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Hoft. Ha! a fat woman? the knight may be robb’d: I'll call. Bully-knight! Bully-Sir John ! speak from thy lungs military : art thou there? it is thine Host, thine Ephesian, calls.
Falstaff above. Fal. How now, mine Host?
Host. Here's a 4 Bohemian-Tartar tarries the coming down of thy fat woman : let her descend, bully, let her descend; my chambers are honourable. Fie, privacy ? fie!
Enter Falstaff. Fal. There was, mine Hoft, an old fat woman even now with me; but she's gone.
Simp. Pray you, Sir, was't not the wise warnan of Brentford ?
Fal. Ay, marry was it, 5 mussel-shell; what would you with her ?
Simp. My master, Sir, my master Slender sent to her, seeing her go through the street, to know, Sir, whether one Nym, Sir, that beguild him of a chain, had the chain, or no.
Fal. I spake with the old woman about it.
Fal. Marry, she says, that the very same man, that beguild master Slender of his chain, cozen'd him of it.
Simp. I would I could have spoken with the woman herself ; I had other things to have spoken with her too from him.
Fal. What are they? let us know.
4 - Bohemian-Tartar-] The French call a Bohemian what we call a Gypsey ; but I believe the Hoft means nothing more than, by a wild appellation, to insinuate that Simple makes a ftrange appearance. JOHNSON. s m ufel-fell ;-] He calls poor Simple mussel-shell, because he itands with his mouth open. JOHNSON,
Hoft. Ay, come; quick.
Simp. Why, Sir, they were nothing but about mistress Anne Page ; to know, if it were my master's fortune to have her, or no.
Fal. 'Tis, 'tis his fortune.
Fal. To have her, or no: go; say, the woman told me so.
Simp. May I be so bold to say so, Sir ?
Simp. I thank your worship : I shall make my master glad with these tidings.
(Exit Simple. Host. Thou art clerkly; thou art clerkly, Sir John: was there a wise woman with thee?
Fal. Ay, that there was, mine Hoft; one, that hath taught me more wit than ever I learn'd before in my life: and I paid nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning.
Hoft. Where be my horses ? speak well of them, varletto.
Bard. Run away with the cozeners : for fo soon as I came beyond Eaton, they threw me off from behind one of them, in a slough of mire; and fet spurs, and -away, like three German devils, three Doctor Faustus's.
Hoft. They are gone but to meet the duke, villain; do not say, they are sled; Germans are honest men.
Hoft. What is the matter, Sir? · Eva. Have a care of your entertainments : there is a friend o’mine come to town, tells me, there is three cozen-jermans that has cozen'd all the Hosts of Readings, of Maidenhead, of Colebrook, of horses and money. I tell you for good will, look you : you are wise, and full of gibes and vlouting-stocks; and ’tis not convenient you should be cozen'd: fare you well.
[Exit. Enter Caius. Caius. Ver' is mine Host de Farterre ?
Hoft. Here, master Doctor, in perplexity and doubtful dilemma.
Caius. I cannot tell vat is dat : but it is tell-a-me, dat you make a grand preparation for a duke de 70many : by my trot, der is no duke, dat the court is know, to come. I tell you for good will; adieu.
[Exit. Hoft. Hue and cry, villain, go ! affist me, knight; I am undone : Ay, run, hue and cry, villain ! I am undone!
[Exit. Fal. I would all the world might be cozen'd; for I have been cozen'd, and beaten too. If it should come to the ear of the court, how I have been transforin'd, and how my transformation hath been wash'd and cudgeld, they would melt me out of my fat, drop by drop, and liquor fishermens' boots with me. I warrant, they would whip me with their fine wits, 'till I were as crest-faln as a dry'd pear. I never prosper'd since I forswore myself at 8 Primero. Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.
Enter Mistress Quickly. Now, whence come you?
Quic. From the two parties, forsooth.
Fal. The devil take one party, and his dam the other, and so they shall be both bestow'd! I have suf
Primero.-) A game at cards. Johnson.
fer'd more for their fakes, more, than the villainous inconstancy of man's disposition is able to bear.
Quic. And have not they suffer'd? yes, I warrant; speciously one of them ; mistress Ford, good heart, is beaten black and blue, that you cannot see a white spot about her.
Fal. What tell’lt thou me of black and blue? I was beaten myself into all the colours of the rainbow ; and I was like to be apprehended for the witch of Brentford; but that my admirable dexterity of wit, counterfeiting the 7 action of an old woman, deliver'd me, the knave constable had set me i'the stocks, i'the common stocks, for a witch.
Quic. Sir, let me speak with you in your chamber : you shall hear how things go; and, I warrant, to your content. Here is a letter will say somewhat. Good hearts, 8 what ado is here to bring you together! sure, one of you does not ferve heaven well, that you are so cross'd.
Fal. Come up into my chamber. [Exeunt.
7 - attion of an old woman, What! was it any dexterity of wit in Sir John Halitaff to counterfeit the action of an old woman, in order to escape being apprehended for a witch? Surely, one would imagine, this was the readiest means to bring him into such a scrape : for none but old women have ever been suspected of being witches. The text must certainly be resor'd, a wood woman, a crazy, frantick woman; one too wild, and silly, and unmeaning, to have either the malice, or mischievous subtlety of a witch in her. THEOBALD.
This emendation is received by Sir Thomas Hanmer, but rejected by Dr. Warburton. To me it appears reasonable enough. JOHNSON
I am not certain that this change is necessary. Falstaff, by counterfeiting such weakness and infirmity, as would naturally be pitied in an old woman, averted the punishment to which he ivould otherwise have been subjected, on the supposition that he was a witch. STEEVENS.
8 — what ado is here to bring you together!~ The great fault of this play is the frequency of expressions so profane, that 10 neceflity of preserving character can justify them. There are laws of higher authority than those of criticism.
S CE NE VI.
Enter Fenton and Hoft.
Fent. Yet hear me speak; asist me in my purpose, And, as I am a gentleman, I'll give thee A hundred pound in gold more than your loss.
Hoft. I will hear you, master Fenton; and I will, at the least, keep your counsel.
Fen. From time to time I have acquainted you With the dear love I bear to fair Anne Page ; Who, mutually, hath answer'd my affection (So far forth as herself might be her chufer) Even to my wish. I have a letter from her Of such contents, as you will wonder at; The mirth whereof's lo larded with my matter, That neither, singly, can be manifested, Without the shew of both. Fat Sir John Falstaff Hath a great scene ; the image of the jest
[Shewing a letter. I'll shew you here at large. Hark, good mine Hoft; To-night at Herne's oak, just 'twixt twelve and one, Must my sweet Nan present the fairy queen;
The purpose why, is here; in which disguise,