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The costume of this comedy is, of course, the same with that of the two parts of HENRY IV. Chaucer, however, who wrote his Canterbury Tales towards the close of the previous reign, gives us a few hints for the habit of some of the principal characters in the MERRY Wives. Dr. Caius, for instance, should be clothed, like the Doctor of Physic, “ in sanguine and in perse,” (i. e. in purple and light blue,) the gown being “ lined with tafata and sendal.” In the “ Testament of Cresseyde” Chaucer speaks of a Physician in “a scarlet gown,” and “furred well, as such a one ought to be ;” but scarlet and purple were terms used indifferently one for the other, and the phrase "scarlet red” was generally used to designate that colour which we now call scarlet.
The Franklin or Country gentleman-the Master Page, or Master Ford of this play—is merely said to have worn an anelace or knife, and a white silk gipciere or purse hanging at his girdle.
The Young 'Squire may furnish us with the dress of Master Fenton. He is described as wearing a short gown, with sleeves long and wide, and embroidered “as it were a mead, all full of fresh flowers, white and red.” Falstaff, when dressed as Herne the Hunter, should be attired like his Yeoman, in a coat and hood of green, with a horn slung in a green baldrick.
The Wife of Bath is said to have worn, on a Sunday, or holyday, kerchiefs on her head of the finest manufacture, but in such a quantity as to weigh nearly a pound. When abroad, she wore “a hat as broad as is a buckler or a targe.” Her stockings were of fine scarlet red, and her shoes “full moist and new.” The highcrowned hats and point-lace aprons, in which the Merry Wives of Windsor have been usually depicted, are of the seventeenth instead of the fifteenth century.
In relation to mine Host of the Garter, and of the local customs and business of the town of Windsor at the close of the sixteenth century, Knight has furnished us with some very interesting notices. He says
“ In the original Sketch we have the story of the cozenage' of mine Host of the Garter, by some Germans, who pretended to be of the retinue of a German Duke. Now, if we knew that a real German Duke had visited Windsor, (a rare occurrence in the days of Elizabeth,) we should have the date of the Comedy pretty exactly fixed. The circumstance would be one of those local and temporary allusions which Shakespeare seized upon to arrest the attention of his audience. In 1592, a German Duke did visit Windsor. We have before us, through the kindness of a friend, a narrative printed in the old German language, of the journey to England of the Duke of Wurtemberg, in 1592, which narrative, drawn up by his secretary, contains a daily journal of his proceedings. He was accompanied by a considerable retinue, and travelled under the name of the Count Mombeliard.'
“ The German Duke' visited Windsor ; was shown the splendidly beautiful and royal castle ;' hunted in the parks full of fallow-deer and other game;' heard the music of an organ, and of other instruments, with the voices of little boys, as well as a sermon an hour long, in a church covered with lead; and, after staying some days, departed for Hampton Court. His grace and his suit must have caused a sensation at Windsor. Probably mine Host of the Garter had really made "grand preparation for a Duke de Jarmany;'—at any rate he would believe Bardolph's story,—the Germans desire to have three of your horses.' Was there any dispute about the ultimate payment for the Duke's horses for which he was to pay nothing ?' Was mine Host out of his reckoning when he said they shall have my horses, but I'll make them pay?! We have little doubt that the passages which relate to the German duke, (all of which, with slight alteration, are in the original sketch,) have reference to the Duke of Wurtemburg's visit to Windsor in 1592,-a matter to be forgotten in 1601, when Malone says the Sketch was written; and somewhat stale in 1596, which Chalmers assigns as its date."
SCENE I.-Windsor. Before Page's House. Enter Justice SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Sir Hugh
EVANS. Shal. Sir Hugh, persuade me not: I will make a Star-chamber maiter 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.
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 successors, gone before him, hath 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.
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.
Shal. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.
Slen. I may quarter, coz?
Shal. Not a whit.
there be more said ? he is good and fair. Era. Yes, per-lady: if he has a quarter of your
John Falstaff here? coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my Page. Sir, he is within; and I would I could do simple conjectures. But that is all one: if sir John a good office between you. Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, Eva. It is spoke as a Christians ought to speak. I am of the church, and will be glad to do my be- Shal. He hath wrong'd me, master Page. nevolence, to make atonements and compremises Page. Sir, he doth in some sort confess it. between you.
Shal. If it be confess'd, it is not redress'd: is not Shal. The council shall hear it: it is a riot. that so, master Page? He hath wrongd me; in
Eva. It is not meet the council hear a riot: there deed, he hath ;-at a word, he hath ;-believe is no fear of Got in riot. The council, look you, me :-Robert Shallow, esquire, saith, he is wrong'd. shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear Page. Here comes sir John. a riot : take your vizaments in that. Shal. Ha! o'my life, if I were young again the
Enter Sir John FalstaFF, BARDOLPH, Nym, and sword should end it.
PISTOL. Eva. It is petter that friends is the sword, and Fal. Now, master Shallow; you'll complain of end it : and there is also another device in my prain, me to the king ? which, peradventure, prings goot discretions with Shal. Knight, you have beaten my men, killed it. There is Anne Page, which is daughter to my deer, and broke open my lodge. master George Page, which is pretty virginity. Fal. But not kiss'd your keeper's daughter?
Slen. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, Shal. Tui, a pin! this shall be answered. and speaks small, like a woman.
Fal. I will answer it straight:-I have done all Eva. It is that fery person for all the 'orld; as this.-That is now answer'd. just as you will desire, and seven hundred pounds Shal. The council shall know this. of monies, and gold, and silver, is her grandsire, Fal. "Twere better for you, if it were known in upon his death's-bed, (Got deliver to a joyful resur- counsel : you'll be laughed at. rections !) give, when she is able to overtake seven- Eva. Pauca verba, sir John; good worts. teen years old. It were a goot motion, if we leave Fal. Good worts ? good cabbage.--Slender, 1 our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage broke your head; what matter have you against between master Abraham, and mistress Anne Page.
me ? Slen. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred Slen. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head pound?
against you; and against your coney-catching rasEva. Ay, and her father is make her a petter cals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. They carried me penny.
to the tavern, and made me drunk, and afterwards Slen. I know the young gentlewoman: she has picked my pocket. good gifts.
Bard. You Banbury cheese! Eva. Seven hundred pounds and possibilities, is Slen. Ay, it is no matter. good gifts.
Pist. How now, Mephostophilus ?
Nym. Slice, I say! pauca, pauca; slice! that's Eva. Shall I tell you a lie ? I do despise a liar, my
humour. as I do despise one that is false; or, as I despise Slen. Where's Simple, my man ?-can you tell, one that is not true. The knight, sir John, is cousin ? there, and, I beseech you, be ruled by your well- Eva. Peace! I pray you. Now let us underwillers. I will peat the door for master Page. stand: there is three umpires in this matter, as I [ Knocks.] What, hoa! Got pless your house here! understand ; that is-master Page, fidelicet, master Enter Page.
Page; and there is myself, fidelicet, myself; and the
three party is, lastly and finally, mine host of the Page. Who's there?
Garter. Era. Here is Got's plessing, and your friend, Page. We three, to hear it, and end it between and justice Shallow; and here young master Slen- them. der, that, peradventures, shall tell you another tale, Era. Fery goot: I will make a prief of it in my if matters grow to your likings.
note-book; and we will afterwards 'ork upon the Page. I am glad to see your worships well. I cause, with as great discreetly as we can. thank you for my venison, master Shallow.
Fal. Pistol! Shal. Master Page, I am glad to see you: much
Pist. He hears with ears. good do it your good heart. I wished your venison Eva. The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this? better; it was ill kill'd.-How doth good mistress He hears with ear ?" Why, it is affectations. Page ?—and I thank you always with my heart, Fal. Pistol, did you pick master Slender's purse ? la ; with my heart.
Slen. Ay, by these gloves, did he, (or I would I Page. Sir, I thank you.
might never come in mine own great chamber again Shal. Sir, I thank you; by yea and no, I do. else,) of seven groats in mill-sixpences, and two Page. I am glad to see you, good master Slender. Edward shovel-boards, that cost me two shilling and
Slen. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I two pence a-piece of Yed Miller, by these gloves. heard say he was outrun on Cotsall.
Fal. Is this true, Pistol? Page. It could not be judg'd, sir.
Eva. No; it is false, if it is a pick-purse. Slen. You'll not confess, you'll not confess. Pist. Ha, thou mountain-foreigner!-Sir John Shal. That he will not :-'tis your fault, 'tis your
and master mine, fault.—'Tis a good dog.
I combat challenge of this lattin bilbo :
Word of denial in thy labras here;
Slen. By these gloves, then 'twas he.
"Enter ANNE Page with wine ; Mistress Ford and Nym. Be avised, sir, and pass good humours. I
Mistress Page following: will say “marry trap," with you, if you run the buthook's humour on me; that is the very note
Page. Nay, daughter, carry the wine in; we'll of it.
[Erit Anne Page. Slen. By this hat, then he in the red face had it;
Slen. O heaven! this is mistress Anne Page. for though I cannot remember what I did when you
Page. How now, mistress Ford! made me drunk, yet I am not altogether an ass.
Fal. Mistress Ford, by my troth, you are very Fal. What say you, Scarlet and John ?
well met: by your leave, good mistress. Bard. Why, sir, for my part, I say, the gentle
[Kissing her. man had drunk himself out of his five sentences. Page. Wife, bid these gentlemen welcome.
Era. It is his five senses: fie, what the ignorance Come, we have a hot venison pasty to dinner : is !
come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all Bard. And being fap, sir, was, as they say, cash
unkindness. ierd; and so conclusions pass'd the carieres.
[Exeunt all but Shal., SLENDER, and Evans. Slen. Ay, you spake in Latin then too; but 'tis
Slen. I had rather than forty shillings, I had my no matter. I'll ne'er be drunk whilst I live again,
book of songs and sonnets here :but in honest, civil, godly company, for this trick:
Enter SIMPLE. if I be drunk, I'll be drunk with those that have the fear of God, and not with drunken knaves.
How now, Simple! Where have you been? 1 Era. So Got 'udge me, that is a virtuous mind. must wait on myself, must I? You have not the
Fal. You hear all these matters denied, gentle- book of riddles about you, have you? men; you hear it.
Sim. Book of riddles ! why, did you not lend it