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Pol. Ay, and make't manifest where she has lived, Or, how stolen from the dead.
That she is living,
Were it but told you, should be hooted at
Like an old tale; but it appears she lives,
And pray your mother's blessing.-Turn, good lady;
[Presenting PER., who kneels to HER. You gods, look down,
And from your sacred vials pour your graces
Upon my daughter's head!-Tell me, mine own, Where hast thou been preserved? where lived? how found
Thy father's court? For thou shalt hear, that I—
Gave hope, thou wast in being-have preserved
There's time enough for that;
Lest they desire, upon this push to trouble
Will wing me to some withered bough; and there
O peace, Paulina;
Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent,
Thou hast found
But how, is to be questioned; for I saw her,
1 You who by this discovery have gained what you desired.
And take her by the hand; whose worth, and honesty, Is richly noted; and here justified
By us, a pair of kings.-Let's from this place.-
My ill suspicion.-This your son-in-law,
And son unto the king, (whom Heavens directing,)
1 Whose relates to Camillo, though Paulina is the immediate antecedent. In the loose construction of ancient phraseology, whose is often used in this manner, where his would be more proper.
2 It is erroneously printed for is here in the late Variorum Shakspeare. 3 Look upon, for look on. Thus in King Henry V. Part III. Act ii. Sc. 3: "And look upon, as if the tragedy," &c.
4 Whom is here used where him would be now employed.
THIS play, as Dr. Warburton justly observes, is, with all its absurdities, very entertaining. The character of Autolycus is naturally conceived, and strongly represented. JOHNSON.
This is not only a frigid note of approbation, but is unjustly attributed to WARBURTON, whose opinion is conveyed in more enthusiastic terms. He must in justice be allowed to speak for himself. "This play throughout is written in the very spirit of its author. And in telling this homely and simple, though agreeable, country tale,
'Our sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child,
Warbles his native wood-notes wild.
This was necessary to observe in mere justice to the play; as the meanness of the fable, and the extravagant conduct of it, had misled some of great name (i. e. Dryden and Pope) into a wrong judgment of its merit; which, as far as regards sentiment and character, is scarce inferior to any in the collection."
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
THE general idea of this play is taken from the Menæchmi of Plautus; but the plot is entirely recast, and rendered much more diverting by the variety and quick succession of the incidents. To the twin brothers of Plautus are added twin servants, and though this increases the improbability, yet, as Schlegel observes, "when once we have lent ourselves to the first, which certainly borders on the incredible, we should not probably be disposed to cavil about the second; and if the spectator is to be entertained with mere perplexities, they cannot be too much varied.” The clumsy and inartificial mode of informing the spectator by a prologue, of events, which it was necessary for him to be acquainted with in order to enter into the spirit of the piece, is well avoided, and shows the superior skill of the modern dramatist over his ancient prototype. With how much more propriety is it placed in the mouth of Egeon, the father of the twin brothers, whose character is sketched with such skill as deeply to interest the reader in his griefs and misfortunes! Development of character, however, was not to be expected in a piece which consists of an uninterrupted series of mistakes and laughter-moving situations. Steevens most resolutely maintained his opinion that this was a play only retouched by the hand of Shakspeare; but he has not given the grounds upon which his opinion was formed. We may suppose the doggere. verses of the drama, and the want of distinct characterization in the dramatis personæ, together with the farcelike nature of some of the incidents, made him draw this conclusion. Malone has given a satisfactory answer to the first objection, by adducing numerous examples of the same kind of long verse from the dramas of several of his contemporaries; and that Shakspeare was swayed by custom in introducing it into his early plays, there can be no doubt; for it should be remembered that this kind of versification is to be found in Love's Labor's Lost, and in The Taming of the Shrew. His better judgment made him subsequently abandon it. The particular translation from Plautus which served as a model, has not come down to us. There was a translation of the Menæchmi, by W. W. (Warner), published in 1595, which it is possible Shakspeare may have seen in manuscript; but from the circumstance of the brothers being, in the folio of 1623, occasionally styled Antipholus Erotes or Errotis, and Antipholus Sereptus, perhaps for Surreptus and Erraticus, while in Warner's translation the brothers are named Menæchmus Socicles and Menæchmus the traveller, it is concluded that he was not the Poet's authority. It is difficult to pronounce decidedly between the contending opinions of the critics; but the probability is, that the whole of the play is from the hand of Shakspeare. Dr. Drake thinks it " is visible throughout the entire play, as well in the broad exuberance of its mirth, as in the cast of its more chastised parts, a combination of which may be found in
the character of Pinch, who is sketched in his strongest and most marked style." We may conclude with Schlegel's dictum, that "this is the best of all written or possible Menæchmi; and if the piece is inferior in worth to other pieces of Shakspeare, it is merely because nothing more could be made of the materials."
Malone first placed the date of this piece in 1593, or 1596, but lastly in 1592. Chalmers plainly showed that it should be ascribed to the early date of 1591. It was neither printed nor entered on the Stationers' books until it appeared in the folio of 1623.
SOLINUS, Duke of Ephesus.
ÆGEON, a Merchant of Syracuse.
twin-brothers, and sons to
unknown to each other.
ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus, Ægeon and Emilia, but
DROMIO of Ephesus, ( twin-brothers, and Attendants on
BALTHAZAR, a Merchant.
ANGELO, a Goldsmith.
A Merchant, Friend to Antipholus of Syracuse.
EMILIA, Wife to Egeon, an Abbess at Ephesus.
LUCIANA, her Sister.
LUCE, her Servant.
Jailer, Officers, and other Attendants.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
SCENE I. A Hall in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, ÆGEON, Jailer, Officer, and other Attendants.
Egeon. 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 ransom him.