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Duke. What mean you by that saying?
Val. Please you, I'll tell you as we pass along,
In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versifi. cation is often excellent, the allusions are learned and just; but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country; he places the emperor at Milan, and sends his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more; he makes Proteus, after an interview with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture: and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel which he sometimes followed, and sometimes for. sook; sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot.
That this play is rightly attributed to Shakspeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Andronicus; and it will be found more credible, that Shakspeare might sometimes sink below his highest fights, than that any other should rise up to his lowest.
Sir John Falstaff.
two gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
Servants to Page, Ford, &c.
Scene, Windsor; and the parts adjacent.
M E RRY WIVES
SCENE I. Windsor. Before Page's house.
Enter Justice Shallow, Slender, and Sir* Hugh
Shallow. Sir Hugh, persuade me vot; 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, cousiu Slender, and cust-alorumt.
Slen. Ay, and ratolorum too; and a gentleman born, master parson; who writes himself armigero; in any bill, warrant, quittauce, or obligation, armigero. * A title formerly appropriated to chaplains.