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out the help of a translation, or, at least, did not make use of Warner's. And this I take to have been the case, not only with the three Parts of King Henry VI, (though not, perhaps exactly in the way, or to the extent, maintained by a late editor) but with The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Lost, and King Richard II, in all which pieces Shakspeare's new work is as apparent as the brightest touches of Titian would be on the poorest performance of the veriest canvass-spoiler that ever handled a brush. The originals of these plays (except the second and third parts of King Henry VI) were never printed, and may be thought to have been put into his hands by the manager, for the purpose of alteration and improvement, which we find to have been an ordinary practice of the theatre in his time. We are therefore no longer to look upon the above "pleasant and fine conceited comedie," as entitled to a situation among the "six plays on which Shakspeare founded his Measure for Measure," &c. of which I should hope to see a new and improved edition. Ritson.
This comedy, I believe, was written in 1593. Malone.
Solinus, duke of Ephesus.
twin brothers and sons to Ægeon and Æmilia, but unknown to each other. twin brothers, and attendants on the two Antipholus's.
A Merchant, friend to Antipholus of Syracuse.
Emilia, wife to Egeon, an abbess at Ephesus.
Luciana, her sister.
Luce, her servant.
Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.
* In the old copy, these brothers are occasionally styled Antipholus Erotes, or Errotis; and Antipholus Sereptus; meaning, perhaps, erraticus, and surreptus. One of these twins wandered in search of his brother, who had been forced from Emilia by fishermen of Corinth. The following acrostick is the argument to the Menæchmi of Plautus-Delph. Edit. p. 654:
"Mercator Siculus, cui erant gemini filii,
"Ei, surrepto altero, mors obtigit.
"Menæchmum civem credunt omnes advenam:
Eumque appellant, meretrix, uxor, et socer. "Ii se cognoscunt fratres postremò invicem."
The translator, W. W. calls the brothers, Menæchmus Sosicles, and Menæchmus the traveller. Whencesoever Shakspeare adopted erraticus and surreptus, (which either he or his editors have mis-spelt) these distinctions were soon dropped, and throughout the rest of the entries the twins are styled of Syracuse or Ephesus. Steevens.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
ACT I.....SCENE I.
A Hall in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, EGEON, Gaoler, Officers, and other
Æge. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, And, by the doom of death, end woes and all. Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more; I am not partial, to infringe our laws:
The enmity and discord, which of late
Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke
If any, born at Ephesus, be seen
Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,
To quit the penalty, and to ransome him.
Ege. Yet this my comfort; when your words are done, My woes end likewise with the evening sun.
Duke. Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the cause
Ege. A heavier task could not have been impos'd, Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable:
Yet, that the world may witness, that my end
Unto a woman, happy but for me,
And by me too, had not our hap been bad.
To Epidamnum, till my factor's death;
And he (great care of goods at random left)3
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence.] All his hearers understood that the punishment he was about to undergo was in con. sequence of no private crime, but of the publick enmity between two states, to one of which he belonged: but it was a general superstition amongst the ancients, that every great and sudden misfortune was the vengeance of heaven pursuing men for their secret offences. Hence the sentiment put into the mouth of the speaker was proper. By my past life, (says he) which I am going to relate, the world may understand, that my present death is according to the ordinary course of Providence, [wrought by nature] and not the effects of divine vengeance overtaking me for my crimes, [not by vile offence.] Warburton.
The real meaning of this passage is much less abstruse than that which Warburton attributes to it. By nature is meant natural affection. Egeon came to Ephesus in search of his son, and tells his story, in order to show that his death was in consequence of natural affection for his child, not of any criminal intention. M. Mason.
2 And by me too,] Too, which is not found in the original copy, was added by the editor of the second folio, to complete the metre. Malone.
3 And he (great care of goods at random left)] Surely we should read
And the great care of goods at random left
Drew me &c.
The text, as exhibited in the old copy, can scarcely be reconciled to grammar. Malone.
A parenthesis makes the present reading clear:
And he (great care of goods at random left)
From whom my absence was not six months old,
And, which was strange, the one so like the other,
Of such a burden, male twins, both alike:
A league from Epidamnum had we sail'd,
A doubtful warrant of immediate death;
Which, though myself would gladly have embrac'd,
Weeping before for what she saw must come,
4 A poor mean woman -] Poor is not in the old copy. It was inserted, for the sake of the metre, by the editor of the second folio. Malone.