Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

seventeen years old: it were a goot motion, if we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between master Abraham, and mistress Anne Page.

SHAL. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound ?4

EVA. Ay, and her father is make her a petter

penny.

SHAL. I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.

EVA. Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is good gifts.

SHAL. Well, let us see honest master Page: Is Falstaff there?

EVA. Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar, as I do despise one that is false; or, as I despise one

* Shal. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?— I know the young gentlewoman; &c.] These two speeches are by mistake given to Slender in the first folio, the only authentick copy of this play. From the foregoing words it appears that Shallow is the person here addressed; and on a marriage being proposed for his kinsman, he very naturally enquires concerning the lady's fortune. Slender should seem not to know what they are talking about; (except that he just hears the name of Anne Page, and breaks out into a foolish elogium on her;) for afterwards Shallow says to him,-" Coz, there is, as it were, a tender, a kind of tender, made afar off by Sir Hugh here; do you understand me?" to which Slender replies" if it be so," &c. The tender, therefore, we see, had been made to Shallow, and not to Slender, the former of which names should be prefixed to the two speeches before us.

In this play, as exhibited in the first folio, many of the speeches are given to characters to whom they do not belong. Printers, to save trouble, keep the names of the speakers in each scene ready composed, and are very liable to mistakes, when two names begin (as in the present instance) with the same letter, and are nearly of the same length.-The present regulation was suggested by Mr. Capell. MALONE.

that is not true. The knight, sir John, is there; and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will peat the door [knocks] for master Page. What, hoa! Got pless your house here!

Enter PAGE.

PAGE. Who's there?

EVA. Here is Got's plessing, and your friend, and justice Shallow and here young master Slender; that, peradventures, shall tell you another tale, if matters grow to your likings.

PAGE. I am glad to see your worships well: I thank you for my venison, master Shallow.

SHAL. Master Page, I am glad to see you; Much good do it your good heart! I wished your venison better; it was ill kill'd :—How doth good mistress Page?-and I love you always with my heart, la; with my heart.

PAGE. Sir, I thank you.

SHAL. Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do. PAGE. I am glad to see you, good master Slender. SLEN. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say, he was out-run on Cotsale."

5

I love you] Thus the 4to. 1619. The folio—“ I thank you-" Dr. Farmer prefers the first of these readings, which I have therefore placed in the text. STEEVENS.

6 How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say, he was out-run on Cotsale.] He means Cotswold, in Gloucestershire. In the beginning of the reign of James the First, by permission of the king, one Dover, a public-spirited attorney of Barton on the Heath, in Warwickshire, instituted on the hills of Cotswold an annual celebration of games, consisting of rural sports and exercises. These he constantly conducted in person, well mounted, and accoutred in a suit of his majesty's old clothes; and they were frequented above forty years by the nobility and

PAGE. It could not be judg'd, sir.

SLEN. You'll not confess, you'll not confess. SHAL. That he will not:-'tis your fault, 'tis your fault: 'Tis a good dog.

gentry for sixty miles round, till the grand rebellion abolished every liberal establishment. I have seen a very scarce book, entitled, "Annalia Dubrensia. Upon the yearly celebration of Mr. Robert Dover's Olympick games upon Cotswold hills," &c. London, 1636, 4to. There are recommendatory verses prefixed,. written by Drayton, Jonson, Randolph, and many others, the most eminent wits of the times. The games, as appears from a curious frontispiece, were, chiefly, wrestling, leaping, pitching the bar, handling the pike, dancing of women, various kinds of hunting, and particularly coursing the hare with greyhounds. Hence also we see the meaning of another passage, where Falstaff, or Shallow, calls a stout fellow a Cotswold-man. But, from what is here said, an inference of another kind may be drawn, respecting the age of the play. A meager and imperfect sketch of this comedy was printed in 1602. Afterwards Shakspeare new-wrote it entirely. This allusion therefore to the Cotswold games, not founded till the reign of James the First, ascertains a period of time beyond which our author must have made the additions to his original rough draft, or, in other words, composed the present comedy. James the First came to the crown in the year 1603. And we will suppose that two or three more years at least must have passed before these games could have been effectually established. I would therefore, at the earliest, date this play about the year 1607. T. WARTON.

The Annalia Dubrensia consists entirely of recommendatory DOUCE.

verses.

The Cotswold hills in Gloucestershire are a large tract of downs, famous for their fine turf, and therefore excellent for coursing. I believe there is no village of that name. BLACKSTONE.

•—'tis your fault, 'tis your fault:] Of these words, which are addressed to Page, the sense is not very clear. Perhaps Shallow means to say, that it is a known failing of Page's not to confess that his dog has been out-run. Or, the meaning may be, 'tis your misfortune that he was out-run on Cotswold; he is, however, a good dog. So perhaps the word is used afterwards by Ford, speaking of his jealousy:

""Tis my fault, master Page; I suffer for it." MALONE,

VOL. V.

C

PAGE. A cur, sir.

SHAL. Sir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog; Can there be more said? he is good, and fair.-Is sir John Falstaff here?

PAGE. Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good office between you.

EVA. It is spoke as a christians ought to speak. SHAL. He hath wrong'd me, master Page. PAGE. Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.

SHAL. If it be confess'd, it is not redress'd; is not that so, master Page? He hath wrong'd me; indeed, he hath ;-at a word, he hath ;-believe me;-Robert Shallow, Esquire, saith, he is wrong'd. PAGE. Here comes sir John.

Enter Sir JOHN FALSTAFF, BARDOLPH, NYM, and PISTOL.

FAL. Now, master Shallow; you'll complain of me to the king?

SHAL. Knight you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my lodge."

FAL. But not kiss'd your keeper's daughter? SHAL. Tut, a pin! this shall be answer'd. FAL. I will answer it straight;—I have done all this:-That is now answer'd.

SHAL. The Council shall know this.

Perhaps Shallow addresses these words to Slender, and means to tell him, "it was his fault to undervalue a dog whose inferiority in the chase was not ascertained." STeevens.

9

and broke open my lodge.] This probably alludes to some real incident, at that time well known. JOHNSON. So probably Falstaff's answer. FARMER.

FAL. 'Twere better for you, if it were known in counsel: you'll be laugh'd at.

EVA. Pauca verba, sir John, good worts.

1 'Twere better for you, if it were known in counsel:] The old copies read-'Twere better for you, if 'twere known in council. Perhaps it is an abrupt speech, and must be read thus-Twere better for you-if 'twere known in council, you'll be laugh'd at. 'Twere better for you, is, I believe, a menace. JOHNSON.

Some of the modern editors arbitrarily read-if 'twere not known in council:-but I believe Falstaff quibbles between council and counsel. The latter signifies secrecy. So, in Hamlet: "The players cannot keep counsel, they'll tell all."

Falstaff's meaning seems to be-'twere better for you if it were known only in secrecy, i. e. among your friends. A more publick complaint would subject you to ridicule.

Thus, in Chaucer's Prologue to the Squires Tale, v. 10,305, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit:

"But wete ye what? in conseil be it seyde,

"Me reweth sore I am unto hire teyde."

Again, in the ancient MS. Romance of the Sowdon of Babyloyne, p. 39:

"And saide, sir, for alle loves

"Lete me thy prisoneres seen,

"I wole thee gife both goolde and gloves,
"And counsail shall it been."

Again, in Gummer Gurton's Needle, last edit. p. 29:

"But first for you in council, I have a word or twaine."

STEEVENS.

Mr. Ritson supposes the present reading to be just, and quite in Falstaff's insolent sneering manner. "It would be much better, indeed, to have it known in the council, where you would only be laughed at." REED.

The spelling of the old quarto, (counsel,) as well as the general purport of the passage, fully confirms Mr. Steevens's interpretation." Shal. Well, the Council shall know it. Fal. "Twere better for you 'twere known in counsell. You'll be laugh't at.”

In an office-book of Sir Heneage Finch, Treasurer of the Chambers to Queen Elizabeth, (a MS. in the British Museum,) I observe that whenever the Privy Council is mentioned, the word is always spelt Counsel; so that the equivoque was less strained then than it appears now.

« AnteriorContinuar »