William Shakespeare.

The plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes (Volume 5) online

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\ ' -

O (o O

v. 5"




* MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.] A few of the incidents
in this comedy might have been taken from an old translation of
// Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino. I have lately met with the
same story in a very contemptible performance, intitled, The
fortunate, the 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 1032, quarto. A somewhat
similar story occurs in Piacevoli Notti di Straparola, Nott. -l a .
Fav. 4*.

This comedy was first entered at Stationers' Hall, Jan. 18,
l6'0i, by John Busby. STEEVENS.

This play should be read between K. Henry IV. and K.

A passage in the first sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor
shews, I think, that it ought rather to be read between The
First and The Second Part of King Henry IV. in the latter of
which young Henry becomes king. In the last act, Falstaff

Herne the hunter, quoth you ? am I a ghost ?

'Sblood, the fairies hath made a ghost of me.

v\ hat, hunting at this time of night !

Pie lay my life the mad prince of Wales

Is stealing his father's deare."

and in this pl-.iy, as it now appears, Mr. Page discountenances
the addresses of Fenton to his daughter, because " he keeps
company with the wild prince, and with Poins."

The Fiakafes Tale of Brainford in WESTWARD FOR
SMH.LT ;, a book which Shakspeare appears to have read, (having
borrowed from it apart of the fable of Cymbeline,) probably led
him to lay the scene of Falstaff's love adventures at Wind or.
It begins thus : " In Windsor not long agoe dwelt a sumpter-
nuiu, who had to wife u very faire but wanton creature, over
whom, not without c:ra.-e, he was something jealous ; yet had
he never any proof of her inconstancy."

The reader who is cuno:i* in such matters may find the story
of The Lcs.-efK o/" Pisa, mentioned by Dr. Farmer in the fol-
lowing note, at the end of this play. MALONE.

The adventures of Fahtaff in this play seem to have been
taken from the story of TLs Lover* of Pi. a, in an old piece,
call-d Tarleton's AVjw, out of Purpatorie. Mr. Ca;>ell pre-
tended to much knowledge of "this soit , and I am sorry that it
proved to be only pretension.

Mr. Warton observes, in a note to the last Oxford edition,
that the play was probably not written, as we now have it, be-
fore 1007, at the earliest. I agree with my very ingenious

B 2

friend in this supposition, but yet the argument here produced
for it may not be conclusive. Slender observes to master Page,
that his greyhound was out-run on Cotsnle [Cotswold-Hills in
Gloucestershire] ; and Mr. Warton thinks, that the games,
established there by Captain Dover in the beginning of K.
James's reign, are alluded to. But, perhaps, though the Cap-
tain be celebrated in the Annalia Dubrensia as the founder of
them, he might be the reviver only, or some way contribute to
make them more famous ; for in The Second Part of Henry IV.
100O, Justice Shallow reckons among the Swinge-bucklers, " Will
Squecle, a Cotsole man"

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.

Dr, Farmer's opinion, is well supported by " An Eclogue on
the noble Assemblies revived on Cotswold Hills, by Mr. Robert
Dover." See Randolph's Poems, printed at Oxford, 4to. 1038,
p. 114. The hills of Cotswold, in Gloucestershire, are mentioned
in K. Richard II. Act II. sc. iii. and by Drayton, in his Poly-
olbion, song 14. STEEVENS.

Queen Elizabeth was so well pleased with the admirable cha-
racter 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 to shew him in love. To this command we
owe The Merry Wives of Windsor ; which, Mr. Gildon says,
[Remarks on Shakspeare's Plays, 8vo. 1/10,] he was very well
assured 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 1O02, says, in
the title-page, A.", it hath been divers times acted before her
majesty, and elsewhere. This, which we have here, was altered
and improved by the author almost in every speech. POPE.

Mr. Gildon has likewise told us, " that our author's house at
Stratford bordered on the Church-yard, and that he wrote the
scene of the Ghott in Hamlet there." But neither for this, or
the assertion that the play before us was written in a fortnight,
does he quote any authority. The latter 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,) 17<J2, "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 ori-
ginally from Dryden, who from his intimacy with Sir William
Davenant had an opportunity of learning many particulars con-
cerning our author.

At what period Shakspeare new-modelled The Merry Wives
of Windsor is unknown. I believe it was enlarged in 1603.
See some conjectures on the subject in the Attempt to ascertain
the Order of his Plays, Vol. II. 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 1023, 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.


Sir John Falstaff.


Shallow, a country Justice.

Slender, cousin to Shallow.

^ / p ' > 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.

Bardolph, 1

Pistol, > followers o/Talstaff.

Nym, j l

Robin, page to Falstaff.

Simple, servant to Slender.

Rugby, servant to Dr. Cains.

Mrs. Ford.

Mrs. Page.

Mrs. Anne Page, her daughter ', in love with Fenton.

Mrs. Quickly, servant to Dr. Caius.

Servants to Page, Ford, 8$c.
SCENE, Windsor j and the parts adjacent.





Windsor. Before Page's House.

Enter Justice SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Sir HUGH


SHAL. Sir Hugh, 1 persuade me not ; I will make
a Star-chamber matter of it : 2 if he were twenty sir

1 Sir Hugh,'] This is the first, of sundry instances in our
poet, where a parson is called Sir. Upon which it may be ob-
served, that anciently it was the common designation both of
one in holy orders and a knight. Fuller, somewhere in his
Church History says, that anciently there were in England more
sirs than knights ; and so lately as temp. W. & Mar. in a depo-
sition in the Exchequer in a case of tythcs, the witness speak-
ing of the curate, whom he remembered, styles him, Sir Giles.
Vide Gibson's View of the State of the Churches of Door,
Home-Lacy, &c. p. 36. SIR J. HAWKINS.

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 tike it, &c. MALONE.


John FalstafPs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow,

SLEN. In the county of Gloster, justice of peace,
and cor am.

SHAL. Ay, cousin Slender, and Cust-alorum?

Sir seems to have been a title formerly appropriated to such of
the inferior clergy as were only Readers of the service, and not
admitted to be preachers, and therefore were held in the lowest
estimation ; as appears from a remarkable passage in Machell's
MS. Collections for the History of Westmoreland and Cumberland,
in six volumes, folio, preserved in the Dean and Chapter's library
at Carlisle. The reverend Thomas Machell, author of the Col-
lections, lived temp. Car. II. Speaking of the little chapel of
Martindale in the mountains of Westmoreland and Cumberland,
the writer says, " There is little remarkable in or about it, but
a neat chapel-yard, which by the peculiar * Riclmrd Berket
care of the old Reader, Sir Richard * is kept T> i ?p f /
clean, and as neat as a bowling-green." **& '

" Within the limits of myne own memory
all Readers in chapels were called Sirs,-\- and of old have been
writ so ; whence, I suppose, such of the laity as received the
noble order of knighthood being called Sirs too, for distinction
sake had Knight writ after them ; which had been superfluous,
if the title Sir had been peculiar to them. But now this Sir
Richard is the only Knight Templar (if I may so call him) that
retains the old style, which in other places is much laid aside,
and grown out of use." PERCY.

See Mr. Douce's observations on the title " Sir," (as given to
Ecclesiasticks, ) at the end of Act V. The length of this curious
memoir obliges me to disjoin it from the page to which it natu-
rally belongs. STEEVENS.

* a Star-chamber matter of it :] Ben Jonson intimates,

that the Star-chamber had a right to take cognizance of such
matters. See the Magnetic Lady, Act III. sc. iv :

" There is a court above, of the Star-chamber,
" To punish routs and riots" STEEVENS.
3 Cust-alorum.~\ This is, I suppose, intended for a corrup-
tion of Gustos Rotulorum. The mistake was hardly designed by

f* In the margin is a MS. note seemingly in the hand-writing of Bp.
Nicolson, who gave these volumes to the library :

" Since I can remember there was not a reader in any chapel but was
called Sir."

sc. i. OF WINDSOR. 9

SLEN. Ay, and ratolorum too ; and a gentleman
born, master parson ; who writes himself armigero ; 4
in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, ar-

SHAL. Ay, that we do; 5 and have done 6 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

SHAL. It is an old coat.

the author, who, though he gives Shallow folly enough, makes
him rather pedantic than illiterate. If we read :

" Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and Gustos Rotulorum."
It follows naturally:

" Slen. Ay, and Ratolorum too" JOHNSON.

I think with Dr. Johnson, that this blunder could scarcely be
intended. Shallow, we know, had been bred to the law at
Clement's Inn. But I would rather read custos only ; then
Slender adds naturally, " Ay, and rotulorum too." He had
heard the words custos rotulorum, and supposes them to mean
different offices. FARMER.

Perhaps Shakspeare might have intended to ridicule the abbre-
viations sometimes used in writs and other legal instruments, with
which his Justice might have been acquainted. In the old copy
the word is printed Cust-alorum, as it is now exhibited in the
text. If, however, this was intended, it should be Cust-ulorum ;
and, it must be owned, abbreviation by cutting off the beginning
of a word is not authorized by any precedent, except what we
may suppose to have existed in Shallow's imagination. MALONE.

4 -who "writes himself armigero ;] Slender had seen the

Justice's attestations, signed " jurat' coram me, Roberto Shal-
low, Armigero ;" and therefore takes the ablative for the nomi-
native case of Armiger. STEEVENS.

* Ay, that we do ;] The old copy reads " that I do"
The present emendation was suggested to me by Dr. Fanner.


6 and have done ] i. e. all the Shallows have done.

Shakspeare has many expressions equally licentious. MALONE.


EVA. The dozen white louses do become an old
coat well ; 7 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. 8

7 The doZen "white louses do become an old coat well ; c.]
So, in The Penniless Parliament of thread-bare Poets, 1608:
'* But amongst all other decrees and statutes by us here set downe,
wee ordaine and commaund, that three thinges (if they be not
parted) ever to continue in perpetual! amitie, that is, a Louse in
an olde doublet, a painted cloth in a painter's shop, and a foole
and his bable." STEEVENS.

8 The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.~\ That
is, thefreshjish is the coat of an ancient family, and the saltjish
is the coat of a merchant grown rich by trading over the sea.


I am not satisfied with any thing that has been offered on this
difficult passage. All that Mr. Smith told us was a mere gratis
dictum. [His note, being worthless, is here omitted.] I can-
not find that saltjish were ever really borne in heraldry. I fancy
the latter part of the speech should be given to Sir Hugh, who is
at cross purposes with the Justice. Shallow had said just before,
the coat is an old one ; and now, that it is the luce, the fresh
fish. No, replies the parson, it cannot be old and fresh too
" the salt Jis/i is an old coat.'' I give this with rather the more
confidence, as a similar mistake has happened a little lower in
the scene, " Slice, I say !" cries out Corporal Nym, " Pauca,
pauca : Slice ! that's my humour." There can be no doubt,
but pauca, pauca, should be spoken by Evans.

Again, a little before this, the copies give us :

" Slender. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.

" Shallow. That he wiliuot 'tis your fault, 'tis your fault:
'tis a good dog."

Surely it should be thus :

" Shallow. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.

" Slender. That he will not.

" Shallow. 'Tis your fault, 'tis your fault,'* &c. FARMER.

This fugitive scrap of Latin, pauca, &c. is used in several old
pieces, by characters who have no more of literature about them
than Nym. So, Skinke, in Look about you, icCO:
" But pauca verba, Skinke."

Again, in Every Man in his Humour, where it is called the
ienchers' phrase. STEEVENS.

sc.i. OF WINDSOR. n

SLEN. I may quarter, coz ?
SHAL. You may, by marrying.

Shakspeare seems to frolick here in his heraldry, with a design
not to be easily understood. In Leland's Collectanea, Vol. I.
P. II. p. 6l 5, the arms of Geffrey de Lucy are " de gouletf
poudre a croisil dor a treis luz dor." Can the poet mean to
quibble upon the word poudre, that is, powdred, which signi-
fies salted ; or strewed and sprinkled with any thing ? In Mea-
sure for Measure, Lucio says " Ever your fresh whore and your
poivder'd bawd." TOLLET.

The luce is a pike or jack : So, in Chaucer's ProL of the
Cant. Tales, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. pp. 351, 352:

" Full many a fair partrich hadde he in mewe,
" And many a breme, and many a luce in stewe."
In Feme'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 name. It is the coat of
Geffray Lord Lucy. He did bear gules, three lucies hariant,

Mr. William Oldys, ( Norroy King at Arms, and well known
from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica,
among the collections which he left for a Life of Shakspeare,)
observes that " there was a very aged gentleman living in the
neighbourhood of Stratford, (where he died fifty years since,)
who had not only heard, from several old people in that town,
of Shakspeare's ti-ansgression, but could remember the first
stanza of the bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of his ac-
quaintance, he preserved it in writing ; and here it is, neither
better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which
his relation very courteously communicated to me."
" A parliement member, a justice of peace,
" At home a poor scare-crowe, at London an asse,
" If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it,
" Then Lucy is lowsie whatever befall it :
" He thinks himself greate,
" Yet an asse in his state,
" We allow by his ears but with asses to mate.
" If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it,
" Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it."
" Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the
time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to
irritate a vain, weak, and vindictive magistrate ; especially as it
was affixed to several of his park-gates, and consequently pub-


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 be-

lished among his neighbours. It may be remarked likewise,
that the jingle on which it turns, occurs in the first scene of
The Merry Wives of Windsor"

I may add, that the veracity of the late Mr. Oldys has never
yet been impeached ; and it is not very probable that a ballad
should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive
no triumph over antiquarian credulity. STEEVENS.

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 mis-
demesnor, and who is supposed to be pointed at under the cha-
racter of Justice Shallow. The text, however, by some care-
lessness of the printer or transcriber, has been so corrupted, that
the passage, as it stands at present, seems inexplicable. Dr. Far-
mer's regulation appears to me highly probable ; and in further
support of it, it may be observed, that some other speeches,
beside those he has mentioned, are misplaced in a subsequent
part of this scene, as exhibited in the first folio. MALONE.

Perhaps we have not yet conceived the humour of Master
Shallow. Slender has observed, that the family might give a
dozen white Luces in their coat ; to which the Justice adds,
" It is an old one." This produces the Parson's blunder, and
Shallow's correction. " The Luce is not the Louse but the Pike,
the fresh Jish of that name. Indeed our Coat is old, as I said,
and the fish cannot be fresh ; and therefore we bear the white,
i. e. the pickled or salt fish."

In the Northumberland Household Book, we meet with
" nine barrels of white herringe for a hole yere, 4. 1O. 0:" and
Mr. Pennant in the additions to his London says, " By the very
high price of the Pike, it is probable that this fish had not yet
been introduced into our ponds, but was imported as a luxury,

It will be still clearer if we read " tlio 1 salt fish in an old
coat." FARMER.

sc.i. OF WINDSOR. 13

nevolence, to make atonements and compromises
between you.

SHAL. The Council shall hear it ; it is a riot. 9

EVA. It is not meet the Council hear a riot ;
there is no fear of Got in a riot : the Council, look
you, shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not
to hear a riot ; take your vizaments in that. 1

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 mas-
ter George Page, 2 which is pretty virginity.

9 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 Camera stellatd, which took cognizance
of atrocious riots. In the old quarto, " the council shall know-
it," follows immediately after " I'll make a Star-chamber matter

So, in Sir John Harrington's Epigrams, 1018 :
" No marvel, men of such a sumptuous dyet
" Were brought into the Star-chamber for a ryot"


See Stat. 13. Henry IV. c. 7- GREY.

1 your vizaments in that."] Advisement is now an obsolete

word. I meet with it in the ancient morality of Every Man:

" That I may amend me with good advysement."
Again :

" I shall smite without any advysement."
Again :

" To do with good advysement and delyberacyon."
It is often used by Spenser in his Faery Queen. So, B. II. c.g:
" Perhaps my succour and advizement meete." STEEVENS.

s which is daughter to master George Page.] The old copy

reads Thomas Page. STEEVENS.

The whole set of editions have negligently blundered one after
another in Page's Christian name in this place ; though Mrs. Page
tails him George afterwards in at least six several passages.



SLEN. Mistress Anne Page ? She has brown hair,
and speaks small like a woman. 3

EVA. It is that fery verson 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's-bed, (Got deliver to a joyful re-
surrections ! ) give, when she is able to overtake

3 speaks small like a woman,"] This is from the folio of

1623, and is the true reading. He admires her for the sweetness
of h(3r voice. But the expression is highly humorous, as uiaking
her speaking small like a woman one of her marks of distinction ;
and the ambiguity of small, which signifies little as well as low,
makes the expression still more pleasant. WARBURTON.

Thus, Lear, speaking of Cordelia :

" Her voice was ever soft,

" Gentle and low : an excellent thing in woman."


Dr. Warburton has found more pleasantry here than I believe
was intended. Small was, I think, not used, as he supposes, in
an ambiguous sense, for " little, as well as low,'' but simply for
weak, slender, feminine- and the only pleasantry of the passage
seems to be, that poor Slender should characterise his mistress
by a general quality belonging to her whole sex. In A Midsummer
Nig/it's Dream, Quince tells Flute, who objects to pla- ing a
woman's part, " You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak
as small as you will." MALONE.

A small voice is a soft and melodious voice. Chaucer uses the
word in that sense, in The Flower and the Leaf, Spoght's edit,
p. t)l 1 :

" The company answered all,
" With voice sweet entuned, and so small,
" That me thought it the sweetest melody."
Again, in Fairfax's Godfrey of Bidloigne, 1. 15, St. 62:
" She warbled forth a treble small,
" And with sweet lookes, her sweet songs enterlaced."
When female characters were filled by boys, to speak small
like a woman must have been a valuable qualification. So, in
Marston's What you will: " I was solicited to graunt him leave
to play the lady in comedies presented by children ; but I knew
his voice was too ymall, and his stature too low. Sing a treble,
Holofernes ; a very small sweet voice I'le assure you."


5C-. /. OF WINDSOR. 15

seventeen years old : it were a goot motion, if we
leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a mar-
riage between master Abraham, and mistress Anne

SHAL. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred
pound ? 4

EVA. Ay, and her father is make her a petter

SHAL. I know the young gentlewoman ; she has

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