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The original folio edition does not contain any List of Characters, usually termed "Names
of the Actors."
"THE COMEDY OF ERRORS' was first printed | ficult, without a painful effort of attention, in the folio collection of Shakspere's Plays to keep the characters distinct in the mind. in 1623. This copy presents many typo And again, on the stage, either the complete graphical blunders, and in a few passages similarity of their persons and dress must the text is manifestly corrupt. The diffi. produce the same perplexity whenever they culties, however, are not very considerable. first enter, or the identity of appearance, The Comedy was clearly one of Shakspere's which the story supposes, will be destroyed. very early plays. It was probably untouched We still, however, having a clue to the difby its author after its first production. ficulty, can tell which is which, merely from
In a work by Francis Meres, published in the contradictions which arise as soon as the 1598, it is mentioned amongst other dramas different parties begin to speak; and we are of Shakspere. The chief evidence of its indemnified for the perplexity and blunbeing a very early play is to be found in ders into which we are thrown, by seeing the great prevalence of that measure which others thrown into greater and almost inex. was known to our language as early as the tricable ones." Hazlitt has here, almost untime of Chaucer by the name of “rime designedly, pointed out the source of the dogerel.” This peculiarity is to be observed | pleasure which, with an “ effort of attenonly in three of our author's plays,-in tion,"--not a "painful effort," we think,
Love's Labour's Lost,' in 'The Taming of a reader or spectator of The Comedy of the Shrew,' and in 'The Comedy of Errors.' Errors' is sure to receive from this drama. It was a distinguishing characteristic of the We have “a clue to the difficulty;"—We early English drama. The Comedy of know more than the actors in the drama; Errors' was unquestionably suggested by —we may be a little perplexed, but the deep
The Menæchmi' of Plautus; and it fur. perplexity of the characters is a constantlynishes abundant proof of Shakspere's fami increasing triumph to us. The spectators, liarity with that ancient dramatist.
the readers, have the clue, are let into the Criticism has justly held that “The Co secret, by the story of the first scene. Nomedy of Errors' is essentially a farce, and thing can be more beautifully managed, or was meant to be so. Coleridge says, “A is altogether more Shaksperean, than the proper farce is mainly distinguished from narrative of Ægeon; and that narrative is comedy by the licence allowed, and even re so clear and so impressive, that the reader quired, in the fable, in order to produce never forgets it amidst all the errors and strange and laughable situations.” No perplexities which follow. It appears to us thing, however, can be managed with more that every one of an audience of The Coskill than the whole dramatic action of this medy of Errors,' who keeps his eyes open, farce. It has been objected that the riddle will, after he has become a little familiar which is presented throughout the piece with the persons of the two Antipholuses teases and wearies the reader and the spec and the two Dromios, find out some clue by tator. Hazlitt says, “In reading the play, which he can detect a difference between from the sameness of the names of the two each, even without “the practical contraAntipholuses and the two Dromios, as well dictions which arise as soon as the different as from their being constantly taken for parties begin to speak." Each pair of pereach other by those who see them, it is dif- sons selected to play the twins must be of
the same height,—with such general resem. blances of the features as may be made to appear identical by the colour and false hair of the tiring-room,—and be dressed with apparently perfect similarity. But let every care be taken to make the deception perfect, yet the observing spectator will detect a difference between each; some peculiarity of the voice, some “trick oʻthe eye,” some dissimilarity in gait, some minute variation in dress; and, while his curiosity is kept alive by the effort of attention which is necessary for this detection, the riddle will not only not tease him, but its perpetual solution will afford him the utmost satisfaction.
But has not Shakspere himself furnished a clue to the understanding of the Errors, by his marvellous skill in the delineation of character? Pope forcibly remarked that, if our poet's dramas were printed without the names of the persons represented being attached to the individual speeches, we should know who is speaking by his wonderful discrimination in assigning to every character appropriate modes of thought and expres
sion. It appears to us that this is unquestionably the case with the characters of each of the twin-brothers in The Comedy of Errors.' The Antipholus of Ephesus is strikingly opposed to the Antipholus of Syracuse ; he is neither sedate, nor gentle, nor truly loving, as his brother is ;-he has no habits of self-command ;-his temperament is sensual. The two Dromios each have their “merry jests;" they each bear & beating with wonderful good temper; they each cling faithfully to their masters' interests. But there is certainly a marked difference in the quality of their mirth. The Dromio of Ephesus is precise and an. tithetical, striving to utter his jests with infinite gravity and discretion. On the contrary, the “merry jests” of Dromio of Syracuse all come from the outpouring of his gladsome heart. Of course the characters of the twins could not be violently contrasted, for that would have destroyed the illusion. They must still
“Go hand in hand, not one before another."
Enter DUKE, ÆGEON, Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants. ÆGE. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall,
And, by the doom of death, end woes and all.
I am not partial, to infringe our laws;