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DRO. S. We'll draw cuts for the senior: till then, lead thou first.
Dro. E. Nay, then thus: We came into the world, like brother and bro
And now let's go hand in hand, not one before anothers.
3 On a careful revision of the foregoing scenes, I do not hesitate to pronounce them the composition of two very unequal writers. Shakspeare had undoubtedly a share in them; but that the entire play was no work of his, is an opinion which, (as Benedick says,) “ fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake." Thus, as we are informed by Aulus Gellius, lib. iii. cap. 3, some plays were absolutely ascribed to Plautus, which in truth had only been (retractate et expolite) retouched and polished by him.
In this comedy we find more intricacy of plot than distinction of character ; and our attention is less forcibly engaged, because we can guess in great measure how the denouement will be brought about. Yet the subject appears to have been reluctantly dismissed, even in this last and unnecessary scene, where the same mistakes are continued, till their power of affording entertainment is entirely lost. STEEVENS.
On the present occasion, Mr. Steevens appears to have merely followed the example of Maximin :
“ And all this I can do because I dare.” It were to be wished that the critick had assigned some reasons for his opinion. Not having done so, I can only oppose to this peremptory decision an opinion no less confidently entertained, that the whole of the
present comedy was written by Shakspeare. See the Preliminary Remarks.
The long doggrel verses that Shakspeare has attributed in this play to the two Dromios, are written in that kind of metre which was usually attributed by the dramatick poets before his time, in their comick pieces, to some of their inferior characters ; and this circumstance is one of many that authorize us to place the preceding comedy, as well as Love's Labour's Lost, and The Taming of the Shrew, (where the same kind of versification is likewise found,) among our author's earliest productions; composed probably at a time when he was imperceptibly infected with the prevailing mode, and before he had completely learned “to deviate boldly from the common track.” As these early pieces are now not easily met with, I shall subjoin a few extracts from some of them :
Like Will to LIKE.
1568. Royst. If your name to me you will declare and showe, " You may in this matter my minde the sooner knowe.
“ Tos. Few wordes are best among freends, this is true, “ Wherefore I shall briefly show my name unto you. “ Tom Tospot it is, it need not to be painted, “ Wherefore I with Raife Roister must needs be acquainted,” &c.
[About 1570.] Shift. By gogs bloud, my maisters, we were not best longer
here to staie, “ I thinke was never such a craftie knave before this daie.
[Ex. Ambo. “ Cond. Are thei all gone? Ha, ha, well fare old Shift at a
neede : By his woundes had I not devised this, I had hanged indeed. Tinkers, (qo you) tinke me no tinkes ; I'll meddle with them no
more ; “ I thinke was never knave so used by a companie of tinkers before.
By your leave I'll be so bolde as to looke about me and spie, “ Lest any knaves for my coming down in ambush do lie. “ By your licence I minde not to preache longer in this tree, My tinkerly slaves are packed hence, as farre as I maie see;" &c.
PROMOS AND CASSANDRA.
1578. “ The wind is yl blows no man's gaine; for cold I neede not care, “ Here is nine and twentie sutes of
share : “ And some, berlady, very good, for so standeth the case, “ As neither gentleman nor other Lord Promos sheweth any grace; “ But I marvel much, poore slaves, that they are hanged so soone, “ They were wont to staye a day or two, now scarce an afternoone;
1584. “ You think I am going to market to buy rost meate, do ye not ? “ I thought so, but you are deceived, for I wot what I wot: “ I am neither going to the butchers, to buy veale, mutton, or
beefe, “ But I am going to a bloodsucker, and who is it? faith Usuries.
THE COBLER'S PROPHECY.
1594. Quoth Niceness to Newfangle, thou art such a Jacke, “That thou devisest fortie fashions for my ladie's backe.
And thou, quoth he, art so possest with everie frantick toy, " That following of my ladie's humour thou dost make her coy, “For once a day for fashion-sake my lady must be sicke, “No meat but mutton, or at most the pinion of a chicke:
To-day her owne haire best becomes, which yellow is as gold, “A periwig is better for to-morrow, blacke to behold : " To day in pumps and cheveril gloves to walk she will be bold, “ To-morrow cuffes and countenance, for feare of catching cold: “Now is she barefast to be seene, straight
her mufler goes ; Now is she hufft up to the crowne, straight nusled to the nose." See also Gammer Gurton's Needle, Damon and Pythias, &c.