratling; go, I'll hold. This is the third time; I hope, good luck lies in odd numbers; away, go; they say, there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance or death ; away.
Quic. I'll provide you a chain, and I'll do what I can to get you a pair of hörns.
[Exit. Mrs. Quickly. Fal. Away, I say, time wears: hold up your head and mince,
Enter Ford. How now, master Brook? master Brook, the matter will be known to night, or never. Be you in the park about mid-night, at Herne's oak, and you shall see wonders.
Ford. Went you not to her yesterday, Sir, as you told me you had appointed ?
Fal. I went to her, master Brook, as you fee, like a poor old man; but I came from her, master Brook, like a poor old woman. That fame knave, Ford her husband, hath the finest mad devil of jealousy in him, master Brook, that ever govern'd frenzy. I will tell you; he beat me grievously, in the shape of a woman ; for in the shape of a man, master Brook, I fear not Goliah with a weaver's beam; because I know also, life is a shuttle ; I am in hafte; go along with me, I'll tell you all, mafter Brook. Since I pluckt geefe, play'd truant and whipt top, I knew not what 'twas to be beaten, 'till lately. Follow me, I'll tell you strange things of this knave Ford, on whom to-night I will be reveng'd, and I will deliver his wife into your hand. Pollow ; ftrange things in hand, mafter Brook! follow.
А с тү.
Enter Page, Shallow, and Slender.
PAGE. OME, come : we'll couch i' th' castle-ditch, 'till we see the light of our fairies. Remember, for
Slender, my daughter. Slen. Ay, forsooth, I have spoke with her, and we have a nay-word how to know one another. I come to her in white, and cry mum; she cries, budget ; and by that we know one another.
Shal. That's good too ; but what needs either your mum, or her budget; the white will decipher her well enough. It hath struck ten o'clock.
Page. The night is dark, light and spirits will become it well; heav'n prosper our sport! No man means evil but the devil, and we shall know him by his horns. Let's aways follow
[Exeunt. Enter Mistress Page, Mistress Ford and Caius. Mrs. Page. Mr. Doctor, my daughter is in green ; when
you see your time, take her by the hand, away with her to the Deanry, and dispatch it quickly; go before into the Park: we two must go together.
Caius. I know vat I have to do; adieu. [Exit.
Mrs. Page. Fare you well, Sir. My husband will Rot rejoice so much at the abuse of Falstaff, as he will chafe at the Doctor's marrying my daughter ; but 'tis no matter; better a little chiding, than a great deal of heart-break.
Mrs. Ford. Where is Nan now, and her troop of fiiries, (27) and the Welch devil Evans ?
Mrs. Page. They are all couch'd in a pit hard by Herne's oak, with obscur'd lights; which, at the very instant of Falstaff's and our meeting, they will at once display to the night.
Mrs. Ford. That cannot chufe but amaze him.
Mrs. Page. If he be not amaz'd, he will be mock'd; if he be amaz’d, he will every way be mock’d.
Mrs. Ford. We'll betray him finely,
Mrs. Page. Against such lewdfters, and their lechery, Those, that betray them, do no treachery.
Mrs. Ford. The hour draws on; to the oak, to the oak.
[Exeunt. Enter Evans and Fairies. Eva. Trib, trib, fairies; come, and remember your parts: be pold, I pray you; follow me into the pit;
(27) And the Welch devil Herne?] Thus all the impressions have Hunder'd after each other ; but Falsiaff was to represenc Herne, and he was no W clcbman.
Where was the attention, or fagacity, of our Editors, not to observe that Mrs. Ford is inquiring for Evans by the name of the Welcb devil ? The mistake of the word Herne getting into the text, might easily happen by the inadvertence of Transcribers, who threw their eyes too hastily on the succeeding, line, where the word again occurs, Dr. Thirlby likewise discover'd the blunder of this paffage.