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are probably others in which the passage would be found entire; but Slie. Sim, give's some more wine. What, all players gone? Am we have not pursued the inquiry in a carping spirit. The instances not I a lord ? quoted fell under our notice without seeking; in various other edi- Tap. A lord, with a murrain : como, art thou drunken still? tions of the present century, we have certainly observed the asserted Slie. Who's this? Tapster! O Lord, sirrah, I have had the bravest imperfection.
dream to night that ever thou heard' st in all thy life.
Tap. Yea, marry; but you had best get you home,
For your wife will curse you for dreaming here to-night.
Slie. Will she? I know now how to tame a shrew. I dreamt
Act IV., Scene 5. upon it all this night till now, and thou hast waked me out of the One of the best passages in the older play is that which corres
best dream that ever I had in my life. But I'll to my wifo, and tame
her too, if she anger me. ponds to the scene above quoted from; it is therefore subjoined :
Tap. Nay, tarry, Slie, for I'll go home with thee,
And hear the rest that thou hast dreamt to-night."
Sly's adventure bears a strong resemblance to that of “The Sleep
er Awakened,” in “THE ARABIAN NIGHTS;” but its immediate origin Gazeth upon the giant Andromede:
is probably to be found in the following story from Goulart's " AD Swoet Kate, entertain this lovely woman.
MIRABLE AND MEMORABLE HISTORIES:"-
Philip, called the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in the memory of our
ancestors, being at Bruxelles with his court, and walking one night Within whose eyes she takes her dawning beams,
after supper through the streets, accompanied with some of his favorAnd golden summer sleeps upon thy cheeks:
ites, he found lying upon the stones a certain artisan that was very Wrap up thy radiations in some cloud,
drunk, and that slept soundly. It pleased the Prince, in this artisan, Lest that thy beauty make this stately town
to make trial of the vanity of our life, whereof he had before discours Inhabitable, like the burning zone,
ed with his familiar friends. He, therefore, caused this sleeper to be With sweet reflections of thy lovely face.”
taken up, and carried into his palace. Ile commands him to be laid in one of the richest beds; a rich night-cap to be given him; his foul shirt to be taken off, and to have another put on him of fine holland. When as this drunkard had digested his wine and began to awake,
behold there comes about his bed pages and grooms of the Duke's A scarlet cloak! and a copatain hat!” — Act V., Scene 1.
chamber, who draw the curtains, and make many courtesies, and, The last article is the conical or sugar-loaf hat, once so much in being bareheaded, ask him if it please him to rise, and what apparel vogue. Stubbs says (1595), “ Sometimes they use them sharpe on the it would please him to put on that day. They bring hinn rich apparcrowne, pearking up like the spear or shaft of a steeple, standing a el. This new Monsieur, amazed at such courtesy, and doubting quarter of a yard above the crowns of their heads."
whether he dreamed or waked, suffered himself to be dressed, and led
out of the chamber. There came poblemen, which saluted him with “HoR. Now go thy ways, thou hast tamed a cursed shrew. all honor, and conduct him to the mass, where, with great ceremony, Luc. 'Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so.!”
they give him the book of the Gospel, and Pixe to kiss, as they did
Act V., Scene 2. usually to the Duke. From the mass they bring him back unto the From this couplet (which was no doubt intended for a rhyming palace; he washes his hands and sits down at the table well furnished. one), as also from a similar one in the same act, it appears that the with a great sum of money. This Duke ia imagination plays with
After dinner, the great chamberlain commands cards to be brought, word shrew was formerly pronounced shrow.
the chief of the court. Then they carry him to walk in the garden, and to hunt the hare, and to hawk. They bring him back unto the palace, where he sups in state. Candles being lighted, the musicians
begin to play; and, the tables taken away, the gentlemen and gentleAs Shakspeare unfortunately seems to have dropped Sly altogether women fell to dancing. Then they played a pleasant comedy; after after the first act, wo subjoin the termination of his adventure from which followed a banquet, whereat they had presently store of ipothe older play:-
cras and precious wine, with all sorts of confitures, to this Prince of
the new impression; so as he was drunk, and fell soundly asleep. “ Then enter two, bearing of Sliz in his own apparel again, and Thereupon the Duke commanded that he should be disrobed of all his leave him where they found him, and then go out : then enters the
rich attire. He was put into his old rags, and carried into the same Tapster.
place where he had been found the night before; where he spent that Tap. Now that the darksome night is overpast,
night. And dawning day appears in crystal sky,
Being awake in the morning, he began to remember what had hapNow must I haste abroad: but soft, who's this?
pened before: he knew not whether it were true indeed, or a dream What, Slie? O wondrous! hath he lain here all night?
that had troubled his brain. But, in the end, after many disconrses, I'll wake him: I think he's starved by this,
he concludes that all was but a dream that had happened unto him; But that his belly was so stuffed with ale.
add so entertained his wife, his children, and his neighbors, without What now, Slie, awake, for shame.
any other apprehension.
The fact is certain — Homer sometimes nods, and Shakspeare now and then indulges in his “ forty winks." Yet even in slumber the milder rays of intellect illumine their revelations; and we ought to wonder that such colossal faculties so seldom need a brief repose, rather than complain that they follow the universal law of immortality, and cannot be kept incessantly on the stretch.
It is with this feeling — surely at the least excusable — that we approach the minor Shaksperian dramas; anxious to place their merits in the most favorable position, and somewhat pertinaciously inclined to explain away defects which no amount of grateful scepticism will prevent us from perceiving. If we are told, for instance, that the Dromios, in the play before us, are chargeable with sundry woful puns and coarse allusions, the apology spontaneously suggests itself, — “That is true; but then, consider the license of the age; their station in society; what a number of good things are mingled with the bad; how many of the bad may have been
foisted into the genuine text; but above all (for it is difficult to think of Shakspeare's characters other than as actual beings), consider what droll good-humored mortals these Dromios are; a condition of blood that prevents them from withholding even the poorest comical fancy that may tickle the hearer for the moment, however it may damage their reputation as wits, when put upon paper.” In real life, amiable fellows of the brightest faculties will sometimes utter what they perfectly well know to be atrocious absurdities, critically considered, from the mere love of fun, and a generous disregard of what more prudent wags would deem their personal pretensions. Charles Lamb appears to have been a prodigal of this description; and Shakspeare doubtless was another in his private capacity, as he was occasionally too much so (let us candidly admit it) in his public one of a dramatist.
Thus much granted, it is by no means necessary to continue a notice of the present play in a tone of apology. If we cannot call it in the highest sense, what it calls itself, a “Comedy,” it is certainly the nonpareil of farces ; and although probably a very early production, much of the matter, both humorous and poetic, would not have been unworthy of the writer's brighter day. The opening dialogue between Ægeon and the Duke, forms an admirable introduction to the subsequent scenes of systematic confusion; it places a clue in the band of the render that guides him joyously through the labyrinth of cross purposes that from first to last involves and baffles the active though unconscious agents in the turmoil. These perplexities tell excellently in representation. The varieties of voice, &c., that necessarily exist between the representatives of the respective twins, render the whole plot obvious to the spectator; while moderate resemblances of person, with the assistance of similar dresses, are sufficient to make him put faith in the general mystification; it not being painfully difficult to suppose that the victims of the spell may not be quite so quicksighted as ourselves.
A nice observer will detect differences of temperament in the Dromios; and still more clearly in the superior Brothers. The female characters, also, though not of the strongest cast, are sweetly discriminated. And here we cannot but do justice to the respect that Shakspeare invariably exhibits for the higher points of morality and social feeling: the Brother exhibits not the slightest sympathy with the blandishments which the Wife seems anxious to lavish upon him, on the supposition that he is her husband. It is this wholesome reverence for substantial decency which, in despite of his occasional indecorums, has effectively co-operated even with his boundless genins to keep Shakspeare continually fresh and welcome in the hearts and eyes of his countrymen and countrywomen. And it is the want of this same soul of purity which — notwithstanding their brilliant fancies, and the galvanizing efforts of laborious commentators has condemned so many of his contemporaries and successors to hopeless and deserved obscurity.
The “COMEDY OF ERRORS” is doubtless founded on the “MENECHMI” of Plautus; it was first published in the original folio.
Comedy of Errors.
SCENE I. — A Hull in the Duke's Palace. Æge. Yet this my comfort; when your words
are done, Enter DUKE, ÆGEon, Jailers, Officers, and other My woes end likewise with the evening sun. Attendants.
Duke. Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the cause
Why thou departedst from thy native home; Æge. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, And for what cause camest thou to Ephesus. And, by the doom of death, end woes and all. Æge. A heavier task could not have been imDuke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more ;
posed, I am not partial to infringe our laws :
Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable : The enmity and discord which of late
Yet, that the world
witness that my end Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke Was wrought by nature, not by vile offense, To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen, I'll utter what my sorrow gives me leave. Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives, In Syracusa was I born; and wed Have sealed his rigorous statutes with their Unto a woman happy but for me, bloods,
And by me too, had not our hap been bad. Excludes all pity from our threatening looks. With her I lived in joy; our wealth increased, For, since the mortal and intestine jars
By prosperous voyages I often made 'Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us,
To Epidamnum, till my factor's death, It hath in solemn synods been decreed,
And the great care of goods at random left, Both by the Syracusans and ourselves,
Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse; To admit no traffic to our adverse towns:
From whom my absence was not six months old, Nay, more,
Before herself (almost at fainting under If any, born at Ephesus, be seen
The pleasing punishment that women bear) At any Syracusan marts and fairs;
Had made provision for her following me, Again, If any Syracusan born
And soon and safe arrivéd where I was.
There she had not been long but she became
And, which was strange, the one so like the other To quit the penalty, and to ransom him.
As could not be distinguished but by names. Thy substance, valued at the highest rate, That very hour, and in the self-same inn, Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
A poor mean woman was delivered Therefore, by law thou art condemned to die.
Of such a burden, male twins, both alike:
Those (for their parents were exceeding poor) Which being violently borne upon,
Fortune had left to both of us alike
What to delight in, what to sorrow for. We came aboard :
Her part, poor soul ! seeming as burdenéd A league from Epidamnum had we sailed With lesser weight, but not with lesser woe, Before the always-wind-obeying deep
Was carried with more speed before the wind; Gave any tragic instance of our harm :
And in our sight they three were taken up But longer did we not retain much hope; By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought. For what obscuréd light the heavens did grant At length another ship had seized on us, Did but convey unto our fearful minds
And, knowing whom it was their hap to save, A doubtful warrant of immediate death;
Gave helpful welcome to their shipwrecked guests ; Which though myself would gladly have em- And would have reft the fishers of their prey, braced
Had not their bark been very slow of sail, Yet the incessant weepings of my wife,
And therefore homeward did they bend their Weeping before for what she saw must come,
course. And piteous plainings of the pretty babes, Thus have
heard me severed from my bliss; That mourned for fashion, ignorant what to fear, That by misfortunes was my life prolonged, Forced me to seek delays for them and me. To tell sad stories of my own mishaps. And this it was,
- for other means was none : Duke. And, for the sake of them thou sorrowest The sailors sought for safety by our boat,
for, And left the ship, then sinking-ripe, to us : Do me the favor to dilate at full My wife, more careful for the latter-born, What hath befallen of them and thee, till now. Had fastened him unto a small spare mast,
Æge. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care, Such as seafaring men provide for storms; At eighteen years became inquisitive To him one of the other twins was bound, After his brother; and importuned me Whilst I had been like heedful of the other. That his attendant (for his case was like; The children thus disposed, my wife and I, Reft of his brother, but retained his name Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fixed, Might bear him company in the quest of him : Fastened ourselves at either end the mast; Whom whilst I labored of a love to see, And floating straight, obedient to the stream, I hazarded the loss of whom I loved. Were carried towards Corinth, as we thought. Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece, At length the sun, gazing upon the earth, Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia, Dispersed those vapors that offended us;
And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus, And, by the benefit of his wished light,
Hopeless to find, yet loath to leave unsought The seas waxed calm, and we discovered
Or that or any place that harbors men. Two ships from far making amain to us;
But here must end the story of my life; Of Corinth that, of Epidarus this:
And happy were I in my timely death, But ere they came, O, let me say no more ! Could all my travels warrant me they live. Gather the sequel by that went before.
Duke. Hapless Ægeon, whom the fates have Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off
To bear the extremity of dire mishap ! For we may pity, though not pardon thee. Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,
Æge. O, had the gods done so, I had not now Against my crown, my oath, my dignity, Worthily termed them merciless to us!
Which princes, would they, may not disannul, For, ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues, My soul should sue as advocate for thee. We were encountered by a mighty rock;
But though thou art adjudged to the death,