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Quick. Alas the day! good heart, that was not her fault: she does so take on with her men; they mistook their erection.
Fal. So did I mine, to build upon a foolish woman's promise.
Quick. Well, she laments, sir, for it, that it would yearn your heart to see it. Her husband goes this morning a birding; she desires you once more to come to her between eight and nine: I must carry her word quickly: she'll make you amends, I warrant you.
Fal. Well, I will visit her:. Tell her so; and bid her think, what a man is: let her consider his frailty, and then judge of my merit.
Quick. I will tell her.
[Exit. Fal. I marvel, I hear not of master Brook; he sent me word to stay within: I like his money well. O, here he comes.
Enter FORD. Ford. Bless you, sir!
Fal. Now, master Brook? you come to know what hath passed between me and Ford's wife?
Ford. That, indeed, sir John, is my business.
Fal. Master Brook, I will not lie to you; I was at her house the hour she appointed me.
Ford. And how sped you, sir?
Ford. How so, sir? Did she change her determination?
Fal. No, master Brook; but the peaking cornuto her husband, master Brook, dwelling in a continual ’larum of jealousy, comes me in the instant of our encounter, after we had embraced, kissed, protested, and, as it were, spoke the prologue of our comedy; and at his heels a rabble of his companions, thither provoked and instigated by his distemper, and, forsooth, to search his house for his wife's love.
Ford. What, while you were there?
Ford. And did he search for you, and could not find you?
Fal. You shall hear. As good luck would have it, comes in one mistress Page; gives intelligence of Ford's approach; and, by her invention, and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-bas
Ford. A buck-basket!
Fal. By the Lord, a buck-basket: rammed me in with foul shirts and smocks, socks, foul stockings, and greasy napkins; that, master Brook, there was the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril.
Ford. And how long lay you there?
Fal. Nay, you shall hear, master Brook, what I have suffered to bring this woman to evil for your good. Being thus crammed in the basket, a couple of Ford's knaves, his hinds, were called forth by their mistress, to carry me in the name of foul clothes to Datche -lane: they took me on their shoulders; met the jealous knave their master in the door; who asked them once twice what they had in their basket:7 I quaked for fear, lest the lunatic knave would have searched it; but fate, ordaining he should be a cuckold, held his hand. Well; on went he for a search, and away went I for foul clothes. But mark the sequel, master Brook: I suffered the pangs of three several deaths: first, an intolerable fright, to be detected with a jealous rotten bellwether: next, to be compassed, like a good bilbo, 8 in
and, by her invention, and Ford's wife's distraction, they conveyed me into a buck-basket.] As it does not appear that his being convey'd into the buck-basket was owing to the supposed distraction of Mistress Ford, I have no doubt but we should read~" and Ford's wife's direction,” which was the fact.
M. Mason. what they had in their basket:] So, before, “What a taking was he in, when your husband ask'd who was in the basket!” but Ford had asked no such question. Our author seems seldom to have revised his plays. Malone.
Falstaff, in the present instance, may purposely exaggerate his alarms, that he may thereby enhance his merit with Ford, at whose purse his designs are ultimately levelled. Steevens.
8 — bilbo,] A bilbo is a Spanish blade, of which the excel. lence is fiexibleness and elasticity. Johnson.
the circumference of a peck,' hilt to point, heel to head: and then, to be stopped in, like a strong distillation, with stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease: think of that—a man of my kidney, '_think of that; that am as subject to heat, as butter; a man of continual dissolution and thaw; it was a miracle, to 'scape suffocation. And in the height of this bath, when I was more than half stewed in grease, like a Dutch dish, to be thrown into the Thames, and cooled, glowing hot, in that surge, like a horse shoe; think of that,--his. sing hot,—think of that, master Brook.
Ford. In good sadness, sir, I am sorry that for my sake you have suffered all this. My suit then is desperate; you ’ll undertake her no more.
Fal. Master Brook, I will be thrown into Ætna, as I have been into Thames, ere I will leave her thus. Her husband is this morning gone a birding : I have received from her another embassy of meeting : 'twixt eight and nine is the hour, master Brook,
Ford. 'Tis past eight already, sir.
Fal. Is it? I will then address me? to my appointment. Come to me at your convenient leisure, and you
Bilbo, from Bilboa, a city of Biscay, where the best blades are made. Steevens.
of a peck,] Thus the folio. The old quarto readsof a pack; and perlaps rightly. Pedlar's packs are sometimes of such a size as to admit of Falstaff's description ; but who bus a Lilliputian could be “compassed in a peck 2” Malone.
Falstaff designedly exaggerates the inconveniences of his situ. ation. When he tells us, that formerly he “ was not an eagle's talon in the waist, and could have crept through an alderman's thumb-ring,” are we to suppose he has a literal meaning ?-and may not some future critic inquire of us whether we ever saw any pedlar's pack of such a size as would contain a person of Falstaff's bulk ?
Besides ;-to try the flexibility of swords, it might have been usual to incurvate them within a wooden circuit like that of a peck measure ; but who would have thought of making the same experiment within a pedlar's pack? Steevens.
kilney,] Kidney in this phrase now signifies kind or qualities, but Falstaff means, a man whose kidnies are as fat as mine. Fohnson.
address me -] i. e. make myself ready. So, in King Henry V :
shall know how I speed; and the conclusion shall be crowned with your enjoying her: Adieu. You shall have her master Brook: master Brook, you shall cuckold Ford.
[Erit. Ford. Hum! ha! is this a vision? is this a dream? do I sleep? Master Ford, awake; awake, master Ford; there's a hole made in your best coat, master Ford. This 'tis to be married! this 'tis to have linen, and buck-baskets !-Well, I will proclaim myself what I am: I will now take the lecher; he is at my house ; he cannot ’scape me; 'tis impossible he should; he cannot creep into a half-penny purse, nor into a pepper-box; but, lest the devil that guides him should aid him, I will search impossible places. Though what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would not, shall not make me tame: if I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me, I'll be horn mad, 3 [Exit,
The Street. Enter Mrs. Page, Mrs. QUICKLY, and WILLIAM.
Mrs. Page. Is he at master Ford's already, think 'st thou?
“ To-morrow for our march we are addrest." Agair, in Macbeth:
“But they did say their prayers, and address'd them
- I'll be horn mad.] There is no image which our author appears so fond of, as that of cuckold's horns. Scarcely a light character is introduced that does not endeavour to produce merriment by some allusion to horned husbands. As he wrote his plays for the stage rather than the press, he perhaps reviewed them seldom, and did not observe this repetition; or finding the jest, howeyer frequent, still successful, did not think correction necessary. Johnson.
4 This is a very trifling scene, of no use to the plot, and I should think of no great delight to the audience; but Shakspeare best know what would please. Johnson.
We may suppose this scene to have been a very entertaining one to the audience for which it was written. Many of the old plays exhibit pedants instructing their scholars. Marston has a very long one in his What you will, between a schoolmaster,
Quick. Sure, he is by this; or will be presently: but truly, he is very courageous mad, about his throwing into the water.
Mistress Ford desires you to come suddenly.
Mrs. Page. I'll be with her by and by; I'll Lut
Enter Sir Hugh Evans.
Eva. No; master Slender is let the boys leave to
Quick. Blessing of his heart!
Mrs. Page. Sir Hugh, my husband says, my son profits nothing in the world at his book; I pray you, ask him some questions in his accidence.
Eva. Come hither, William; hold up your head;
Mrs. Page. Come on, sirrah ; hold up your head;
Quick. Truly I thought there had been one number
Eva. Peace your tattlings. What is fair, William?
Eva. You are a very simplicity ’oman; I pray you,
Will. A stone.
Eva. No, it is lapis ; I pray you remember in your
Eva. That is a good William. What is he, William, that does lend articles?
and Holofernes, Nathaniel, &c. his pupils. The title of this