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Here, I imagine, Fenton's account is possibly spurious, and was a substitution in the supposed shorter edition for subsequent matter; that it got into the Quarto through the pirate's lack of discrimination; and that on the publishing of the full text it was allowed to remain in its present needlessly expansive and unpoetical garb.
In the second and third Scenes of the Fifth Act we are told again the machinery by which Slender and Caius are to be deceived. These are brief passages, and the second is necessary as opening the final denouement. The Quarto dispenses entirely with these two Scenes, and certainly one does not miss them. It is true we lose the
mumbudget" episode. It is probable these formed no part of the shortened play, though undoubtedly they belong to the text. They elaborate the characterisation, and draw on the coming events. But we do not need to be told again about the sawpit.
Finally, we have all these minutiæ repeated not only in the stage-directions before and after the pinching dance, but also in the text itself of the fifth Scene, from line 200 to 220, colours and all, in detail, until even an ordinary reader must be surprised at his assumed denseness, while a student finds himself reverting backwards, over and over again, to look for the reasons thereof. And he only finds that he had already been fully informed.
The Quarto gives evidence here again of faulty condensation. Any one about to compress the Fifth Act would infallibly omit “mum" and "mumbudget.” This the Quarto has done, but has let the words appear abruptly and unexpectedly at the close, the previous key (in v. ii.) being left out.
There is repetition again in the Folio in the wording at Falstaff's two escapes; the language used to Ford and that Ford uses on these two occasions (111. iii. 211-237 and IV. ii. 127-165) having several almost identical expressions ; they are more than mere parallels, and act as comments upon one another. See my notes at iv. ii. 162 and 163. These dialogues are sufficiently distinct in the Quarto version. The two passages so nearly repeated in the Folio occur upon the first occasion in the Quarto but not upon the second. Probably the "acting" shorter version saw that they could be dispensed with, and in this case the pirate may have followed his original.
It is difficult sometimes to piece the two texts into any harmony side by side.
It is difficult to grasp the events in one version, and then to turn to the other and unwind them there. Owing to the faultiness of the Quarto, it is in that case sometimes well-nigh impossible, but only in minor matters, however, How much more difficult is it to lay these discrepancies in any intelligible form before the reader who has only one text before him! In such a case the only proper method would be the cumbrous one of printing both texts side by side, passage for passage, and not separately, as is done by the Cambridge edition. I have endeavoured to meet this difficulty by placing in my notes the more important passages that are peculiar to the Quarto, or are very distinct therein, in juxtaposition with the corresponding words in the text. For it is absolutely necessary to study certain portions of the smaller text (and therefore the whole of it), on account of some vital differences it contains.
The most important of these occur in two connected places dealing with the horse-stealing episode, in iv. iii. and iv. v. 64-95. The Quarto throws a different light on this episode, which must be dealt with more fully by itself. The alteration of the word “ garmombles” (a thin disguise for “Mumpellgart") to “ cozen-germans
» in the Folio was perhaps intentionally made to remove a personal allusion, either because it had lost its pith or because it was objected to. I am quite aware that some commentators will not admit this allusion though wholly unable to explain it away. Of that more presently; I believe in it.
A few more prominent peculiarities in the Quarto version must be referred to. It may give a general idea of its impossibility for purposes of detailed collation to refer again to the Fifth Act. The Quarto, at the beginning of that Act, reaches “Scene xviii.,” which commences “This is the third time" (v. i. 2). In sixteen lines from that point the Quarto has arrived at “Do I speake like Horne the hunter, ha ?” (v. v. 31). And from that point, at "Enter Sir Hugh,” what the Folio takes about two hundred and fifty lines to develop, practically the last Scene, the Quarto disposes of in twothirds of the number. The omission from the Quarto of the whole of the topical speech dealing with Windsor Castle and the Order of the Garter I believe to be significant, as though the complete play was adapted expressly for Windsor, and the shortened one for representation elsewhere. It is hard to avoid the feeling, though it is perhaps not capable of proof, that this play was written for and acted at Windsor itself. This presumption is somewhat heightened by the presence in the Quarto of half a dozen very inferior lines which replace the Windsor Castle speech,
and sound pure London. They would come in after Evans's speech about the housemaids (v. v. 58), and are an interrupted continuation of that speech in the Quarto
Hu. Where is Pead ? go you and see where Brokers sleep,
And Fox-eyed seriants with their mase,
But such whose nose lookes blew and red. These poor lines bring one back to the Poultry and the Counter-Gate. Not that the Windsor Castle speech is of any poetical merit. It is prose in verse, but in strict appropriateness.
At the very beginning of the play the Quarto omissions are equally, if not more, important. The second line there is the thirty-fourth in our text, so that not only Slender is here again compelled to hide his diminished head, but all the “Lucy” passages are lost; a very serious deficit in our interest in the play, but quite possibly a purposed omission in the supposed shorter version. It is probably personal, and certainly not necessary to the matter in hand. Here the abbreviation is made with some skill, showing a contrast to the supreme carelessness later on, as though the condensed version was more carefully obtained and followed. The motive here seems to be to cut Slender short. His “ Cotsall” remarks are omitted. The deer-stealing remarks are retained, as are also the incidents connected with the robbery of Slender's purse, which form part of the events of the play. With regard to Slender, the whirligig of time brings in its revenges, and modern criticism regards “this very potent piece of imbecility” as the best character in the play.
On the other hand, the Host in the Quarto receives his full allowance of space. He is but slightly curtailed in any place from his proper position in the Folio, so that he is even more in evidence, comparatively, in the Quarto. He was undoubtedly a most popular character. Caius and Evans receive their due attention in the Quarto, but Quickly is greatly cut down, not merely by omitted speeches, but by mutilated speeches which are more significant.
The Wives are treated with scant respect in the Quarto, and are shortened beyond their proportions. Fenton is so unceremoniously dealt with that he comes in once out of his proper order in the play (1. iv.), and in the Fifth Act he is made of even less interest than in the Folio, where, for Anne's sake, we would like to know him better. Falstaff's speeches are all more or less cut up, but he has his full proportionate share.
One result of this treatment is that we have in the Quarto the unusually numerous gallery of actors that the full play presents, but in a much reduced space. This reduction of limits confuses and crowds the characters, and makes the play seem there much more involved than it really is. Had we no Folio text, the Quarto would be indeed a heart-breaking study.
One feels sorry for this poor little debased Quarto. It gets nothing but abuse, or else the most austere criticism. Nevertheless the bulk of it is surely Shakespeare's. The Folio “passes it strangely by and scarcely greets it.” But the Quarto may "ensconce itself within the knowledge of its own deserts," for it is of very material interest and assistance in several passages and word-difficulties which are dealt with in my notes. Before dismissing it, I will