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You would have married her most shamefully,
A thousand irreligious cursed hours,
Which forced marriage would have brought upon her.
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.2
Eva. I will dance and eat plums at your wedding. Mrs. Page. Well, I will muse no further:-Master
Heaven give you many, many merry days!
Let it be so-Sir John,
To master Brook you yet shall hold your word;
For he to-night shall lie with mistress Ford. [Exeunt
2 Young and old, does as well as bucks. He alludes to Fenton's having run down Anne Page.
Or 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 showing 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 judgment; 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.
* 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 of that 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. In the old play of Henry V., French soldiers are introduced speaking broken English. STEEVENS.
THE PASTORAL, BY CH. MARLOWE,
Referred to Act iii. Sc. 1, of the foregoing Play.
COME, live with me, and be my love,
A belt of straw, and ivy buds,
Thy silver dishes for thy meat,
Shall on thy ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight, each May morning: