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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: use me as you will.
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. mord. 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 thee: Tell her, master Slender bath 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? 1 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 cry'd budget, as Anne and I had appointed; and yet it was not Anne, but a post-master's boy. 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.
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. [Erit Caius. 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, pardou !
Page. Now, mistress? how chance you went not with master Slender?
Mrs. Page. Why went you not with master doc. tor, maid?
Fent. You do amaze her: Hear the truth of it. 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 evitatet and shun A thousand irreligious cursed hours, Which forced marriage would have brought upon 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
Eva. I will dance and eat plumbs at your wedding. Mrs. Page. Well, I will muse no further:-Master
Heaven give you many, many merry days!
Let it be so:-Sir John,
Confound her by your questions.
Of this play there is a tradition preserved by Ms. 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 showing 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 in