Falstaff:Merry Wives of Windsor (III, v, 13-14)
"I have a kind of alacrity in sinking."
Once again we meet Falstaff, the never-do-well who was Prince Hal's companion in Henry IV; and he is just as fat and lascivious in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare's most farcical play. In a series of complicated turns and twists, Falstaff has found himself in a compromising situation with Mrs. Ford when suddenly they learn that the insanely jealous Mr. Ford is about to enter the house. Falstaff is directed to hide in a basket of dirty laundry, which Ford's men lug down to and dump into the river. In this scene, Falstaff has returned from that ordeal and sits in the Garter Inn, describing the foul stench of the dirty laundry, the "stinking clothes that fretted in their own grease." He complains about the indignity of being tossed into the river, and how due to his enormous size, he had a kind of "alacrity in sinking; [and] the bottom were as deep as hell, I should d[r]own. I had been drown'd, but that the shore was shelvy and shallow."
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