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ACT V.-SCENE 1.
"TAKE a house"-i. e. Go into a house, as we say "take shelter," and as people used to say, "take sanctuary," which Antipholus and Dromio do inside "the priory," as it is called in the stage-direction of the old copy; but, as a lady abbess presides, it is probably an abbey, not a priory.
"It was the COPY of our conference”—i. e. A large part of our discourse: copy is often used in this sense by old writers, from the Latin copia: thus, Gosson, in his "School of Abuse," 1579, talks of " copy of abuses,' or "abundance of abuses;" and Cooper, in his Latin Thesaurus," translates "copiose et abundanter loqui," "to use his words with great copie and abundance." It was distinguished from copy, in its modern sense, by being spelled copie, when meaning plenty.
Memnon began to curse and damn.
"And at HER heels a huge infectious troop"-So the old copies; Heath and Malone needlessly altered her to their, when, in fact, only one person is spoken of, viz.: “moody and dull melancholy:" the next line
Kinsman to grim and comfortless despair,
is parenthetical. There is no reason why Shakespeare should not make the personification of melancholy feminine, excepting that he had called her "kinsman" in the preceding line, which yet means no more than near relation, without denoting the sex, just as Portia calls herself
Of this fair manor, master of my servants,
Singer proposes to read, just before," moody madness."
"To make of him a FORMAL man again"-i. e. To restore him to his senses; to bring him back to the forms of sober behaviour.
"The place of DEATH"-The original copy has depth, which is followed in the second folio. Rowe made the emendation.
"At your IMPORTANT letters"—"Important" is used for importunate, as in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, KING LEAR, etc.
"by what STRONG escape"-i. e. Escape effected by strength; yet there is some probability that strong is a misprint for strange.
"Beaten the maids A-ROW"-i. e. One after another,
on a row.
"His man with scissars NICKS him like a fool”— "Fools," says Malone, "were shaved and nicked in a
particular manner in our author's time, as appears by the following passage in the Choice of Change,' 1598: Three things are used by monks, which provoke other men to laugh at their follies: 1. They are shaven and notched on the head, like fooles,' etc."
"thy master and his man are HERE"-Meaning that they are in the abbey; the speaker pointing to it.
"While she with HARLOTS feasted in my house”— Harlot was a term of reproach applied to cheats among men, as well as to wantons among women. Horne Tooke says it originally meant a hireling, and derives it from hire it is used only to signify a servant in Chaucer's "Sompnoure's Tale," and in Ben Jonson's "Fox," for a general term of abuse, "out harlot" is applied to the hero of the piece.
"And this is false you burden me withal"-He retorts the expression previously used by Adriana.
"All gather to see THEM"-Collier restored the stagetwins; while all the other editors, without any reason, direction of the old folios, applicable to the two pairs of
substitute him for "them."
"Why, here begins his MORNING story right"—The "morning story" is what Egeon has told the Duke in the first scene of this play.
"And thereupon these errors ARE arose"-This is the reading of all the folios, but it may be a question whether Shakespeare did not write "these errors all arose."
"TWENTY-FIVE years have I but gone in travail"— The old copies are read thus:
Thirty-three years have I but gone in travail
Twenty-five is the correct number; for Ægeon says, in a former part of the play, that he had parted from his son seven years ago, when the boy was only eighteen, making together the "twenty-five years."
There is evidently some error in the next line, which seems best removed by Mr. Collier's slight emendation of "undelivered" for are delivered in the last line. common text reads, on Theobald's conjecture
- nor till this present hour My heavy burdens are delivered.
"And you the calendars of their nativity," etc. These "calendars" are the two Dromios. In act i. Antipholus of Syracuse calls one of them "the almanack of my true date."
"Exeunt all, except the two DROMIO brothers"-The old stage-direction is, "Exeunt omnes. Mane[n]t the two Dromios and two brothers." Such may have been the case; but it is more likely that the two Antipholuses went out with Adriana and Luciana, the two Dromios only remaining to conclude the play. I concur with Collier's suggestion that and is an error, and should be omitted; and have adapted the stage-direction to that
SCENERY AND LOCAL EMBELLISHMENTS.-The local embellishments of this play, in the present edition, are from those of the Pictorial edition, which are all copied or compiled from the best modern authorities, so as to give authentic representations of the existing remains of ancient Ephesus, and views of the present state of that celebrated city, and of Syracuse.
The engraving of the Temple of Diana, restored, is principally founded upon the descriptions of Pococke, who has given an imaginary ground-plan.
The "Antiquities of Ionia," published by the Delettanti Society, and the " Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce," of M. Choiseul Gouffier, have furnished the anthorities for the other engravings of Ephesian remains.
The "Supplementary Notice" of Knight's edition of this play closes with an analysis of the peculiar characteristics of the two pairs of twin brothers, which, though it may be somewhat over-refined, is yet very original and ingenious, and has, too, so much truth in it, that we cannot but transfer it to these pages:
"Some one has said, 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 expression. 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 Dromio of Syracuse is described by his master as being
A trusty villain, sir; that very oft, When I am dull with care and melancholy, Lightens my humour with his merry jests. But the wandering Antipholus herein describes himself: he is a prey to 'care and melancholy.' He has a holy purpose to execute, which he has for years pursued without success. Sedate, gentle, loving, the Antipholus of Syracuse is one of Shakespeare's amiable creations. He beats his slave according to the custom of slavebeating; but he laughs with him, and is kind to him almost at the same moment. He is an enthusiast, for he falls in love with Luciana in the midst of his perplexities, and his lips utter some of the most exquisite poetry. But he is accustomed to habits of self-command, and he resolves to tear himself away even from the syren:
But, lest myself be guilty to self-wrong,
I'll stop mine ears against the mermaid's song.
As his perplexities increase, he ceases to be angry with his slave
The fellow is distract, and so am I,
And here we wander in illusions.
Some blessed power deliver us from hence!
Unlike the Menæchmus Sosicles of Plautus, he refuses to dine with the courtesan. He is firm, yet courageous, when assaulted by the Merchant. When the 'Errors' are clearing up, he modestly adverts to his love for Luciana; and we feel that he will be happy.
Antipholus of Ephesus is decidedly inferior to his brother, in the quality of his intellect and the tone of his morals. He is scarcely justified in calling his wife 'shrewish.' Her fault is a too sensitive affection for him. Her feelings are most beautifully described in that address to her supposed husband:—
Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine;
The classical image of the elm and the vine would have been sufficient to express the feelings of a fond and confiding woman; the exquisite addition of the
Usurping ivy, briar, or idle moss,
conveys the prevailing uneasiness of a loving and doubting wife. Antipholus of Ephesus has somewhat hard measure dealt to him throughout the progress of the Errors;'-but he deserves it. His doors are shut against him, it is true;-in his impatience he would force his way into his house, against the remonstrances of Balthazar. He departs, but not in patience;'-he is content to dine from home, but not at the Tiger.' His resolve
-That chain will I bestow
(Be it for nothing but to spite my wife)
would not have been made by his brother, in a similar situation. He has spited his wife; he has dined with the courtesan. But he is not satisfied:
- go thou
And buy a rope's end, that will I bestow
We pity him not when he is arrested, nor when he re
ceives the rope's end' instead of his ducats.' His furious passion with his wife, and the foul names he bestows on her, are quite in character; and when he has
Beaten the maids a-row, and bound the doctor,—
we cannot have a suspicion that the doctor was prac tising on the right patient. In a word, we cannot doubt that, although the Antipholus of Ephesus may be a brave soldier, who took deep scars' to save his prince's life, and that he really has a right to consider himself much injured, he is strikingly opposed to the Antipholus of Syracuse; that he is neither sedate, nor gentle, nor truly-loving;-that he has no habits of self-cominand; that his temperament is sensual;--and that, although the riddle of his perplexity is solved, he will still find causes of unhappiness, and entertain
- a huge infectious troop Of pale distemperatures.
"The characters of the two Dromios are not so distinctly marked in their points of difference, at the first aspect. They each have their 'merry jests;' they each bear a beating with wonderful good temper; they each cling faithfully to their master's interests. But there is certainly a marked difference in the quality of their mirth. The Dromio of Ephesus is precise and antithetical, striving to utter his jests with infinite gravity and discretion, and approaching a pun with a sly solemnity that is prodigiously diverting:
The capon burns, the pig falls from the spit,
I have some marks of yours upon my pate,
But not a thousand marks between you both.
He is a formal humourist, and, we have no doubt, spoke with a drawling and monotonous accent, fit for his part in such a dialogue as this:
Ant. E. Were not my doors lock'd up, and I shut out? Dro. E. Perdy, your doors were lock'd, and you shut out. Ant. E. And did not she herself revile me there? Dro. E. Sans fable, she herself revil'd you there. Ant. E. Did not her kitchen-maid rail, taunt, and scorn me? Dro. E. Certes, she did; the kitchen-vestal scorn'd you. On the contrary, the merry jests' of Dromio of Syracuse all come from the outpouring of his gladsome heart. He is a creature of prodigious animal spirits, running over with fun and queer similitudes. He makes not the slightest attempt at arranging a joke, but utters what comes uppermost with irrepressible volubility. He is an untutored wit; and we have no doubt gave his tongue as active exercise by hurried pronunciation and variable emphasis, as could alone make his long descriptions endurable by his sensitive master. Look at the dialogue in the second scene of act ii., where Antipholus, after having repressed his jests, is drawn into a tilting-match of words with him, in which the merry slave has clearly the victory. Look, again, at his description of the kitchen-wench,'-coarse, indeed, in parts, but altogether irresistibly droll. The twin-brother was quite incapable of such a flood of fun. Again, what a prodigality of wit is displayed in his description of the bailiff! His epithets are inexhaustible. Each of the Dromios is admirable in his way; but we think that he of Syracuse is as superior to the twin-slave of Ephesus as our old friend Launce is to Speed, in the Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA. These distinctions between the Antipholuses and Dromios have not, as far as we know, been before pointed out;-but they certainly do exist, and appear to us to be defined by the great master of character with singular force as well as delicacy. 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.
"The myriad-minded man, our and all men's Shakespeare, has in this piece presented us with a legitimate farce, in exact consonance with the philosophical prin
ciples and character of farce, as distinguished from comedy and from entertainments. A proper farce is mainly distinguished from comedy by the license allowed, and even required, in the fable, in order to produce strange and laughable situations. The story need not be probable; it is enough that it is possible. A comedy would scarcely allow even the two Antipholuses; because, although there have been instances of almost indistinguishable likeness in two persons, yet these are mere individual accidents, casus ludentis naturæ; and the verum will not excuse the inverisimile. But farce dares add the two Dromios, and is justified in so doing by the laws of its end and constitution. In a word, farces commence in a postulate which must be granted."-COLERIdge.
"Perhaps Shakespeare, no longer able to restrain his comic humour, gave vent to it in this farce, in a sort of joyous desperation. Regarding it merely as a farce, from the moment the 'Errors' commence, nothing has equalled it. Until I saw it on the stage, (not mangled
into an opera,) I had not imagined the extent of the mistakes, the drollery of them, their unabated continuance, till, at the end of the fourth act, they reached their climax with the assistance of Dr. Pinch, when the audience in their laughter rolled about like waves. It was the triumph of farce-of Shakespeare's art in all that belongs to dramatic action.
"Here, it might be thought, that puns could be properly and plentifully introduced, where the twin brothers set the example of personal puns on one another; yet there are few puns to be found. Truth is, the mistakes alone are ludicrous, and the action is serious. To the strange contrast of grave astonishment among the actors with their laughable situations in the eyes of the spectators, who are let into the secret, is to be ascribed the irresistible effect. The two Dromios (Shakespeare's addition, among other matters, to Plautus) form a requisite link between the audience and the dramatis persona;-they invite us to mirth otherwise we might half subdue it out of sheer principle."-C. A. BROWN.