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was out-run on Cotfak [Cotswold-Hills in Gloucestershire]; and Mr. Warton thinks, that the games, established there by Captain Dover in the beginning of K. James's reign, are alluded to.—But perhaps, though the Captain be celebrated in the Annalia Dubrensia as the founder of them, he might be the reviver only, or some way contribute to make them more famous; for inThe Second Part of Henry IV. 1600, Justice Shallow reckons among the Swinge-bucks lers, Will Squeele, a Cotsole man."
In the first edition of the imperfect play, fir Hugh Evans is called on the title page, the Welch Knight; and yet there are some persons who ftill affect to believe, that all our author's plays were originally published by himself. Farmer.
Dr. Farmer's opinion is well supported by “ An eclogue on the noble assemblies revived on Cotswold Hills, by Mr. Robert Dover." See Randolph's Poems, printed at Oxford, 4to. 1638, p. 114. The hills of Cotswold, in Gloucestershire, are mentioned in K. Richard II. A II. sc. iii. and by Drayton, in his Polyolbion,
STEVENS. Queen Elizabeth was so well pleased with the admirable character of Falstaff in The Two Parts of Henry IV. that, as Mr. Rowe informs us, The commanded Shakspeare to continue it for one play more, and to shew him in love.
To this command we owe The Merry Wives of Windsor; which, Mr. Gildon says, [Remarks on Shakspeare's plays, 8vo. 1710,] he was very well assured our author finished in a fortnight. But this must be meant only of the first imperfect sketch of this comedy. An old quarto edition which I have seen, printed in 1602, says, in the title-page, -As it hath been divers times azted before her majesty, and elsewhere. This, which we have here, was altered and improved by the author almost in every speech. Pope. THEOBALD.
Mr. Gildon has likewise told us, “ that our author's house at Stratford bordered on the Church-yard, and that he wrote the scene of the Ghost in Hamlet there.” But neither for this, or the assertion that the play before us was written in a fortnight, does he quote any authority. The latter circumstance was first mentioned by Mr. Dennis. “ This comedy,” says he, in his Epistle Dedicatory to The Comical Gallant, (an alteration of the present play,) 1702, “ was written at her (Queen Elizabeth's] command, and by her direction, and she was so eager to see it acted, that the commanded it to be finished in fourteen days; and was afterwards, as tradition tells us, very well pleased at the representation." The information, it is probable, came originally from Dryden, who from his intimacy with Sir William Davenant had an opportunity of learning many particulars concerning our author.
At what period Shakspeare new-modelled The Merry Wives of Windsor is unknown. I believe it was enlarged in 1603. See some conjectures on the subject in the Attempt to ascertain the order of bis plays, Vol. I. Malone,
It is not generally known, that the first edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor, in its present state, is in the valuable folio, printed 1623, from whence the quarto of the same play, dated 1630, was evidently copied. The two earlier quartos, 1602, and 1619, only exhibit this comedy as it was originally written, and are so far curious, as they contain Shakspeare's first conceptions in forming a drama, which is the most complete specimen of his comick powers. T. WARTON,
Sir John Falstaff.
two gentlemen dwelling at Windsor.
followers of Falstaff.
Servants to Page, Ford, &c. SCENE, Windsor; and the parts adjacent.
Enter Justice Shallow, SLENDER, and Sir Hugh
Shal. Sir Hugh', persuade me not; I will make a Star-chamber matter of it:: if he were twenty
* Sir Hugh,] This is the first, of sundry instances in our poet, where a parson is called fir. Upon which it may be observed, that anciently it was the common designation both of one in holy orders and a knight. Fuller, somewhere in his Church History says, that anciently there were in England more fors than knights; and so lately as temp. W. & Mar. in a deposition in the Exchequer in a case of tythes, the witness speaking of the curate, whom he remembered, styles him, fir Giles. Vide Gibson's View of the State of the Churches of Door, Home-Lacy, &c. p. 36.
Sir J. HAWKINS. Sir is the designation of a Bachelor of Arts in the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin; but is there always annexed to the furname ;-Sir Evans, &c. In consequence, however, of this, all the inferior Clergy in England were distinguished by this title affixed to their christian name for many centuries. Hence our author's Sir Hugh in the present play,--Sir Topas in Twelfth Night, Sir Oliver in As you like it, &c.' Malone.