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Mrs. Ford. A plain kerchief, Sir John; my brows become nothing elfe, nor that well neither.
Fal. Thou art a tyrant to fay fo; thou would'st make an abfolute Courtier; and the firm fixture of thy foot would give an excellent motion to thy gate, in a femi-circled farthingale. I see what thou wert; if fortune thy foe were not, nature is thy friend: come, thou canst not hide it.
Mrs. Ford. Believe me, there's no fuch thing in me. Fal. What made me love thee? let that perfuade thee, there's fomething extraordinary in thee. Come, I cannot cog, and fay, thou art this and that, like amany of thofe lifping haw-thorn buds, that come like women in men's apparel, and fmell like Bucklers-Bury
This was an image familiar with the poets of that time. Thus Beaumont and Fletcher, in their play of Wit without money, She Spreads fattens as the King's Skips do canvas every where, he may space her mifen; &c. This will direct us to reform the following word of tire valiant, which I fufpect to be corrupt, valiant being a very incongruous epithet for a woman's headdrefs. I fuppofe Shakespeare wrote tire vailant. As the hip-tire was an open head-drefs, fo the tirevailant was a clofe one; in which the head and breast were covered as with a vail. And thefe were, in fact, the two different headdreffes then in fashion, as we may fee by the pictures of that time. One of which was fo open, that the whole neck, breafts and fhoulders, were open'd to view : the other, fo fecurely inclofed in kerchiefs, &c. that nothing could be feen above the eyes or below
or any Venetian attire.] This is a wrong reading, as ap
pears from the impropriety of the word attire here used for a woman's head drefs: whereas it fignifies the drels of any part. We fhould read therefore, Or any 'tire of Venetian admittance. For the word attire, reduced by the Aphærefis, to 'tire, takes a new fignification, and means only the head-drefs. Hence Tire-woman, for a dreffer of the head. As to the meaning of the latter part of the fentence, this may be feen by a paraphrafe of the whole fpeech.
Your face is fo good, fays the fpeaker, that it would become any head drefs worn at court, either the open or the clofe, or indeed any rich and fafhionable one worth adorning with Venetian point, or which will admit to be adorned. [Of Venetian admittance.] The fafhionable lace, at that time, was Venetian point. WARBURTON.
This note is plaufible, except in the explanation of Venetian admittance: but I am afraid this whole fyftem of drefs is unfupported by evidence.
in fimpling time; I cannot: but I love thee, none but thee; and thou deferveft it.
Mrs. Ford. Do not betray me, Sir; I fear, you love miftrefs Page.
Fal. Thou might'ft as well fay, I love to walk by the Counter-gate, which is as hateful to me as the reek of a lime-kiln.
Mrs. Ford. Well, heav'n knows how I love you, and you shall one day find it.
Fal. Keep in that mind; I'll deferve it.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I muft tell you, so you do; or elfe I could not be in that mind,
Rob. [within.] Mistress Ford, mistress Ford, here's miftrefs Page at the door, fweating, and blowing, and looking wildly, and would needs fpeak with you prefently.
Fal. She fhall not fee me; I will enfconce me behind the arras.
Mrs. Ford. Pray you, do fo; fhe's a very tattling [Falstaff hides himself,
Enter miftrefs Page.
What's the matter? how now?
Mrs. Page. O mistress Ford, what have you done? you're fham'd, y'are overthrown, you are undone for
Mrs. Ford. What's the matter, good mistress Page? Mrs. Page. O well-a-day, miftrefs Ford, having an honest man to your husband, to give him fuch cause of fufpicion!
Mrs. Ford. What cause of fufpicion?
Mrs. Page. What caufe of fufpicion ?-out upon you!-how am I miftook in you?
Mrs. Ford. Why, alas! what's the matter?
Mrs. Page. Your husband's coming hither, woman,
with all the officers in Windfor, to fearch for a gentleman, that, he fays, is here now in the houfe, by your confent, to take an ill advantage of his abfence. You are undone.
Mrs. Ford. Speak louderAfide.] 'Tis not fo, I hope.
Mrs. Page. Pray heav'n it be not fo, that you have fuch a man here; but 'tis moft certain, your husband's coming with half Windfor at his heels, to fearch for fuch a one. I come before to tell you: if you know yourfelf clear, why, I am glad of it; but if you have a friend here, convey, convey him out. Be not amaz'd, call all your Senfes to you, defend your reputation, or bid farewel to your good life for ever..
Mrs. Ford. What fhall I do? there is a gentleman, my dear friend; and I fear not mine own fhame, fo much as his peril. I had rather than a thoufand pound, he were out of the houfe.
Mrs. Page. For fhame, never ftand you had rather, and you had rather; your husband's here at hand; be think you of fome conveyance, in the house you cannot hide him. Oh, how have you deceiv'd me? look, hére is a basket, if he be of any reasonable ftature, he may creep in here, and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: or it is whiting time, fend him by your two men to Datchet-mead.
Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there: what shall I do?
Fal. Let me fee't, let me fee't, O let me fee't. I'll in, I'll in.-Follow your friend's counfel.I'll in.
Mrs. Page. What! Sir John Falstaff? are these your letters, Knight?
Fal. I love thee-Help me away; let me creep in here; I'll never
[He goes into the basket, they cover him with foul linen.
Mrs. Page. Help to cover your mafter, boy;-call your men, miftrefs Ford.-You diffembling Knight!
Mrs. Ford. What, John, Robert, John, go take up these clothes here, quickly. Where's the cowl-staff? Look, how you drumble: carry them to the landrefs in Datchet-mead; quickly, come.
Enter Ford, Page, Caius, and Evans.
Ford. Pray you, come near; if I fufpect without caufe, why then make fport at me, then let me be your jeft, I deserve it. How now? whither bear you this? Serv. To the landrefs, forfooth.
Mrs. Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You were beft meddle with buck-washing.
Ford. Buck? I would, I could, wash myself of the buck. Buck, buck, buck? ay, buck: I warrant you, buck, and of the feafon too, it fhall appear. [Exeunt Servants with the basket.] Gentlemen, I have dream'd to-night, I'll tell you my dream. Here, here, here be my keys; afcend my chambers, fearch, seek, find out, I'll warrant, we'll unkennel the fox. Let me ftop this way firft. So, now uncape".
Page. Good mafter Ford, be contented; you wrong yourself too much.
Ford. True, mafter Page.
Up, gentlemen, you fhall fee fport anon; follow me, gentlemen.
Eva. This is ferry fantastical humours and jealou
Caius. By gar, 'tis no the fashion of France; it is not jealous in France.-
So now uncape.] So the Folio of 1623 reads, and rightly. It is a term in Fox hunting, which fignifies to dig out the Fox when earth'd. And here is as
much as to fay, take out the foul linnen under which the adulterer lies hid. The Oxford Editor reads uncouple, out of pure love to an emendation. WARBURT. Page.
Page. Nay, follow him, gentlemen, fee the iffue of his fearch,
Manent Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in this? Mrs. Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceiv'd, or Sir John.
Mrs. Page. What a taking was he in, when your hufband afked who was in the basket!
Mrs. Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of wafhing; fo throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.
Mrs. Page. Hang him, difhoneft rafcal; I would, all of the fame ftrain were in the fame diftrefs.
Mrs. Ford. I think, my husband hath some special fufpicion of Falstaff's being here. I never faw him fo grofs in his jealousy till now.
Mrs. Page. I will lay a plot to try that, and we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff; his diffolute difeafe will scarce obey this medicine.
Mrs. Ford. Shall we fend that foolish carrion, miftrefs Quickly, to him, and excufe his throwing into the water, and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment?
Mrs. Page. We'll do it; let him be sent for to-mor row by eight o'clock, to have amends.
Re-enter Ford, Page, and the rest at a distance.
Ford. I cannot find him; may be, the knäve brag'd of that he could not compafs.
Mrs. Page. Heard you that?
Mrs. Ford. I, I; peace:--You ufe me well, mafter Ford, do you?
Ford. Ay, ay, I do fo.