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In the first edition of the imperfect play, Sir Hugh Evans is called on the title-page, the Welch Knight; and yet there are some persons who still affect to believe, that all our author's plays were originally published by himself. FARMER,

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Queen Elizabeth was so well pleased with the admirable character of Falstaff in The Two Parts of Henry IV. that, as Mr. Rowe informs us, she commanded Shakspeare to continue it for one play more, and show him in love. To this command we owe The Merry Wives of Windsor; which, Mr. Gildon says, [Remarks on Shakspeare's Plays, 8vo. 1710,] he was very well assured our author finished in a fortnight. He quotes no authority. The circumstance was first mentioned by Mr. Dennis. This comedy," says he, in his Epistle Dedicatory to The Comical Gallant (an alteration of the present play,) 1702," was written at her [Queen Elizabeth's] command, and by her direction, and she was so eager to see it acted, that she commanded it to be finished in fourteen days; and was afterwards, as tradition tells us, very well pleased at the representation." The information, it is probable, came originally from Dryden, who from his intimacy with Sir William Davenant, had an opportunity of learning many particulars concerning our author.

At what period Shakspeare new-modelled The Merry Wives of Windsor is unknown. I believe it was enlarged in 1603. MALONE. It is not generally known, that the first edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor, in its present state, is in the valuable folio, printed 1623, from whence the quarto of the same play, dated 1630, was evidently copied. The two earlier quartos, 1602, and 1619, only exhibit this comedy as it was originally written, and are so far curious as they contain Shakspeare's first conceptions in forming a drama, which is the most complete specimen of his comick powers.

T. WARTON.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

Sir JOHN FALSTAFF.

FENTON.

SHALLOW, a country Justice.
SLENDER, Cousin to Shallow.

Mr. FORD,

Mr. PAGE.

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two Gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.

WILLIAM PAGE, a Boy, Son to Mr. Page.
Sir HUGH EVANS, a Welch Parson.
Dr. CAIUS, a French Physician.

Host of the Garter Inn.

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Mrs. ANNE PAGE, her Daughter, in love with Fenton.

Mrs. QUICKLY, Servant to Dr. Caius.

Servants to Page, Ford, &c..

SCENE, WINDSOR; and the Parts adjacent.

MERRY WIVES

OF

WINDSOR.

ACT I.

SCENE I.-Windsor. Before Page's House.

Enter Justice SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Sir HUGH

EVANS.

Shallow.

SIR Hugh', persuade me not; I will make a starchamber matter of it: if he were twenty sir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, esquire.

Slen. In the county of Gloster, justice of peace, and

coram.

Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and cust-alorum.

Slen. Ay, and ratolorum too; and a gentleman born,

1 Sir Hugh,] This is the first, of sundry instances in our poet, where a parson is called sir. Anciently it was the common designation both of one in holy orders and a knight. Sir is the designation of a bachelor of arts in the universities of Cambridge and Dublin; but is there always annexed to the surname : Sir Evans, &c. In consequence, however, of this, all the inferior clergy in England were distinguished by this title affixed to their christian names for many centuries. Hence our author's Sir Hugh in the present play,— Sir Topas in Twelfth Night, Sir Oliver in As You Like It, &c.

master parson; who writes himself armigero2; in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, armigero.

Shal. Ay, that we do; and have done any time these three hundred years.

Slen. All his successors, gone before him, have done't; and all his ancestors, that come after him, may: they may give the dozen white luces in their coat.

Shal. It is an old coat.

Eva. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well; it agrees well, passant: it is a familiar beast to man, and signifies-love.

Shal. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.3

Slen. I may quarter, coz?

Shal. You may, by marrying.

Eva. It is marring, indeed, if he quarter it.
Shal. Not a whit.

Eva. Yes, py'r-lady; if he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my simple conjectures: but this is all one: If sir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the church, and will be glad to do my benevolence, to make atonements and compromises between you.

Shal. The council shall hear it; it is a riot. "

Eva. It is not meet the council hear a riot; there is no fear of Got in a riot: the council, look you, shall de

who writes himself armigero;] Slender had seen the justice's attestations, signed "—jurat' coram me, Roberto Shallow, armigero."

3 The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.] Our author here alludes to the arms of sir Thomas Lucy, who is said to have prosecuted him in the younger part of his life for a misdemeanor, and who is supposed to be pointed at under the character of justice Shallow. The text, however, has been so corrupted, that the passage, as it stands at present, seems inexplicable.

The council shall hear it; it is a riot.] By the council is only meant the court of star-chamber, composed chiefly of the king's council sitting in camerâ stellatâ, which took cognizance of atrocious riots.

sire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear a riot; take your vizaments in that."

Shal. Ha! o'my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.

Eva. It is petter that friends is the sword, and end it: and there is also another device in my prain, which, peradventure, prings goot discretions with it: There is Anne Page, which is daughter to master George Page, which is pretty virginity.

Slen. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.

Eva. It is that fery person for all the 'orld, as just as you will desire; and seven hundred pounds of monies, and gold, and silver, is her grandsire, upon his death'sbed, (Got deliver to a joyful resurrections!) give, when she is able to overtake seventeen years old: it were a good motion, if we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between master Abraham, and mistress Anne Page.

Shal. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?

Eva. Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny. Shal. I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.

Eva. Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is good gifts.

Shal. Well, let us see honest master Page: Is Falstaff there?

Eva. Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar, as I do despise one that is false; or, as I despise one that is not true. The knight, sir John, is there; and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will peat the door [knocks] for master Page. What, hoa! Got pless your house here!

9

your vizaments in that.] Advisement, an obsolete word.

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