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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 bless'd to make this happy close: 'Twere pity two such friends should be long foes. Pro. Bear me witness, Heaven, I have my wish for ever. 13

Jul. And I mine.

Enter Outlaws, with DUKE and THURIO.

Outlaws. A prize, a prize, a prize!

Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again.
Plead a new state in thy unrivall'd merit,16
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 endu'd with worthy qualities:

Val. Forbear, forbear, I say! it is my lord the Forgive them what they have committed here,

duke.

Your grace is welcome to a man disgrac'd,

Banished Valentine.

Duke.

Sir Valentine!

Thu. Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia's mine.

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:

Val. Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy Dispose of them as thou know'st their deserts.—

death.
Come not within the measure of wrath :
my

Do not name Silvia thine; if once again,.
Milano shall not hold 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 15 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,

13. My wish for ever. Surely, this abrupt return to loveallegiance on the part of Proteus is hardly less miraculous than Valentine's stretch of magnanimity; but these are of the miracles in which youth delights to believe, and which youthful poets delight to chronicle as possible and even natural,

14. Milano shall not hold thee. 'Verona' is misprinted in the Folio for "Milano" here, as in a previous passage. See Note 9, Act iii.

15. Make such means. Make such efforts; take such pains. This amicably open-to-conviction Duke is worthy to figure beside the Two Gentlemen in their facile turn for goodness at this juncture; and there is a delightful effect of " all-ending-happily"

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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 blushes.

Val. I warrant you, my lord,—more grace than boy.

Duke. What mean you by that saying?

Val. Please you, I'll tell you as we pass along, That you will wonder what hath fortunèd.— 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.

[Exeunt.

about the persons and incidents here, that suitably winds up the romantic story of this play.

16. Plead a new state in thy unrivall'd merit. The Duke has heretofore spoken of Valentine in disparaging terms :"Base intruder ! overweening slave!" (iii. 1) " Worthless Valentine" (iii. 2), and "that peasant Valentine" (v. 2); now he bids him set up the plea of a new state on the score of his unrivalled merit to which he will subscribe by allowing that he is a gentleman of good birth, and therefore worthy to obtain Silvia. 17. Kept withal. Kept company with, dwelt with. 18. Include. Close in, put to conclusion. 19. Triumphs. Pageants, revels.

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THE

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.'

ACT I.

SCENE I-Windsor. Before PAGE's house. Enter JUSTICE SHALLOW, SLENDER, and SIR HUGH EVANS.

Shal. Sir Hugh,2 persuade me not; I will make a Star-chamber matter of it: if he were twenty Sir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shallow, esquire.

Slen. In the county of Gloster, justice of peace and coram.

Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and cust-alorum.3 Slen. Ay, and ratolorum too; and a gentleman born, master parson; who writes himself armigero,-in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, armigero.

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

coat.

Shal. It is an old coat.

Evans. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well; 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.

Slen. I may quarter, coz?
Shal. You may, by marrying.

Evans. It is marring indeed, if he quarter it."
Shal. Not a whit.

Evans. Yes, py'r lady; if he has a quarter of

Shal. Ay, that I do; and have done any time your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in these three hundred years. my simple conjectures: but that is all one. If Sir

1. The Merry Wives of Windsor. This play was first printed in Quarto, in 1602; but probably from oral and unauthorised sources, since it, and a second Quarto Edition which appeared in 1619, are very inferior versions of this excellent comedy, as given in the Folio, 1623. Half a dozen different tales have been pointed out as affording some trace of the possible origin whence Shakespeare derived hints for his plot: but there is a pleasant tradition that the play owed its existence to a wish expressed by Queen Elizabeth, who was so much entertained with Falstaff's character in the two parts of "Henry IV.," that she desired Shakespeare would write a comedy wherein the fat knight might figure as a lover. The way in which the Dramatist fulfilled the royal command, while yet preserving the integrity of Falstaff's nature (whose love of self is paramount to all other love), may be admired in every scene of this genuinely delightful play, and instanced in even so slight a touch as the knight's reply to Mistress Page's remonstrance, when he says all in one breath, "I love thee, and none but thee; help me away.'

2. Sir Hugh. "Sir" was formerly given as a title to priests generally, and curates especially. Those who took the academic degree of Bachelor of Arts were styled Dominus (translated into English by the word "Sir"); and this degree having been taken by most men in orders, it became usual to give them that title.

3. Star-chamber. A formidable court of justice that took cognisance of offences against public order, &c.; and which Shallow believes to be the fit tribunal for redressing such weighty grievances as his.

4. Coram. This word ('before') and armigern (ablative case of armiger, 'bearer of arms,' or 'esquire') occur in the form for attestations, which Slender had seen; wherein his cousin's name would thus appear, coram me Roberto Shallow armigero,' &c. Slender also confuses the word with "Quorum" (Bench of Justices') [see Note 5].

5. Cust-alorum. An abbreviation of Custos Rotulorum ('Keeper of the Rolls'); which would be a part of Shallow's designation, thus:- Justice of the Peace, and of the Quorum and Custos Rotulorum.'

6. Have done. All we Shallows,' understood before "have done."

7.

White luces. "Luce" is a pike or jack, and figured in the coat of arms of the Lucy family. In the jumble of heraldic allusions here made by Slender and Shallow, and in the character of the Justice himself, Shakespeare is supposed to have had sportive reference to Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, from whose park, or grounds, the youthful poet was said to have stolen a deer, thereby incurring the knight's wrath and persecution. 8. Marring indeed, if he quarter it. A play on the words

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Evans. Yes, py'r lady; if he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself.

John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the church, and will be glad to do my benevolence to make atonements and compromises between you.

Shal. The council shall hear it; it is a riot. Evans. 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 10 in that.

Shal. Ha! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.

Evans. 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

"marring" and "marrying" is frequent in Shakespeare; and "quarter" is here asked in the sense of a heraldic technicality, and replied to in the sense of dividing into fourths. 9. The council. Meaning the Star-chamber.

Act I. Scene I.

with it-there is Anne Page, which is daughter to Master George Page, which is pretty virginity. Slen. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.

Evans. It is that fery person for all the 'orld, as just as you will desire; and seven hundred pounds of moneys, and gold, and silver, is her grandsire upon his death's-bed (Got deliver to a joyful resurrections!) give, when she is able to overtake seventeen years old: it were a goot motion if we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between Master Abraham and Mistress Anne Page.

10. Vizaments. For advisements; consideration, circumspection.

11. Mistress Anne Page. "Mistress" was formerly used as a title for unmarried as well as married women. To "speak small" was to have a soft, low voice.

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