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FORD. Now, sir, who's a cuckold now ?-Master Brook, Falstaff's a knave, a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, master Brook: And, master Brook, he hath enjoyed nothing of Ford's but his buckbasket, his cudgel, and twenty pounds of money; which must be paid to master Brook; his horses are arrested for it, master Brook.
MRS. FORD. Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never take you for my love again, but I will always count you my deer. FAL. I do begin to perceive that I am made an
FORD. Ay, and an ox too; both the proofs are
FAL. And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought, they were not fairies: and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden sur
horns of a buck and a yoak? What connection is there between a yoak and a forest? Why, none; whereas, on the other hand, the connection between a forest and an oak is evident; nor is the resemblance less evident between a tree and the branches of a buck's horns; they are indeed called branches from that very resemblance; and the horns of a deer are called in French les bois. Though horns are types of cuckoldom, yoaks are not; and surely the types of cuckoldom, whatever they may be, are more proper for a town than for a forest. I I am surprised that the subsequent editors should have adopted an amendment, which makes the passage nonsense. M. MASON.
I have inserted Mr. M. Mason's note, because he appears to think it brings conviction with it. Perhaps, however, (as Dr. Farmer observes to me,) he was not aware that the extremities of yokes for cattle, as still used in several counties of England, bend upwards, and rising very high, in shape resemble horns.
to master BROOK;] We ought rather to read with the old quarto-" which must be paid to master Ford;" for as Ford, to mortify Falstaff, addresses him throughout his speech by the name of Brook, the describing himself by the same name creates a confusion. A modern editor plausibly enough reads-" which must be paid too, Master Brook;" but the first sketch shows that to is right; for the sentence, as it stands in the quarto, will not admit too MALONE.
prize of my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into a received belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now, how wit may be made a Jack-a-lent*, when 'tis upon ill employment!
EVA. Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave your desires, and fairies will not pinse you.
FORD. Well said, fairy Hugh.
Eva. And leave you your jealousies too, I pray
FORD. I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able to woo her in good English.
FAL. Have I laid my brain in the sun, and dried it, that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'erreaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welch goat too? Shall I have a coxcomb of frize' ? 'tis time I were choked with a piece of toasted cheese.
EVA. Seese is not good to give putter; your pelly is all putter.
FAL. Seese and putter! have I lived to stand at
4 how wit may be made a JACK-A-LENT,] A Jack o' Lent appears to have been some puppet which was thrown at in Lent, like Shrove-tide cocks.
So, in the old comedy of Lady Alimony, 1659: -throwing cudgels
"At Jack-a-Lents, or Shrove-cocks."
Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Tamer Tamed:
if I forfeit,
"Make me a Jack o' Lent, and break my shins
Again, in Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub:
on an Ash-Wednesday,
"Where thou didst stand six weeks the Jack o' Lent
5 —a coxcomb of FRIZE?] i. e. a fool's cap made out of Welch materials. Wales was famous for this cloth. So, in K. Edward I. 1599: "Enter Lluellin, alias Prince of Wales, &c. with swords and bucklers, and frieze jerkins." Again: "Enter Sussex, &c. with a mantle of frieze." my boy shall weare a mantle of this country's weaving, to keep him warm." STEEVENS.
the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is enough to be the decay of lust and latewalking, through the realm.
MRS. PAGE. Why, sir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and shoulders, and have given ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our delight?
FORD. What, a hodge-pudding? a bag of flax? MRS. PAGE. A puffed man?
PAGE. Old, cold, withered, and of intolerable entrails?
FORD. And one that is as slanderous as Satan?
PAGE. And as poor as Job?
FORD. And as wicked as his wife?
EVA. And given to fornications, and to taverns, and sack, and wine, and metheglins, and to drinkings, and swearings, and starings, pribbles and prabbles?
FAL. Well, I am your theme: you have the start of me; I am dejected; I am not able to answer the Welch flannel: ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me 7: use me as you will.
6 the Welch FLANNEL;] The very word is derived from a Welch one, so that it is almost unnecessary to add that flannel was originally the manufacture of Wales. In the old play of K. Edward I. 1599: "Enter Hugh ap David, Guenthian his wench in flannel, and Jack his novice."
"Here's a wholesome Welch wench,
Lapt in her flannel, as warm as wool." STEEVENS.
7 — IGNORANCE ITSELF is a PLUMMET O'ER me:] Though this be perhaps not unintelligible, yet it is an odd way of confessing his dejection. I should wish to read:
ignorance itself has a plume o' me."
That is, I am so depressed, that ignorance itself plucks me, and decks itself with the spoils of Of the present weakness. my reading, which is probably right, the meaning may be, I am so enfeebled, that ignorance itself weighs me down and oppresses me.
"Ignorance itself," says Falstaff, "is a plummet o'er me." If any alteration be necessary, I think, "Ignorance itself is a planet o'er
FORD. Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one master Brook, that you have cozened of money, to whom you should have been a pander: over and above that you have suffered, I think, to repay that money will be a biting affliction.
MRS. FORD. Nay, husband, let that go to make amends;
Forgive that sum, and so we'll all be friends. FORD. Well, here's my hand; all's forgiven at last.
PAGE. Yet be cheerful, knight: thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house; where I will desire thee to laugh at my wife, that now laughs at
me," would have a chance to be right. Thus Bobadil excuses his cowardice : "Sure I was struck with a planet, for I had no power to touch my weapon." FARMER.
As Mr. M. Mason observes, there is a passage in this very play which tends to support Dr. Farmer's amendment.
"I will awe him with my cudgel; it shall hang like a meteor o'er the cuckold's horns: Master Brook, thou shalt know, I will predominate over the peasant."
Dr. Farmer might also have countenanced his conjecture by a passage in K. Henry VI. where Queen Margaret says, that Suffolk's face
66- rul'd like a wandering planet over me." STEEVENS. Perhaps Falstaff's meaning may be this: "Ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me: i. e. above me ; ignorance itself is not so low as I am, by the length of a plummet line. TYRWHITT.
"Ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me." i. e. serves to point my obliquities. This is said in consequence of Evans's last speech. The allusion is to the examination of a carpenter's work by the plummet held over it; of which line Sir Hugh is here represented as the lead. HENLEY.
I am satisfied with the old reading.
8 Mrs. Ford. Nay, husband,] This and the following little speech I have inserted from the old quartos. The retrenchment, I presume, was by the players. Sir John Falstaff is sufficiently punished, in being disappointed and exposed. The expectation of his being prosecuted for the twenty pounds, gives the conclusion too tragical a turn. Besides, it is poetical justice that Ford should sustain this loss, as a fine for his unreasonable jealousy.
-laugh at my wife,] The two plots are excellently connected, and the transition very artfully made in this speech.
thee: Tell her, master Slender hath married her daughter.
MRS. PAGE. Doctors doubt that: If Anne Page be my daughter, she is, by this, doctor Caius' wife. [Aside.
SLEN. Whoo, ho! ho! father Page!
PAGE. Son! how now? how now, son? have you despatched?
SLEN. Despatched!-I'll make the best in Glocestershire know on't; would I were hanged, la, else.
PAGE. Of what, son?
SLEN. I came yonder at Eton to marry mistress Anne Page, and she's a great lubberly boy: If it had not been i'the church, I would have swinged him, or he should have swinged me. If I did not think it had been Anne Page, would I might never stir, and 'tis a post-master's boy.
PAGE. Upon my life then you took the wrong. SLEN. What need you tell me that? I think so, when I took a boy for a girl: If I had been married to him, for all he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.
PAGE. Why, this is your own folly. Did not I tell you, how you should know my daughter by her garments ?
SLEN. I went to her in white', and cry'd, mum, and she cryed budget, as Anne and I had appointed; and yet it was not Anne, but a postmaster's boy.
-in WHITE,] The old copy, by the inadvertence of either the author or transcriber, reads-in green; and in the two subsequent speeches of Mrs. Page, instead of green we find white. The corrections, which are fully justified by what has preceded, (see p. 175,) were made by Mr. Pope. MALONE.