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Fal. I am glad, though you have ta’en a special stand to strike at me, that your arrow hath glanc’d. Page. Well, what remedy ? Fenton, heaven give
thee joy! What cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac'd.
Eva. I will dance and eat plụms at your wedding.
Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chacd. Mrs. Page. Well, I will muse no further. Master
Page. Well, what remedy ?-) In the first sketch of this play, which, as Mr. Pope observes, is much inferior to the latter performance, the only sentiment of which I regret the omillion, occurs at this critical time, when Fenton brings in his wife, there is this dialogue.
Mrs. Ford. Come, mistress Page, I must be bold with you, 'Tis pity to part love that is so true.
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.-
Page. I cannot tell, and yet my beart is eas'd;
. Of this play there is a tradition preserved by Mr. Rowe, chat it was written at the command of queen Elizabeth, who was fo delighted with the character of Falstaff
, that she wihed it to be diffused through more plays; but suspecting that it might pall by continued uniformity, directed the poet to diversify his manner, by Thewing him in love. No talk is harder than that of writing to the ideas of another. Shakespeare 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 to much abatement, that little of his former cast would have re"mained. Falstaff could not love; but by ceasing to be Falfa. He could only counterfeit love, and his profettons 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 Shakespeare was the first that produced upon the English Itage 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 fucceís must be derived almost wholly from the player, but its power in a skilful mouth, even he that despises it, is unable to refiit.
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 mhall finally be tried, is such, that perhaps it never yet had reader or spectator, who did not think it too soon at an end. JOHNSON.
END OF VOLUME THE FIRST,
THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
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