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Fal. Well, sir.
Ford. I have long loved her, and, I protest to you, bestowed much on her; followed her with a doting observance; engrossed opportunities to meet her; fee'd every slight occasion, that could but niggardly give me sight of her; not only bought many presents to give her, but have given largely to many, to know what she would have given: briefly, I have pursued her as love hath pursued me; which hath been, on the wing of all occasions. But whatsoever I have merited, either in my mind, or in my means, meed,5 I am sure, I have received none; unless experience be a jewel: that I have purchased at an infinite rate; and that hath taught me to say this:
Love like a shadow flies, when substance love pursues ; Pursuing that that flies, and flying what nursues.
Fal. Have you received no promise of satisfaction at her hands?
meed,] i. e. reward. So, Spenser:
". A rosy garland was the victor's meed." Again, in our author's Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“ Vouchsafe me for my meed but one fair look.” Steevens. 6 Love like a shadow flies, when substance love pursues ;
Pursuing that that flies, and flying what parsues.] These lines have much the air of a quotation, but I know not whether they be. long to any contemporary writer. In Florio's Second Fruites, 1591, I find the following verses:
“ Didonne e, et sempre fu natura,
“ Odiar chi l'ama, e chi non l'ama cura. Again:
Sono simili a crocodilli “ Chi per prender l'huomo, piangono, e preso la devorano,
“ Chi le fugge sequono, e chi le seque fuggono.” Thus translated by Florio:
they are like crocodiles,
“ Follow men flying, and men following fly.” Malone. Thus also in a Sonnet
by Queen Elizabeth, preserved in the Ashmole Museum :
“My care is like my shaddowe in the sunne,
Ford. Like a fair house, built upon another man's ground; so that I have lost my edifice, by mistaking the place where I erected it.
Fal. To what purpose have you unfolded this to me?
all. Some say, that though she appear honest to me, yet, in other places, she enlargeth her mirth so far, that there is shrewd construction made of her. Now, sir John, here is the heart of my purpose: You are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admirable discourse, of great admittance,7 authentick in your place and person, generally allowed for your many war-like, court-like, and learned preparations.
Fal. O, sir!
Ford. Believe it, for you know it:- There is money; spend it, spend it; spend more; spend all I have; only give me so much of your time in exchange of it, as to lay an amiable siege' to the honesty of this Ford's wife: use your art of wooing, win her to consent to you; if any man may, you may as soon as any.
Fal. Would it apply well to the vehemency of your affection, that I should win what you would enjoy? Methinks, you prescribe to yourself very preposterously.
Ford. O, understand my drift! she dwells so securely on the excellency of her honour, that the folly of my soul dares not present itself; she is too bright to be looked against.1 Now, could I come to her with
detection in my hand, my desires had instance and argument? to commend themselves; I could drive her then from the ward of her purity, 3 her reputation, her marriage vow,
of great admittance,] i. e. admitted into all, or the greatest companies. Steevens.
generally allowed-] Allowed is approved. So, in King Lear;
if your sweet sway
- to lay an amiable siege-] i. e. a siege of love. So, in Romeo and Juliet:
-the siege of loving terms." Malone.
“ Nimium lubricus aspici.” Hor. Malone.
and a thousand other her defences, which now are too strongly embattled against me: What say you to 't, sir John?
Fal. Master Brook, I will first make bold with your money; next, give me your hand; and last, as I am a gentleman, you shall, if you will, enjoy Ford's wife.
Ford. O good sir!
Fal. Want no mistress Ford, master Brook, you shall want none. I shall be with her, (I may tell you) by her own appointment; even as you came in to me, her assistant, or go-between, parted from me: I say, I shall be with her between ten and eleven; for at that time the jealous rascally knave, her husband, will be forth. Come you to me at night; you shall know how I speed.
Ford. I am blest in your acquaintance. Do you know Ford, sir?
Fal. Hang him, poor cuckoldly knave! I know him not:-yet I wrong him, to call him poor; they say, the jealous wittolly knave hath masses of money; for the which his wife seems to me well-favoured. I will use her as the key of the cuckoldly rogue's coffer; and there 's my harvest-home.
Ford. I would you knew Ford, sir; that you might avoid him, if you saw him.
Fal. Hang him, mechanical salt-butter rogue! I will stare him out of his wits; I will awe him with my cudgel: it shall hang like a meteor o'er the cuckold's horns: master Brook, thou shalt know, I will predominate o’er the peasant, and thou shalt lie with his wife.-Come to me soon at night:-Ford 's a knave, and I will aggravate his stile ;4 thou, master Brook, shalt know him for
What Ford means to say is, that if he could once detect her in a crime, he should then be able to drive her from those defences with which she would otherwise ward off his addresses, such as her purity, her reputation, her marriage vow, &c.
So, in The Winter's Tale, Hermione, speaking of Polixenes, says to Leontes :
Tell him, you're sure “ All in Bohemia's well,” &c. Say this to him, “ He's beat from his best ward.” M. Måson, and I will aggravate his stile;] Stile is a phrase from
a knave and cuckold: come to me soon at night. [Exit.
Ford. What a damned Epicurean rascal is this !—My heart is ready to crack with impatience. Who says, this is improvident jealousy? My wife hath sent to him, the hour is fixed, the match is made. Would any man have thought this?–See the hell of having a false woman! my bed shall be abused, my coffers ransacked, my reputation gnawn at; and I shall not only receive this villainous wrong, but stand under the adoption of abominable terms, and by him that does me this wrong. Terms! names! -Amaimon sounds well; Lucifer, well; Barbason,s well; yet they are devils' additions, the names of fiends: but cuckold! wittol-cuckold! the devil himself hath not such a name. Page is an ass, a secure ass; he will trust his wife, he will not be jealous; I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, parson Hugh the Welchman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitæ bottle,? or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my
the Herald's office. Falstaff means, that he will add more titles to those he already enjoys. So, in Heywood's Golden Age, 1611:
“I will create lords of a greater style." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. V, c. 2:
“As to abandon that which doth contain
Steevens. Amaimon-Barbason,] The reader who is curious to know any particulars concerning these dæmons, may find them in Reginald Scott's Inventarie of the Names, Shapes, Powers, Governement, and Efects of Devils and spirits, of their several Segnories and Degrees: a strange Discourse worth the reading, p. 377, &c. From hence it appears that Amaimon was king of the East, and Barbatos a great countie or earle. Randle Holme, however, in his Academy of Armory and Blazon, B, Il, ch. i, informs us, that “ Amaymon is the chief whose dominion is on the north part of the infernal gulph; and that Barbatos is like a Sagittarius and hath thirty legions under him.” Steevens.
wittol-cuckold!] One who knows his wife's falsehood, and is contented with it: from wittan, Sax. to know, Malone.
1 — an Irishman with my aqua-vitæ bottle,] Heywood, in his Challenge for Beauty, 1636, mentions the love of aqua-vitæ as characteristick of the Irish:
“ The Briton he metheglin quaffs,
wife with herself: then she plots, then she ruminates, then she devises: and what they think in their hearts they may effect, they will break their hearts but they will effect. Heaven be praised for my jealousy!-Eleven o'clocks the hour;-I will prevent this, detect my wife, be revenged on Falstaff, and laugh at Page. I will about it; better three hours too soon, than a minute too late. Fie, fie, fie! cuckold! cuckold! cuckold! [Exit.
Enter CAIUS and RUGBY.
Rug. 'Tis past the hour, sir, that sir Hugh promised to meet.
Caius. By gar, he has save his soul, dat he is no come; he has pray his Pible vell, dat he is no come: by gar, Jack Rugby, he is dead already, if he be come.
Rug. He is wise, sir; he knew, your worship would kill him, if he came.
Caius. By gar, de herring is no dead, so as I vill kill him. Take your rapier, Jack; I vill tell you how I vill kill him.
Rug. Alas, sir, I cannot fence.
Enter Host, SHALLOW, SLENDER, and PAGE.
Eleven o'clock – ] Ford should rather have said ten o'clock: the time was between ten and eleven ; and his impatient suspicion was not likely to stay beyond the time. Johnson.
It was necessary for the plot, that he should mistake the hour, and come too late. M. Mason.
It is necessary for the business of the piece, that Falstaff should be at Ford's house before his return. Hence our author made him name the later hour. See Act III, sc. ii: “The clock gives me my cue;—there I shall find Falstaff.”. When he says above, “I shall prevent this,” he means, not the meeting, but his wife's effecting her purpose. Malone.