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which must be paid to master Brook ;+ his horses are arrested for it, master Brook.
Mrs. Ford. Sir John, we have had ill luck; we could never meet. I will never take
I will never take you for my love again, but I will always count you my deer.
FAL. I do begin to perceive, that I am made an ass.
Ford. Ay, and an ox too; both the proofs are extant.
Fal. And these are not fairies? I was three or four times in the thought, they were not fairies: and yet the guiltiness of my mind, the sudden surprize of my powers, drove the grofsness of the foppery into a receiv'd belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhime and reason, that they were fairies. See now, how wit may be made a Jack-a-lent, when ʼtis upon ill employment !
to master Brook;] We ought rather to read with the old quarto," which must be paid to master Ford;" for as Ford, to mortify Falstaff, addresses him throughout his speech by the name of Brook, the describing himself by the same name creates a confufion. A modern editor plausibly enough reads_" which must be paid too, Master Brook ;' but the first sketch shows that to is right; for the sentence, as it stands in the quarto, will not admit too.
MALONE. how wit may be made a Jack-a-lent,] A Jack o'Lent appears to have been some puppet which was thrown at in Lent, like Shrove-tide cocks. So, in the old comedy of Lady Alimony, 1659:
“ — throwing cudgels
“ At Jack-a-lents, or Shrove-cocks."
if I forfeit,
“ For untagg d points, and counters.”. Again, in Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub:
on an Ash-Wednesday,
Eva. Sir John Falstaff, serve Got, and leave
your desires, and fairies will not pinse you.
Ford. Well said, fairy Hugh.
Eva. And leave you your jealousies too, I pray you.
Ford. I will never mistrust my wife again, till thou art able to woo her in good English.
FAL. Have I lay'd my brain in the sun, and dried it, that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'erreaching as this? Am I ridden with a Welch
goat too? Shall I have a coxcomb of frize? 6 'tis time I were choked with a piece of toasted cheese.
Eva. Seese is not good to give putter; your pelly is all putter.
Fal. Seese and putter! Have I lived to stand at the taunt of one that makes fritters of English? This is enough to be the decay of lust and latewalking, through the realm.
Mrs. Page. Why, fir John, do you think, though we would have thrust virtue out of our hearts by the head and shoulders, and have given ourselves without scruple to hell, that ever the devil could have made you our delight?
Ford. What, a hodge-pudding? a bag of fax? Mrs. Page. A puffd man?
Page. Old, cold, withered, and of intolerable entrails?
Ford. And one that is as flanderous as Satan? Page. And as poor as Job?
-a coxcomb of frize ?] i. e. a fool's cap made out of Welch materials. Wales was famous for this cloth. So, in K. Edward I. 1599,: “ Enter Lluellin, alias prince of Wales, &c. with fwords and bucklers, and frieze jerkins.” Again : “ Enter Sussex, &c. with a mantle of frieze. - my boy shall weare a mantle of this country's weaving, to keep him warm.” STEEVENS.
FORD. And as wicked as his wife?
Ev A. 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 : 8 use me as you will.
7 — the Welch flannel ;] The very word is derived from a Welch one, so that it is almost unnecessary to add that flannel was originally the manufacture of Wales. In the old play of K. Edward I. 1599: “ Enter Hugh ap David, Guenthian his wench in flannel, and Jack his novice." Again :
." Here's a wholesome Welch Wench,
Lapt in her flannel, as warm as wool." STEEVENS. 8-ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me:] Though this be perhaps not unintelligible, yet it is an odd way of confefsing his dejection. I should wish to read:
ignorance itself has a plume o' me. That is, I am so depressed, that ignorance itself plucks me, and decks itself with the spoils of my weakness. Of the present reading, which is probably right, the meaning may be, I am so enfeebled, that ignorance itself weighs me down and oppresses me.
JOHNSON Ignorance itself, says Falstaff is a plummet o'er me.". If any alteration be necessary, I think, “ Ignorance itself is a planet o'er me,” would have a chance to be right. Thus Bobadil excuses his cowardice: “ Sure I was struck with a planet, for I had no power to touch my weapon.” FARMER.
As Mr. M. Mason observes, there is a passage in this very play which tends to support Dr. Farmer's amendment.
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 prdominate over the peasant.”.
Dr. Farmer might also have countenanced his conjecture by a paffage in K. Henry VI. where queen Margaret fays, that Suffolk's face.
ruld like a wandring planet over me.” STEEVENI. Perhaps Falstaff's meaning may be this: "Ignorance itself is a plurimet o'er me : i. e. above me;" ignorance itself is not fo low as I am, by the length of a plummet line. TYRWHITT.
· Ford. Marry, fir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one master Brook, that you have cozened of money, to whom you should have been a pandar: over and above that you have suffered, I think, to repay thật money will be a biting affliction. Mas. Ford. 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 hath married her daughter.
Mrs. Page. Doctors doubt that: If Anne Page be my daughter, she is, by this, doctor Caius' wife.
Slen. Whoo, ho! ho! father Page!
Ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me- i. e. ferves to point out my obliquities. This is said in consequence of Evans's last speech. The allusion is to the examination of a carpenter's work by the plummet held over it; of which line Sir Hugh is here represented as the lead. Henley,
I am satisfied with the old reading. MALONE.
9 Mrs. Ford. Nay, husband,] This and the following little speech I have inserted from the old quartos. The retrenchment, I prefume, was by the players. Sir John Falstaff is sufficiently punished, in being disappointed and exposed. The expectation of his being prosecuted for the twenty pounds, gives the conclufion too tragical a turn. Besides, it is poetical justice that Ford should sustain this lofs, as a fine for his unreasonable jealousy. . THEOBALD.
- laugh at my wife,] The two plots are excellently connected, and the transition very artfully made in this speech.
JOHNSON Vol. III.
Page. Son! how now ? how now, son? have you despatch'd ?
Slen. Despatch'd !—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? I 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. Jefhu! Master Slender, cannot you see but marry boys ? +
PAGE. O, I am vex'd at heart: What shall I do?
3-in white,] The old copy, by the inadvertence of either the author or transcriber, reads—in green; and in the two subsequent speeches of Mrs. Page, instead of green we find white. The corrections, which are fully justified by what has preceded, (fee p. 473,) were made by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
- marry boys ?] This and the next speech are likewise ree storations from the old quarto. STEEVENS.