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Val. Forbear : forbear, I say: it is my lord the
Sir Valentine !
Val. Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy death.
Thu. Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I.
Duke. The more degenerate and base art thou,
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 exile. They are reformed, civil, full of good, And fit for great employment, worthy lord.
Duke. Thou hast prevail'd; I pardon them, and thee; Dispose of them, as thou know'st their deserts. Come; let us go: we will conclude all jars With triumphs, mirth, and rare solemnity.
i Verona : in f. e. 2 include : in f. e.
Val. And as we walk along, I dare be bold With our discourse to make your grace to smile. What think you of this stripling page, my lord ?
Duke. I think the boy hath grace in him : he blushes.
Val. Please you, I'll tell you as we pass along,
1 2 Not in f. e. 3 That done, our day of marriage shall be yours : in f. e.
“A Most pleasaunt and excellent conceited Comedie, of Syr Iohn Falstaffe, and the merrie Wiues of Windsor. Entermixed with sundrie variable and pleasing humors, of Syr Hugh the Welch Knight, Iustice Shallow, and his wise Cousin M. Slender. With the swaggering vaine of Auncient Pistoll, and Corporall Nym. By William Shakespeare. As it hath bene diuers times Acted by the right Honorable my Lord Chamberlaines seruants. Both before her Maiestie, and elsewhere. London Printed by T. C. for Arthur Johnson, and are to be sold at his shop in Powles Church-yard, at the signe of the Flower de Leuse and the Crowne. 1602.” 4to. 27 leaves.
“A Most pleasant and excellent conceited Comedy, of Sir Iohn Falstaffe, and the Merry Wiues of Windsor. With the swaggering vaine of Ancient Pistoll, and Corporall Nym. Written by W. Shakespeare. Printed for Arthur Johnson, 1619." 410. 28 leaves.
The 4to. of 1630, was " printed by T. H. for R. Meighen." &c. In the folio, 1623, “ The Merry Wiues of Windsor " occupies twenty-two pages, viz. from p. 39 to p. 60 inclusive, in the division of “ Comedies." It also stands third in the three later folios.
This comedy was printed for the first time in a perfect state in the folio of 1623: it had come out in an imperfect state in 1602, and again in 1619, in both instances for a bookseller of the name of Arthur Johnson: Arthur Johnson acquired the right to publish it from John Busby, and the original entry, and the assignment of the play, run thus in the Registers of the Stationers' Company. “18 Jan. 1601. John Busby] An excellent and pleasant
conceited commedie of Sir John Faalstof, and the
sor." January 1601, according to our present mode of reckoning the ycar, was January 1602, and the “most pleasaunt and excellent conceited comedie of Syr John Falstaffe, and the merrie Wives of Windsor," (the title-page following the description in the entry) appeared in quarto with the date of 1602. It has been the custom to look upon this edition as the first sketch of the drama, which Shakespeare afterwards enlarged and improved to the form in which it appears in the folio of 1623. After the most minute examination, we are not of that opinion: it has been universally admitted that the 4to. of 1602 was piratical; and our conviction is that, like the first edition of “Henry V." in 1600, it was made up, for the purpose of sale, partly from notes taken at the theatre, and partly frou menory, without even the assistance of any of the parts as delivered out by the copyist of the theatre to the actors. It is to be observed, that John Bus by, who assigned “ The Merry Wives of Windsor" to Arthur Johnson in 1602, was the same bookseller who, two years before, had joined in the publication of the undoubtedly surreptitious “ Henry V."
An exact reprint of the 4to. of 1602 has recently been made by the Shakespeare Society, under the care of Mr. J. 0. Halliwell; and any person possessing it may easily institute a comparison between that very hasty and mangled outline, and the complete and authorized comedy in the folio of 1623, printed from the play-house manuscript in the hands of Heminge and Condell: on this comparison we rely for evidence to establish the position, that the 4to. of 1602 was not only published without the consent of the author, or of the com