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your house.

I be reveng’d on him? for reveng'd I will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.

Enter Mistress Ford. Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page ! trust me, I was going

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 shew to the contrary.

Mrs. Page. 'Faith, but you do, in my mind. .

Mrs. Ford. Well, I do then ; yet, I say, I could shew you to the contrary : O mistress Page, give me fome counsel !

Mrs. Page. What's the matter, woman?

Mrs. Ford. O woman, if it were not for one trilling 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?

licly transacting. The Merry Wives of Windsor appears to have been wrote in 1601, or very shortly after. And we are informed by Sir Simon D’Ewes' Journal, that no home afair made more noise in and out of parliament at that time, than the suppression and regulation of taverns, inns, ale-houses, strong liquors, and the drinkers of them. In the parliament held 1597, a bill was brought into both houses, “ For sup“ pressing the multitude of malsters," &c. Another, “ To “ restrain the excessive making of malt, and disorderly brewing “ of strong beer.” Another, “ For regulating of inns, ta

vern's,” &c. In the next parliament, held 1601, was a bill, " For the suppressing of the multitude of ale-houses and “ tipling-houses.” Another, “ Against excessive and com

mon drunkenness ;” and several others of the same nature. Some of which, after much canvalling, were thrown out, and others passed into acts. WARBURTON.

I do not see that any alteration is neceffary ; if it were, either of the foregoing conjectures might serve the turn. But surely Mrs. Ford may naturally enough, in the first heat of her anger, rail at the sex for the fault of one.

JOHNSON.

Mrs.

Mrs. Ford. If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment, or so, I could be knighted.

Mrs. Page. 4 What? -- thou lieft!--Sir Alice Ford! - These knights will hack, and so thou shouldft not alter the article of thy gentry.

Mrs. Ford. We burn day-light :- here, readread ;-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 mens' liking: and yet he would not swear ; prais'd womens' modesty; and gave such orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness,

4 What ? --thou lieft!- Sir Alice Ford !-Thefe knights will HACK, and so thou shouldft not alter the article of thy gentry.] The unintelligible nonsense of this speech is hardly to be matched. The change of a single letter has occafioned it, which is thus easily removed. Read and point-These knights will LACK, and so thou shouldpt not alter the article of thy gentry. The other had said, I could be knighted, meaning, I could have a knight for my lover;

her companion took it in the other sense, of conferring the title, and says, What?-thou lief!-Sir Alice Ford!

- beje knights will lack a title [i. e. risk the punishment of degradation) rather than not make a whore of thee. For we are to observe that--and so thou shouldpt not, is a mode of speech, amongst the writers of that time, equivalent to rather than thou jouldfi not. WARBURTON.

Upon this passage the learned editor has tried his strength, in my opinion, with more spirit than success.

I read thus—These knights we'll back, and so thou shouldest not alter the article of thy gentry. The punishment of a recreant or undeserving knight, was to hack off his spurs: the meaning therefore is ; it is not worth the while of a gentlewoman to be made a knight, for we'll degrade all these knights in a little time, by the usual form of backing off their spurs, and thou, if thou art knighted, falt be hacked with the reit. JOHNSON.

Hanmer says, to hack, means to turn hackney, or prostitute. I suppose he means-Thefe knights will degrade themselves, so that jhe will acquire no honour by being connected with them. Perhaps the passage has been hitherto entirely misunderstood. To back, is an expreslion already used in the ridiculous scene between Quickly, Evans, and the Boy, and fignifies, to do mischief. The sense of this passage may therefore be, these knights are a riotous, diffolute fort of people, and on that account thou should'st not wish to be of the number.

STEEVENS.

that

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. What tempest, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore at Windsor? How shall I be reveng'd 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 f 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 puts into the 5 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 fame, 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 knew 6 some strain in me, that I know not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.

6

spress,-) Press is used ambiguously, for a press to print, and a prejš to squeeze. Johnson.

some Arain in me,-) Thus the old copies. The modern editors read, “ some ftuin in me,” but I think unneccfsarily. A fimilar expression occurs in The Winter's Tale:

" With what encounter so uncurrent, have I

Strain'd to appear thus ?” And again in Timon :

-a noble nature
May catch a wrench.Steevens.

Mrs.

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 reveng'd 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 pawn'd his horses to mine Hoft of the Garter.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, I will consent to act any villainy against him, that may not fully the chariness of our honesty. Oh, that my husband saw this letter ! it woulo 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 unmeafurable distance.

Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman.

Mrs. Page. Let's consult together against this greasy knight. Come hither.

[They retire. Enter Ford with Pistol, Page with Nym. Ford. Well, I hope, it be not so.

Pift. Hope is a 7 curtail-dog in some affairs.
Sir John affects thy wife.

Ford. Why, Sir, my wife is not young.
Pift. He wooes both high and low, both rich and

poor, Both

young and old, one with another, Ford ; He loves thy gally-mawfry; Ford, perpend.

Ford. Love my wife ?

Pist. With liver burning hot: prevent, or go thou, Like Sir Acteon, he, with Ring-wood at thy heels : O, odious is the name!

Ford. What name, Sir ?

7 -curtail-dog-) That is, a dog that misses his game. The tail is counted necessary to the agility of a greyhound; and one method of disqualifying a dog, according to the forest laws, is to cut his tail, or make him a curtail. Johnson.

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Pift. The horn, I say : farewel.
Take heed ; have open eye; for thieves do foot by

night.
Take heed, ere summer comes, or 8 cuckoo-birds do

sing 9 Away, Sir corporal Nym.Believe it, Page, he speaks sense. [Exit Pistol

Ford. I will be patient; I will find out this.

Nym. And this is true: I like not the humour of lying. He hath wrong'd me in some humours : I should have borne the humour'd letter to her ; but 1 I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necesity. -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; and there's the humour of it. Adieu.

[Exit Nym.

birds appear.

&-cuckoo-birds do fing.) Such is the reading of the folio, and the quarto 1630. The quarto 1619 reads-when cuckoo

The modern editors- when cuckoo-birds affright. For this last reading I find no authority. STEEVENS. 9 Away, Sir corporal Nym.

Believe it, Page, he speaks sense.] Nym, I believe, is out of place, and we should read thus:

Away, Sir corporal.
Nym. Believe it, Page, he speaks sense. JOHNSON.

I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my neceflity.--He loves your wife, &c.] This absurd passage may be pointed into sense. I have a frord, and it mall bite- -upon my necessity, he loves your wife, &c. Having said his sword jould bite

, he stops fort, as was fitting : for he meant that it should bite upon the bigbway. And then turns to the subject of his conference, and swears, by his neceflity, that Falstaff loved his wife.

WARBURTON. I do not see the difficulty of this passage: no phrase is more common than you may, upon a need, thus. Nym, to gain credit, says, that he is above the mean office of carrying loveletters; he has nobler means of living; he has a sword, and upon his necesity, that is, cuben bis need drives him to unlawful expedients, his sword fhall bite. JOHNSON.

Vol. I.

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