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ile. But farce dares add the two Dromios, and is justified in so doing by the laws of its end and constitution. In a word, farce commences in a postulate which must be granted. - COLERIDGE.
'PROMUS AND CASSANDRA' (1578).
"THE THREE LADIES OF LONDON' (1584).
“THE COBLER'S PROPHEST' (1594).
"Seo also .GAMMER GURTON'S NEEDLE,'" DAMON AND PYTHIAS,' &c."
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 tho twin brothers of Plautus are added twin servants; and though this increases the improbability, yet, as Schlegel observes, “when once we bave 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 tho spirit of the piece, is well avoided, and shews the superior skill of the moderu dramatist over his ancient prototype. With how much more propriety is it placed in the mouth of Ægeon, 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 ex. pected in a piece which consists of an uninterrupted series of mis takes and laughter-moving situations. * * * We may conclude with Schlegel's dictum that “This is the best of all written or possible Menachmi; 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." - SINGER,
A translation of the “MENÆCUMI” of Plautus appeared in 1595, by On a careful revision of the foregoing scenes, I do not hesitate to “W. W.,” which letters are supposed to have been the initials of pronounce them the composition of two very unequal writers.
William Warner. There is not the slightest internal evidence in Sbakspeare had undoubtedly a share in them; but that the entire play
Shakspeare's play to shew that he made any use of his version. Inwas no work of his, is an opinion which (as Benedick says)" fire can
deed, it is highly probable that the “COMEDY OF ERRORS ” was writ not melt out of me; I will dio in it at the stake." STEEVENS.
ten at an earlier period.
The following is a specimen of Warner's translation. It is the commencement of the second Act; the dialogue being between Menæchmus Sosicles (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Messenio:
" Men. Surely, Messenio, I think seafarers never take so comfortaOn the present occasion, Mr. Steevens appears to have merely fol- ble a joy in any thing as, when they have been long tost and turmoillowed the example of Maximin :
cd in the wide seas, they hap at last to ken land. “ And all this I can do, because I dare.”
Mes. I'll be sworn, I should not be gladder to see a whole country
of mine own, than I have been at such a sight. But I pray, whereIt were to be wished that the writer had assigned some reasons for
fore are we now come to Epidamnum? Must we needs go to see every his opinions. Not having done so, I can only oppose to this peremp
town that we hear of ? tory decision an opinion po less confidently entertained, that the whole
Men. Till I find my brother, all towns are alike to me. I must try of the present comedy was written by Shakspeare. - MALONE.
in all places.
Mes. Why, then, let's even as long as we live seek your brother: six years pow have wo roamed about thus; Istria, Hispania, Mag
sylia, Illyria, all the upper sea, all high Greece, all haven towns in The myriad-minded man, our and all men's Shakspeare, bas in
Italy. I think if we had sought a needle all this time we must needs this piece presented us with a legitimate farce, in exact consonance
have found it, had it been above ground. It cannot be that he is with the philosophical principles and character of farce, as distin
alive; and to seek a dead man thus among the living, what folly is it? guisbed from comedy and from entertainments. A proper farce is
Men. Yea, could I but once find any man that could certainly inmainly distinguished from comedy by the license allowed, and even
form me of his death, I were satisfied; otherwise I can never desist required, in the fable, in order to produce strange and laughable site
seeking: little knowest thou, Messenio, how near my heart it goes. uations. The story need not be probable; it is enough that it is pos
Mes. This is washing of a blackamoor. Faith, let's go home, unsible. A comedy would scarcely allow even the two Antipholuses ; | less ya mean we should write a story of our travail. because, although there have been instances of almost indistinguish
| Men. Sirrah, no more of these saucy speeches. I perceive I must able likeness in persons, yet these are mere individual accidents,
| teach you how to serve me, not to rule me. casus ludentis natura; and the verum will not excuse the inverisim
Mes. Ay, so, now it appears what it is to be a servant."