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Stert. Mistress Anne Page ? she has brown hair, and' speaks fmall like a woman.
Eva. It is that very person for all the 'orld, as just as you will defire; and seven hundred pounds of monies, and gold, and silver, is her grandfire, upon his death's-bed, (Gor deliver to a joyful resurrections !) give; when she is able to overtake seventeen years old : it were a goot motion, if we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between master Abraham, and mistress Anne Page:
Slen. Did her grandfire leave her seven hundred pounds ?
Eva. Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.
Slen. I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.
Eva Seven hundred pounds, and poffibilities, is good gifts.
Shal. Well, let us see honest master Page: Is Falstaff there?
Eva. Shall I tell you a lie ? I do despise a liar, as I do despise one that is false; or, as I despise one that is not true. The knight, fir John is there ; and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will peat the door Knocks for master Page. What, hoa! Got pless your house here !
Enter Pages Page. Who's there? i Speaks SMALL like a woman.) This is from the folio of 1623 and is the true reading. He admires her for the sweetness of her voice. But the expression is highly humourous, as making her fpeaking small like a woman one of her inarks of distinction; and the ambiguity of small, which fignifies little as well as low, niakes the expression still more pleasant. WARBURTON. Thus Lear, speaking of Cordelia :
Her voice was ever foft,
· Eva. Here is Got's pleffing, and your friend, and justice Shallow : and here is young master Slender; that, peradventures, shall tell you another tale, if matters grow to your likings. .
Page. I am glad to see your worships well : I thank you for my venison, master Shallow.
Shal. Master Page, I am glad to see you ; Much good do it your good heart! I wish'd your venison better; it was ill kill'd :-How doth good mistress Page ? - and I thank you always with my heart, la; with my heart,
Page. Sir, I thank you.
Slen. · How does your fallow greyhound, fir? I heard say, he was out-run on Cotsale. .
? How does your fallow greyhound, fir? I heard say, he was out. run on Cotfale.] He means Cotswold, in Gloucestershire. In the beginning of the reign of James the First, by permission of the king, one Dover, a public-spirited attorney of Barton on the Heath, in Warwickshire, instituted on the hills of Corfwold an · annual celebration of games, consisting of rural sports and exercises. These he constantly conducted in person, well mounted, and accoutred in a suit of his majesty's old cloaths; and they were frequented above forty years by the nobility and gentry for fixty miles round, till the grand rebellion abolished every liberal eita. ·blishment. I have seen a very scarce book, entitled, “ Annalia Dubrenfia. Upon the yearly celebration of Mr. Robert Dover's Olympick games upon Cotswold hills, 6c." Lond. 1636. 4to. There are recommendatory verses prefixed, written by Drayton, Jonson, Randolph, and many others, the most eminent wits of the times. The games, as appears by a curious frontispiece, were, chiefly, wrestling, leaping, pitching the bar, handling the pike, dancing of women, various kinds of hunting, and particularly courfing the hare with greyhounds. Hence also we see the meaning of another paffage, where Falstaff, or Shallow, calls a Itout fellow a Cotfivold-man. But from what is here faid, an inference of another kind may be drawn, respecting the age of the play. A meager and imperfect sketch of this comedy was printed in 1602.. Afterwards Shakespeare new-wrote it entirely. This allusion therefore to the Cotswold games, not founded till the reign
Page. It could not be judg’d, fir.
Slen. You'll not confess, you'll not confess. · Shah That he will not ;—'tis your fault, 'tis your fault :-'Tis a good dog. ?
Page. A cur, fir.
Shal. Sir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog; Can there be more said he is good, and fair. Is fir John Falstaff here !
Page. Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good office between you.
Eva. It is spoke as a christians ought to speak.
Shal. He hath wrong'd me, inafter Page. • Page. Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.
Shal. If it be confess’d, it is not redress'd; is not that so, master Page? He hath wrong'd me ;-indeed, he hath ;--at a word, he hath ;-believe me ;
Robert Shallow, Esquire, faith, he is wrong'd.
Enter Sir John Faltaff, Bardolph, Nym, and Piftol. · Fal. Now, master Shallow; you'll complain of me to the king ?
Shal. Knight, you have beaten my men, kill'd my deer, 3 and broke open my lodge. of James the First, ascertains a period of time beyond which our author must have made the additions to his original rough draught, or, in other words, composed the present comedy. James the First came to the crown in the year 1603. And we will suppofe that two or three more years at least must have passed before these games could have been effectually established. I would therefore, at the earliest, date this play about the year 1607. It is not generally known, at least it has not been observed by the modern editors, that the first edition of the Merry Wives in its present state, is in the valuable folio, printed 1623. From whence the quarto of the same play, dated 1630, was evidently copied. The two earlier quartos, 1602, and 1619, only exhibit this comedy as it was originally written : and are so far curious, as they contain Shakespeare's first conceptions in forming a drama, which is the most complete specimen of his comick powers. WARTON.
-- and broke open my lodge.] This probably alludes to fome real incident, at that time well known. JOHNSON.
Fal. But not kiss'd your keeper's daughter?
Fal. I will answer it ftrait; I have done all this:
Shal. The council shall know this,
Fak. 4 Twere better for you, if 'twere known in council; you'll be laugh'd at.
Eva. Pauca verba, fir John; good worts. · Fal. Good worts ! s good cabbage :-Slender, I broke your head; What matter have you against me?
Slen. Marry, fir, I have matter in my head against you; and againft your coney-catching rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Piftol.
4 The old copies read, 'Twere better for you, if 'twere knoots in council. Perhaps it is an abrupt speech, and must be read thus: 'Twere better for you— if 'twere known in council, you'll be laugh'd at. 'Twere better for you, is, I believe, a menace. .
JOHNSON. The modern editors' arbitrarily read-if 'twere not known in council;-but I believe Falstaff quibbles between council and counsel. The latter fignifies fecrecy. So in Hamlet:
“ The players cannot keep counfel, they'll tell all." Falstaff's meaning seems to be 'twere better for you if it were known only in secrecy, i. e. among your friends. A more public complaint would subject you to ridicule.
Thus, in Chaucer's prologue to the Squieres Tale, v. 10305, lats edit:
" But wete ye what? in confeil be it feyde,
- Me reweth fore I am unto hire teyde." STEEVENS. s Good worts! good cabbage :--) Worts was the ancient name of all the cabbage kind. So ir B. and Fletcher’s Valentinian:
“ Planting of worts and onions, any thing." STEEVENS, O concy-catching rascals, ] A coney-catcher was, in the tiine of Elizabeth, a common name for a cheat or sharper. Green, one of the first among us who made a trade of writing pamphlets, published A Detection of the Frauds and Tricks of Coney-catcbers and Couzeners. JOHNSON. So in Decker's Satiromaftix: ** Thou shalt not concy-catch me for five pounds."
Bar. 7 You Banbury cheese!
Nym. Slice, Ifay! pauca, pauca ; flice! that's my humour.
Slen. Where's Simple, my man? -can you telly cousin ?
Evan. Peace: I pray you ! Now let us understand: There is three umpires in this matter, as I understand : that is-master Page, fidelicet, mafter Page; and there is myself, fidelicet, myself; and the three party is, laftly and finally, mine host of the Garter.
Page. We three, to hear it, and end it between them.
Eva. Fery goot : I will make a prief of it in my note-book; and we will afterwards 'ork upon the cause, with as great discreetly as we can. :
? You Banbury cheese!] This is faid in allufion to the thin carcase of Slender. The same thought occurs in Jack Drums Enter. tainment, 1601:-" Put off your cloachs, and you are like a Banbury cheese- nothing but paring.” So Heywood, in his colJection of epigrams :
“ I never saw Banbury checse thick enough,
STEEvens. • How now, Mephoftophilus?] This is the name of a fpirit or farniliar, in the old story book of Sir John Fauftus, or John Fauft: to whom our author afterwards alludes, p. 279. That it was a cant phrase of abuse, appears from the old comedy cited above, called A pleasant Comedy of the Gentle Craft, Signat. H. 3. “ Away you lsington whitepot, hence you hopper-arse, you barley-pud. ding full of maggots, you broiled carbonado, avaunt, avaunt, Mephoftophilus." In the same vein, Bardolph here alfo calls Slender, “ You Banbury cheese." WARTON. a So in Decker's Satiromastix:
“ Thou must run of an errand for me, Mephoftophilus." Again, in the Muse's Looking Glass, 1638:
" We want not you to play Mephoftophilus. A pretty natural vizard." STEEVENS.