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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, be gar, and 'tis a boy: be 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.
Enter Fenton and Anne Page. How now, master Fenton? Anne. Pardon, good father! good my mother,
8 Confound her by your questons.
A thousand irreligious cursed hours,
Ford. Stand not amaz’d: here is no remedy:-
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 eschew'd, must be embrac'd. Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are
chas'd. Eva. I will dance and eat plums at you wedding. Mirs. Page. Well, I will muse no further :-Master
Let it be so :—Sir John,
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 Falstafl' 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.