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In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white :
in order set: And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,
To guide our measure round about the tree. | But, stay; I smell a man of middle earth.
Fal. Heavens defend me from that Welch fairy! Lest he transform me to a piece of cheese! Pist. Vile worm, thou wast o'erlooked even in
Pist. A trial, come.
[They burn him with their tapers. Fal. Oh, oh, oh!
Quick. Corrupt, corrupt, and tainted in desire! About him, fairies; sing a scornful rhyme : And, as you trip, still pinch him to your time.
Eva. It is right; indeed he is full of lecheries and iniquity.
Pinch him for his villany;
Now, good Sir John, how like you Windsor wives? See you these, husband ? do not these fair yokes Become the forest better than the town?
Ford. Now, sir, who's a cuckold now?Master Brook, Falstaff's a knave, a cuckoldly knave; here are his horns, Master Brook: And, Master Brook, he hath enjoyed nothing of Ford's but his buck-basket, his cudgel,and twenty pounds of money; 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 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 surprise of my powers, drove the grossness of the foppery into a received belief, in despite of the teeth of all rhyme and reason, that they were fairies. See now, how wit may be made a Jack-a-lent, when 't is upon ill employment!
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 laid 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? 'Tis time I were choked with a piece of toasted cheese.
Eva. Seese is not goot to give putter ; your pelly is all putter.
Pal. 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 late-walking through the realm.
Mrs. Page. Why, Sir 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 Alax? Mrs. Page. A puffed man?
Page. Old, cold, withered, and of intolerable entrails?
Ford. And one that is as slanderous as Satan?
Eva. And given to fornications, and to taverns, and sack, and wine, and metheglins, and to drink
During this song, the fairies pinch Falstaff.
Doctor Caius comes one way, and steals away a fairy in green; SLENDER another way, and takes off a fairy in white; and Fenton comes, and steals away Mrs. Anne Page. A noise of hunting is made within. All the fairies run away. Falstaff pulls off his buck's head, and rises.
Enter Page, Ford, Mrs. Page, and Mrs. Ford.
They lay hold of him. Page. Nay, do not fly; I think we have
watched you now; Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn? Mrs. Page. I pray you, come; hold up the
jest no higher :
Enter Caius. Caius. Vere is Mistress Page? By gar, I am cozened; I ha' married un garçon, a boy ; un paisan, by gar, a boy; it is not Anne Page: by gar, I am cozened.
Mrs. Page. Why, did you take her in green?
Caius. Ay, by gar, and 't is a boy: by gar, I'll raise all Windsor.
[Exit Caius. Ford. This is strange: Who hath got the right Anne?
Page. My heart misgives me : Here comes Master Fenton.
ings, 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; use me as you will.
Ford. Marry, sir, we'll bring you to Windsor, to one Master Brook, that you have cozened of money, to whom you should have been a pander: over and above that you have suffered, I think to repay
money will be a biting affliction. Mrs. 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.
[Aside. Enter SLENDER, Slen. Whoo, ho! ho! father Page!
Page. Son! how now? how now, son? have you despatched ?
Slen. Despatched ?—I'll make the best in Gloucestershire 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 't is a postmaster's boy. Page. Upon my life then
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 cried“mum," and she cried “budget,” as Anne and I had appointed; and yet it was not Anne, but a postmaster's boy.
Eva. Jeshu! Master Slender, cannot you see but marry boys?
Page. O, I am vexed at heart: What shall I do?
Mrs. Page. Good George, be not angry: I knew of your purpose; turned my daughter into green; and, indeed, she is now with the doctor at the deanery, and there married.
Enter Fenton and ANNE PAGE. How now, Master Fenton!
Anne. Pardon, good father! good my mother, pardon!
Page. Now, mistress? how chance you went not with Master Slender?
Mrs. Page. Why went you not with master doctor, maid?
Fent. You do amaze her: Hear the truth of it. You would have married her most shamefully, Where there was no proportion held in love. The truth is, she and I, long since contracted, Are now so sure that nothing can dissolve us. The offence is holy that she hath committed : And this deceit loses the name of craft, Of disobedience, or unduteous title ; Since therein she doth evitate and shun A thousand irreligious curséd hours Which forcéd marriage would have brought
Ford. Stand not amazed : here is no remedy: In love, the heavens themselves do guide the
state; Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate.
Fal. I am glad, though you have ta’en a special stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanced. Page. Well, what remedy? Fenton, heaven
give thee joy! What cannot be eschewed must be embraced. Fal. When night-dogs run all sorts of deer
are chased. 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, To Master Brook you yet shall hold your word ; For he, to-night, shall lie with Mistress Ford.
"Sir Hugh, persuade me not.”- Act I., Scene 1. The term Sir was formerly applied to the inferior clergy, as well as to knights; nor is the custom at present altogether extinct. At Cambridge and Dublin the designation is still applied to bachelors of arts, but always annexed to the surname only; as, Sir Evans, &c. Fuller, in his “CHURCH HISTORY," says, “Such priests as have the addition of 'Sir' before their christian name, were men not graduated in the university; being in orders, but not in degrees ; whilst others, entitled 'masters,' had commenced in the arts."
"Coney-catching rascals."-Act I., Scene 1. A coney-catcher was a cheat or sharper. As coney is the name of a young rabbit, the phrase probably implied that the fools these sharpers preyed upon were as easily caught as the inexperienced animals.
" You Banbury cheese." -Act I., Scene 1. This is said in ridicule of Slender's meagreness of person, a Banbury cheese being remarkably thin. In " Jack Drum's Entertainment" (1601), there is this passage : “Put off your clothes, and you are like a Banbury cheese, nothing but paring."
“A star-chamber matter."—Act I., Scene 1. The obnoxious old court of Star Chamber took cognizance of routs and riots.
"And custalorum."-Act I., Scene 1. A contraction or corruption for custos rotulorum.
“How now, Mephostophilus?"-Act I., Scene 1. This is the name of a spirit in the old histories of Faustus. Marlowe and Goethe have mainly contributed to keep it in familiar use.
"Writes himself armigero."-Act I., Scene 1. "Armiger" is the latin term for “esquire.” Slender had probably seen his relative's official signature, “ Jurat' coram me, Roberto Shallow, armigero;" and thus unwittingly is led to substitute the ablative case for the nominative.
"The dozen white luces in their coat." — Act I., Scene 1.
In what is here said of the luce (the pike, or jack), the poet is supposed to make some satirical reference to Sir Thomas Lucy, his Stratford prosecutor; but the ambiguity of the passage is so much more evident than the satire, that it has probably plagued the commentators far worse than it did the knight. Shallow's phrase, “ The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat” (which occurs a few lines lower), is thought by Dr. Johnson to imply, that the “fresh fish” is the coat of an ancient family; while the "salt fish” is the coat of a merchant, grown rich by trading over the sea. This explanation is at least ingenious, if not quite satisfactory.
“Mill-sixpences-Edward shovel-boards."—Act I., Scene 1.
The first-named coins were used as counters; the second, were the broad shillings of Edward VI., and used at the game of shovel-board, now called shuffle-board. Slender states that his lamented “shovel-boards" had cost him "two shilling and twopence a-piece;" and the matter is thus explained by Douce :-"We must suppose that the shillings purchased of the miller had been hoarded by him, and were in high preservation, and heavier than those which had been worn in circulation. These would, consequently, be of greater importance to a nice player at the game of shovelboard; and induce him, especially if an opulent man, to procure them at a price far beyond their original value.”
“Latten bilbo."-Act I., Scene 1. Another allusion to Slender's person. Latten is a mixed metal of copper and calamine, and cast in thin plates; it would consequently, both in edge and substance, be a vile material for making bilboes. We are told also that the word latten is still used in the north, as equivalent to tin. Steevens suggests, with great probability, that the word should be lathen bilbo. Falstaff talks of driving the Prince and his subjects before him with a dagger of lath.
" Out-run on Cotsall."-Act I., Scene 1. The allusion is to the annual games celebrated on Cotswold, in Gloucestershire. They were revived by a certain Mr. Robert Dover, in the beginning of the reign of James I. ; and consisted of wrestling, leaping, pitching the bar, handling the pike, dancing of women, various kinds of hunting, and particularly coursing the hare with greyhounds. These festivities have been commemorated in verse by Ben Jonson, Drayton, and Randolph, in a work called “ANNALIA DUBREXSIA."
“Marry trap."-Act I, Scene 1. This apparently was an exclamation of triumph, when a man was caught in his own snare, or otherwise punished as the consequence of his own behaviour.
“Known in counsel."-Act I., Scene 1. This is a quibble between council and counsel. The latter word is still used to imply secresy; as in the phrase, * keep your own counsel.” Falstaff's meaning is, “ you had better keep the matter to yourself, otherwise you'll only be laughed at."
“Conclusions passed the careires."-Act 1., Scene 1.
The ingenious Bardolph appears somewhat affectedly obscure in this passage; he is trying to escape, like the cuttlefish, in a darkness of his own creation. If we allow him to have any distinct meaning, he probably intends to say that the whole affair passed all reasonable bounds, and became a scene of confusion, in which, unfortunately, even his innocence could not protect him from suspicion. This erudite defence serves his purpose of confounding Slender, who answers, “Ay, you spake in Latin then too."
"Good worts ! good cabbage."—Act I., Scene 1. The word “worts” was formerly used to express all vegetables of the cabbage kind. “Colewort" is still a term in use.
“ Allhallowmas last, a fortnighi afore Michaelmas."
Act I., Scene I. This is a chronological error of the very particular Simple, and one no doubt intended by the poet. Allhallows is, in reality, five weeks after Michaelmas.
“ Three veneys for a dish of stewed prunes.”—Act I., Scene 1.
Three veneys signifies three bouts, or comes-on; from the French word venir.
"I have seen Sackerson loose."-Act I., Scene 1. Sackerson was the name of a bear exhibited at Paris Garden, Southwark, in Shakspere's time. The custom then was to name the animals after their owners. Sir John Davies, in his “EPIGRAMS," has a satirical allusion to the prevalent custom of bear-baiting:
“Publius, a student of the common law,
“By cock and pye.”—Act I., Scene 1. A common adjuration of the period. Cock is a corruption of the sacred Name; the pye is a table in the old Roman offices, shewing how to find the service of the day.
“Let me see thee froth and lime."-Act I., Scene 3. Frothing was produced by soaping the bottom of the tankard; lime was put into the sack (sherry), to make it sparkle.
“Steal at a minute's rest."—Act I., Scene 3. Nym's meaning is, that a thief should be always ready to prac:ice quickly and dexterously.
"She hath a legion of angels."-Act I., Scene 3. The allusion here is to the coin called an angel.
“Gourd and fullam holds."-Act I, Scene 3. These were terms for false dice. The gourd is supposed to have had a secret cavity; the fullams were loaded.
" The revolt of mien is dangerous.”—Act I., Scene 3.
That is, the change of countenance produced by jealousy implies danger.
" A Cain-coloured beard."-Act I., Scene 4. In old tapestries, Cain and Judas were represented with yellow beards.
“As tall a man of his hands "-Act I, Scene 4. That is, as brave or strong a man of his height. The term hands, to signify height, is still in use with reference to horses.
“ Though love use reason for his precisian," &c.
Act II., Scene 1. Precisian was a term applied to the Puritans. The meaning probably is, “though love allows reason to talk in a moral or prudent strain, he by no means looks to him for a cure, or consults him as to the means of gaining his ends.”
“Flemish drunkard."-Act II., Scene 1. The vice of excessive drinking is said to have been mainly naturalised in England by those soldiers of fortune who had served in the Flemish wars. Sir John Smythe, in his “CERTAIX DISCOURSES,” published in 1590, after giving some ac"Heart of elder."-Act II., Scene 3. Mine host waggishly avails himself on many occasions of the doctor's comparative ignorance of English, to abuse him under the mask of compliment. He here calls him “heart of elder:" the jest is, that the elder is filled with pith.
count of the practices of these men, adds, that in consequence of their example, "the aforesaid detestable vice has taken wonderful roote in our English nation, that was wont to be, of all other nations in Christendom, one of the soberest."
“ These knights will hack."-Act II., Scene 1. This is probably an allusion to the vast number of knights created by James I., soon after his accession. Mrs. Page may mean to say, knighthood will become so common or hacknied, that it is not worth your while to change the title by which thou art at present called (" alter the article of thy gentry"), merely to obtain so cheap an honour.
“We burn daylight."-Act II., Scene 1. That is, we are wasting time in talk; for which there is no more occasion than for a candle by daylight.
“The tune of Green-sleeves."-Act II., Scene 1. This was the name of a very popular ballad. The music is said to be preserved in the well-known song in the “BEGGARS' OPERA,"
“Since laws were inade for every degree."
“Hope is a curtail dog."-Act II., Scene 1. A dog of base kind, one who misses his game; the tail having been considered necessary to swiftness.
“Such a Cataian.”-Act II., Scene 1. The Chinese were then so called, from Cathay, or China. The travels of Mandeville and others had possessed Europeans with a strong notion of the subtlety and talent for juggling of these people; hence probably the term was used to denote a sharper.
“Stands so firmly on his wife's frailty."-Act II., Scene 1.
A phrase equivalent to saying, " has such perfect confidence in his frail wife."
“ The world's mine oyster."—Act II., Scene 2. Pistol's phrase signifies, that if he cannot get private assistance, he will prey upon the world by violence.
“Retort the sum in equipage."-Act II., Scene 2. The term equipage may signify either plunder or gratuitous attendance.
"Lost the handle of her fan.”—Act II., Scene 2. The fans of Elizabeth's days were far more costly than those of modern date. The fan itself was composed of ostrich or other valuable feathers, and the handles were usually silver or gold, and sometimes inlaid with jewels.
“A short knife and a throng."-Act II., Scene That is, take a short knife and get into a throng, or crowd, to cut purses.
“Your manor of Pickt-hatch.”—Act II., Scene 2. The term pickt-hatch is probably derived from the pickes, or fastenings, placed upon the hatches of the doors of disreputable houses, to prevent sudden or violent entrance.
“Nay, which is more, pensioners."-Act II., Scene 2.
The band of gentlemen pensioners, in Elizabeth's time, were all of high birth and large fortune. Their dress was splendid, and all their appointments on a corresponding scale.
“ Ford's a knave, and I will aggravate his style."
Act II., Scene 2. That is, Ford is a mean low fellow, and I will give him a more conspicuous title.
“So, now uncape."— Act III., Scene 3. This alludes to the practice of uncaping or turning out a bag-fox, when all the holes were stopped at which he might escape.
“I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't."-Act III., Scene 4.
That is, “By venturing I shall be sure to produce some effect, much or little." A shaft was a long sharp arrow; a bolt, a short thick one, used for inferior purposes.
“Cry'd game." —Act II., Scene 3. More probably, "cry aim;" a term derived from archery, signifying, "if you approve, say so.”
"To shallow rivers," &c.-Act III., Scene 1. The verses here sung by the doleful duellist are taken (with some variations) from the beautiful old ballad, supposed to be written by Marlowe, "Come live with me, and be my lore." The line interposed with them, " When as I sat in Babylon," forms part of the ancient version of the 137th Psalm, and may be supposed to force itself on the recollection of Sir Hugh, from his professional habits.
"Come cut and long-tail."-Act III., Scene 4. The commentators are much divided about the meaning of this phrase, which seems to have been a proverbial one of the time. The most probable explanation is, that persons not entitled to right of chase were obliged to cut their dogs' tails : the animals so cut were called curt-tails (from the French word "court,” signifying short), and by contraction, curs. Slender's meaning is, "I will do what I say, happen or come what will; despite the interference of clown or gentleman."
“He speaks holiday."—Act III., Scene 2. That is, in a holiday style. The meaning substantially is, that his manner of address is as much superior to the common, as is a holiday to an ordinary working day.
“I see you are obsequious in your love."—Act IV., Scene 2.
That is, observant of forms or ceremonies.
"'T' is in his buttons."—Act III., Scene 2. The host alludes to the plant commonly called "bachelor's buttons." It is said to have been a practice for country vocers to carry it in their pockets; and to anticipate good or bad success from its growing or not growing.
“There's her thrum-hat, and her muffler too."
Act IV., Scene 2. Coarse hats were probably made of the end of a weaver's warp, which is called the thrum. The muffler was used to cover the lower part of the face.
" I shall drink in pipe-wine first wilh him."—Act III., Scene 2.
“My maid's aunt of Brentford.”-Act IV., Scene 2.
This old woman of Brentford was a real person. She is mentioned in various old ballads as a notorious fortuneteller. “There would be no period to the jest.”— Act IV., Scene 2.
That is, no proper termination or catastrophe.
“They must come off."-Act IV., Scene 3. This phrase is used as an equivalent for the more modern one "come down"-pay handsomely.
" And fairy-like, to-pinch the unclean knight"
Act IV., Scene 4. A similar use of the word to, as a prefix, in order to lengthen out the line, is found occasionally in Spenser : as,
“ With locks all loose, and raiment all to-tore." Milton also avails himself of the same license, in his Comus :
“ Were all to-ruffled, and sometimes impaired."
“His slanding-bed and truckle-bed."-Act IV., Scene 5.
The standing-bed was the place of repose for the master; the truckle, or running, bed was placed under it, and occupied by the servant.
"Ay, marry was it, muscle-shell."-Act IV., Scene 5.
Simple probably follows up his question relating to the awful old woman, with a look of open-mouthed eagerness; and Falstaff, whom nothing of the ludicrous escapes, calls him mussel-shell from that circumstance.
"Since I forswore myself at primero."-Act IV., Scene 5.
This was a fashionable game: it was won by the player who first shewed a certain order of cards.
That is, in wine from the pipe. From the words that follow ("I'll make him dance"), it appears that Ford intends a quibble on the word, by referring it to the musical instru
" How now, my eyas-musket."—Act III., Scene 3. Eyas was the term for an unfledged hawk; musket, sigdified the sparrow-hawk. The compound term, therefore, implies something little and young.
"You little Jack-o'-lent." -Act III., Scene 3. This was a puppet set up to be thrown at in Lent. The harbarous practice prevailed, and is probably not yet quite extinct, of using a living cock for this purpose.
"Have I caught my heavenly jewel ?'"
Act III., Scene 3. This line is the first of a song in Sidney's “ASTROPHEL AND STELLA."
"The ship-tire, the tire valiant," &c.—Act III., Scene 3.
The ship-tire is thought to have been a dress of an open and flaunting description: for “tire valiant," we should probably read “tire vailant," or veiled, in which the person was more concealed. The general meaning, however, obviously is, that the beauty of the lady would become any dress she should choose to assume.
"Smell like Bucklersbury.”—Act III., Scene 3. This place was the residence of druggists, who sold all kinds of herbs.
"I will ensconce me behind the arras," ---Act III., Scene 3.
The allusions to this convenient mode of concealment are frequent in Shakspere and other writers of the period. There was a vacant space between the walls and the wooden frames on which the arras was hung.
“Quaint in green."—Act IV., Scene 6. "Quaintly" appears to have been used to signify either fantastically or gracefully; it always, however, implied something strange or peculiar.