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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 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,
Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again,
Plead a new state in thy unrivalld merit,
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 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.

at all events, it is better to leave “ Verona" as an oversight of the poet (duly pointed out) than to make so violent a change as Theobald adopted when he printed,

Milan shall not behold thee," &e. which quite perverts the meaning of the passage.

+ – that I have kept withal,] i. e. with whom I have been living—that I have remained with.

Come; let us go: we will include all jars
With triumphs, mirth, and rare solemnity.

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,

will wonder what hath fortuned.-
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.

That you

5 — we will include all jars] Sir Thomas Hanmer arbitrarily substituted conclude for “ include :" it may have been a misprint, but all the old copies agree in the text, and it is easy to reconcile “ include" to sense.

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

“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 else-where. 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." 4to. 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 twentytwo pages, viz. from p. 39 to p. 60 inclusive, in the division of “Comedies." It also stands third in the three later folios.

INTRODUCTION.

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 con-

ceited commedie of Sir John Faulstof, and the Merry wyves
of Windesor
“ Arth. Johnson] By assignment from Jno. Busbye a. B.
An excellent and pleasant conceited comedie of Sir John

Faulstafe, and the mery wyves of Windsor" January 1601, according to our present mode of reckoning the year, 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 from memory, 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 Busby, 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. O. Halliwell ; and any person possessing it may easily institute a comparison between that very hasty and mangled outline, and the complete and authorised 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 company

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