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Mrs. Ford. What's the matter, good mistress Page? Mrs. Page. O well-a-day, mistress Ford! having an honest man to your husband, to give him such cause of suspicion!

Mrs. Ford. What cause of suspicion?

Mrs. Page. What cause of suspicion?-Out upon you! how am I mistook in you?

Mrs. Ford. Why, alas! what's the matter?

Mrs. Page. Your husband's coming hither, woman, with all the officers in Windsor, to search for a gentleman, that, he says, is here now in the house, by your consent, to take an ill advantage of his absence: You are undone.

Mrs. Ford. Speak louder.-[Aside]-'Tis not so, I hope.

Mrs. Page. Pray heaven it be not so, that you have such a man here; but 'tis most certain your husband's coming with half Windsor at his heels, to search for such a one. I come before to tell you: If you know yourself clear, why I am glad of it: but if you have a friend here, convey, convey him out. Be not amazed; call all your senses to you; defend your reputation, or bid farewel to your good life forever.

Mrs. Ford. What shall I do?—There is a gentleman, my dear friend; and I fear not mine own shame, so much as his peril: I had rather than a thousand pound, he were out of the house.

Mrs. Page. For shame, never stand you had rather, and you had rather; your husband's here at hand, bethink you of some conveyance: in the house you cannot hide him.-O, how have you deceived me!-Look, here is a basket; if he be of any reasonable stature, he may creep in here; and throw foul linen upon him, as if it were going to bucking: Or, it is whiting-time, send him by your two men to Datchet mead.

Mrs. Ford. He's too big to go in there: What shall I do?

Re-enter FALSTAFF.

Fal. Let me see 't, let me see 't! O let me see 't! I'll in, I'll in;-follow your friend's counsel;-I 'll in.

5 whiting-time,] Bleaching time; spring. when "maidens bleach their summer smocks."

The season Holt White.

Mrs. Page. What! sir John Falstaff! Are these your letters, knight?

Fal. I love thee, and none but thee; help me away: let me creep in here; I'll never

[He goes into the basket; they cover him with foul linen.] Mrs. Page. Help to cover your master, boy: Call your men, mistress Ford:-You dissembling knight!

Mrs. Ford. What, John, Robert, John! [Exit Robin. Re-enter Servants] Go take up these clothes here, quickly; Where's the cowl-staff? look, how you drumble: carry them to the laundress in Datchet mead; quickly, come.

Enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and Sir HUGH EVANS. Ford. Pray you, come near: if I suspect without cause, why then make sport at me, then let me be your jest; I deserve it. How now! wither bear you this? Serv. To the laundress, forsooth.

Mrs. Ford. Why, what have you to do whither they bear it? You were best meddle with buck-washing.

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the cowl-staff?] Is a staff used for carrying a large tub or basket with two handles. In Essex the word cowl is yet used for a tub.

Malone.

This word occurs also in Philemon Holland's translation of the seventh Book of Pliny's Natural History, ch. 56: "The first battell that ever was fought, was between the Africans and Egyptians; and the same performed by bastons, clubs and coulstaves, which they call Phalange." Steevens.

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how you drumble:] The reverend Mr. Lambe, the editor of the ancient mètrical history of the Battle of Floddon, observes, that-look how you drumble, means-bow confused you are; and that in the North, drumbled ale is muddy, disturbed ale. Thus, a Scottish proverb in Ray's collection:

"It is good fishing in drumbling waters."

66

Again, in Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, this word occurs: -gray-beard drumbling over a discourse." Again: " your fly in a boxe is but a drumble-bee in comparison of it." Again: "-this drumbling course." Steevens. To drumble, in Devonshire, signifies to mutter in a sullen and inarticulate voice. No other sense of the word will either explain this interrogation, or the passages adduced in Mr. Steevens's note. To drumble and drone are often used in connexion.

Henley.

A drumble drone, in the western dialect, signifies a drone or humble-bee. Mrs. Page may therefore mean-How lazy and stupid you are! be more alert.· Malone.

Ford. Buck? I would I could wash myself of the buck! Buck, buck, buck? Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck; and of the season too; it shall appear.1 [Exeunt Servants with the basket] Gentlemen, I have dreamed to-night; I'll tell you my dream. Here, here, here be my keys: ascend my chambers, search, seek, find out: I'll warrant, we'll unkennel the fox:-Let me stop this way first:-So, now uncape.2

1- it shall appear.] Ford seems to allude to the cuckold's horns. So afterwards: " and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying, peer out, peer out." Of the season is a phrase of the forest. Malone.

Mr. Malone points the passage thus: " Ay, buck; I warrant you, buck, and of the season too; it shall appear." I am satisfied with the old punctuation. In The Rape of Lucrece, our poet makes his heroine compare herself to an "unseasonable doe;" and, in Blunt's Customs of Manors, p. 168, is the same phrase employed by Ford: "A bukke delivered him of seyssone, by the woodmaster and keepers of Needwoode." Steevens.

So, in a letter written by Queen Catharine, in 1526, Howard's Collection, Vol. I, p. 212: "We will and command you, that ye delyver or cause to be delyvered unto our trusty and well-beloved John Creusse-one buck of season."- "The season of the hynd or doe (says Manwood) doth begin at Holy-rood-day, and lasteth till Candelmas." Forest Laws, 1598. Malone.

2

So, now uncape.] So the folio of 1623 reads, and rightly. It is a term in fox-hunting, which signifies to dig out the fox when earthed. And here is as much as to say, take out the foul linen under which the adulterer lies hid. The Oxford editor reads-uncouple, out of pure love to an emendation.

Warburton.

Dr. Warburton seems to have forgot that the linen was already carried away. The allusion in the foregoing sentence is to the stopping every hole at which a fox could enter, before they uncape or turn him out of the bag in which he was brought. I suppose every one has heard of a bag-fox. Steevens.

Warburton, in his note on this passage, not only forgets that the foul linen had been carried away, but he also forgets that Ford did not at that time know that Falstaff had been hid under it; and Steevens forgets that they had not Falstaff in their possession, as hunters have a bag-fox, but were to find out where he was hid. They were not to chase him, but to rouze him. I therefore believe that Hanmer's amendment is right, and that we ought to read-uncouple.-Ford, like a good sportsman, first stops the earths, and then uncouples the hounds. M. Mason.

Mr. M. Mason also seems to forget that Ford at least thought he had Falstaff secure in his house, as in a bag, and therefore speaks of him in terms applicable to a bag-fox. Steevens.

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Page. Good master Ford, be contented; you wrong yourself too much.

Ford. True, master Page.-Up, gentlemen; you shall see sport anon: follow me gentlemen. [Exit. Eva. This is ferry fantastical humours, and jealou

sies.

Caius. By gar, 'tis no de fashion of France: it is not jealous in France.

Page. Nay, follow him gentlemen; see the issue of his search. [Exeunt EVA. PAGE, and CAIUS. Mrs. Page. Is there not a double excellency in this? Mrs. Ford. I know not which pleases me better, that my husband is deceived, or sir John.

Mrs. Page. What a taking was he in, when your husband asked who was in the basket! 3

Mrs. Ford. I am half afraid he will have need of washing; so throwing him into the water will do him a benefit.

Mrs. Page. Hang him, dishonest rascal! I would all of the same strain were in the same distress.

Mrs. Ford. I think, my husband hath some special suspicion of Falstaff's being here; for I never saw him so gross in his jealousy till now.

Mrs. Page. I will lay a plot to try that: And we will yet have more tricks with Falstaff: his dissolute disease will scarce obey this medicine.

Mrs. Ford. Shall we send that foolish carrion, mistress Quickly, to him, and excuse his throwing into the water; and give him another hope, to betray him to another punishment?

Mrs. Page. We'll do it; let him be sent for to-morrow, eight o'clock, to have amends.

Re-enter FORD, PAGE, CAIUS, and Sir HUGH EVANS. Ford. I cannot find him: may be the knave bragg'd of that he could not compass.

Mrs. Page. Heard you that?

3 who was in the basket!] We should read-what was in the basket: for though in fact Ford has asked no such question, he could never suspect there was either man or woman in it. The propriety of this emendation is manifest from a subsequent passage, where Falstaff tells Master Brook-" the jealous knave asked them once or twice what they had in their basket.” Ritson.

Mrs. Ford. Ay, ay, peace: -You use me well, master Ford, do you?

Ford. Ay, I do so.

Mrs. Ford. Heaven make you better than your thoughts!

Ford. Amen.

Mrs. Page. You do yourself mighty wrong, master Ford.

Ford. Ay, ay; I must bear it.

Eva. If there be any pody in the house, and in the chambers, and in the coffers, and in the presses, heaven forgive my sins at the day of judgement!

Caius. By gar, nor I too; dere is no bodies.

Page. Fie, fie, master Ford! are you not ashamed? What spirit, what devil suggests this imagination? I would not have your distemper in this kind, for the wealth of Windsor Castle.

Ford. 'Tis my fault, master Page: I suffer for it. Eva. You suffer for a pad conscience: your wife is as honest a 'omans, as I will desires among five thousand, and five hundred too.

Caius. By gar, I see 'tis an honest woman.

Ford. Well;-I promised you a dinner:-Come come, walk in the park: I pray you, pardon me; I will hereafter make known to you, why I have done this.Come, wife;-come, mistress Page; I pray you pardon me; pray heartily, pardon me.

Page. Let's go in, gentlemen; but, trust me, we 'll mock him. I do invite you to-morrow morning to my house to breakfast; after, we'll a birding together; I have a fine hawk for the bush: Shall it be so?

Ford. Any thing.

Eva. If there is one, I shall make two in the company.

Caius. If there be one or two, I shall make-a de turd. Eva. In your teeth: for shame.

Ford. Pray you go, master Page.

Eva. I pray you now, remembrance to-morrow on the lousy knave, mine host.

Caius. Dat is good; by gar, vit all my heart.

Eva. A lousy knave; to have his gibes, and his mockeries.

[Exeunt.

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