Page images


Sir John Falstaff.
Shallow, a country Justice.
Slender, cousin to Shallow.
Mr. Ford,
Mr. Page, } 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.
Pistol, followers of Falstaff.
Robin, page to Falstaff.
Simple, servant to Slender.
Rugby, servant to Dr. Caius.

Mrs. Ford.
Mrs. Page.
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.


Jul. O me, unhappy!

[Faints. Pro. Look to the boy. Val. Why, boy! why, wag! how now? what is

the matter? Look up; speak. Jul.

O good sir, my master charg'd me
To deliver a ring to madam Silvia ;
Which, out of my neglect, was never done.

Pro. Where is that ring, boy?

Here 'tis : this is it.

[Gives a ring: Pro. How ! let me see: Why this is the ring I gave to Julia.

Jul. O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook ; This is the ring you sent to Silvia.

[Shows another ring. Pro. But, how cam'st thou by this ring? at my

depart, I gave

this unto Julia. Jul. And Julia herself did give it me; And Julia herself hath brought it hither.

Pro. How! Julia !

Jul. Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths,' And entertain'd them deeply in her heart : How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root ? :

rio's speech in page 197; and all is right. Why then should Julia faint ? It is only an artifice, seeing Silvia given up to Valentine, to discover herself to Proteus, by a pretended mistake of the rings. One great fault of this play is the hastening too abruptly, and without due preparation to the denouement, which shews that, if it be Shakspeare's, (which I cannot doubt,) it was one of his very early performances. BLACKSTONE.

9 Todeliver a ring to madam Silvia ;] Surelyour author wrote-Deliver a ring,” &c. A verse so rugged as that in the text must be corrupted by the players, or transcriber.

* Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths,] Gave encouragement, a phrase in archery.

How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root ?] i. e. of her heart. An allusion to deaving the pin in archery.

O Proteus, let this habit make thee blush!
Be thou asham'd, that I have took upon me
Such an immodest rayment; if shame live?
In a disguise of love :
It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,
Women to change their shapes, than men their

minds. Pro. Than men their minds ! 'tis true ; O hea

ven! were man But constant, he were perfect: that one error Fills him with faults ; makes him run through all

sins :
Inconstancy falls off, ere it begins :
What is in Silvia's face, but I may spy
More fresh in Julia's with a constant eye?

Val. Come, come, a hand from either:
Let me be blest to make this happy close ;
"Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.
Pro. Bear witness, heaven, I have my wish for

ever. Jul. And I have mine.

Enter Out-laws, with DUKE and THURIO. Out.

A prize, a prize, a prize! Val. Forbear, I say ; it is my lord the duke. Your grace is welcome to a man disgracid, Banished Valentine. Duke.

Sir Valentine ! Thu. Yonder is Silvia ; and Silvia's mine. Val. Thurio give back, or else embrace thy

death; Come not within the measure* of my wrath : Do not name Silvia thine ; if once again,


if shame live - ] That is, if it be any shame to wear & disguise for the purposes of love.

the measuren] The reach of my anger,

Milan shall not behold thee. Here she stands,
Take but possession of her with a touch ;-
I dare thee but to breathe upon my love.-

Thu. Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I;
I hold him but a fool that will endanger
His body for a girl that loves him not:
I claim her not, and therefore she is thine.

Duke. The more degenerate and base art thou,
To make such means for her as thou hast done,
And leave her on such slight conditions.-
Now, by the honour of my ancestry,
I do applaud thy spirit, Valentine,
And think thee worthy of an empress' love.
Know then, I here forget all former griefs,
Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again.
Plead a new state in thy unrivall’d merit,
To which I thus subscribe,-sir Valentine,
Thou art a gentleman, and well deriv'd;
Take thou thy Silvia, for thou hast deserv'd her.
Val. I thank your grace; the gift hath made me

happy I now beseech you, for your daughter's sake, To grant one boon that I shall ask of you.

Duke. I grant it, for thine own, whate'er it be.

Val. These banish'd men, that I have kept withal, Are men endued with worthy qualities ; Forgive them what they have committed here, And let them be recall'd from their exíle : They are reform’d, civil, full of good,

5 Milan shall not behold thee.] All the editions—Verona shall not behold thee. But from every circumstance, the poet must have intended; i. e. Milan, thy country, skall never see thee again : thou shalt never live to go back thither. THEOBALD.

To make such means for her as thou hast done,] i. e. to make such interest for, to take such disingenuous pains about her.

1- all former griets,] Griefs in old language frequently signified grievances, wrongs. MALONE.


And fit for great employment, worthy lord.
Duke. Thou hast prevaild; I pardon them, and

Dispose of them, as thou know’st their deserts.
Come, let us go; we will include all jars
With triumphs, mirth, and rare solemnity.

Val. And, as we walk along, I dare be bold
With our discourse to make your grace to smile:
What think you of this page, my lord ?
Duke. I think the boy hath grace in him; he

Val. I warrant you, my lord ; more grace than

Duke. What mean you by that saying ?
Val. Please


I'll tell you as we pass along,
That you will wonder what hath fortuned.-
Come, Proteus ; 'tis your penance, but to hear
The story of your loves discovered:
That done, our day of marriage shall be yours ;
One feast, one house, one mutual happiness.


include all jars-) i. e. shut up, or conclude. . With triumphs, ] Triumphs in this and many other passages of Shakspeare, signity Masques and Revels, &c.

* In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versification is often excellent, the allusions are learned and just; but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country; he places the Emperor at Milan, and sends his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more; he makes Proteus, after an interview with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture ; and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel, which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot.

That this play is rightly attributed to Shakspeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given ? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Andronicus ; and it will be found more credible, that Shakspeare

« PreviousContinue »