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honesty.' O, that my husband saw this letter!% it would give eternal food to his jealousy.
Mrs. Page. Why, look, where he comes; and my good man too: he 's as far from jealousy, as I am from giving him cause; and that, I hope, is an unmeasurable distance.
Mrs. Ford. You are the happier woman.
Mrs. Page. Let's consult together against this greasy knight: Come hither.
Ford. Why, sir, my wife is not young.
young and old, one with another, Ford; He loves thy gally-mawfry;i Ford, perpend."
the chariness of our honesty. ] i. e. the caution which ought to attend on it. Stecvens.
8 O, that my husband saw this letter!] Surely Mrs. Ford does not wish to excite the jealousy of which she complains. I think we should read-0, if my husband, &c. and thus the copy, 1619: "O Lord, if my husband should see the letter! i' faith, this would even give edge to his jealousie.” Steevens.
- curtail dog – ] That is, a dog that misses his game. The tail is counted necessary to the agility of a greyhound.
Johnson. curtail dog - ] That is, a dog of small value ;- what we now call a cur. Malone.
gally-mawfry;] i. e. a medley. So, in The Winter's Tale: “ They have a dance, which the wenches say is a gallimaufry of gambols.” Pistol ludicrously uses it for a woman. Thus, in A Woman never vex'd, 1632: "Let us show ourselves gallants or galli-maufries.” Steevens.
The first folio has—the gallymaufry. Thy was introcluced by the editor of the second. The gallymawfry may be right: He loves a medley; all sorts of women, high and low, &c. Ford's reply, “ Love my wife ?” may refer to what Pistol had said before:
“ Sir Jolin affects thy wife.” Thy gallymawry sounds, however, more like Pistol's language than the other; and therefore I have followed the modern editors in preferring it. Malone.
Ford, perpend.] This is perhaps a ridicule on a pompous
Ford. Love my wife?
Pist. With liver burning hot:3 Prevent, or go thou, Like sir Actæon he, with Ring-wood at thy heels:O, odious is the name!
Ford. What name, sir?
Pist. The horn, I say: Farewel. Take heed; have open eye; for thieves do foot by night: Take heed, ere summer comes, or cuckoo birds do
singAway, sir corporal Nym.Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. [Exit Pist.
word too often used in the old play of Cambyses :
My sapient words I say perpend.” Again:
“ My queen perpend what I pronounce." Shakspeare has put the same word into the mouth of Polonius,
Steevens. Pistol again uses it in K. Henry V; so does the Clown in Twelfth Night: I do not believe, therefore, that any ridicule was here aimed at Preston, the author of Cambyses. Malone. 3 With liver burning hot:] So, in Much Ado about Nothing :
“ If ever love had interest in his liver." The liver was anciently supposed to be the inspirer of amorous passions. Thus, in an old Latin distich:
“Cor ardet, pulmo loquitur, fel commovet iras ;
Splen ridere facit, cogit amare jecur.” Steevens. 4 Away, sir corporal Nym.
Believe it, Page; he speaks sense.] Nym, I believe, is out of place, and we should read thus:
Away, sir corporal. Nym, Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. Johnson. Perhaps Dr. Johnson is mistaken in his conjecture. He seems not to have been aware of the manner in which the author meant this scene should be represented. Ford and Pistol, Page and Nym, enter in pairs, each pair in separate conversation; and while Pistol is informing Ford of Falstaff's design upon his wife, Nym is, during that time, talking aside to Page, and giving infor. mation of the like plot against him.-When Pistol has finished, he calls out to Nym to come away; but seeing that he and Page are still in close debate, he goes off alone, first assuring Page, he may depend on the truth of Nym's story. Believe it, Page, &c. Nym then proceeds to tell the remainder of his tale out aloud. And this is true, &c. A little further on in this scene, Ford says to Page, You heard what this knave (i. e. Pistol) told me, &c. Page replies, Yes; And you heard what the other (i. é. Nym) told me. Steevens.
Believe it, Page; he speaks sense.] Thus has the passage been laitherto printed, says Dr. Farmer; but surely we should read
Ford. I will be patient; I will find out this.
Nym. And this is true; [to PAGE.] I like not the humour of lying. He hath wronged me in some humours : I should have borne the humoured letter to her; but I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife ;5 there 's the short and the long. My name is corporal Nym; I speak, and I avouch. 'Tis true:-my name is Nym, and Falstaff loves your wife.-Adieu! I love not the humour of bread and cheese; and there's the humour of it. Adieu.
[Exit Nym. Page. The humour of it,6 quoth 'a! here 's a fellow
Believe it, Page, he speaks; which means no more, than-Page, believe what he says. This sense is expressed not only in the manner peculiar to Pistol, but to the grammar of the times.
Steevens. I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife; &c.] Nym, to gain credit, says, that he is above the mean office of carrying love-letters ; he has nobler means of living; he has a sword, and upon his necessity, that is, when his need drives him to unlawful expedients, his sword shall bite. Johnson.
The humour of it,] The following epigram, taken from Humor's Ordinarie, where a Man may bee verie merrie and exceeding well used for his Sixpence, quarto, 1607, will best account for Nym's frequent repetition of the word humour. Epig. 27:
“ Aske HUMOURS what a feather he doth weare,
Why in the stop-throte fashion he doth goe,
behold his lookes pale, thin, and poore,
frights humour out of his wits.
ford. I will seek out Falstaff.
“And every thing that he doth undertake,
It is a veine, for senceless humour's sake.” Steevens. ? I will not believe such a Cataian,] All the mystery of the term Cuiaian, for a liar, is only this. China was anciently called Cataia or Catury, by the first adventurers that travelled thither; such as M. Paulo, and our Mandeville, who told such incredible wonders of this new discovered empire, (in which they have not been outdone even by the Jesuits themselves, who followed them) that a notorious liar was usually called a Cataian. Warburton.
“ This fellow has such an old appearance, is so unlike a man civilized, and taught the duties of life, that I cannot credit him." To be a oreigner was always in England, and I suppose everywhere else, a reason of dislike. So, Pistol calls Sir Hugh, in the first act, a mountain foreigner; that is, a fellow uneducated, and of gross behaviour; and again in his anger calls Bardolph, Hungarian wight. Johnson.
I believe that neither of the commentators is in the right, but am far from professing, with any great degree of confidence, that I am happier in my own explanation. It is remarkable, that in Shakspeare, this expression-a true man, is always put in opposi. tion (as it is in this instance) to-a thief. So, in Henry IV, P. I:
now the thieves have bound the true men." The Chinese (anciently called Cataians) are said to be the most dextrous of all the nimble-fingered tribe ; and to this hour they deserve the same character. Pistol was known at Windsor to have had a hand in picking Slender's pocket, and therefore might be called a Cataian with propriety, if my explanation be admitted.
That by a Cataian some kind of sharper was meant, I infer from the following passage in Love and Honour, a play by Sir William D'Avenant, 1649:
“ Hang him, bold Cataian, he indites finely,
“ As any distrest gallant of them all.”
“I'll wish you in the Indies, or Gathaia." The tricks of the Cataians are hinted at in one of the old black letter histories of that country; and again in a dramatic performance, called The Pedler's Prophecy, 1595:
« in the east part of Inde,
Through seas and floods, they work all thievish.” Stecvens.
priest o’the town commended him for a true man.
Ford. 'Twas a good sensible fellow:8 Well.
Mrs. Ford, How now, sweet Frank? why art thou melancholy?
Ford. I melancholy? I am not melancholy –Get you home, go.
Mrs. Ford. 'Faith, thou hast some crotchets in thy head now.-Will you go, mistress Page?
Mrs. Page. Have with you. You ’ll come to dinner, George?-Look, who comes yonder: she shall be our messenger to this paltry knight. [.Aside to Mrs. Ford.
Enter Mistress Quickly. Mrs. Ford. Trust me, I thought on her: she 'll fit it. Mrs. Page. You are come to see my daughter Anne? Quick. Ay, forsooth; And, I pray, how does good mistress Anne?
Mrs. Page. Go in with us, and see; we have an hour's talk with you.
[Exeunt Mrs. PAGE, Mrs. FORD, and Mrs. QUICK. Page. How now, master Ford ?
Ford, You heard what this knave told me; did you not?
Page. Yes; And you heard what the other told me? Ford. Do you think there is truth in them?
Page. Hang 'em, slaves; I do not think the knight would offer it: but these that accuse him in his in. tent towards our wives, are a yoke of his discarded men; very rogues, now they be out of service.9
Ford. Were they his men?
Ford. I like it never the better for that. Does he lie at the Garter?
& 'Twas a good sensible fellow:] This, and the two preceding speeches of Ford, are spoken to himself, and have no connection with the sentiments of Page, who is likewise making his comment on what had passed, without attention to Ford. Steevens.
- very rogues, now they be out of service.] A rogue is a wanderer or vagabond, and, in its consequential signification, a cheat. Johnson.