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What!-Look upon my brother :--both your par
dons, That e'er I put between your holy looks My ill suspicion.—This your son-in-law, And son unto the king (whom 13 heavens directing), Is troth-plight to your daughter.—Good Paulina, Lead us from hence; where we may leisurely Each one demand, and answer to his part Perform'd in this wide gap of time, since first We were dissever'd: Hastily lead away. [Exeunt.
12 Look upon for look on. Thus in King Henry VI. Part III. Act ii. Sc. 3:
* And look upon, as if the tragedy,' &c. 13 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, bad 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.'
ADDITIONAL NOTE. I will just take occasion to observe here, that at page 39, line 10, of this play, Paulina says of Hermione, contrasting her with Leontes, that she is
a gracious innocent soul; More free, than he is jealous.' Where the epithet free evidently means chaste, pure. I regret that this instance did not occur to me when I wrote the note on Twelfth Night, Vol. I. p. 332-3.
Luciana. God, for thy mercy! they are loose again.
Adriana. And come with naked swords; let's call more help, To have them bound again. Officer.
Away! they'll kill us.
Act iv. Sc. 4.
Comedy of Errors.
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. The general idea of this play is taken from the Menachmi 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 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 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. Developement 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 maintains 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 doggerel verses of the dramas and the want of distinct characterisation 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 cotemporaries; 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 Labour'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 Sosicles 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 general impression upon my mind 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 hlegel'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.
DROMO of Spracuser}
Solinus, Duke of Ephesus.
twin brothers and sons to Ægeon ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus, ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse,
and Æmilia, but unknown to