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Leon. No, not these twenty years.
So long could I
Either forbear, Quit presently the chapel; or resolve you For more amazement. If
you can behold it,
What you can make her do,
Paul. It is required,
[Music. 'Tis time; descend ; be stone no more ; approach; Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come: I'll fill your grave up: stir; nay, come away; Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him Dear life redeems you.—You perceive she stirs :
[Hermione comes down from the pedestal. Start not: her actions shall be holy, as, You hear, my spell is lawful. Do not shun her, Until you see her die again ; for then You kill her double. Nay, present your
hand. When she was young, you wooed her; now, in age, Is she become the suitor. Leon.
O, she's warm! [Embracing her.
She embraces him.
Pol. Ay, and make’t manifest where she has lived, Or, how stolen from the dead. Paul.
That she is living, Were it but told you, should be hooted at Like an old tale; but it appears she lives, Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while.Please you to interpose, fair madam; kneel, And pray your mother's blessing.–Turn, good lady ; Our Perdita is found.
[Presenting Per., who kneels to HER. Her
You gods, look down,
There's time enough for that;
I, an old turtle,
O peace, Paulina;
mine; But how, is to be questioned; for I saw her, As I thought, dead; and have in vain said many A prayer upon her grave. I'll not seek far (For him, I partly know his mind) to find thee Àn honorable husband.—Come, Camillo,
1 You who by this discovery have gained what you desired.
And take her by the hand; whose worth, and honesty,
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.
Tuis play, as Dr. Warburton justly observes, is, with all its absurdities, very entertaining. The character of Autolycus is naturally conceived, and strongly represented.
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 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 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 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 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 doggerel verses of the drama, and the want of distinct characterization in the dramatis persona, 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 Menachmi, 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 Surreplus and Erraticus, while in Warner's translation the brothers are named Menachmus Soricles and Menechmus 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 nf 1623.
Solinus, Duke of Ephesus.
twin-brothers, and sons Antipholus of Syracuse,
Ægeon and Æmilia, but
unknown to each other.
the two Antipholuses.
Æmilia, Wife to Ægeon, an Abbess at Ephesus.
Jailer, Officers, and other Attendants.