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* COMEDY OF ERRORS. Shakspeare might have taken the general plan of this comedy from a tranflation of the Menachmi of Plautus, by W. W. i. e. (according to Wood) William Warner, in 1595, whofe verfion of the acroítical argument hereafter quoted, is as follows:

"Two twinne borne fonnes a Sicill marchant had,
"Menechmus one, and Soficles the other;
"The firft his father loft, a little lad;

"The grandfire namde the latter like his brother:
"This (growne a man) long travell took to feeke
"His brother, and to Epidamnum came,

"Where th' other dwelt inricht, and him fo like,
"That citizens there take him for the fame :

Father, wife, neighbours each miftaking either, Much pleafant error, ere they meet togither." Perhaps the last of these lines fuggefted to Shakspeare the title for his piece.

See this tranflation of the Menæchmi, among fix old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. publifhed by S. Leacroft, Charing. crofs.

At the beginning of an addrefs Ad Lectorem, prefixed to the errata of Dekker's Satiromaftix, &c. 1602, is the following paffage, which apparently alludes to the title of the comedy before us.

In fteed of the Trumpeis founding thrice before they play begin, it fhall not be amiffe (for him that will read) first to beholde this fhort Comedy of Errors, and where the greateft enter, to give them inftead of a hiffe, a gentle correction." STEEVENS.

I fufped this and all other plays where much rhime is used, and efpecially long hobbling verfes, to have been among Shakspeare's more early productions. BLACKSTONE.

I am poffibly fingular in thinking that Shakspeare was not under the flighteft obligation, in forming this comedy, to Warner's tranflation of the Menæchmi. The additions of Erotes and Sereptus, which do not occur in that tranflation, and he could never invent, are, alone, a fufficient inducement to believe that he was no way, indebted to it. But a further and more convincing proof is, that he has not a name, line or word, from the old play, nor any one incident but what muft, of course, be common to every tranflation. Sir William Blackftone, I obferve, fufpecs "this and all other plays where much rhime is used, and efpecially long hobbling verfes, to have been among Shakspeare's more early productious." But I much doubt whether any of these " long hobbling verfes" have the honour of proceeding from his pen; and, in fact, the fuperior elegance and harmony of his language is no lefs diflinguishable in his earliest than his latest production. The truth is if any inference

can be drawn from the moft ftriking diffimilarity of ftile, a tissue as different as filk and worfted, that this comedy though boafting the embellishments of our author's genius, in additional words, lines, fpeeches, and fcenes, was not originally his, but proceeded from fome inferior playwright, who was capable of reading the Menæchmi without the help of a tranflation, or, at leaft, did not make use of Warner's. And this I take to have been the cafe, not only with the three parts of K. Henry VI. as I think a late editor (0 fi fic omnia!) has fatisfa&orily proved, but with The Two Gen tlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Loft, and K. Richard II. in all which pieces Shakspeare's new work is as apparent as the brightest touches of Titian would be on the pooreft performance of the verieft canvass-spoiler that ever handled a brush. The originals of these plays (except the fecond and third parts of K. Henry VI.) were never printed, and may be thought to have been put into his hands by the manager for the purpofe 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 intitled to a fituation among the " fix plays on which Shakspeare founded his Measure for Meafure, &c." of which I fhould hope to fee a new and improved edition. RITSON. This comedy, I believe, was written in 1593. Sce An Attempt to afcertain the order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.

MALONE.

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Solinus, Duke of Ephefus.
Egeon, a Merchant of Syracufe.

Twin Brothers, and Sons but unknown to each other. to Egeon and Emilia, Twin Brothers, and Attendants on the two Antipholus's.

Antipholus of Ephefus,*)
Antipholus of Syracufe,
Dromio of Ephefus,
Dromio of Syracuse, S
Balthazar, a Merchant.
Angelo, a Goldfmith,

A Merchant, Friend to Antipholus of Syracufe.
Pinch, a Schoolmaster, and a Conjurer.
Emilia, Wife to Egeon, an Abbess at Ephefus.
Adriana, Wife to Antipholus of Ephefus,

Luciana, her Sifter.

Luce, her Servant.
A Courtezan.

Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.
SCENE, Ephesus.

2 In the old copy, thefe brothers are occafionally ftyled, Antipholus Erotes, or Errotis: and Antipholus Sereptus; meaning, perhaps ―erraticus, and furreptus. One of thefe twins wandered in fearch of his brother,, who had been forced from Emilia by fishermen of Corinth. The following acroftic is the argument to the Menachmi of Plautus: Delph. Edit. p. 654.

Mercator Siculus, cui erant gemini filii;

Ei, furrepto altero, mors obtigit.

Nomen furreptitii illi indit qui domi eft
Avus paternus, facit Menæchmum Sofialem.
Et is germanum, poftquam adolevit, quæritat
Circum omnes oras. Poft Epidamnum devenit:
Hic fuerat auclus ille furreptitius.

Menæchmum civem credunt omnes advenam;
Eumque appellant, meretrix, uxor, L focer.
Ii je cognofcunt fratres poftremò invicem.

The tranflator, W. W. calls the brothers, Menæchmus Soficles, and Menæchmus the traveller. Whencefoever Shakspeare adopted erraticus and furreptus (which either he or his editors have mis-spelt) thefe diftinctions were foon dropped, and throughout the rest of the entries the twins are ftyled of Syracufe or Ephefus. STEEVENS.

ACT I. SCENE I.

A Hall in the Duke's Palace,

Enter Duke, ÆGEON, Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.

duke

ÆGE. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, And, by the doom of death, end woes and all. DUKE. Merchant of Syracufa, plead no more; I am not partial, to infringe our laws: The enmity and difcord, which of late Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives, Have feal'd his rigorous ftatutes with their bloods,Excludes all pity from our threat'ning looks. For, fince the mortal and intestine jars 'Twixt thy feditious countrymen and us, It hath in folemn fynods been decreed, Both by the Syracufans and ourselves, To admit no traffick to our adverse towns: Nay, more,

If any, born at Ephefus, be feen

At any Syracufan marts and fairs,
Again, If any Syracufan born,

Come to the bay of Ephefus, he dies,
His goods confiscate to the duke's dispose;
Unless a thousand marks be levied,
To quit the penalty, and to ransom him..
Thy fubflance, valued at the highest rate,

Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die.
EGE. Yet this my comfort; when your words.
are done,

My woes end likewise with the evening fun.
DUKE. Well, Syracufan, fay, in brief, the cause
Why thou departedft from thy native home;
And for what caufe thou cam'ft to Ephefus.

3

ÆGE. A heavier tafk could not have been impos'd,
Than I to speak my griefs unfpeakable:
Yet, that the world may witnefs, that my end
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,
I'll utter what my forrow gives me leave.
In Syracufa was I born; and wed
Unto a woman, happy but for me,

And by me too, had not our hap been bad.
With her I liv'd in joy; our wealth increas'd,

Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,] All his hearers understood that the punishment he was about to undergo was in confequence of no private crime, but of the publick enmity between two ftates, to one of which he belonged: but it was a general fuperftition amongst the ancients, that every great and fudden misfortune was the vengeance of heaven pursuing men for their fecret offences. Hence the fentiment put into the mouth of the fpeaker was proper. By my paft life, (fays he) which I am going to relate, the world may understand, that my prefent death is according to the ordinary courfe 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 paffage is much less abftrufe, than that which Warburton attributes to it. By nature is meant natural affection. Egeon came to Ephefus in fearch of his fon, and tells his ftory, in order to fhew that his death was in confequence of natural affection for his child, not of any criminal intention. M. MASON.

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And by me too,] Too, which is not found in the original copy, was added by the editor of the fecond folio, to complete the metre. MALONE,

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