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be drawn from the most striking dissimilarity of style, a tissue as different as silk and worsted, that this comedy, though boasting the embellishments of our author's genius, in additional words, lines, speeches, and scenes, was not originally his, but proceeded from some inferior playwright, who was capable of reading the Menæchmi without 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. as I think a late editor (O si sic omnia!) has satisfactorily proved, 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 canvas-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.
Dromio of Syracuse,
A Merchant, Friend to Antipholus of Syracuse.
Emilia, Wife to Ægeon, an Abbess at Ephesus. Adriana, Wife to Antipholus of Ephesus. Luciana, her Sister.
Luce, her Servant.
Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
SCENE I. A Hall in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, ÆGEON, Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.
Ege. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, And, by the doom of death, end woes and all.
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more; I am not partial, to infringe our laws: The enmity and discord, which of late Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,— Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives, Have sealed his rigorous statutes with their bloods,— Excludes all pity from our threat'ning looks. For, since the mortal and intestine jars "Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us, It hath in solemn synods been decreed, Both by the Syracusans and ourselves, To admit no traffick to our adverse towns: Nay, more,
any, born at Ephesus, be seen
Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,
Ege. Yet this my comfort; when your words
My woes end likewise with the evening sun.
Duke. Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the cause Why thou departedst from thy native home; And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus.
Ege. A heavier task could not have been im-
Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable:
Unto a woman, happy but for me,
1 Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence.] All his hearers understood that the punishment he was about to undergo was in consequence of no private crime, but of the publick enmity between two states, to one of which he belonged: but it was a general superstition among 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. Egeon 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.
Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse:
And, which was strange, the one so like the other,
Of such a burden, male twins, both alike:
A league from Epidamnum had we sail'd,