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· Than thee with wantonness : now doth thy honour
stand, In him that was of late an heretick, As firm as faith.
Page. 'Tis well, ’tis well; no more.
Ford. There is no better way than that they spoke of.
At midnight! fie, fie; he will never come.
Eva. You say, he hath been thrown into the rivers; and hath been grievously peaten, as anold’oman: methinks, there should be terrors in him, that he should not come; methinks, his flesh is punish’d, he shall have no defires.
Page. So think I too.
And let us two devise to bring him hither.
ther will suspect the fun can be a thief, or be corrupted by a brik, than thy honour can be betrayed to wantonness. Mr. Rowe filentix made the change, which fucceeding editors have as filently adopted. A thought of a finilar kind occurs in Hen. IV. Part I:
“ Shall the blelicd fun of hearen prove a micher ?" I have not, however, displaced Mr. Rowe's emendation; as a zeal to preserve old readings without distinction, may sometimes prore as injurious to the author's reputation, as a desire to introduce new ones, without attention to the quaintness of phraseology then ia use. STEEVENS.
And there he blasts the tree, 4 and takes the cattle ;
Page. Why, yet there want not many, that do fear
• Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device; That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us. We'll send him word to meet us in the field, Dilguis'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,
4 and takes the cattle;] To take, in Shakespeare, signifies to seize or strike with a disease, to blast. So, in Lear:
Strike her young bones, “ Ye taking airs, with lameness.” Johnson. So, in Markham's Treatise of Horfes, 1995, chap. *. “Of a horse that is taken. A horse that is bereft of his feeling, mooving, or 1tyrring, is said to be taken, and in footh so hee is, in that he is arrested by fo villanous a disease; yet some farriors, not well under: standing the ground of the disease, conster the word aken, to be striken by some planet or evil-Ipirit, which is falfe, &c.” Thus our poet :
No planets frike, no fairy takes.” Tollet.
idle-headed eld] Eld seems to be used here, for what our poet calls in Macbeth--the olden time. It is employed in Measure for Measure, to express age and decrepitude :
doth beg the alms “ Of palfied eld." STEVENS. 6 Mrs. Ford. Marry, this is our device;
That Falstaff at that oak shall meet with us. Page. Well, ict it not be doubted, but be'll come,
And in this fiape; when you have brought him thither, ] Thus this paffage 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 ? Por the women have not 23
What shall be done with him ? what is your plot? Mrs. Page. That likewise we have thought upon,
and thus : 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, she, and I, are newly met, Let them from forth a law-pit rush at once s 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 faid 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 restored from the old quarto, are absolutely necessary, and clear up the matter
THEOBALD. - urchins, ouphes, -] The primitive fignification of urchin is a hedge-hog. In this sense it is used in the Tempeft. Hence it comes to signify any thing little and dwarfih. Orph is the Teutonic word for a fairy or goblin. STEEVENS.
8 With fome diffufed long :--) A difufid fong signifies a song that strikes out into wild sentiments beyond the bounds of nature, such as those whose fubjeét is fairy land. WARBURTON,
Diffufed may mcan confused. So in Stowe's Chronicle, p. 553: “ Rice, quoth he, (i. e. Cardinal Wolsey,) speak you' Welch to thein: I doubt not but thy speech shall be inore diffuse to him, than his French fall be to thee." TOLLET.
By diffused song, Shakespeare may mean such irregular songs as mad people sing. Edgar, in K. Lear, when he has determined to afume the appearance of a travelling lunatic, declares his resolution to d'ituje his speech, i. e. to give it the turn peculiar to madness, STEEVENS.
9 And, fairy-like, to pinch the unclean knight;] The gramma requires us to read:
And, fairy-like too, pinch the unclean knight. WARE. This should perhaps be written 10-pinah, as one word. This use of to in coir position with verbs, is very common in Gower and Chaucer, but must have been rather antiquated in the time of Shakespcare. See, Gower, D: Confessione Amantis, B. iv, fol. 7: 6. All to-tore is myn araie.”
And ask him, why, that hour of fairy revel,
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-an-apes also, to burn the knight with my taber.
Ford. This will be excellent. I'll go buy them vizards. Mis. Page. My Nan shall be the queen of all the
fairies, Finely attired in a robe of white. Page. That filk will I go buy;—and, in that time
And Chaucer, Reeve's Tale, 1169:
-mouth and nose to-broke." The construction will otherwise be very hard. TYRWHITT.
I add a few more instances to thew that this use of the preposition to was not entirely antiquated. Spenfer's F. 2. b. iv. c.7:
6. With briers and bushes all to-rent and scratched.” Again, b. v. c. 8:
6. With locks all loose, and raiment all to-tore." Again, b. v.c: 9:
“ Made of strange stuffe, but all to-worne and ragged,
“ And underneath the breech was all to-torne and jagged.” Again, in the Three Lords of London, 1590;
“ The post at which he runs, and all to-burns it.” Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592 :
“ A watchet fattin doublet, all to-torn.” STEEVENS.
-pinch him found,] i.e. foundly. The adjective used as an adverb. The modern editors read round, STEEVENS.
2 That filk will I go buy ;-and, in that time] Mr. Theobald, referring that time to the time of buying the filk, alters it to tire. But
Shall master Slender ftcal my Nan
Aside. And marry her at Eaton. -Go, send to Falstaff
Straight. 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 4 tricking for our fairies.
Eva. Let us about it: It is admirable pleasures, and fery honeft knaveries. [Ex. Page, Ford, and Evans,
Mrs. Page. Go, mistress Ford,
[Exit Mrs. Ford.
there is no need of any change; that time evidently relating to the time of the mask with which Falstaff was to be entertained, and which makes the whole subject of this dialogue. Therefore the common reading is right. WARBURTON,
--properties -->) Properties are little incidental necessaries to a theatre, exclusive of scenes and dresses. So, in the Taming the Shrew : 66 -a shoulder of mutton for a property.”
STLEVENS. tricking for our fairies.] To trick, is to dress out. So, in Milton:
66 Not trick'd and frounc'd as she was wont,