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THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.
“ The alternate rhymes that are found in this play, as well as in “A Midsummer Night's Dream,' • Love's Labour's Lost,' The Two Gentlemen of Verona,' and 'Romeo and Juliet,' are a further proof that these pieces were among our author's earliest productions. We are told by himself that “Venus and Adonis' was 'the first heir of his invention. The ‘Rape of Lucrece' probably followed soon afterwards. When he turned his thoughts to the stage, the measure which he had used in those poems naturally presented itself to him in his first dramatick essays: I mean in those plays which were written originally by himself. In those which were grounded, like the Henries, on the preceding productions of other men, he naturally followed the example before him, and consequently in those pieces no alternate rhymes are found. The doggrel measure, which, if I recollect right, is employed in none of our author's plays except 'The Comedy of Errors,' “The Taming of the Shrew,' and 'Love's Labour 's Lost,' also adds support to the dates assigned to these plays; for these long doggrel verses are written in that kind of metre which was usually attributed by the dramatic poets before his time to some of their inferior characters.* He was imperceptibly infected with the prevailing mode in these his early compositions ; but soon learned to deviate boldly from the common track’ left by preceding writers.”—MALONE.
“This drama of Shakspeare's is much more varied, rich, and interesting in its incidents than the Menächmi of Plautus; and while, in rigid adherence to the unities of action, time, and place, our poet rivals the Roman play, he has contrived to insinuate the necessary previous information for the spectator, in a manner infinitely more pleasing and artful than that adopted by the Latin bard; for whilst Plautus has chosen to convey it through the medium of a prologue, Shakspeare has rendered it at once natural and pathetic, by placing it in the mouth of Ægeon, the father of the twin brothers.
“ In a play, of which the plot is so intricate, occupied, in a great measure, by mere personal mistakes and their whimsical results, no elaborate development of character can be expected; yet is the portrait
LIKE WILL TO LIKE.
Tos. Few wordes are best among freends, this is true,
And some, berlady, very good, for so standeth the case,
THE THREE LADIES OF LONDON.
I thought so, but you are deceived, for I wot what I wot:
(About 1570.) "SHIFT. By gogs bloud, my maisters, we were not best longer
here to staie, I thinke was never such a craftie knave before this daie.
THE COBLER'S PROPHECY.
" Quoth Niceness to Newfangle, thou art such a Jacke,
That thou devisest fortie fashions for my ladie's backe.
PROMOS AND CASSANDRA.
1578. « The wind is yl blows no man's gaine: for cold I neede not care:
Here is nine and twentie sutes of apparel for my share :
Free MPL CE E list z ind ad the pressure of age and misfortune is so painted as
MI Sve tone of colouring over this part of the fable, contrasting
s e ne muniente fallos,- mode of relief which is again resorted to at 2
I 2 0 m 2 1 . Egeon and Æmilia, and the recognition of their children. TULCE - CSS
REI SILE more affecting than the tone of the preceding scenes
T IC: SSD
situa tibe chief bulk of this piece, if it be true, that, to excite a stom . SITIOSITE, de essential to its dramatic excellence, the Comedy of Errors u 2 T I NE M essiu. afior ; bout reader and spectator are hurried on to the close. KZ 2 :
K o m medients, and wdar the pleasurable influence of novelty, expectation. 1.
OK to in re = wifrem tiracious, pointed, and even effervescing. Shakspeare is S . 2 RS
I SIT DIET, & vel in the broad exuberance of its mirth, as in the
SOSIS TA combination of which may be found in the punishment and et2.
a mi sujuu, who is sketched in the strongest and most marked style
Instution of the fable, the narrowness of its basis, and that its
S ums Exclusively confined to a continued deception of the external
c Shakee has not only improved on the Plautian model. but making u r u ch I RASE vein of humour, has given to his production all the interest and *
sur mi z imits his subject would permit.”—DRAKE. - AN S E S A mesented us with & legitimate farce in exactest consonance with the K .
o farce, &s distinguished from comedy and from entertainments. U
32 Asmushad from comedy by the license allowed, and even required, in the anda V ena strange and laughable situations. The story need not be probable, it is in the
site w eds would scarcely allow even the two Antipholuses, because
S N U INI almost undistinguishable likeness in two persons, yet these are www. sa u
a audientas natura, and the deur will not excuse the inderisimile. But N asiba wa
** mus and is justified in so doing by the laws of its end and constitution. Win A minh : * Nastolate which must be granted.”—COLERIDGE. wa Jur
the subject of the Menæchmi of Plautus, entirely recast and enriched y
sI wants of Shakspeare this is the only example of imitation of, or .. nola N S tihe two twin brothers of the same name are added two slaves, also WAN
A N Dasted from each other, and of the same name. The improbability die u
bent when once we have lent ourselves to the first, which certainly Toma in
v Dr perhaps be disposed to cavil at the second ; and if the spectator *
** indi r ectas ther cannot be too much varied. * * * * In short this www x
d e Menochmi; and if the piece be inferior in worth to other la
pothing more could be made of the materials.”—SCHLEGEL
ROMEO AND JULIET.
The pathetic legend on which Shakespeare founded the plot of this beautiful tragedy has been cherished from time immemorial among the traditions of Italian history, although no such story has ever been discovered in the authentic records of any particular state. The Veronese, Lord Byron tells us, are tenacious to a degree of the truth of it, insisting on the fact, giving a date (1303), and showing the tomb. But this is only an instance of pardonable local vanity; no account exists of any actual Romeo and Juliet, but a tale more or less resembling that immortalized by our great dramatist may be found in several ancient writers. Mr. Douce has attempted to trace it to a Middle Greek author, one Xenophon Ephesius. The earliest writer, however, who set forth the romance in a connected narration is believed to be Masuccio di Salerno, in whose “Novellino,” a collection of tales first printed at Naples in 1476, a similar event is recorded to have occurred, not at Verona, but in Sienna. He relates that in Sienna there lived a young man of good family, named Mariotto Mignanelli, who was enamoured of a lady, Gianozza, and succeeded in engaging her affections ; some impediment standing in the way of a public marriage, they are secretly united by an Augustine monk. Shortly after the ceremony, Mariotto has the misfortune to slay a fellow-citizen of rank in a street brawl, for which he is condemned by the Podesta to perpetual banishment. He obtains a farewell interview with his wife, and departs to Alexandria, where resides a rich uncle of his, Sir Nicolo Mignanelli. After the flight of Mariotto, Gianozza is pressed by her father to accept a husband whom he has found for her. Having no reason which she dare allege to oppose her parent's wishes, she pretends to consent, and then determines to escape the hated nuptials by an act as daring as it was extraordinary. She discloses her miserable situation to the monk who had married her to Mariotto, and bribes him to prepare a soporific powder, which, drunk in water, will throw her into a deatb-like trance for three days; she drinks the narcotic, is supposed to be dead, and in due time is interred by her friends in the church of St. Augustine. Before this, she had despatched a special messenger to Alexandria, apprising her husband of her determination ; but the messenger is unhappily seized by pirates, and her missive never reaches him; instead of it, he receives another letter written by his brother, informing him of her death and that of her father also, who had died of grief for the loss of his daughter. The wretched Mariotto resolves to return forthwith to Sienna, and die upon her tomb, or perish by the hand of justice. He is taken in an attempt to break open the vault, and is condemned to death. Gianozza, in the meanwhile, recovers from her lethargy, disguises herself in man's apparel, and sets out for Alexandria in search of her banished husband; here she learns, to her dismay, that Mariotto, believing her dead, had departed for Sienna. She returns to that place, and, arriving just three days after his execution, dies of anguish and a broken heart.*
A story closely corresponding with this in the preliminary incidents, though varying in the catastrophe, is told by Luigi da Porto in his Novella, “ La Giulietta," first published in 1535. “Hystoria Novella mente Ritrovata di dui nobili Amanti: Con la loro Pietosa Morte: Intervenuta gia nella Citta di Verona Nel tempio del Signor Bartholomeo Scala.” Luigi, in his dedication to Madonna Lucina Savorgnana, pretends to have derived the legend from an archer of Verona, one Peregrino, who quotes as his authority for it a relation of his father's. In the
. « La donna no'l trova in Alesandria, ritorna a Siena, e trova l'amunto decollato,e ella sopra il suo corpo per dolore si muore," are the words of the Argument; but in the novel itself she is said to retire to a monastery,-“Con in
| tenso dolore e sanguinose lagrime con poco cibo e niente
dormire, il suo' Mariotto di continovo chiamando, in brevissimo tempo fini li su vi miserimi giorni."