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teaches him to hick and to hack, which they'll do fast enough of themselves; and to call horum, fie upon you !
Eva. 'Oman, art thou lunatics ? hast thou no understandings for thy cases, and the numbers and the genders * ? Thou art as foolish Christian creatures as I would desires.
Mrs. Page. Pr'ythee, hold thy peace.
Eva. Show me now, William, some declensions of your pronouns.
Will. Forsooth, I have forgot.
Eva. It is qui, quæ, quod : if you forget your quis, your quæs, and your quods, you must be preeches. Go your ways, and play; go.
Mrs. Page. He is a better scholar, than I thought he was.
Eva. He is a good sprag memory”. Farewell, mistress Page.
Mrs. Page. Adieu, good sir Hugh. [Exit Sir Hugh.] Get you home, boy.—Come, we stay too long.
A Room in FORD's House.
Enter FALSTAFF and Mrs. FORD.
Fal. Mistress Ford, your sorrow hath eaten up my
sufferance. I see, you are obsequious in your love', and I profess requital to a hair's breadth; not only, Mrs. Ford, in the simple office of love, but in all the accoutrement, complement, and ceremony of it. But are you sure of your husband
? Mrs. Ford. He's a birding, sweet sir John.
and the numbers AND the genders ?] So the corr. fo. 1632: “and the genders ” must be right, for Sir Hugh speaks in succession of cases, numbers, and genders. The contraction for “and," as in many other instances, was misread of, and so printed in the folio, 1623, and afterwards.
5 He is a good SPRAG memory.] Sprag” still means lively or active in several parts of the country, and it is usually pronounced sprack. It is of very doubtful etymology, and the only other instance cited by our lexicographers of its use, at any time, in our language, is from Cibber's description of Dogget as lively sprack man :" see Richardson's “ Dictionary."
6 I see, you are OBSEQUIOUS in your love,] Our poet ordinarily uses “obsequious” in reference to obsequies for the dead, funereal : see Vol. iv. pp. 153. 231, and Vol. v. pp. 88. 482; but here it means compliant, disposed to gratify.
Mrs. Page. [Within.] What hoa! gossip Ford ! what hoa ! Mrs. Ford. Step into the chamber, sir John.
Mrs. Page. How now, sweetheart! who's at home beside yourself?
Mrs. Ford. Why, none but mine own people.
Mrs. Page. Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes again?: he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind; so curses all Eve's daughters, of what complexion soever; and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying, “Peer-out, Peer-out!” that any madness I ever yet beheld seemed but tameness, civility, and patience, to this his distemper he is in now. I am glad the fat knight is not here.
Mrs. Ford. Why, does he talk of him?
Mrs. Page. Of none but him; and swears, he was carried out, the last time he searched for him, in a basket: protests to
my husband he is now here, and hath drawn him and the rest of their company from their sport, to make another experiment of his suspicion. But I am glad the knight is not here; now he shall see his own foolery.
Mrs. Ford. How near is he, mistress Page ?
Mrs. Page. Why, then you are utterly shamed, and he's but a dead man. What a woman are you !-Away with him, away with him : better shame, than murder.
Mrs. Ford. Which way should he go? how should I bestow him ? Shall I put him into the basket again?
in his old LUNES again :) The 4tos. have vein, and the folio, 1623, lines, no doubt a misprint for “ lunes,” which Theobald substituted. In “Troilus and Cressida," A. ii. sc. 3, Vol. iv. p. 521, the folio, 1623, commits precisely the same error. In “The Winter's Tale," Vol. iii. p. 40, we have“ lunes in a similar sense, and there it is properly printed in all the folios.
Re-enter FalSTAFF .
Fal. No, I'll come no more i' the basket. May I not. go out, ere he come?
Mrs. Page. Alas, three of master Ford's brothers watch the door with pistols, that none shall issue out; otherwise, you might slip away ere he came. But what make you here?
Fal. What shall I do?-I'll creep up into the chimney.
Mrs. Ford. There they always use to discharge their birding-pieces. Creep into the kiln-hole.
Fal. Where is it?
Mrs. Ford. He will seek there, on my word. Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes to them by his note: there is no hiding you in the house.
Fal. I'll go out, then.
Mrs. Page. If you go out' in your own semblance, you die, sir John. Unless you go out disguised,
Mrs. Ford. How might we disguise him ?
Mrs. Page. Alas the day! I know not. There is no woman's gown big enough for him; otherwise, he might put on a hat, a muffler, and a kerchief, and so escape.
Fal. Good hearts, devise something: any extremity, rather than a mischief.
Mrs. Ford. My maid's aunt, the fat woman of Brentford', has a gown above.
Mrs. Page. On my word it will serve him; she's as big as he is : and there's her thrum'd hat, and her muffler too.-Run up, sir John.
Mrs. Ford. Go, go, sweet sir John: mistress Page and I will look some linen for
8 Re-enter Falstaff.] “In affright,” says the corr. fo. 1632.
9 Mrs. Page. If you go out] This speech, as well as the next, is assigned to Mrs. Ford in the folio, 1623: it is very clear that they cannot both belong to her, but the editor of the folio, 1632, in order to get over the difficulty, coupled them. Malone transferred the first to Mrs. Page, we think rightly.
the fat woman of Brentford,] The 4to, 1602, gives her a name very popular in the time of Shakespeare ; viz. Gillian of Brentford. A humorous, but extremely coarse tract, called “ Jyl of Braintford's Testament," was written by R. Copland, and printed by W. Copland, and is often alluded to by subsequent writers, though we are not aware that it was ever republished. See Dodsley's “Old Plays,” last edit., Vol. ix. p. 16, where several notices of Gillian of Brentford are collected.
Mrs. Page. Quick, quick: we'll come dress you straight; put on the gown the while.
[Exit FALSTAFF. Mrs. Ford. I would, my husband would meet him in this shape: he cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears, she's a witch; forbade her my house, and hath threatened to beat her.
Mrs. Page. Heaven guide him to thy husband's cudgel, and the devil guide his cudgel afterwards !
Mrs. Ford. But is my husband coming ?
Mrs. Page. Ay, in good sadness, is he; and talks of the basket too, howsoever he hath had intelligence.
Mrs. Ford. We'll try that; for I'll appoint my men to carry the basket again, to meet him at the door with it, as they did last time. Mrs. Page. Nay, but he'll be here presently: let's go
dress him like the witch of Brentford.
Mrs. Ford. I'll first direct my men, what they shall do with the basket. Go up, I'll bring linen for him straight.
[Exit. Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest varlet! we cannot misuse him enough?
We'll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
[Exit. Re-enter Mrs. FORD, with two Servants. Mrs. Ford. Go, sirs, take the basket again on your shoulders : your master is hard at door; if he bid you set it down, obey him. Quickly; dispatch.
[Exit. 1 Serv. Come, come, take it up. 2 Serv. Pray heaven, it be not full of knight again.
1 Serv. I hope not; I had as lief bear so much lead. Enter FORD, PAGE, SHALLOW, CAIUS, and Sir Hugh EVANS.
Ford. Ay, but if it prove true, master Page, have you any way then to unfool me again ?-Set down the basket, villain.
we cannot misuse him enough.] “ Him " is from the folio, 1632, and it is evidently necessary, though omitted by the folio, 1623.
- and yet honest too:] See a ballad with this burden in the notes to the Shakespeare Society's reprint of “The Merry Wives of Windsor" from the 4to, 1602. It occurs on p. 66, and has the clearest reference to the comedy.
-Somebody call my wife.-Youth in a basket - !-Oh you panderly rascals ! there's a knot, a ging', a pack, a conspiracy against me: now shall the devil be shamed.- What, wife, I say! Come, come forth : behold what honest clothes you send forth to bleaching.
Page. Why, this passes ! Master Ford, you are not to go loose any longer; you must be pinioned.
Era. Why, this is lunatics : this is mad as a mad dog.
Enter Mrs. FORD.
Ford. So say I too, sir.—Come hither, mistress Ford; mis
' I tress Ford, the honest woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband !—I suspect without cause, mistress, do I?
Mrs. Ford. Heaven be my witness, you do, if you suspect me in any dishonesty.
Ford. Well said, brazen-face; hold it out.- Come forth, sirrah.
[Pulls the clothes out of the basket, and throws them
all over the stage o. Page. This passes ! Mrs. Ford. Are you not ashamed ? let the clothes alone. Ford. I shall find
you anon. Eva. 'Tis unreasonable. Will you take up your wife's clothes ? Come away.
Ford. Empty the basket, I say. .
Ford. Master Page, as I am a man, there was one conveyed out of my house yesterday in this basket: why may not he be there again ? In my house I am sure he is : my
4 Youth in a basket !] So the folio; but Malone introduced, from the 4tos, “ You, youth in a basket, come out here !” which forms part of a subsequent speech by Ford, and is no portion of what he says when first he meets the loaded servants. The reading of the folio, 1623, is both natural and intelligible.
there's a knot, a GING,] The folio, 1623, has it gin, which is altered to “ging” in the folio, 1632, or we might have allowed gin to stand in the sense of artifice or contrivance. Ging " is the same as the more modern gang, and was in frequent use in the time of Shakespeare: it occurs in Ben Jonson and Drayton; and Milton also has “ ging,” but afterwards gang was commonly substituted.
- and throws them all over the stage.] These words are from the corr. fo. 1632, and they show in what an exaggerated manner this scene was then acted for the sake of greater comic effect.