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And from your sacred vials pour your graces?
There's time enough for that;
9 You gods, look down, &c.] A similar invocation has already occurred in The Tempest:
“Look down, ye gods,
- “ And on this couple drop a blessed crown!” Steevens. 1 And from your sacred vials pour your graces — ) The expres, sion seems to have been taken from the sacred writings; “ And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the angels, go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” Rev. xvi, 1. Malone.
? You precious winners all;]. You who by this discovery have gained what you desired, may join in festivity, in which I, who have lost what never can be recovered, can have no part. Johnson.
your exultation Partake to every one.) Partake here means participate. It is used in the same sense in the old play of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Malone. It is also thus employed by Spenser:
“My friend, hight Philemon, I did partake
I, an old turtle,
Lament till I am lost.] So, Orpheus, in the exclamation which Johannes Secundus has written for him, speaking of his grief for the loss of Eurydice, says:
“Sic gemit arenti viduatus ab arbore turtur.” So, in Lodge's Rosalynde, 1592:
“ A turtle sat upon a leaveless tree,
O peace, Paulina; Thou should'st a husband take by my consent, As I by thine, a wife: this is a match, And made between 's by vows. Thou hast found mine; But how, is to be question’d: 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 An honourable husband :-Come, Camillo, And take her by the hand: whose worth, and honesty, Is richly noted; and here justified By us, a pair of kings.-Let 's from this place.What?-Look upon my brother:-both your pardons, That e'er I put between your holy looks My ill suspicion. This your son-in-law, And son unto the king, (whom heavens directing) Is troth-plight to your daughter. 6—Good Paulina, Lead us from hence; where we may leisurely Each one demand, and answer to his part Perform'd in this wide gap of time, since first We were dissever'd: Hastily lead away. [Exeunt.?
whose worth, and honesty,] The word whose, evidently refers to Camillo, though Paulina is the immediate antecedents
Is troth-plight to your daughter.] Whom heavens directing is here in the absolute case, and has the same signification as if the poet had written—“him heavens directing.” So, in The Tempest:
“ Some food we had, and some fresh water, that
“ Master of the design) did give us.” Again, in Venus and Adonis :
“ Or as the snail (whose tender horns, being hurt)
“Shrinks backward to his shelly cave with pain.” Here we should now write his tender horns."
See also a passage in King John, Act II, sc. i: “Who having no external thing to lose,” &c. and another in Coriolanus, Act III, sc. ii, which are constructed in a similar manner. In the note on the latter passage this phraseology is proved not to be peculiar to Shakspeare. Malone.
? This play, as Dr Warburton justly observes, is, with all its absurdities, very entertaining. The character of Autolycus is naturally conceived, and strongly represented. Johnson.
SHAKSPEARE might have taken the general plan of this comedy from a translation of the Menachmi of Plautus, by W. W.i. e. (according to Wood) William Warner, in 1595, whose version of the acrostical argument hereafter quoted is as follows:
“ Two twinne borne sonnes a Sicill marchant had,
“ The first his father lost, a little lad;
“This (growne a man) long travell took to seeke
“ Were th' other dwelt inricht, and him so like, “ That citizens there take him for the same:
Father, wife, neighbours, each mistaking either, “Much pleasant error, ere they meet togither.” Perhaps the last of these lines suggested to Shakspeare the title for his piece.
See this translation of the Menæchmi, among six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing Cross.
At the beginning of an address Ad Lectorem, prefixed to the errata of Decker's Satiromastix, &c. 1602, is the following pas. sage, which apparently alludes to the title of the comedy before
“In steed of the Trumpets sounding thrice before the play be. gin, it shall not be amisse (for him that will read) first to beholde this short Comedy of Errors, and where the greatest enter, to give them instead of a hisse, a gentle correction.” Steevens.
I suspect this and all other plays where much rhyme is used, and especially long hobbling verses, to have been among Shak. speare's more early productions. Blackstone.
I am possibly singular in thinking that Shakspeare was not under the slightest obligation, in forming this comedy, to Warner's translation of the Menechmi. The additions of Erotes and Sereptus, which do not occur in that translation, and he could never invent, are, alone, a sufficient 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 must, of course, be common to every translation. Sir William Blackstone, I observe, suspects “this and all other plays where much rhyme is used, and especially long hobbling verses, to have been among Shakspeare's more early productions.” But I much doubt whether any of these
· long hobbling verses” have the honour of proceeding from his pen; and, in fact, the superior elegance and harmony of his lan. guage is no less distinguishable in his earliest than his latest production. The truth is, if any inference can 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 inférior playwright, who was capable of reading the Menæchmi with
out 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, (though not, perhaps exactly in the way, or to the extent, maintained by a late editor) 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 canvass-spoiler that ever han. dled 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.