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SCENE IV.

Enter Ford, Shallow, Page, Caius and Evans.

Ford. Ay, but if it prove true, master Page, have you any way then to unfool me again ?-Set down the bafket, villain;-fomebody call my wife-youthIn a basket! oh, you panderly rafcals! there's a knot, a gang, a pack, a confpiracy, against me: now shall the devil be fham'd. What! wife, I fay; come, come forth, behold what honeft cloaths you fend forth to bleaching.

Page. Why, this paffes, mafter Ford-you are not to go loose any longer, you must be pinnion'd. Eva. Why, this is lunaticks; this is mad as a mad dog.

Enter Mrs. Ford.

Shal. Indeed, mafter Ford, this is not well, indeed. Ford. So fay I too, Sir. Come hither, mistress Ford;-miftrefs Ford, the honeft woman, the modest wife, the virtuous creature, that hath the jealous fool to her husband!-I fufpect without caufe, mistress, do I?

Mrs. Ford. Heav'n be my witnefs, you do, if you fufpect me in any dishonesty.

Ford. Well faid, brazen face; hold it out.-Come forth, Sirrah. [Pulls the cloaths out of the basket.

Page. This paffes

Mrs. Ford. Are you not asham'd? let the cloaths alone.

Ford. I fhall find you anon.

Eva. 'Tis unreafonable; will you take up your wife's

cloaths? come away.

Ford. Empty the basket, I say.

Mrs. Ford. Why, man, why

VOL. II.

Mm

Ford

Ford. Mafter Page, as I am a man, there was one convey'd out of my houfe yesterday in this basket; why may not he be there again? in my house I am sure he is; my intelligence is true, my jealousy is reafonable; pluck me out all the linen.

Mrs. Ford. If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.

Page. Here's no man.

Shal. By my fidelity, this is not well, master Ford; this wrongs you.7

Eva. Mafter Ford, you must pray, and not follow the imaginations of your own heart; this is jealoufies. Ford. Well, he's not here I feek for.

Page. No, nor no where else but in your brain.

Ford. Help to fearch my houfe this one time; if I find not what I feek, fhew no colour for my extremity; let me for ever be your table-sport; let them fay of me, as jealou as Ford, that fearch'd a hollow wall-nut for his wife's man. Satisfy me once more, once more fearch with me.

Mrs. Ford. What hoa, miftrefs Page! come you, and the old woman down; my husband will come into the chamber.

Ford. Old woman; what old woman's that?

Mrs. Ford. Why, it is my maid's aunt of Brainford.

Ford. Ar i, a quean, an old cozening quean; have I not fo..d her my houfe? fhe comes of errands. does fhe? we are fimple men, we do not know what's brought to pass under the profeffion of fortune-telling. She works by charms, by fpells, by th' figure; and fuch dawbry as this is beyond our element; we know

7 This wrongs you.] This is below your character, unworthy of your understanding, injurious to your honour. to in the Taming of the Shrew, Bianca being

ill treated by her rugged fifter, fay,

You wrong me much, indeed you wrong yourself.

nothing.

nothing. Come down, you witch; you hag you, come down, I fay.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, good fweet hufband; good gentleman, let him not ftrike the old woman.

SCENE V.

Enter Falstaff in women's cloaths, and Mrs. Page.

Mrs. Page. Come, mother Prat, come, give me your hand.

8

Ford. I'll Prat her. Out of my door, you witch! [Beats bim] you hag, you baggage, you poulcat, you runnion! out, out, out. I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you. [Exit Fal. Mrs. Page. Are you not afham'd? I think, you have kill'd the poor woman.

Mrs. Ford. Nay, he will do it.-'Tis a goodly credit for you.

Ford. Hang her, witch.

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Eva. By yea and no, I think, the 'oman is a witch indeed I like not when a 'oman has a great peard; I spy a great peard under her muffler. 9

Ford. Will you follow, gentlemen? I beseech you, follow; fee but the iffue of my jealoufy; if I cry out thus upon no trail,' never trust me when I open again. Page. Let's obey his humour a lit further: come, gentlemen. [Exeunt.

8 Runnion, applied to a woman, means, as far as can be traced, much the fame with fall or fcab fpoken of a man.

9 I by a great peard under her muffler.] As the fecond ftrata gem, by which Falstaff elcapes, is much the groffer of the two, I wish it had been practised first. It is very unlikely that Ford hav

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ing been fo deceived before, and knowing that he had been deceived, would fuffer him to escape in fo flight a difguife.

Cry out upon no trail.] The expreffion is taken from the hunters. Trail is the fcent left by the paffage of the game. 1 cry out, is to open or bark.

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Mrs. Page. Trust me, he beat him most pitifully. ' Mrs. Ford. Nay, by th' mafs, that he did not; he beat him muft unpitifully, methought.

Mrs. Page. I'll have the cudgel hallow'd and hung o'er the altar; it hath done meritorious fervice.

Mrs. Ford. What think you? may we, with the warrant of woman-hood, and the witnefs of a good confcience, pursue him with any further revenge?

Mrs. Page. The fpirit of wantonnefs is, fure, fcar'd out of him; if the devil have him not in fee-fimple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of wafte, attempt us again.

Mrs. Ford. Shall we tell our husbands how we have ferved him?

Mrs. Page. Yea, by all means; if it be but to fcrape the figures out of your husband's brain. If they can find in their hearts the poor unvirtuous fat knight fhall be any further afflicted, we too will still be the minifters.

Mrs. Ford. I'll warrant, they'll have him publickly fham'd; and, methinks, there would be no period to the jeft, fhould he not be publickly fham'd.

Mrs. Page. Come to the forge with it, then fhape it I would not have things cool. [Exeunt.

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Bard.

Changes to the Garter Inn.

Enter Hoft and Bardolph.

IR, the German defires to have three of your horfes, the Duke himfelf will be to

morrow at court, and they are going to meet him.

Hoft. What Duke fhould that be, comes fo fecretly? I hear not of him in the court: let me fpeak with the gentlemen; they speak English?

Bard.

Bard. Sir, I'll call them to you.

Hot. They fhall have my horfes, but I'll make them pay, I'll fawce them. They have had my houfe a week at command; I have turn'd away my other guests; they must come off; I'll fawce them, come. [Exeunt.

2

SCENE VII.

Changes to Ford's House.

Enter Page, Ford, Mrs. Page, Mrs. Ford, and Evans.

Eva. IS one of the best discretions of 'oman, as ever I did look upon.

'TIS

Page. And did he fend you both these letters at an inftant?

Mrs. Page. Within a quarter of an hour.

Ford. Pardon me, wife. Henceforth do what thou wilt;

I rather will fufpect the fun with cold,

Than thee with wantonnefs; thy honour ftands,
In him that was of late an heretick,

As firm as faith.

Page. 'Tis well, 'tis well; no more.

Be not as extream in fubmiffion, as in offence,
But let our plot go forward; let our wives
Yet once again, to make us publick fport,
Appoint a meeting with this old fat fellow,
Where we may take him, and difgrace him for it.

2 They must COME of;] This never can be our Poet's or his Hoft's meaning. To come off being in other terms to go fcot-free. We must read, cOMPT off, i. e. clear their reckoning.

WARBURTON. To come off, fignifies in our authour, fometimes to be uttered

with pirit and volubility. In this place it feems to mean what is in our time expreffed by to come down, to pay tiberally and readily. Thefe accidental and colloquial fenfes are the difgrace of language, and the plague of

commentators.

Mm 3

Ford.

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