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Mrs. Page. Well, I will muse no further :-Ma

ster Fenton,
Heaven give you many, many merry days !-
Good husband, let us every one go home,
And laugh this sport o'er by a country fire;
Sir John and all.

Ford. Let it be so:—Sir John,
To master Brook you yet shall hold your word;
For he, to night, shall lie with mistress Ford.

[Exeunt.

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to rhime with the laft line of Page's speech, should immediately
follow it; and then the passage will run thus :
Page. Well, what remedy? Fenton, Heaven give thee joy!

What cannot be eschew'd, must be embrac'd.
Fal. When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chac’d.
Evans, I will dance and eat plums, &c. M. Mason.

I have availed myself of Mr. M. Mason's very judicious remark, which had also been made by Mr. Malone, who observes that Evans's fpeech—“ I will dance," &c. was restored from the first quarto by Mr. Pope. Steevens,

& Of this play there is a tradition preserved by Mr. Rowe, that it was written at the command of queen Elizabeth, who was so delighted with the character of Falstaff, that he wished it to be diffused through more plays ; but suspecting that it might pall by continued uniformity, directed the poet to diversify his manner, by sewing him in love. No talk is harder than that of writing to the ideas of another. Shakspeare knew what the queen, if the story be true, seems not to have known, that by any real passion of tenderness, the selfish craft, the careless jollity, and the lazy luxury of Falstaff mutt have suffered so much abatement, that little of his former caft would have remained. Falstaff could not love, but by ceasing to be Falstaff. He could only counterfeit love, and his professions could be prompted, not by the hope of pleasure, but of money. Thus the poet approached as near as he could to the work enjoined him; yet having perhaps in the former plays completed his own idea, seems not to have been able to give Falstaff all his former power of entertainment.

This comedy is remarkable for the variety and number of the personages, who exhibit more characters appropriated and discriminated, than perhaps can be found in any other play.

Whether Shakspeare was the first that produced upon the English itage the effect of language distorted and depraved by provincial or

foreign pronunciation, I cannot certainly decide.* This mode of forming ridiculous characters can confer praise only on him who originally discovered it, for it requires not much of either wit or judgement: its success must be derived almost wholly from the player, but its power in a skilful mouth, even he that despises it, is unable to refift.

The conduct of this drama is deficient; the action begins and ends often, before the conclusion, and the different parts might change places without inconvenience ; but its general power, that power by which all works of genius shall finally be tried, is such, that perhaps it never yet had reader or spectator who did not think it too soon at the end. JOHNSON.

The story of The Two Lovers of Pisa, from which (as Dr. Farmer has observed) Falstaff's adventures in this play seem to have been taken, is thus related in Tarleton's Nerwes out of Purgatorie, bl. 1. no date. [Entered in the Stationers' Books, June 16, 1590.]

“ . In Pisa, a famous cittie of Italye, there lived a gentleman of good linage and lands, feared as well for his wealth, as honoured for his vertue; but indeed well thought on for both : yet the better for his riches. This gentleman had one onelye davghter called Margaret, who for her beauty was liked of all, and desired of many: but neither might their sutes, nor her own preuaile about her father's resolution, who was determyned not to marrye her, but to such a man as should be able in abundance to maintain the excellency of her beauty. Diuers young gentlemen proffered large feoffments, but in vaine : a maide Thee must bee still: till at last an olde doctor in the towne, that professed phisicke, became a sutor to her; who was a welcome man to her father, in that he was one of the welthieft men in all Pisa. A tall strippling he was, and a proper youth, his age about fourescore; his head as white as milke, wherein for offence fake there was left neuer a tooth: but it is no matter; what he wanted in person he had in the purse; which the poore gentlewoman little regarded, wishing rather to tie herself to one that might fit her content, though they liued meanely, then to him with all the wealth in Italye. But shee was yong and forest to follow her fathers direction, who vpon large couenants was content his daughter should marry with the doctor, and whether the like him or no, the match was made vp, and in short time she was

In The Tbree Ladies of London, 1584, is the character of an Italian mer. chant, very strongly marked by foreign pronunciation. Dr. Dodypoll, in the comedy which bears his name, is, like Caius, a French phyfician. This piece appeared at least a year before The Merry Wives of Windsor. The hero of it speaks such another jargon as the antagonist of Sir Hugh, and like him is cheated of his mistress. In several other pieces, more ancient than the earliest of Shakspeare's, provincial characters are introduced. STEEVENS.

married. The poore wench was bound to the stake, and had not onely an old impotent man, but one that was so jealous, as none might enter into his house without suspicion, nor she doo any thing without blame: the least glance, the smallest countenance, any smile, was a manifest instance to him, that thee thought of others better than himselfe; thys he himselfe lived in a hell, and tormented his wife in as ill perplexitie. At last it chaunced, that a young gentleman of the citie comming by her house, and seeing her looke out at her window, noting her rare and excellent proportion, fell in loue with her, and that so extreamelye, as his passion had no means till her fauour might mittigate his heartficke content. The young man that was ignorant in amorous matters, and had neuer beene vsed to courte anye gentlewoman, thought to reueale his paflions to fome one freend, that might give him counfaile for the winning of her loue; and thinking experience was the surest mailter, on a daye seeing the olde doctor walking in the churche, (that was Margarets husband,) little knowing who he was, he thought this the fitteft man to whom he might discouer his passions, for that hee was olde and knewe much, and was a phisition that with his drugges might help him forward in his purposes : so that seeing the old man walke solitary, he icinde vnto him, and after a curteous salute, tolde him he was to impart a matter of great import vnto him; wherein if hee would not onely be secrete, but endeauour to pleasure him, his pains should be euery way to the full considered. You must imagine, gentleman, quoth Mutio, for so was the doctors name, that men of our profession are no blabs, but hold their secrets in their hearts' bottome; and therefore reueale what you please, it shall not onely be concealed, but cured ; if either my art or counsaile may do it." Upon this Lionello, (so was the young gentleman called,) told and discourst vnto him from point to point how he was falne in loue with a gentlewoman that was married to one of his profession; discouered her dwelling and the house; and for that he was vnacquainted with the woman, and a man litile experienced in loue matters, he required his favour to further him with his aduise. Mutio at this motion was ftung to the hart, knowing it was his wife hee was fallen in loue withal : yet to conceale the matter, and to experience his wiue's chastity, and that if The plaide false, he might be reuengde on them both, he dissembled the matter, and answered, that he knewe the woman very well, and commended her highly; but saide, she had a churle to her husband, and therefore he thought shee would bee the more tractable: trie her man, quoth hee; fainte hart neuer woonne fair lady; and if shee will not bee brought to the bent of your bowe, I will provide such a potion as shall dispatch all to your owne content; and to giue you further inftructions for opportunitie, knowe that her husband is foorth euery afternoone from three till fixe.

Thus farre I have aduised you, because I pitty your passions as my selfe being once a louer : but now I charge thee, reueale it to none whomsoeuer, left it doo disparage my credit, to meddle in amorous matters. The young gentleman not onely promised all carefull secrecy, but gaue him harty thanks for his good counsell, promising to meete him there the next day, and tell him what newes.

Then hee left the old man, who was almost mad for feare his wife should any way play false. He faw by experience, braue men came to besiege the castle, and seeing it was in a woman's custodie, and had so weake a gouernor as himselfe, he doubted it would in time be deliuered up: which feare made him almost franticke, yet he driude of the time in great torment, till he might heare from his riual. Lionello, he haftes him home, and futes him in his brauerye, and goes down towards the house of Mutio, where he sees her at her windowe, whom he courted with a passionate looke, with such an humble falute, as thee might perceiue how the gentleman was affectionate. Margaretta looking earnestly upon him, and noting the perfection of his proportion, accounted him in her eye the flower of all Pisa; thinkte herselfe fortunate if she might haue him for her freend, to supply those defaultes that she found in Mutio. Sundry times that afternoone he past by her window, and he cast not vp more louing lookes, then he receiued gratious fauours: which did so incourage him, that the next daye betweene three and fixe hee went to her house, and knocking at the doore, desired to speake with the miftris of the house, who hearing by her maid's description what he was, commaunded him to come in, where she interteined him with all curtese.

“ The youth that neuer before had giuen the attempt to couet a ladye, began his exordium with a blushe; and yet went forward so well, that hee discourst vnto her howe he loued her, and that if it might please her fo to accept of his feruice, as of a freende euer vowde in all duetye to bee at her commaunde, the care of her honour should bee deerer to him then his life, and hee would bec ready to prise her discontent with his bloud at all times.

“ The gentlewoman was a little coye, but before they part they concluded that the next day at foure of the clock hee should come thither and eate a pound of cherries, which was refolued on with a succado des labres; and so with a loath to depart they took their leaues. Lionello, as ioyfull a man as might be, hyed him to the church to meete his olde doctor, where hee found him in his olde walke. What newes, fyr, quoth Mutio ? How have you sped? Even as I can wilhe, quoth Lionello; for I haue been with my mistresse, and haue found her fo tractable, that I hope to make the old peasant her husband look broad-headded by a pair of browantlers. How deepe this strooke into Mutio's hart, let them imagine that can conjecture what ielousie is; insomuch that the olde doctor alkte, when should be the time: marry, quoth Lionello, to

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morrow at foure of the clocke in the afternoone ; and then maister doctor, quoth hee, will I dub the olde squire knight of the forked order.

“ Thus they past on in chat, till it grew late; and then Lyonello went home to his lodging, and Mutio to his house, couering all his forrowes with a merrye countenance, with full resolution to revenge them both the next day with extremetie. He past the night as patiently as he could, and the next day after dinner awaye hee went, watching when it should bee four of the clocke. At the houre juftly came Lyonello, and was intertained with all curtesie: but scarse had they kift, ere the maide cried out to her mistresse that her maister was at the doore; for he hafted, knowing that a horne was but a litle while in grafting. Margaret at this alarum was amazed, and yet for a shifte chopt Lyonello into a great driefatte full of feathers, and fat her downe close to her woorke: by that came Mutio in blowing; and as though he came to looke somewhat in hafte, called for the keyes of his chambers, and looked in euery place, searching fo narrowlye in euerye corner of the house, that he left not the very priuie vnsearcht. Seeing he could not finde him, hee faide nothing, but fayning himself not well at ease, stayde at home, so that poore Lionello was faine to staye in the drifatte till the old churle was in bed with his wife: and then the maide let him out at a backe doore, who went home with a flea in his eare to his lodging.

« Well, the next daye he went again to meete his doctor, whome hee found in his woonted walke. What news, quoth Mutio ? How have you sped? * A poxe of the old Naue, quoth Lionello, I was no sooner in, and had giuen my mistresse one kiffe, but the iealous affe was at the door; the maid spied him, and, cryed, her maister: so that the poore gentlewoman for verye shifte, was faine to put me in a driefatte of feathers that stoode in an olde chamber, and there I was faine to tarrie while he was in bed and asleepe, and then the maide let me out, and I departed.

“ But it is no matter ; 'twas but a chaunce; and I hope to crye quittance with him ere it be long. As how, quoth Mutio ? Marry thus, quoth Lionello: the sent me woord by her maide this daye, that upon Thursday next the old churle fuppeth with a patient of his a mile out of Pifa, and then I feare not but to quitte him for all. It is well, quoth Mutio; fortune bee your freende. I thank you, quoth Lionello; and so after a little more prattle they departed.

* To be shorte, Thursday came; and about fixe of the clocke foorth goes Mutio, no further than a freendes house of his, from whence hee might descrye who went into his house. Straight he {awe Lionello enter in; and after goes hee, insomuche that hee was

* Seo The Merry Wives of Windsor, p. 437.

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