Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Persons Represented.

SIR John Falstaff.
Fenton.
Shallow, a country justice.
Slender, cousin to Shallow.
Mr. Page, 2
Mr. Ford, 3 "

{ two gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
Sir Hugh Evans, a Welch parfon.
Dr. Caius, a French doĉtor.
Host of the Garter.
Bardolph.
Pistol.
Nym..
Robin, page to Falstaff.
William Page, a boy, son to Mr. Pagi.
Simple, servant to Slender.
Rugby, servant to Dr. Caius.

Mrs. Page.
Mrs. Ford.
Mrs. Ann Page, daughter to Mr. Page, in love will

Fenton.
Mrs. Quickly, servant to Dr. Caius.

Servants to Page, Ford, &c.
SCENE, Windsor; and the parts adjacent.

THE

MERRY WIVES,

. OF.

? WIND SO R.

ACT I. SCENE I.

Before Page's house in Windsor.
Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans.

SHALLOW.
C IR Hugh, persuade me not; I will make 3 a

Star-chamber matter of it. If he were twenty

Sir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, Esquire.

Slen.

* A few of the incidents in this comedy might have been taken from some old translation of the Il Pecorone of Giovanni Fiorentino. I have lately met with the same story in a very contemptible performance, intitled, The fortunate, i he deceived, and the unfortunate Lovers. Of this book, as I am told, there are several impressions; but that in which I read it, was published in 1632, quarto. A something similar story occurs in The Piacevoli Notti di Straparola. Nott. 42. Fav. 42. Steev.

2 The Merry Wives of Windsor.] Queen Elizabeth was so well pleased with the admirable character of Falstaff in The Two Parts of Henry IV. that, as Mr. Rowe inforins us, she commanded Shakespeare to continue it for one play more, and to fhew him in love. To this command we owe The Merry Wives of Windsor : which, Mr. Gildon says, he was very well assured, · VOL. I.

our

Slen. In the county of Gloucester, justice of peace, and Coram.

Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and 4 Custalorum.

Slen. Ay, and Ratolorum too ; and a gentleman born, master parson ; who writes himself Armigero; in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, Armigero.

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

Slen. All his succeffors, gone before him, have don'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.

Skal. 5 The luce is the fresh fish; the falt fish is an old coat.

Slen.

our author finished in a fortnight. But this must be meant only of the first imperfect sketch of this comedy; an old quarto edition which I have seen, printed in 1602; which says in the title-page- As it hath been divers times atled both before ber majesty, and elsewhere. Pope. THEOBALD. 3 a Star-chamber matter of it.] Ben Jonson intimates, that the Star-chamber had a right to take cognizance of such matters. See The Magnetick Lady, A& 3: Sc. 4.

" There is a court above, of the Star-chamber, . « To punish routs and riots." STEEVENS.

4 Custalorum.] This is, I suppose, intended for a corruption of Cuftos Rotulorum. The mistake was hardly designed by the author, who, though he gives Shallow folly enough, makes him rather pedantic than illiterate. If we read :

Shal. Ay, confin Slender, and Cuftos Rotulorum.
It follows naturally :
Slen. Ay, and Ratalorum too. JOHNSON

s Tbe luce, &c.] I see no consequence in this answer. Perhaps we may read, the salt fijh is not an old coat. That is, the fresh fish is the coat of an ancient family, and the falt fish is the coat of a merchant grown rich by trading over the sea.

JOHNSON. Shakespeare, by hinting that the arms of the Shallows and the Lucys were the fame, thews he could not forget his old friend Sir Tho. Lucy, pointing at him under the character of

Justice

[ocr errors]

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 iny
simple conjectures. But that is all one: if Sir John
Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you,
I am of the church, and will be glad to do my bene.
volence, to make atonements and compromises be-
tween you.
Shal. 6 The council shall hear it; it is a riot.

Eva.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

Justice Shallow. But to put the matter out of all doubt, Shake-
speare has here given us a distinguishing mark, whereby it
appears that Sir Thomas was the very person represented by
Shallow. To set blundering parson Evans right, Shallow tells
him, the luce is not the loufe, but the fresh fin, or pike, the
salt fish indeed) is an old coat. The plain English of which
is (if I am not greatly mistaken) the family of the Charlcotts
had for their arms a falt fish originally; but when William,
son of Walter de Charlcott, assumed the name of Lucy, in the
the time of Henry III. he took the arms of the Lucys. This
is not at all improbable ; for we find, when Maud Lucy be-
queathed her eltates to the Percys, it was upon condition they
joined her arms with their own. " Says Dugdale, it is likely
“ William de Charlcott took the name of Lucy to oblige his
« mother.” And I say further, it is likely he took the arms
of the Lucys at the same time. Smith,
The luce is a pike or jack. .

Many a fair partriche had he in mewe,
“ And many a breme, and many a luce in stewe.”

Chaucer's Prol. of the Cant. Tales, 351, 352. In Ferne's Blazon of Gentry, 1586, quarto, the arms of the Lucy family are represented as an instance, that “ signs of the " coat should something agree with the naric. It is the coat " of Geffray Lord Lucy. He did bear gules, three lucies " hariant, argent." STEEVENS

6 The council fall bear it; it is a riot.] He alludes to a statute made in the reign of K. Henry IV. (13 chap. 7.) ky which it is enacted, " That the justices, three, or two of them, and " the Meriff, shall certify before the king, and his counseile, “ all the deeds and circumstances thereof (namely the rior) “ which certification Mould be of the like force as the pre

N2

“ fent

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »