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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
Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.
* In the old copy, these brothers are occasionally styled Anti. pholus 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 Æmilia by fishermen of Corinth. The following acrostick is the argument to the Menachmi of Plautus-Delph. Edit. p. 654:
“ Mercator Siculus, cui erant gemini filii,
“ li se cognoscunt fratres postremò invicem.” The translator, W.W. calls the brothers, Menæchmus Sosicles, and Menechmus 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 Ephe.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
ACT I.....SCENE I.
A Hall in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, ÆgEON, 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;
cusans and ourselves,
Æge. 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
Æge. A heavier task could not have been impos’d,
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence.] All his hearers under. stood 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. Ægeon 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.
And he (great care of goods at random left)
From whom my absence was not six months old,
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.