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There's more behind, that is more gratulate,
. I cannot help taking notice with how much judgment Shakespeare has given turns to this story from what he found it in Cyne thio Giraldi's novel. In the first place, the brother is there actually executed, and the governour sends his head in a bravado to the fifter, after he had debauched her on promise of marriage. A circumstance of too much horror and villainy for the stage. And, in the next place, the fifter afterwards is, to folder her dir. grace, married to the governour, and begs his life of the emperour, though he had unjustly been the death of her brother. Both which absurdities the poet has avoided by the episode of Mariana, a creature purely of his own invention. The duke’s remaining incognito at home to supervise the conduct of his deputy, is also entirely our authour's fiction.
This story was attempted for the scene before our authour was fourteen years old, by one George Whetstone, in Two Comical Discourses, as they are called, containing the right excellent and famous history of Promos and Cassandra. Printed with the black lecter, 1578. The author going that year with Sir Humphry Gilbert to Norimbega, left them with his friends to publish.
THEOBALD. The novel of Cynthio Giraldi, from which Shakespeare is fupposed to have borrowed this fable, may be read in Shakespeare illuftrated, elegantly translated, with remarks which will afíit the enquirer to discover how much abfurdity Shakespeare has admitted or avoided.
I cannot but suspect that some other had new-modelled the novel of Cynthio, or written a story which in some particulars re. sembled it, and that Cynthio was not the authour whom Shake. speare immediately followed. The emperour in Cynthio is named Maximine; the duke, in Shakespeare's enumeration of the persons
of the drama, is called Vincentio. This appears a very slight re: mark; but since the duke has no name in the play, nor is ever mentioned but by his title, why thould he be called Vincentio among the persons, but because the name was copied from the ftory, and placed fuperfluously at the head of the lift by the mere habit of transcription? It is therefore likely that there was then a story of Vincentio duke of Vienna, different from that of Maximine emperour of the Romans.
Of this play the light or comick part is very natural and pleafing, but the gravescenes, if a few passages be excepted, have more laboor than elegance. The plot is rather intricate than artful. The time of the action is indefinite ; some time, we know not how much, must have elapsed between the recess of the duke and the imprisonment of Claudio ; for he must have learned the ftory of Mariana in his disguise, or he delegated his power to a man already known to be corrupted. The unities of action and place are sufficiently preserved. JOHNSON.
SOLINUS, Duke of Ephesus.
Twin-Brothers, and Sons to
Ægeon and Æmilia, but
unknown to each other.
Æmilia, Wife to Ægeon, an Abbess at Ephesus.
Jailor, Officers, and other Attendants.
COMEDY of ERRORS.
A CT I.
9 CEN E I.
The Duke's Palace.
Enter the Duke of Ephesus, Ægeon, Jailor, and
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more;
Shakespeare certainly took the general plan of this comedy from a translation of che Menachmi of Plautus, by W.W.in 1595. The translator's argument is this.
“Two twinne-born sonnes, a Sicill marchant had,
• The firit his father lost a little lad,
“ This (growne a man) long travell tooke to seeke
" 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 Shakespeare the title for bis piece. STEEVENS. L 2