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and, to shew how much or little one would have occasion, in adopting my system, to deviate from the orthography at present in use, I beg leave, in the few words I add, to introduce that which, as a considerable easy and lasting improvement, I wish to see established. Tedious, then, as my note has become, and imperfect as I am obligeed to leave it, I fatter myself I have completely justifyed this divineest of authors from the il-founded charge of racking his words, as the tyrant did his captives. I hope too I have, at the same time, made it appear that there is something radically defective and erroneous in the vulgar methods of speling, or rather mispeling ; which requires correction. A lexicographer of eminence and abilitys wil have it

much in his power to introduce a systematical reform, which, once established, would remain unvaryed and invariable as long as the language endureed. This Dr. Johnson might have had the honour of; but, learned and eloquent as he was, I must be permitted to think that a profound knowlege of the etymology, principles, and formation of the language he undertook to explain, was not in the number of those many excellencys for which he wil be long and deserveedly admireed. Ritson.

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THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.

VOL, IV.

L

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.

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,
Menechmus one, and Sosicles the other ;

“ The first his father lost, a little lad;
“ The grandsire namde the latter like his brother :

“ This (growne a man) long travell tooke to seeke
“ His brother, and to Epidamnum came,

“ Where 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 meete 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, CharingCross.

At the beginning of an address Ad Lectorem, prefixed to the errata of Decker's Satiromastix, &c. 1602, is the following passage, which apparently alludes to the title of the comedy before us :

“ In steed of the Trumpets sounding thrice before the play begin, it shall not be omisse (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.

In the old copy, [1623,] these brothers are occasionally styled Antipholus Erotes, or Errotis, and Antipholus Sereptus ; meaning, perhaps, erraticus and surreptus. One of these twins wandered in search of his brother, who had been forced from Æmilia by fishermen of Corinth. The following acrostick is the argument to the Menæchmi of Plautus, Delph. Edit. p. 654 :

“ Mercator Siculus, cui erant gemini filii,

Ei, surrepto altero, mors obtigit.
“ Nomen surreptitii illi indit qui domi est
Avus paternus, facit Menæchmum Sosiclem.
“ Et is germanum, postquam adolevit, quæritat
“ Circum omnes oras. Post Epidamnum devenit :
“ Hic fuerat auctus ille surreptitius.
“ Menæchmum civem credunt omnes advenam :

Eumque appellant, meretrix, uxor, et socer.
“ li se cognoscunt fratres postremò invicem.”

The translator, W.W. calls the brothers, Menæchmus Sosicles, and Menæchmus the traveller. Whencesoever Shakspeare adopted erraticus and surreptus, (which either he or his editors have mis-spelt,) these distinctions were soon dropped, and throughout the rest of the entries the twins are styled of Syracuse or Ephesus.

STEEVENS. I suspect this and all other plays where much rhyme is used, and especially long hobbling verses, to have been among Shakspeare'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 Menæchmi. The additions of Erotus 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 language 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 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. (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 handled a brush. The originals of these plays 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 Mea

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