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MRS FORD. Mistress Page is come with me, sweetheart.

FAL. Divide me like a bribe buck, each a haunch: I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk, and my horns 1 bequeath your husbands. Am I a woodman, ha ? Speak I like Herne the hunter ? Why, now is Cupid a child of conscience; he makes restitution. As I am a true spirit, welcome!

[Noise within. MRS PAGE. Alas, what noise ? Mrs Ford. Heaven forgive our sins ! FAL. What should this be? FORD.

[They run off MRS

Fal. I think the devil will not have me damned, lest the oil that's in me should set hell on fire; he would never else cross me thus.


Mes Forp.} Away, away!

Enter Sir Hugh Evans, disguised as before ; Pistol, as Hobgoblin ;

MISTRESS QUICKLY, ANNE PAGE, and others, as Fairies, with tapers.

QUICK. Fairies, black, grey, green, and white, You moonshine revellers, and shades of night,

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Chronicle for the year 1583, where in a dramatic performance at
Court during the scenic presentation of a tempest, “ It hailed smal

confects, rained rose-water, and snew an artificial kind of snow.” 22 bribe buck] Theobald's emendation of the early reading, brib'd buck.

It probably means a buck of the fine quality bred for giving away

as bribes or presents. 23-24 the fellow of this walk] the forester or gamekeeper. 34 Enter . . . tapers] In the early Quartos this stage direction reads

You orphan heirs of fixed destiny,
Attend your office and your quality.
Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.

Pist. Elves, list your names ; silence, you airy toys. 40
Cricket, to Windsor chimneys shalt thou leap:
Where fires thou find'st unraked and hearths unswept,
There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry:
Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery.
Fal. They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall

die: I'll wink and couch : no man their works must eye.

[Lies down upon his face. Evans. Where's Bede? Go you, and where you find

a maid That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said, Raise up the organs of her fantasy ; Sleep she as sound as careless infancy: But those as sleep and think not on their sins, Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins.

50 60

thus: “Enter Sir Hugh like a Satyre, and boyes drest like Fayries, Mistresse Quickly, like the queene of Fayries; they sing

a song about him and afterward speake.” 37 orphan heirs ... destiny] miraculously conceived inheritors of immortality. “Orphan heirs

is synonymous with “unfathered heirs,” in 2 Hen. IV, IV, iv, 122, an expression applicable to elves not begotten of mortal parents, but miraculously created by divine or demoniac powers. “Of fixed destiny" is equivalent to “en

dowed with immortality,” of fixed and unchangeable destiny. 47 Bede] This is the name given to the fairy messenger in the Folios.

The early Quartos read Pead, which is probably more in keeping with Sir Hugh's ordinary dialect.


QUICK. About, about; Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out: Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room; That it may stand till the perpetual doom, In state as wholesome as in state 't is fit, Worthy the owner, and the owner it. The several chairs of order look you scour With juice of balm and every precious flower: Each fair instalment, coat, and several crest, With loyal blazon, evermore be blest ! And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing, Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring : Th' expressure that it bears, green let it be, More fertile-fresh than all the field to see ; And Honi soit qui mal y pense write In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white; Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery, Buckled below fair knighthood's bending knee: Fairies use flowers for their charactery. Away; disperse : but till 't is one o'clock, Our dance of custom round about the oak Of Herne the hunter, let us not forget. Evans. Pray you, lock hand in hand; yourselves in

order set; And twenty glow-worms shall our lanterns be,

70 80


61 instalment] The word which commonly means “ installation

to signify here the “stall” of a knight of the Garter. 71 charactery] written cipher; often used in the sense of “shorthand.”

To guide our measure round about the tree
But, stay ; I smell a man of middle-earth.

Fal. Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy, lest he transform me to a piece of cheese!

Pist. Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth.

QUICK. With trial-fire touch me his finger-end :
If he be chaste, the flame will back descend,
And turn him to no pain; but if he start,
It is the flesh of a corrupted heart.

Pist. A trial, come.

Come, will this wood take fire ?

[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.


Fie on sinful fantasy!
Fie on lust and luxury !
Lust is but a bloody fire,
Kindled with unchaste desire,

78 middle] a conventional poetic epithet. In the current astronomical

system the earth was the middle region of the universe, of which the upper region was the home of God and the lower region the

abode of the fairies. 84 turn him] put him, a common contemporary usage. 91 fantasy] love: see note on Mids. N. Dr., I, i, 32. 92 luxury) lasciviousness, incontinence. Cf. Lear, IV, vi, 119: “To't,

luxury, pell-mell; for I lack soldiers.” 93 bloody fire] fire of blood.


Fed in heart, whose flames aspire,
As thoughts do blow them, higher and higher.

Pinch him, fairies, mutually;

Pinch him for his villany;
Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about,
Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out.


During this song they pinch FALSTAFF. DocToR Caius comes one

way, and steals away a boy in green ; SLENDER another way, and takes off a boy in white; and Fenton comes, and steals away Mrs ANNE PAGE. A noise of hunting is heard within. All the Fairies run away. FalsTAFF pulls off his buck's head, and rises.


PAGE. Nay, do not fly ; I think we have watch'd you

now: Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn ? MRS PAGE. I pray you, come, hold up the jest no

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

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100 During this song . rises] This stage direction is absent from

the First Folio, but it figures in the early Quartos, whence Theo

bald and succeeding editors have borrowed it. 105 fair yokes] This is the reading of the First Folio, which the Second and later Folios changed to okes, i. e. oaks. The reference, of

i course, is to the horns, which sometimes take a shape resembling yokes for cattle. It is less reasonable to identify the horns with the branches of an oak tree.


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