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SIR John Falstaff.
two gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
Servants to Page, Ford, &c.
SCENE, Windsor; and the parts adjacent.
Before Page's house in Windsor. Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, and Sir Hugh Evans.
Sir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, Esquire.
1 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 be 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. 4a. Steev.
2 The Merry Wives of Windjor. ] Queen Elizabeth was so well pleased with the admirable character of Falstaff in The Two Parts of Henry 10. that, as Mr. Rowe informs 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.
Slen. In the county of Gloucester, justice of
peace, and Coram.
Shal. Ąy, 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 fuccellors, 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.
Skol. 5 The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an
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 majefty, and elsewhere, Pope. THEOBALD.
3- Star-chamber matter of it.] Ben Jonfon intimates, that the Star-chamber had a right to take cognizance of such matters. Sce The Magnetick Lady, A&t 3: Sc. 4.
“ There is a court above, of the Star-chamber,
“ To punih routs and riots." STEEVENS. 4 Custalorum.] This is, I suppose, intended for a corruption of Cufios 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.
s Tbe luce, &c.] I see no consequence in this answer. Perhaps we may read, the salt fish is not an old coat. That is, the fresh fish is the coat of an ancient family, and the salt 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, shews he could not forget his old friend Sir Tho. Lucy, pointing at him under the character of
Sien. I may quarter, coz.
Eva. Yes, py’r-lady; if he has a quarter of your
Justice Shallow. But to put the matter out of all doubt, Shake-
“ Many a fair partriche had he in mewe,
Chaucer's Prol. of the Cant. Tales, 351, 352.
It is the coat “ of Geffray Lord Lucy. He did bear gules, three lucies “ hariant, argent." STEEVENS.
6 The council shall bear it; it is a riot.] He alludes to a statute made in the reign of K. Henry IV. (13 chap. 7.) ly which it is enacted, “ That the justices, three, or two of them, and " the Meriff, shall certify before the king, and his counselle, “ all the deeds and circumstances thereof (namely the riot) “ which certification Mould be of the like force as the pre