Imatges de pàgina
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EVA. Jeshu! Master Slender, cannot you see but marry boys"?

PAGE. O, I am vexed at heart: What shall I do? MRS. PAGE. Good George, be not angry : I knew of your purpose; turned my daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the doctor at the deanery, and there married.

Enter CAIUS.

CAIUS. Vere is mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened; I ha' married un garçon, a boy; un paisan, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page: by gar, I am cozened.

MRS. PAGE. Why, did you take her in green ? CAIUS. Ay, be gar, and 'tis a boy: be gar, I'll raise all Windsor. [Exit Cars. FORD. This is strange: Who hath got the right Anne ?

PAGE. My heart misgives me: Here comes master Fenton.

Enter FENTON and ANNE PAGE.

How now, master Fenton ?

ANNE. Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon !

PAGE. Now, mistress? how chance you went not with master Slender?

MRS. PAGE. Why went you not with master doctor, maid?

FENT. You do amaze her3: Hear the truth of it.

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-marry boys?] This and the next speech are likewise restorations from the old quarto. STEEVENS.

3 AMAZE her;] i. e. confound her by your questions. So, in Cymbeline, Act IV. Sc. III. :

"I am amaz'd with matter."

Again, in Goulart's Memorable Histories, &c. 4to. 1607: “I have seene two men (the father and the sonne) have their bodies so amazed and deaded with thunder," &c. STEEVENS.

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You would have married her most shamefully,
Where there was no proportion held in love.
The truth is, She and I, long since contracted,
Are now so sure, that nothing can dissolve us.
The offence is holy, that she hath committed:
And this deceit loses the name of craft,
Of disobedience, or unduteous title;
Since therein she doth evitate and shun

A thousand irreligious cursed hours,
Which forced marriage would have brought upon

her.

FORD. Stand not amaz'd: here is no remedy:In love, the heavens themselves do guide the state; Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.

FAL. I am glad, though you have ta'en a special stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanced. PAGE. Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven give thee joy!

What cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac'd. FAL. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas'd 5.

4 Page. Well, what remedy?] In the first sketch of this play, which, as Mr. Pope observes, is much inferior to the latter performance, the only sentiment of which I regret the omission, occurs at this critical time. When Fenton brings in his wife, there is this dialogue:

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"Mrs. Ford. Come, Mrs. Page, I must be bold with you. ""Tis pity to part love that is so true.

"Mrs. Page. [Aside.] Although that I have miss'd in my intent, "Yet I am glad my husband's match is cross'd.

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Here Fenton, take her.

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"Eva. Come, master Page, you must needs agree.

Ford. I' faith, sir, come, you see your wife is pleas'd. Page. I cannot tell, and yet my heart is eas'd; "And yet it doth me good the doctor miss'd.

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"Come hither, Fenton, and come hither daughter." - all sorts of deer are chas'd.] Young and old, as bucks. He alludes to Fenton's having just run Page. MALONE.

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JOHNSON. does as well down Anne

EVA. I will dance and eat plums at your wedding".

MRS. PAGE. Well, I will muse no further:-
Master Fenton,

Heaven give you many, many merry days!-
Good husband, let us every one go home,
And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
Sir John and all.

FORD. Let it be so:-Sir John,

To master Brook you yet shall hold your word;
For he, to-night, shall lie with mistress Ford'.

[Exeunt.

6 I will dance and eat plums at your wedding.] I have no doubt but this line, supposed to be spoken by Evans, is misplaced, and should come in after that spoken by Falstaff, which being intended to rhyme with the last line of Page's speech, should immediately follow it; and then the passage will run thus:

"Page. Well, what remedy? Fenton, Heaven give thee joy! "What cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac'd.

"Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chac'd. "Evans. I will dance and eat plums," &c. M. MASON.

I have availed myself of Mr. M. Mason's very judicious remark, which had also been made by Mr. Malone, who observes that Evans's speech-“ I will dance," &c. was restored from the first quarto by Mr. Pope. STEEVENS.

7 Of this play there is a tradition preserved by Mr. Rowe, that it was written at the command of Queen Elizabeth, who was so delighted with the character of Falstaff, that she wished it to be diffused through more plays; but suspecting that it might pall by continued uniformity, directed the poet to diversify his manner, by shewing him in love. No task is harder than that of writing to the ideas of another. Shakspeare knew what the Queen, if the story be true, seems not to have known-that by any real passion of tenderness, the selfish craft, the careless jollity, and the lazy luxury of Falstaff must have suffered so much abatement, that little of his former cast would have remained. Falstaff could not love, but by ceasing to be Falstaff. He could only counterfeit love, and his professions could be prompted, not by the hope of pleasure, but of money. Thus the poet approached as near as he could to the work enjoined him; yet having perhaps in the former plays completed his own idea, seems not to have been able to give Falstaff all his former power of entertainment.

This comedy is remarkable for the variety and number of the personages, who exhibit more characters appropriated and discriminated, than perhaps can be found in any other play.

Whether Shakspeare was the first that produced upon the English stage the effect of language distorted and depraved by provincial or foreign pronunciation, I cannot certainly decide.* This mode of forming ridiculous characters can confer praise only on him who originally discovered it, for it requires not much of either wit or judgement: its success must be derived almost wholly from the player, but its power in a skilful mouth, even he that despises it, is unable to resist.

The conduct of this drama is deficient; the action begins and ends often, before the conclusion, and the different parts might change places without inconvenience; but its general power, that power by which all works of genius shall finally be tried, is such, that perhaps it never yet had reader or spectator who did not think it too soon at the end. JOHNSON.

The story of The Two Lovers of Pisa, from which (as Dr. Farmer has observed) Falstaff's adventures in this play seem to have been taken, is thus related in Tarleton's Newes out of Purgatorie, bl. 1. no date. [Entered in the Stationers' Books, June 16, 1590.]

"In Pisa, a famous cittie of Italye, there liued a gentleman of good linage and lands, feared as well for his wealth, as honoured for his vertue; but indeed well thought on for both yet the better for his riches. This gentleman had one onelye daughter called Margaret, who for her beauty was liked of all, and desired of many but neither might their sutes, nor her own preuaile about her father's resolution, who was determyned not to marrye her, but to such a man as should be able in abundance to maintain the excellency of her beauty. Diuers young gentlemen proffered large feoffments, but in vaine: a maide shee must be still: till at last an olde doctor in the towne, that professed phisicke, became a sutor to her, who was a welcome man to her father, in that he was one of the welthiest men in all Pisa. A tall strippling he was, and a proper youth, his age about fourescore; his head as

* In The Three Ladies of London, 1584, is the character of an Italian merchant, very strongly marked by foreign pronunciation. Dr. Dodypoll, in the comedy which bears his name, is, like Caius, a French physician. This piece appeared at least a year before The Merry Wives of Windsor. The hero of it speaks such another jargon as the antagonist of Sir Hugh, and like him is cheated of his mistress. In several other pieces, more ancient than the earliest of Shakspeare's, provincial characters are introduced. STEEVENS.

In the old play of Henry the Fifth, French soldiers are introduced, speaking broken English. BOSWELL.

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white as milke, wherein for offence sake there was left neuer a tooth but it is no matter; what he wanted in person he had in the purse; which the poore gentlewoman little regarded, wishing rather to tie herself to one that might fit her content, though they liued meanely, then to him with all the wealth in Italye. But shee was yong and forest to follow her father's direction, who vpon large couenants was content his daughter should marry with the doctor, and whether she like him or no, the match was made vp, and in short time she was married. The poore wench was bound to the stake, and had not onely an old impotent man, but one that was so jealous, as none might enter into his house without suspicion, nor she doo any thing without blame the least glance, the smallest countenance, any smile, was a manifest instance to him, that shee thought of others better than himselfe; thys he himselfe liued in a hell, and tormented his wife in as ill perplexitie. At last it chaunced, that a young gentleman of the citie comming by her house, and seeing her looke out at her window, noting her rare and excellent proportion, fell in loue with her, and that so extreamelye, as his passion had no means till her fauour might mittigate his heartsicke content. The young man that was ignorant in amorous matters, and had neuer been vsed to courte anye gentlewoman, thought to reueale his passions to some one freend, that might give him counsaile for the winning of her loue; and thinking experience was the surest maister, on a daye seeing the olde doctor walking in the churche, (that was Margarets husband,) little knowing who he was, he thought this was the fittest man to whom he might discouer his passions, for that hee was olde and knewe much, and was a physition that with his drugges might help him forward in his purposes: so that seeing the old man walke solitary, he ioinde vnto him, and after a curteous salute, told him he was to impart a matter of great import vnto him; wherein if hee would not onely be secrete, but endeavour to pleasure him, his pains should be euery way to the full considered. You must imagine, gentleman, quoth Mutio, for so was the doctors name, that men of our profession are no blabs, but hold their secrets in their hearts' bottome; and therefore reueale what you please, it shall not onely be concealed, but cured; if either my art or counsaile may do it. Upon this Lionello, (so was the young gentleman called,) told and discourst vnto him from point to point how he was falne in loue with a gentlewoman that was married to one of his profession; discouered her dwelling and the house and for that he was vnacquainted with the woman, and a man little experienced in loue matters, he required his favour to further him with his aduise. Mutio at this motion was stung to the hart, knowing it was his wife hee was fallen in love withal; yet to conceale the matter, and to experience his wiue's chastity, and that if she plaide false, he might be reuenged on them both, he dissembled the matter, and

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