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What a Herod of Jewry is this — wicked, wicked, world one that is well nigh worn to pieces with age, to show himself a young gallant! What an unweighed behaviour 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.
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. () woman! if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to such honour.
Mrs. Page. Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour. 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 !
1 - for the putting down of fat men.] The folios omit “fat," but there seems no reason in Mrs. Page's determination, if she wish to put down the whole male sex because a fat man had offered her an affront. Theobald first inserted “fat,” and it is found in this place in the quartos, though not exactly in the same connexion. Mrs. Page’s allusion to Falstaff's paunch just afterwards seems also to warrant the addition,
These knights will hack; and so, thou shouldst 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 women'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 S.” What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns 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 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
2 – These knights will hack ; and so, thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.] The commentators all here understand an allusion to the unrestricted creation of knights by James I. in the beginning of his reign ; and, in order so to explain the passage, they take “ hack” in the sense of hackney. It seems to us, however, that there is no such reference, and that “ hack” is to be received in its ordinary acceptation; "to hack and hew” is a very common expression, as applied to knights; and what Mrs. Page means to say is probably no more, than that “ knights hack and hew, and therefore you ought not to alter the article of your gentry, by not doing like other knights." A female knight, excepting in rare instances of heroines of romance, would not be qualified to “hack” her enemies.
3 — to the tune of “ Green Sleeves.”] This once very popular air is again mentioned in Act v. of this play: it has not been carried back earlier than 1580, when it was licensed to Richard Jones (vide “ National Airs," by W. Chappell, vol. ii. p. 38). Many ballads were subsequently written to the tune, known afterwards by the name of " Which nobody can deny."
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 this fury.
Mrs. Ford. Boarding call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck.
Mrs. Page. 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 villainy 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.
Enter FORD, PISTOL, PAGE, and Nym.
Ford. Well, I hope, it be not so.
Pist. Hope is a curtail dog in some affairs : Sir John affects thy wife.
Ford. Why, sir, my wife is not young.
Ford. Love my wife ?
Pist. With liver burning hot: prevent, or go thou, Like sir Actæon he, with Ring-wood at thy heels. 0! odious is the name.
Ford. What name, sir ?
Pist. The horn, I say. Farewell : Take heed; have open eye, for thieves do foot by
night: Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo birds do
sing:Away, sir corporal Nym.Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. [Erit Pistol.
Ford. I will be patient: I will find out this.
Nym. And this is true; sto Page] I like not the humour of lying. He hath wronged me in some humours: I should have borne the humoured letter to her, but I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife; there's the short and the long. My name is corporal Nym: I speak, and I avouch'tis true :my name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your wife.—Adieu. I love not the humour of bread and cheese. Adieu.
[Exit Nym. Page. The humour of it, quoth 'a! here's a fellow frights English out of his wits.
Ford, I will seek out Falstaff.
4- here's a fellow frights English out of his wits.] So the folio, from which there is no pretence to vary, although the quartos have “humour" for “ English.” Just above Malone made a needless addition from the quartos,
3 I never heard such a DRAWLING-AFFECTING rogue.] i. e. such a rogue who affects drawling. The modern mode of printing the passage, “such a drawling, affecting rogue,” destroys the point of it: we follow the folio, 1623.
Page. I will not believe such a Cataiano, though the priest o' the town commended him for a true man.
Ford. 'Twas a good sensible fellow: well.
Mrs. Ford. How now, sweet Frank! why art thou melancholy?
Ford. I melancholy! I am not melancholy-Get you home, go.
Mrs. Ford. 'Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now.—Will you go, mistress Page ?
Mrs. Page. Have with you. You'll come to dinner, George?-[Aside to Mrs. FORD.] Look, who comes yonder: she shall be our messenger to this paltry knight.
Enter Mrs. QUICKLY. Mrs. Ford. Trust me, I thought on her: she'll fit it. Mrs. Page. You are come to see my daughter Anne?
Quick. Ay, forsooth; and, I pray, how does good mistress Anne?
Mrs. Page. Go in with us, and see: we have an hour's talk with you.
[Exeunt Mrs. Page, Mrs. FORD, and Mrs.
QUICKLY. Page. How now, master Ford ?
Ford. You heard what this knave told me, did you not?
Page. Yes; and you heard what the other told me. Ford. Do you think there is truth in them?
Page. Hang 'em, slaves; I do not think the knight would offer it: but these that accuse him, in his intent
6 — such a Catalan,–] China was of old called Cataia, or Cathay, and “ Cataian” may have been a cant term for a liar, thief, or cheat : here we find it put in opposition to “true man,” as in other places we have had thief and “true man,” opposed to each other. The word occurs again in “ Twelfth Night,” Vol. iii. p. 355, where Sir Toby says that Olivia is “a Cataian," but without any such meaning.