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Daniel "this Mumpellgart business." The name will serve very well.

This occurrence was brought forward by Charles Knight, in 1840, to explain the references to the German visitors to the Garter, the Duke "de jaminie," the horsestealing, and the "cosen-garmombles" of the Quarto. How far the explanation to be offered is sufficient must be considered. It certainly goes some way, and no other of any sort has been offered for what has all the appearance of referring to some events well known at the time. Halliwell believed so fully in Knight's suggestion, that he based an argument for an earlier date for the play upon it, and all the commentators appear to agree that the view has "something in it."


In the year 1592 Count Mumpellgart, who became Duke of Wurtemberg in 1593, visited this country. He remained a month in England, visiting the Queen at Reading, and was a highly honoured guest. He was there from 17th to 19th of August. From thence he went to Windsor, where he stayed till the 21st. He was shown the "royal castle" by "an old distinguished English lord' (I quote from Rye's England as seen by Foreigners, 1865), and had some deer-shooting in the parks there. He was presented with three stags. He cut his name in the lead upon the highest tower of Windsor Castle. He was shown everything, including Eton College, "wherein however there was nothing particular to be seen." He had a second day with the Windsor deer on leaving, which he called "glorious sport" (Rye trans.). On his way from London to Reading, whither he went in a coach despatched by her Majesty for him, he passed through Hounslow, sleeping a night at

Maidenhead. Subsequently to his Windsor visit he was entertained at the Oxford and Cambridge Universities as well as several private residences. He was a pompous man, and travelled with a retinue in black velvet. He very nearly had a highway-robbery adventure at Gad's Hill, and he left England from Gravesend on the 6th of September, riding over from there with post-horses to visit Rochester, and the ships of war lying in the harbour, including Drake's ship, the day before he sailed. An account of his visit, written by his private secretary, Jacob Rathger, who accompanied him, was printed at Tübingen (in German) by Erhardus Cellius in 1602. It was called a "Bathing-excursion." Before the Count left Windsor he obtained his passport, dated 2nd September, from Lord High Admiral Howard, which contains the words "Thie Schalbe to wil and command you in heer Majtie name .. to see him fournissed with post horses in his travail to the sea side; and ther to seecke up such schippiage as schalbe fit for his transportations, he pay nothing for the same..."

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This excursion of a German Duke through England's quiet country towns would live long in a people's memories, who regarded foreigners at this time with suspicion and aversion. But the Count did not permit himself to be forgotten. He was greatly attracted by the Order of the Garter, and he believed he had obtained from Queen Elizabeth her promise of that distinction, which, however, she subsequently denied. But from that time onward, as Duke of Wurtemberg, he never ceased to solicit her Majesty, sometimes by letter, usually by embassy, for the fulfilment of her promise. She allowed his election in 1597, and his wish was fulfilled by James I., in 1603, when the insignia

were conferred upon him with pride, pomp, and circumstance on the 6th September, at Stuttgard. So that he kept his name fresh before the English court-so much so indeed that some of the letters from the Queen to "our cousin Mumpellgart," as she calls him, betray irritation at his persistency, or some other cause of offence. Which serves to show that a gibe at him might not be deemed unpopular.

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I have given in my notes, at the third and fifth Scenes of the Fourth Act, the extracts from the Quarto, alongside the parallel ones in the Folio which appear to refer to this German Duke. Between the two texts the accumulative evidence is incapable of refutation. He visited Maidenhead and Reading, sleeping at both, as mentioned in both texts. Eton is mentioned in the Folio alone. He was a Duke of Germany. He was Cousin Mumpellgart, which, at a time when anagrams were inevitable, would at once become cosen garmombles" (of the Quarto), and he obtained authority, which would probably be freely abused by his servants, to have post-horses free of charge. That document comes in a little late for the cozenage, but he expected it, and its provisions may have been anticipated. It was with the memory of these things, we suppose, that Shakespeare may have entertained his audience and his Queen. In the year 1598 (August 14) the Duke wrote to the Queen (he had not obtained the insignia): "I have heard with extreme regret that some of my enemies endeavour to calumniate me, and prejudice your Majesty against me. I have given them no occasion for this. I hope that when your Majesty has discovered this report to be false, you will have greater reason to continue your affection towards

me, and give neither faith nor credit to such vipers," etc. The Duke was certainly unpopular in England in the year this play was produced, and was probably well known to be somewhat in the Queen's black books.

With regard to the horse-stealing, which is what would be of most interest to "mine Host," we must remember that it may actually have occurred. We are not told of the Count's being the guest of any one. "His lodging" is not mentioned, and that may, not improbably, have been the Garter Inn. At Reading he was the guest of the Mayor of that place.

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Here I may mention a parallel reference to horsestealing, some public case that created a sensation in the Duke's year (1592-93). In Nashe's Summer's Last Will, which appears to have been written and performed at Croydon in 1592-93, he says: "Asses live within their bounds: whereas the lusty courser, if he be in a barreyne plot, and spye better grasse in some pasture neere adjoyning, breakes over hedge and ditch . . . Peradventure the horses lately sworne to be stolne caried that youthfull mind, who, if they had been Asses, would have bene yet extant," Grosart's Nashe, vi. 97 (or Haz. Dods. viii. 21).

In one part of the Count's travels (Oxford) he speaks of being compelled to remain there most unwillingly because no post-horses could be procured that evening even at double the cost; which does not read as if he was exerting his privilege of "commandeering" them at that time.

The connection between the horses and the German Duke is there, however, and may yet be further explained,

At present it is mainly

with reference to Merry Wives. guesswork, but the guess would be that in 1592, during the Duke's visit, or immediately after it, certain rogues made use of the order he was known to possess, and as either his servants or pretending to be his servants, levied and stole horses in his name from innkeepers. And Nashe's remark shows that at that very time there was a prominent case of horse-stealing. And the horse-stealing incident in Merry Wives is the outcome of that performance, which is certainly a portion of the reminiscences that clung to the German Count's excursion.

At the end of 2 Henry IV. (v. iii. 140) Falstaff says in his exuberance, so quickly overthrown, "Let us take any man's horses: the laws of England are at my commandment." This shows that Shakespeare was familiar with some such unjust proceedings, and had them in his mind at the time of writing Merry Wives.

The relationship of this incident to the rest of Merry Wives will be considered later on.

Halliwell says, with reference to the above occurrences (in Introduction to Quarto, 1842), "the above-mentioned work is so very rare, that I have not been able to obtain a sight of it... his [Knight's] conjecture would have received a strong confirmation, if we knew that Count Mombeliard had taken Reading in his outward journey." We see that he did do so.

If we suppose the period of the story to be that of the Count's visit to Windsor, or about that time, we come in touch with the festivities at Windsor in January 1593, the visit having taken place the preceding September. When Mrs. Quickly speaks of the great doings "when the court

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