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According to local tradition, Wheatley says the scene of Shakespeare's deer adventure was not in Charlecote Park, but on the estate of Fulbrooke adjoining. This estate was sequestered from its owner (Sir Francis Englefield) on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, and it ultimately came into the possession of the Lucy family in 1618. According to

Mr. Henty (quoted by Wheatley) it appears that Lucy assumed charge or rangership over the estate, during its sequestration, which he may have done of his own magisterial authority, as one of the quorum, for the protection of his own stray deer. He had in fact erected a hut, which he called a lodge, as a residence for his keeper.

The writer of the article mentioned above lays stress upon Shallow's "low origin" as a proof of the absurdity of identifying him with the blue blood of Lucy. This is an unfortunate argument, since Shakespeare, as if to meet it, introduces Shallow boasting of his "three hundred years'' pedigree in Merry Wives-one of the obvious reasons why Lucy is meant at that point, since that was about their period, I believe, in Warwickshire. Shallow's humble origin may be deduced, or presumed perhaps, from Henry IV., where he has nothing to do with Lucy. But that is not the case in Merry Wives. He has not only his pedigree and his justiceship, but also his deer park, his keepers, and his coat of arms. He is a judge of a good and fair coursing dog. He dwells with becoming decorum upon gravity, patience, learning, and self-respect. We have nothing here of Will Squele and Dagonet, of the Windmill and bonaroba days. Nothing of old Double and the tiny kickshaws. This is curious. How much of the old Shallow had to be obliterated before we had a Justice fit to bear this new

And the

made honour" that "doth forget men's names." result is a flawless nonentity, vain enough and decorous enough for the "duke de Jaminy" himself.

(3) Accepting the tradition about the composition of Merry Wives for the purpose of bringing Falstaff out again, and in love, it is necessary to place this play after Henry IV., when Falstaff had arrived at the zenith of his popularity. It seems to me an almost equally rational supposition that Merry Wives appeared, whether ordered or not, before Henry V., where the Hostess tells us of his death. In that play Pistol is disposed of also he could never show his face again-and Bardolph and Nym apparently come to the gallows. The latter we meet with first in the Merry Wives, as a part of its parallelism with Every Man in his Humour, Nym being a creation for the purpose of ridiculing the use of the word "humour." At the close of Henry IV. Shakespeare promised his audience that he would " continue the story with Sir John in it." This he has not done, and the reason may probably be found in the order from the Queen, which amounted indeed to a modification of that intention, for she welcomed the idea, and added the condition already mentioned. No doubt the plan of Henry V. was already formed, and perhaps the play was in the course of preparation; but Falstaff was taken down to Windsor, instead of across to France, where, indeed, in the camp at Agincourt, he would have been not a little out of place.

Again, at the close of Henry IV., we are told that "He [Henry] hath intent his wonted followers shall all be very well provided for; But all are banish'd till their conversations Appear more wise and modest to the world."

We may harmonise this with the idea of their being in Windsor, under direct supervision of the court. And as Falstaff's earthly part passes away in Henry V., so does much of his early wit seem to die a natural death at Windsor. Moreover, there are signs too, strangely unnatural portents they are, of this attempt at conversion on the part of Falstaff at Windsor. Mrs. Ford says (II. i.), "he would not swear; and gave such orderly and wellbehaved reproof to all uncomeliness," that she was imposed upon. And Falstaff himself talks of "the guiltiness of his mind” (v. v.) in a very suspicious manner. Both these passages seem like afterthoughts, due to the nearly overlooked fact that Falstaff is a "reformed character" at Windsor. That is to say, he has to pretend to be so, or his stipend may be withheld. Falstaff himself does not allow us to forget his former career. At the close of Henry IV., almost his last words are, after his banishment is announced, "this that you heard was but a colour." He is cherishing the hope of his speedy recall in Merry Wives. Ford (as Brook) accepts him as one of great influence at court, "of great admittance, authentic in your place"; he speaks to Mrs. Ford in the terms of one belonging to court (in III. iii.); and after he is cudgelled for a witch, he speaks (in IV. v.) of how the news of his disgrace will be received at court-"they will whip me with their fine wits till I were as crestfallen as a dried pear."

We thus arrive at the date of 1598 for the Merry Wives' first appearance. Its connection with the historical time of Henry IV. is practically torn asunder or set aside, and need scarcely be considered. It cannot be denied that Merry Wives falls below the high standard of excellence

arrived at by Shakespeare in this portion of his career. In reply to that there is nothing to urge except haste, and perhaps distaste in the production. His plans were upset, and he obeyed his injunctions unwillingly. He yielded to necessity, working in trammels, and throwing no soul into the unwelcome task. Nevertheless he knew how to please, and did it.

Twice the Henry IV. cycle of plays is vividly, even violently, recalled in Merry Wives (I mean the historical period of that cycle, not of course the reissued characters): once when Page says (III. ii. 73) of Fenton, "he knows too much," ... "he kept company with the wild prince and Poins"; and in the Quarto there is a passage in the last scene (possibly omitted from the Folio by accident), "Ile lay my life the mad Prince of Wales Is stealing his fathers Deare." The last passage is in itself a proof that Merry Wives antedated Henry V., when the mad prince became the king. Mr. Daniel is sceptical about the "traditions," and I differ with him in several other points, as in this of the date, which he places after Henry V. In spite, however, of these two allusions, our play is Windsor, and Windsor life, in the last decade of the sixteenth century. It was customary to produce plays at Windsor when the court lay there. In Nichol's Progresses we find that Queen Elizabeth had masques and tournaments at Windsor Castle in January 1593. And there are several entries in Cunningham's Accounts of the Revels at Court (Shaks. Soc., 1842) that bear upon this. One is "Payde . . . at Windsor the ij of Januarye 1569 To Richarde Ferrante [Scolemaster] to the childeren of Wyndsor by way of [her Maits reward] for presentinge a

playe before her highnes this Christmas" (p. xxviii). This schoolmaster, with the children of Windsor, at once recalls Evans and his Windsor fairies, who were undoubtedly children. And these children of Windsor were so well skilled, that her Majesty had them up to London: "Quint ffabi [Four Sons of Fabius'] playd by the children of Wyñsor ffor Mr. ffarrant on Twelfe daye at nighte lykewise at Whitehall" (1574). So that the materials for producing a Windsor play, children and all, were ready to her Majesty's hand. And in the same volume, at p. 77, occurs the even more explicit item: "Attending and setting foorth of Sundry Kynd(s) of Apparell propertyes (and) ffurnyture for the Italian Players that ffollowed the progresse and made pastyme fyrst at Wynsor and afterward(s) at Reading." And p. 80: "hier of iij devells cotes and head(s) (and) one olde mannes fries cote for the Italian players at Wynsor." They also hired a scythe for Saturn. These entries belong to 1574. And in 1578 the children of Windsor have a play on the 6th January (p. 110). Other points that bear upon this are noticed in the next section. See also Gildon's words above, in 1710.

In Cunningham's Revels, again, at p. 176 (1581), there is mentioned, "A Comodie or Morrall devised on a game of the Cards shewed on St. Stephen's daie at night before her Matic at Wyndsor Enacted by the Children of her Mates Chappell"; and at p. 181, showing what a hurry she sometimes was in for a play, there is an entry: "For Horshire from Wyndesor to London in poste, and back agayne for my Lord Chamberleynes men.”

(4) The next point I propose to consider is also of a doubtful and difficult nature, the incident called by Mr.

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