H́nh ảnh trang

What cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac'd.

FAL. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas'd.5

EVA. I will dance and eat plums at your wedding."

MRS. PAGE. Well, I will muse no further :-
Master Fenton,

Heaven give you many, many merry days!—
Good husband, let us every one go home,
And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
Sir John and all.

FORD. Let it be so:-Sir John,

Mrs. Page. [Aside.] Although that I have miss'd in my intent, Yet I am glad my husband's match is cross'd.

Here Fenton, take her.

Eva. Come, master Page, you must needs agree.
Ford. I' faith, sir, come, you see your wife is pleas'd.
Page. I cannot tell, and yet my heart is eas'd;

And yet it doth me good the doctor miss'd.

Come hither, Fenton, and come hither daughter. JOHNSON.


all sorts of deer are chas'd.] Young and old, does as well as bucks. He alludes to Fenton's having just run down Anne Page. MALONE.

I will dance and eat plums at your wedding.] I have no doubt but this line, supposed to be spoken by Evans, is misplaced, and should come in after that spoken by Falstaff, which being intended to rhyme with the last line of Page's speech, should immediately follow it; and then the passage will run thus:

Page. Well, what remedy? Fenton, Heaven give thee joy!
What cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac❜d.
Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chas'd.
Evans. I will dance and eat plums, &c. M. MASON.

I have availed myself of Mr. M. Mason's very judicious remark, which had also been made by Mr. Malone, who observes that Evans's speech-" I will dance," &c. was restored from the first quarto by Mr. Pope. STEevens.

To master Brook you yet shall hold your word; For he, to-night, shall lie with mistress Ford." [Exeunt.

7 Of this play there is a tradition preserved by Mr. Rowe, that it was written at the command of Queen Elizabeth, who was so delighted with the character of Falstaff, that she wished it to be diffused through more plays; but suspecting that it might pall by continued uniformity, directed the poet to diversify his manner, by shewing him in love. No task is harder than that of writing to the ideas of another. Shakspeare knew what the Queen, if the story be true, seems not to have known-that by any real passion of tenderness, the selfish craft, the careless jollity, and the lazy luxury of Falstaff must have suffered so much abatement, that little of his former cast would have remained. Falstaff could not love, but by ceasing to be Falstaff. He could only counterfeit love, and his professions could be prompted, not by the hope of pleasure, but of money. Thus the poet approached as near as he could to the work enjoined him; yet having perhaps in the former plays completed his own idea, seems not to have been able to give Falstaff all his former power of entertainment.

This comedy is remarkable for the variety and number of the personages, who exhibit more characters appropriated and discriminated, than perhaps can be found in any other play.

Whether Shakspeare was the first that produced upon the English stage the effect of language distorted and depraved by provincial or foreign pronunciation, I cannot certainly decide.* This mode of forming ridiculous characters can confer praise only on him who originally discovered it, for it requires not much of either wit or judgement: its success must be derived almost wholly from the player, but its power in a skilful mouth, even he that despises it, is unable to resist.

The conduct of this drama is deficient; the action begins and ends often, before the conclusion, and the different parts might change places without inconvenience; but its general power, that power by which all works of genius shall finally be tried, is such, that perhaps it never yet had reader or spectator who did not think it too soon at the end. JOHNSON.

* In The Three Ladies of London, 1584, is the character of an Italian merchant, very strongly marked by foreign pronunciation. Dr. Dodypoll, in the comedy which bears his name, is, like Caius, a French physician. This piece appeared at least a year before The Merry Wives of Windsor. The hero of it speaks such another jargon as the antagonist of Sir Hugh, and like him is cheated of his mistress. In several other pieces, more ancient than the earliest of Shakspeare's, provincial characters are introduced.


The story of The Two Lovers of Pisa, from which (as Dr. Farmer has observed) Falstaff's adventures in this play seem to have been taken, is thus related in Tarleton's Newes out of Purgatorie, bl. 1. no date. [Entered in the Stationers' Books, June 16, 1590.]

"In Pisa, a famous cittie of Italye, there liued a gentleman of good linage and lands, feared as well for his wealth, as honoured for his virtue; but indeed well thought on for both: yet the better for his riches. This gentleman had one onelye daughter called Margaret, who for her beauty was liked of all, and desired of many: but neither might their sutes, nor her own preuaile about her father's resolution, who was determyned not to marrye her, but to such a man as should be able in abundance to maintain the excellency of her beauty. Diuers young gentlemen proffered large feoffments, but in vaine: a maide shee must bee still: till at last an olde doctor in the towne, that professed phisicke, became a sutor to her, who was a welcome man to her father, in that he was one of the welthiest men in all Pisa. A tall strippling he was, and a proper youth, his age about fourescore; his head as white as milke, wherein for offence sake there was left neuer a tooth: but it is no matter; what he wanted in person he had in the purse; which the poore gentlewoman little regarded, wishing rather to tie herself to one that might fit her content, though they liued meanely, then to him with all the wealth in Italye. But shee was yong and forcst to follow her father's direction, who vpon large couenants was content his daughter should marry with the doctor, and whether she like him or no, the match was made vp, and in short time she was married. The poore wench was bound to the stake, and had not onely an old impotent man, but one that was so jealous, as none might enter into his house without suspicion, nor she doo any thing without blame: the least glance, the smallest countenance, any smile, was a manifest instance to him, that shee thought of others better than himselfe ; thus he himselfe liued in a hell, and tormented his wife in as ill perplexitie. At last it chaunced, that a young gentleman of the citie comming by her house, and seeing her looke out at her window, noting her rare and excellent proportion, fell in loue with her, and that so extreamelye, as his passion had no means till her fauour might mittigate his heartsicke content. The young man that was ignorant in amorous matters, and had neuer been vsed to courte anye gentlewoman, thought to reueale his passions to some one freend, that might give him counsaile for the winning of her loue; and thinking experience was the surest maister, on a daye seeing the olde doctor walking in the churche, (that was Margarets husband,) little knowing who he was, he thought

this the fittest man to whom he might discouer his passions, for that hee was olde and knewe much, and was a physition that with his drugges might help him forward in his purposes: so that seeing the old man walke solitary, he ioinde vnto him, and after a curteous salute, told him he was to impart a matter of great import vnto him; wherein if hee would not onely be secrete, but endeauour to pleasure him, his pains should be euery way to the full considered. You must imagine, gentleman, quoth Mutio, for so was the doctors name, that men of our profession are no blabs, but hold their secrets in their hearts' bottome; and therefore reueale what you please, it shall not onely be concealed, but cured; if either my art or counsaile may do it. Upon this Lionello, (so was the young gentleman called,) told and discourst vnto him from point to point how he was falne in loue with a gentlewoman that was married to one of his profession; discouered her dwelling and the house; and for that he was vnacquainted with the woman, and a man little experienced in loue matters, he required his favour to further him with his aduise. Mutio at this motion was stung to the hart, knowing it was his wife hee was fallen in love withal: yet to conceale the matter, and to experience his wiue's chastity, and that if she plaide false, he might be reuenged on them both, he dissembled the matter, and answered, that he knewe the woman very well, and commended her highly; but saide, she had a churle to her husband, and therefore he thought shee would bee the more tractable: trie her man, quoth hee; fainte hart neuer woonne fair lady; and if shee will not bee brought to the bent of your bowe, I will provide such a potion as shall dispatch all to your owne content; and to giue you further instructions for opportunitie, knowe that her husband is foorth euery afternoone from three till sixe. Thus farre I have aduised you, because I pitty your passions as my selfe being once a louer but now I charge thee, reueale it to none whomsoever, lest it doo disparage my credit, to meddle in amorous matters. The young gentleman not onely promised all carefull secrecy, but gaue him harty thanks for his good counsell, promising to meete him there the next day, and tell him what newes. hee left the old man, who was almost mad for feare his wife should any way play false. He saw by experience, braue men came to besiege the castle, and seeing it was in a woman's custodie, and had so weake a gouernor as himselfe, he doubted it would in time be deliuered up which feare made him almost franticke, yet he driude of the time in great torment, till he might heare from his riual. Lionello, he hastes him home, and sutes him in his brauerye, and goes down towards the house of Mutio, where he sees her at her windowe, whom he courted


with a passionate looke, with such an humble salute, as shee might perceiue how the gentleman was affectionate. Margaretta looking earnestly upon him, and noting the perfection of his proportion, accounted him in her eye the flower of all Pisa; thinkte herselfe fortunate if she might haue him for her freend, to supply those defaultes that she found in Mutio. Sundry times that afternoone he past by her window, and he cast not vp more louing lookes, then he receiued gratious fauours: which did so incourage him, that the next daye betweene three and sixe hee went to her house, and knocking at the doore, desired to speake with the mistris of the house, who hearing by her maid's description what he was, commaunded him to come in, where she interteined him with all curtesie.

"The youth that neuer before had giuen the attempt to couet a ladye, began his exordium with a blushe; and yet went forward so well, that he discourst vnto her howe he loued her, and that if it might please her so to accept of his seruice, as of a freende euer vowde in all duetye to bee at her commaunde, the care of her honour should bee deerer to him then his life, and hee would bee ready to prise her discontent with his bloud at all times.

"The gentlewoman was a little coye, but before they part they concluded that the next day at foure of the clock hee should come thither and eate a pound of cherries, which was resolued on with a succado des labras; and so with a loath to depart they took their leaues. Lionello, as joyfull a man as might be, hyed him to the church to meete his olde doctor, where hee found him in his olde walke. What newes, syr, quoth Mutio? How have you sped? Even as I can wishe, quoth Lionello; for I haue been with my mistresse, and haue found her so tractable, that I hope to make the old peasant her husband look broad-hedded by a pair of browantlers. How deepe this strooke into Mutio's hart, let them imagine that can conjecture what ielousie is; insomuch that the olde doctor askte, when should be the time: marry, quoth Lionello, to morrow at foure of the clocke in the afternoone; and then maister doctor, quoth hee, will I dub the olde squire knight of the forked order.

"Thus they past on in chat, till it grew late; and then Lyonello went home to his lodging, and Mutio to his house, couering all his sorrowes with a merrye countenance, with full resolution to revenge them both the next day with extremitie. He past the night as patiently as he could, and the next day after dinner awaye hee went, watching when it should bee four of the clocke. At the houre justly came Lyonello, and was intertained with all curtesie: but scarse had they kist, ere the maide cried out to her mistresse that her maister was at the

« TrướcTiếp tục »