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want themselves the inftruction they pretend to give, will be evident from the etymology and division of the word, the criteria or touchstones of orthography. Now, let us divide England as we please, or as we can, we shall produce neither its roots nor its meaning; for what can one make of the land of the Engs or the gland of the Ens? but write it as it ought to be written, and divide it as it ought to be divided, En-gle-land, (indeed it will divide itself, for there is no other way) and you will have the sense and derivation of the word, as well as the origin of the nation, at first sight; from the Saxon Engla landa, the land or country of the Engles or Angles: just as Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Lapland, which neither ignorance nor pedantry has been able to corrupt, design the country of the Scot, the Ine, the Fin, and the Lap: and yet in spite of all sense and reason, about half the words in the language are in the same aukward and absurd predicament, than which nothing can be more distorted and unnatural; as, I am confident it must have appeared to Mr. Tyrwhitt, had he voluntarily turned his attention that way, or actually attempted, what he haftily thought would be very easy, to shew that this “ supposed canon was quite fanciful and unfounded;" or, in short, as it will appear to any perfon, who tries to subject the language to the rules of syllabication, or in plainer English to spell his words; a talk which, however useful, and even necesfary, no Dictionary-maker has ever dared to attempt, or, at least, found it possible to execute. Indeed, the same kind of objection which Mr. Tyrwhitt has made to my fyftem might be, and, no doubt, has, by superficial readers, been frequently made to his own, of inserting the final syllable in the genitives Peneus's, Theseus's, Venus's, ox's, ass's, St. James's, Thomas's, Wallis's, &c. and printing, as he has done, Peneufes, Theseuses, Venuses, oxes, afjes, St. Jamefes, Thomafes, Wallifes; an innovation neither less singular nor more just, than the one I am contending for, in the conjugation, or use in composition, of resemble, wrestle, whifle, tickle, &c. But, as I am conscious that I burn day-light, so my readers are probably of opinion that the game is not worth the candle: I fall, therefore, take the hint; and, to thew how much or little one would have occasion, in adopting my system, to deviate from the orthography at present in use, I beg leave, in the few words I add, to introduce that which, as a considerable easy and lasting improvement, I wish to see established. Tedious, then, as my note has become, and imperfect as I am obligeed to leave it, I flatter myself I have completely justifyed this divineeft of authors from the ill founded charge of racking his words, as the tyrant did his captives. I hope too I have, at the fame time, made it appear that there is something radically defective and erroneous in the vulgar methods of spelling, or rather misspelling; which requires correction. A lexicographer of eminence and ability's will have it very much in his power to introduce a systematical reform, which, once established, would remain unvaryed and invariable as long as the language endureed. This Dr. Johnson might have had the honour of; but, learned and eloquent as he was, I must be permited to think that a profound knowlege of the etymology, principles, and formation of the language he undertook to explain, was not in the number of those many excellencys for which he will be long and deserveedly admireed. Ritson,
* Merry Wives or WINDSOR.] A few of the incidents in this comedy might have been taken from some old translation of Il Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino. I have lately met with the same story in a very contemptible performance, intitled, The fortunate, the deceived, and the unfortunate Lovers. Of this book, as I am told, there are several impressions ; but that in which I read it, was published in 1632, quarto. A somewhat fimilar story occurs in Piacevoli Notti di Straparola, Nott. 42. Fav. 4.
This comedy was first entered at Stationers' Hall, Jan. 18, 1601, by John Busby. STEEVENS. This play should be read between K. Henry IV. and K. Henry V.
JOHNSON. A passage in the first sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor shews, I think, that it ought rather to be read between the First and the Second Part of King Henry IV. in the latter of which young Henry becomes king. In the last act, Falstaff says:
“ Herne the hunter, quoth you ? am I a ghost?
“ Is stealing his father's deare." and in this play, as it now appears, Mr. Page discountenances the addresses of Fenton to his daughter, because “ he keeps company with the wild prince, and with Poins.”
The Fishwife's Tale of Brainford in WesTWARD FOR SMELTS, a book which Shakspeare appears to have read, (having borrowed from it part of the fable of Cymbeline,) probably led him to lay the scene of Falstaff's love-adventures at Windsor. It begins thus : " In Windsor not long agoe dwelt a sumpterman, who had to wife a very faire but wanton creature, over whom, not without cause, he was something jealous ; yet had he never any proof of her inconstancy.”
The reader who is curious in such matters, may find the story of The Lovers of Pisa, mentioned by Dr. Farmer in the following note, at the end of this play. MALONE.
The adventures of Falstaff in this play seem to have been taken from the story of The Lovers of Pija, in an old piece, called “ Tarleton's Newes out of Purgatorie." Mr. Capell pretended to much knowledge of this sort; and I am sorry that it proved to be only pretenfion,
Mr. Warton obferves, in a note to the last Oxford edition, that the play was probably not written, as we now have it, before 1607, at the earliest. I agree with my very ingenious friend in this fupposition, but yet the argument here produced for it may not be conclusive. Slender observes to mafter Page, that his greyhound