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And entertain'd them deeply in her heart:
How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root!!
O Proteus, let this habit make thee blush!
Be thou ashain'd, that I have took upon me
Such an immodest raiment; if shame live
In a disguise of love:

It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,

Women to change their shapes, than men their minds.

Pro. Than men their minds? 'tis true: 0 heaven! were man

But constant, he were perfect: that one error Fills him with faults; makes him run through all sins:

Inconstancy falls off, ere it begins :

What is in Silvia's face, but I may spy
More fresh in Julia's with a constant eye?
Val. Come, come, a hand from either:
Let me be blest to make this happy close;
'Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.
Pro. Bear witness, heaven, I have my wish for

ever.

Jul. And I have mine.

Enter Out-laws, with Duke and Thurio.

Out.

A prize, a prize, a prize! Val. Forbear, I say; It is my lord the duke. Your grace is welcome to a man disgrac'd, Banished Valentine.

Duke.

Sir Valentine!

Thu. Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia's mine.
Val. Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy

death;

Come not within the measure2 of my wrath :

Do not name Silvia thine;

once again,

Milan shall not behold thee. Here she stands,

(1) An allusion to cleaving the pin in archery. (2) Length of my sword.

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 means1 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 unrivall'd 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.
With triumphs,2 mirth, and rare solemnity.
Come, let us go; we will includes all jars.

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?

(1) Interest. (2) Masks, revels. (3) Conclude.

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,
That you 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.

In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versification 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 forsook; 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 flights, than that any other should rise up to his lowest. JOHNSON

MERRY WIVES

OF

WINDSOR

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