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April and May: he will carry 't, he will carry 't; 't is in his buttons ; a he will carry 't.
Page. Not by my consent, I promise you. The gentleman is of no having :b he kept company with the wild Prince and Poins ; he is of too high a region, he knows too much. No, he shall not knit a knot in his fortunes with the finger of my substance: if he take her, let him take her simply; the wealth I have waits on my consent, and my consent goes not that way.
FORD. I beseech you, heartily, some of you go home with me to dinner: besides your cheer, you shall have sport; I will show you a monster. Master doctor, you shall go;—so shall you, master Page; —and you, sir Hugh.
SHAL. Well, fare you well :-we shall have the freer wooing at master Page's.
[Exeunt SHALLOW and SLENDER. CAIUS. Go home, John Rugby; I come anon. [Exit RUGBY.
Host. Farewell, my hearts: I will to my honest knight Falstaff, and drink canary with him.
Exit Host. FORD. [Aside.] I think, I shall drink in pipe-wine first with him ;. I'll make him dance. Will you go, gentles? ALL. Have with you, to see this monster.
SCENE III.-A Room in Ford's House.
Enter MISTRESS FORD and MISTRESS PAGE.
Enter Servants with a Basket.
MRS. FORD. Marry, as I told you before, John, and Robert, be ready here hard by in the brew-house; and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and without any pause, or staggering, take this basket on your shoulders : that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry it among the whitsters c in Datchet mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch, close by the Thames side.
MRS. PAGE. You will do it?
MRS. FORD. I have told them over and over ; they lack no direction : be gone, and come when you are called. [E.ceunt Servants.
MRS. PAGE. Here comes little Robin.
• 'Tis in his buttons ;] Mr. Knight suggests that this phrase may have the same meaning as the modern one, “It does not lie in your breeches," i. e. it is not within your compass.
b Of no having :] No fortune, no revenue. c The whitsters-) Bleachers of linen.
Enter ROBIN. MRS. FORD. How now, my eyas-musket?a what news with you?
Roo. My master sir John is come in at your back-door, mistress Ford, and requests your company. MRS. PAGE. You little Jack-a-lent,” have you been true to us?
ROB. Ay, I'll be sworn: my master knows not of your being here; and hath threatened to put me into everlasting liberty, if I tell you of it; for, he swears, he'll turn me away.
Mrs. PAGE. Thou ’rt a good boy ; this secrecy of thine shall be a tailor to thee, and shall make thee a new doublet and hose.—I'll go hide me.
MRS. FORD. Do so :-go tell thy master, I am alone. Mistress Page, remember you your cue.
[Erit ROBIN. Mrs. PAGE. I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me.
[Exit MRS. PAGE. MRS. FORD, Go to then; we'll use this unwholesome humidity, *this gross watery pumpion ;-we'll teach him to know turtles from
Enter FALSTAFF. FAL. Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel?c Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough ; this is the period of my ambition: O this blessed hour!
MRS. FORD. O sweet sir John!
FAL. Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate, Mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would thy husband were dead! I'll speak it before the best lord, I would make thee my lady.
MRS. FORD. I your lady, sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady.
FAL. Let the court of France show me such another; I see how thine eye would emulate the diamond : thou hast the right arched beauty of the brow, that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.(2)
MRS. FORD. A plain kerchief, sir John: my brows become nothing else ; nor that well neither.
FAL. Thou art a traitor * to say so; thou would'st make an absolute courtier ; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gait, in a semi-circled farthingale. I see what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe, (3) were not Nature, thy friend :d come, thou canst not hide it.
Mrs. Ford. Believe me, there's no such thing in me.
(*) First folio, tyrant. a Eyas-musket?] A young male sparrow-hawk.
b Jack-a-lent,-) A puppet stuck up to be thrown at in Lent, in imitation of the barbarous diversion of throwing at cocks about Shrovetide.
c Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel ?] The second song of Sidney's “ Astrophel and Stella,” begins :
“ Have I caught my heav'nly jewell,
Teaching sleepe most faire to be ?” And as Falstaff probably intended to sing the first line, the impertinent thee, which is not in the quarto, may have been an addition of the players.
d I see what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe, were noť Nature, thy friend :) It seems
FAL. What made me love thee? let that persuade thee, there's something extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog, and say thou art this and that, like a many of these lisping hawthorn buds, that come like women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklersbury in simple-time;a I cannot: but I love thee, none but thee; and thou deservest it.
MRS. FORD. Do not betray me, sir; I fear you love mistress Page.
Fal. Thou might'st as well say, I love to walk by the Countergate ;b which is as hateful to me as the reek of a lime-kiln.
Mrs. Ford. Well, heaven knows how I love you; and you shall one day find it.
Fal. Keep in that mind; I'll deserve it.
MRS. FORD. Nay, I must tell you, so you do; or else I could not be in that mind.
Rob. [Without.] Mistress Ford, mistress Ford! here's mistress Page at the door, sweating, and blowing, and looking wildly, and would needs speak with you presently.
FAL. She shall not see me; I will ensconce me behind the arras. MRS. FORD. Pray you, do so; she's a very tattling woman.
[FALSTAFF hides himself. Enter MISTRESS PAGE and ROBIN. What's the matter? how now?
Mrs. PAGE. O mistress Ford, what have you done?' You ’re shamed, you are overthrown, you are undone for ever.
MRS. FORD. What's the matter, good mistress Page ?
MRS. PAGE. O well-a-day, mistress Ford ! having an honest man to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion !
MRS. FORD. What cause of suspicion ?
MRS. PAGE. What cause of suspicion !-Out upon you! how am I mistook in you!
MRS. FORD. Why, alas! what's the matter?
MRS. PAGE. Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman, that, he says, is here
impossible to make good sense of this passage as it stands. We are disposed to believe the obscurity arises from the common error in these plays of misprinting but and not, and that the poet wrote, “I see what thou wert, if fortune thy foe, were but nature thy friend." The meaning being—I see what you would be if Fortune were as bountiful to you as Nature has been.
* Bucklersbury in simple-time;] In Shakespeare's days, Bucklersbury was the headquarters of the druggists, who dealt in all kinds of medicinal herbs, (simples as they were then called,) whether dry or green.
The Counter-gate ;] The old dramatists and writers on manners, are unsparing in allusions to the Counter-prison, and constantly labour to extract some pleasantry from its name, which, to any who had tasted of the horrors of an English prison in former times, must have been odious enough even in jest :- Thus in Baret's “ Alvearie," 1573 : -“We saie merrily of him who hath been in the Counter, or such like places of prison; He can sing his counter-tenor very well. And in anger we say, I will make you sing a counter-tenor for this geare : meaning imprisonment.'
Again Overbury, in his character of “ A Sargeant,” 1616 :
“ His habit is a long gowne, made at first to cover his knavery, but that growing too monstrous, hee now goes in buffe : his conscience and that, being both cut out of one hide, and are of one toughnesse. The countergate is his kennell, the whole city his Paris garden, the misery of poore men (but especially of bad livers) are the offalles on which hee feeds."
now in the house, by your consent, to take an ill advantage of his absence: you are undone.
MRS. FORD. 'Tis not so, I hope.
MRS. PAGE. Pray heaven it be not so, that you have such a man here ; but 't is most certain your husband's coming with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such a one. I come before to tell you : if you know yourself clear, why I am glad of it: but if you have a friend here, convey, convey him out. Be not amazed ; call all your senses to you; defend your reputation, or bid farewell to your good life for ever.
Mrs. FORD. What shall I do?—There is a gentleman, my dear friend ; and I fear not mine own shame, so much as his peril: I had rather than a thousand pound, he were out of the house.
MRS. PAGE. For shame, never stand you had rather, and you had rather ; your husband's here at hand, bethink you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot hide him.-0, how have you deceived me!-Look, here is a basket; if he be of any reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: or, it is whiting-time,a send him by your two men to Datchet mead. MRS. FORD. He's too big to go in there: what shall I do?
Re-enter FALSTAFF. FAL. Let me see 't, let me see 't! O let me see't! I'll in, I'll in ;
FAL. Let me see his counsel ;-I'll in...
Are these your let
MRS. PAGE. What! sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?
FAL. I love thee, and none but thee;b help me away: let me creep in here ; I'll never
[He goes into the basket; they cover him with foul linen. MRS. PAGE. Help to cover your master, boy: call your men, mistress Ford :-you dissembling knight!
MRS. FORD. What, John, Robert, John! [Exit ROBIN. Re-enter Servants.] Go take up these clothes here, quickly; where's the cowl-staff?c look, how you drumble: carry them to the laundress in Datchet mead ; quickly, come.
Enter FORD, PAGE, Caius, and Sir Hugh EVANS. FORD. 'Pray you, come near: if I suspect without cause, why then make sport at me, then let me be your jest; I deserve it.—How now? whither bear you this?
SERV. To the laundress, forsooth.
MRS. FORD. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it ? You were best meddle with buckwashing.
2 Whiting-time,-) Bleaching-time.
And none but thee ;] These words are restored from the quarto, in most of the modern editions. Mr. Collier and Mr. Knight, indeed, reject them, but somewhat inconsistently, since they admit other readings from the same source with no greater claims to insertion.
c Cowl-staff?] A staff or pole, for carrying a bucket at each end, or to sling a cowl or tub, with two handles on, to be borne by two men. “Bicollo, a coule-staffe to carry behinde and before.”-FLORIO's Dict. 1611.
FORD. Buck! I would I could wash myself of the buck! Buck, buck, buck! Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck; and of the season too, it shall appear. Exeunt Servants with the basket.] Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night ; I'll tell you my dream. Here, here, here be my keys: ascend my chambers, search, seek, find out: I'll warrant, we'll unkennel the fox :-let me stop this way first :-50, now uncape.
PAGE. Good master Ford, be contented: you wrong yourself too much.
FORD. True, master Page.-Up, gentlemen ; you shall see sport anon: follow me, gentlemen.
[Exit. Eva. This is fery fantastical humours, and jealousies.
Caius. By gar, 't is no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France. PAGE. Nay, follow him, gentlemen ; see the issue of his search.
[E.ceunt EVANS, PAGE, and CAIUS. MRS. PAGE. Is there not a double excellency in this?
MRS. FORD. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or sir John.
MRS. PAGE. What a taking was he in, when your husband asked what b was in the basket!
MRS. FORD. I am half afraid he will have need of washing ; so, throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
MRS. PAGE. Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same strain were in the same distress.
MRS. FORD. I think, my husband hath some special suspicion of Falstaff's being here; for I never saw him so gross in his jealousy till now.
MRS. PAGE. I will lay a plot to try that: and we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will scarce obey this medicine.
Mrs. FORD. Shall we send that foolish carrion, mistress Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the water; and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment ?
MRS. PAGE. We will do it; let him be sent for to-morrow, eight o'clock, to have amends.
Re-enter FORD, PAGE, Caius, and SIR HUGH EVANS. FORD. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragged of that he could not compass.
MRS. PAGE. Heard you that ?
MRS. FORD. Ay, ay, peace : *—you use me well, master Ford, do you? FORD. Ay, I do so.
(*) First folio omits, Ay, ay, peace. * So, now uncape.] To uncape a fox, was the old technical term for unearth him.
b What was in the basket !) The folio has, “ who was in the basket !” but Ford, in fact, asked neither who, nor what, was in the basket. The quarto, 1602, is more consistent. there, Ford directs the servants to set down the basket; and Mistress Ford afterwards asks, “I wonder what he thought when my husband bad them set down the basket?"
of the same strain-] See note (-), Vol. II., p. 110.