« ZurückWeiter »
Adr. I see two husbands, or mine eyes deceive me.
Dro. S. I, sir, am Dromio; command him away.
Abb. Whoever bound him, I will loose his bonds, And gain a husband by his liberty. Speak, old Ægeon, if thou be'st the man That hadst a wife once called Æmilia, That bore thee at a burden two fair sons. O, if thou be'st the same Ægeon, speak, And speak unto the same Emilia !
Ege. If I dream not, thou art Æmilia ;1 If thou art she, tell me, where is that son That floated with thee on the fatal raft?
Abb. By men of Epidamnum, he, and I,
Duke. Why, here begins his morning story right.
Ant. S. No, sir, not I; I came from Syracuse. Duke. Stay, stand apart; I know not which is which.
1 In the old copy, this speech of Ægeon, and the subsequent one of the abbess, follow the speech of the duke. It is evident that they were transposed by mistake.
2 The morning story" is what Ægeon tells the duke in the first scene of this play.
Ant. E. I came from Corinth, my most gracious lord.
Ant. E. Brought to this town by that most famous
Duke Menaphon, your most renowned uncle.
Adr. Which of you two did dine with me to-day?
Ang. That is the chain, sir, which you had of me.
Ant. E. And you, sir, for this chain arrested me.
Ant. S. This purse of ducats I received from
Ant. E. These ducats pawn I for my father here.
Abb. Renowned duke, vouchsafe to take the pains
And hear at large discoursed all our fortunes.-
My heavy burden here delivered.1
The duke, my husband, and my children both,
Duke. With all my heart, I'll gossip at this feast. [Exeunt Duke, Abbess, EGEON, Courtesan, Merchant, ANGELO, and Attendants. Dro. S. Master, shall I fetch your stuff from shipboard?
Ant. E. Dromio, what stuff of mine hast thou embarked?
Dro. S. Your goods, that lay at host, sir, in the Centaur.
Ant. S. He speaks to me; I am your master, Dromio; Come, go with us; we'll look to that anon. Embrace thy brother there, rejoice with him.
[Exeunt ANT. S. and ANT. E., ADR. and Luc. Dro. S. There is a fat friend at your master's house, That kitchened me for you to-day at dinner; She now shall be my sister, not my wife.
Dro. E. Methinks you are my glass, and not my
I see by you, I am a sweet-faced youth.
1 The old copy reads, erroneously, thus:
"Thirty-three years have I but gone in travail
Theobald corrected it in the following manner :-
Malone, after much argument, gives it thus:
"Of you, my sons; until this present hour
Thirty-three years are an evident error for twenty-five; this was corrected by Theobald. The reader will choose between the simple emendation in the text, and those made by Theobald and Malone.
2 i. e. the two Dromioes. Antipholus of Syracuse has already called one of them "the almanac of my true date." See note on Act i. Sc. 2.
3 Heath thought that we should read," and joy with me." Warburton proposed gaud, but the old reading is probably right.
Not I, sir; you are my elder.
Dro. E. Nay; then thus;
We came into the world, like brother and brother; And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.
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 (retractatæ et expolita) 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 the power of affording entertainment is entirely lost.
DR. JOHNSON thought it necessary to prefix to this play an apology for Shakspeare's magic;-in which he says, "A poet who should now make the whole action of his tragedy depend upon enchantment, and produce the chief events by the assistance of supernatural agents, would be censured as transgressing the bounds of probability, be banished from the theatre to the nursery, and condemned to write fairy tales instead of tragedies." He then proceeds to defend this transgression upon the ground of the credulity of the Poet's age; when "the scenes of enchantment, however they may be now ridiculed, were, both by himself and his audience, thought awful and affecting." By whom, or when, (always excepting French criticism,) these sublime conceptions were in danger of ridicule, he has not told us; and I sadly fear that this superfluous apology arose from the misgivings of the great critic's mind. Schlegel has justly remarked that," Whether the age of Shakspeare still believed in witchcraft and ghosts, is a matter of perfect indifference for the justification of the use which, in Hamlet and Macbeth, he has made of preexisting traditions. No superstition can ever be prevalent and widely diffused through ages and nations, without having a foundation in human nature: on this foundation the Poet builds; he calls up from their hidden abysses that dread of the unknown, that presage of a dark side of nature, and a world of spirits, which philosophy now imagines it has altogether exploded. In this manner he is in some degree both the portrayer and the philosopher of a superstition; that is, not the philosopher who denies and turns into ridicule, but, which is still more difficult, who distinctly exhibits its origin to us in apparently irrational and yet natural opinions."In another place the same admirable critic says "Since The Furies of Eschylus, nothing so grand and terrible has ever been composed. The Witches, it is true, are not divine Eumenides, and are not intended to be so; they are ignoble and vulgar instruments of hell. They discourse with one another like women of the very lowest class; for this was the class to which witches were supposed to belong. When, however, they